European aviation research: IMOTHEP, an ambitious technology programme for hybrid electric drives

Photo: DLR

The reduction of greenhouse gas emissions is an important key to the further development of aviation. It requires ambitious research and solutions that go far beyond the continuous improvement of current aircraft technologies. On January 20, 2020, Bauhaus Luftfahrt e. V. and its partners from aviation research and industry officially launched the IMOTHEP project in Brussels, a research initiative on hybrid electric propulsion that is funded by the European Commission as part of Horizon 2020 .

Led by the French aeronautics and space research laboratory ONERA, a consortium of thirty-three players from the aeronautics industry and the research community is participating in a research project on hybrid electric propulsion for commercial aviation, a technology that opens up a completely new design space for aircraft and could be a revolutionary step towards improving their efficiency. IMOTHEP (“Investigation and Maturation of Technologies for Hybrid Electric Propulsion”), is a four-year research and innovation action, which receives €10.4 million in funding from the European Commission under the Horizon 2020 Framework Programme. It aims to conduct an in-depth study of electrical technologies for hybrid electric aircraft in conjunction with the development of advanced aircraft configurations and innovative propulsion architectures, exploiting synergies between the engine and the airframe.

The central focus of IMOTHEP is the analysis of technologies for electric hybrid propulsion. Tackling the challenge of climate change requires research into the technology for commercial aircraft, which account for the majority of current emissions. The ultimate goal of the project is to take an important step in assessing the potential of hybrid electric propulsion to reduce emissions from commercial aviation and to establish the technology roadmap for its development.

The IMOTHEP consortium brings together the major European aircraft manufacturers (Airbus and Leonardo), the leading engine manufacturers (Safran, GE Avio, MTU, ITP and GKN), the European aeronautical research organisations of EREA (ONERA, CIRA, DLR, AIT, ILOT, INCAS and NLR) and the university organisations (Université de Lorraine), ISAE/Sup’Aéro, Strathclyde University, TU Braunschweig, Politecnico di Bari, Chalmers University and University of Nottingham), a think tank (Bauhaus Luftfahrt), an intergovernmental organisation (Eurocontrol) and a consultancy for innovation management (L’Up) IMOTHEP is also supported by EASA as a third party. IMOTHEP is also developing international cooperation with Russia, with the participation of five leading research organisations (CIAM, GosNIIAS, MAI, NRC, TsAGI), as well as with Canada (NRC-CNRC).

Source: Bauhaus Luftfahrt

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