A new hybrid electric aircraft concept conceived by MIT

The problem with today’s large airplanes is their polluting effect, which accounts for around 3% of the world total, and although airplane builders have been thinking about the issue for years, they have not yet reached a realistic possibility.

And a realistic alternative is precisely what a series of MIT researchers have proposed and published in the journal Energy and Environmental Science.

The current aircraft engines are turbines that generate a great thrust and emit nitrogen oxide (NOx) which is very harmful to health.

And that’s something similar to what diesel engines in cars and trucks do. In large trucks, their emissions are reduced by post-combustion systems for these gases, thus reducing their emission into the atmosphere.

With this idea, MIT engineers have proposed a hybrid propulsion system with propellers driven by electric motors for a large aircraft (type A 320 and larger).

They propose to place one or more turbines in the central rear part of the fuselage, so that they generate electricity that would be supplied to electric motors that would move the propellers placed under the wings.

The gases generated by the turbine inside the plane would be treated with an emissions control system, like large diesel engines, to prevent them from polluting the air.

You can see a scheme in the photo below

According to the research team’s estimates, in this way 95% of current aircraft emissions would be avoided, which would be a very important advance and could mark a change in the world of aeronautics.

According to them, the weight that would be added to the aircraft would be just 0.6% higher than current aircraft, and nothing to do with the case that it uses a battery, which would be much heavier and would make the project unfeasible.

It is a good idea that would hardly change the design of current aircraft and could be implemented in a very short time. But there are many considerations to be taken into account.

Since as I say so many times, the paper holds everything, the concept idea seems good but now there are more in-depth studies to be carried out to reach the real viability of the project:

- How are the electric motors and propellers that make the plane fly at speeds close to 900 km / h. ?

- How the turbine must be to be able to feed all the electric motors ?

- How many passengers can fit on the plane and how much would the ticket cost ?

- How gases are removed from the plane after filtering, and where do the polluting particles go ?

- Etc etc, …..

As I said, this is an idea that must be taken into consideration and that aeronautical companies will undoubtedly study in detail.

Hopefully something positive comes out of it all.

I’m an electronic engineer interested in technologies and the society around me