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NASA's quest for maximum efficiency

  • Magazine Feature Article
  • 13EVSD0821_02
Published August 21, 2013 by SAE International in United States
  • English

As part of its hybrid body wing aircraft with turboelectric distributed propulsion system, NASA has proposed to use a superconducting and cryogenic electrical system to connect the electrical output of the generators to the motors.

NASA's N3-X aircraft, under development as part of the Research and Technology for Aerospace Propulsion Systems (RTAPS) study, is being designed to meet the reduction of aircraft fuel burn by 70% or better. To achieve reduced fuel burn, the aircraft must be efficient and have minimal weight. As a result, NASA has studied blended-wing body aircraft with distributed propulsion to maximize boundary layer ingestion.

This system consists of an array of electric-motor-driven propulsors located near the trailing edge of the center wing-body section. The electric power to these motors is provided by two engines each driving top electric generators. The outputs of the generators are connected to multiple propulsors via an electrical distribution system called turboelectric distributed propulsion (TeDP). The propulsion system provides the necessary propulsive power and also assists in aircraft yaw control through differential thrust.