Propulsion module for take-off and landing aircraft

The InCEPTion propulsion module
(Image courtesy of Ricardo)

Greenjets and Ricardo have shown a fully operational, demonstration propulsion module for use in electric aircraft, writes Nick Flaherty.

The InCEPTion module, the result of an 18-month project, is aimed at eVTOL aircraft weighing under 5 t.

The system uses a bespoke wraparound, immersion-cooled, ultra-high-performance, 20 kW/h battery, using 32 connected modules in a toroid. In addition to the design and build of the fully integrated module,

Ricardo has been responsible for the compete thermal management system, incorporating increased safety aspects from the initial design stage.

The toroidal shape has been designed to form part of the structure of a propulsion system, with shared cooling and structural elements, making its delivery challenging and complex. The design is configured in a 360o orientation, with bonded composites and a foam structure to reduce weight. 

“The architecture of our largest engine, the IPM500, has benefited greatly from our collaboration with Ricardo. With Ricardo’s custom battery pack integrated into the nacelle of our engine, we make vital savings in efficiency and weight, along with close integration with the rest of the powertrain. It also improves safety by moving significant battery weight away from the fuselage,” said Anmol Manohar, CEO of Greenjets.

“Our engineers have designed, developed and built a system that is fully scalable, which also enables different combinations of the same module to power multiple aircraft concepts, from electric vertical take-off and landing applications to general aviation aircraft and sub-regional aircraft. The system is versatile and can be 100% battery or fuel-cell hybrid-powered,” said Matt Beasley, director of global engineering and operations at Ricardo.

“Our engineering expertise in the automotive industry is enabling us to deliver innovative, sustainable projects in the aerospace and maritime industries.”

Greenjets is now working with Ricardo on ground and wind-tunnel tests for integration into an engine for use in commercial aircraft.