Distributed propulsion in aircraft has been shown to increase reliability and benefit aerodynamic performance. This paper discusses power electronic architectures and proposes control schemes suitable for distributed propulsion in hybrid and electric airplanes. Hybrid electric airplanes include permanent magnet synchronous generators driven by jet engines. The output of the generators is connected to the propulsion motors through back to back voltage source converters. Batteries, connected to the DC bus through buck-boost converters, are used to provide additional power to the propulsion motors during take off and climb. In the case of electric airplanes, the jet engine-permanent magnet generator system is replaced by solar photovoltaic (PV) panels. The output of the solar PV system is controlled such that it operates at its maximum power point, and power is provided to batteries and propulsion motors. Simulation results on both hybrid and solar electric systems are presented.
The support of this research by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, through the NASA Grant no. KYGF-18-020, University of Kentucky, the L. Stanley Pigman endowment, and ANSYS, Inc. is gratefully acknowledged.
Lawhorn, Damien; Rallabandi, Vandana; and Ionel, Dan M., "Power Electronics Powertrain Architectures for Hybrid and Solar Electric Airplanes with Distributed Propulsion" (2018). Power and Energy Institute of Kentucky Faculty Publications. 34.