British engine company Rolls-Royce released a press bulletin stating that they are developing world-first electrical technology for next-generation Tempest programme. To make the engine more electric, more intelligent and to harness more power, Rolls-Royce started to work to solve unprecedented levels of electrical power demand and thermal load; all need to be managed within the context of a stealthy aircraft.
Rolls-Royce started to address the demands of the future in 2014. That year, the company took on the challenge of designing an electrical starter-generator that was fully embedded in the core of a gas turbine engine, now known as the Embedded Electrical Starter Generator or E2SG demonstrator programme. The launch of phase one of the E2SG programme saw significant investment in the development of an integrated electrical facility – a unique test house where gas turbine engines can be physically connected to a DC electrical network.
Phase two of this programme has now been adopted as part of Rolls-Royce’s contribution to the Tempest programme.
The launch of the second phase of the project in 2017 saw the inclusion of a second electrical generator connected to the other spool of the engine. It also included an energy storage system in the electrical network and the ability to intelligently manage the supply of power between all these systems.
The two-spool mounted electrical machines allow, by a combination of operation as either a motor or a generator, the production of a series of functional effects on the engine, including the transfer of power electrically between the two spools.
Throughout the Tempest programme, Rolls-Royce will be continuing to mature the electrical technologies demonstrated by the E2SG programme, with the third phase of testing likely to include a novel thermal management system being integrated with the overall system, as well as more electric engine accessories.
The company also intends to showcase a full-scale demonstrator of an advanced power and propulsion system. There will be new technologies in all parts of the gas turbine, including twin-spool embedded generation to higher power levels, an advanced thermal management system, an energy storage system tailored to the expected duty cycle of the future fighter and an intelligent power management system which will be able to optimise the performance of both the gas turbine and the power and thermal management system.