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Hybrid-Electric Air-Vehicle Propulsion: Challenges, Opportunities, and Impact

Webinar - Online
Alicia Tomaszewski – tec@ieee.org
Phillip Ansell

Abstract: The aeronautics industry has been challenged on many fronts to increase efficiency, reduce emissions, and decrease dependency on carbon-based fuels. These efforts have been driven not only due to the adverse effects of greenhouse gas emissions produced by aviation, but also to ensure long-term viability of the industry as it prepares for an increase in affordable sources of renewable energy and a decrease in availability of traditional fuel sources. To meet future demands, several approaches have been taken to reduce the fuel burn of aircraft, including improvements in the aerodynamic efficiency of air vehicles, increases in turbofan engine efficiency, and alternative jet fuels.  Additionally, electrification concepts for aircraft propulsion have been developed, such as turboelectric, hybrid-electric, and all-electric aircraft systems. However, the commercial viability of hybrid-electric aircraft is widely unknown. The high power-density, flight-weight electric motors necessary to provide some or all of the power for a commercial transport aircraft do not yet exist, but their performance may be estimated using future projections. Current battery technology is not as energy dense as traditional aircraft fuel sources, leading to significant range limitations when used as an energy source for aircraft. Additionally, battery technology is not completely without greenhouse gas emissions, as the energy used to charge the batteries from the electric grid must be generated in some way.

Biography: Prof. Phillip J. Ansell earned his BS in Aerospace Engineering from Penn State University in 2008, and his MS and PhD in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2010 and 2013, respectively.  He joined the faculty of the Department of Aerospace Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2015 as an Assistant Professor.  His research interests include subsonic and transonic aerodynamics, fluid dynamics, applied aerodynamics, atmospheric flight sciences, aero-propulsive integration, and aircraft propulsion electrification.

His research accomplishments have earned him several honors and awards, including the AFOSR Young Investigator Award (2015), inclusion in Forbes 30 under 30 list (2016, Science category), the ARO Young Investigator Award (2017), and the College of Engineering Dean’s Award for Excellence in Research at Illinois (2019).  Prof. Ansell has played a key technical role, along with others, in organizing the Electric Aircraft Technologies Symposium (EATS).  This collaborative symposium between AIAA and IEEE brings together the multi-disciplinary communities of electrical engineers and aerospace experts towards the advancement of aircraft propulsion electrification.

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