Solid Oxide Fuel Cell Combustor Gas Turbine Hybrid Power System for Commercial Electric Aircraft


  • Trevor Kramer


Commercial aviation is a vital part of modern society. In 2018, commercial aviation was responsible for 2.4 percent of the total global carbon dioxide emissions and these numbers are expected to triple by 2050. This percentage seems relatively low, but if the commercial aviation industry was considered a country in the national carbon dioxide emission standings, it would rank sixth in the world. The addition of carbon neutral aviation provides a method to lower the carbon dioxide and greenhouse gas emissions caused by current methods of air travel. The proposed solution is to create an electrically powered aircraft that has a net zero carbon emission, and can match the performance of current commercial aviation. A solid oxide fuel cell combustor gas turbine hybrid system (SOFCC-GT) is a viable option to provide an aircraft with enough power for full operation. SOFCs utilize an onboard hydrocarbon fuel and ambient air to produce electricity through electrochemical reactions and typically operate between 650oC – 850oC. The proposed SOFCC-GT will be capable of generating 24 MW of electrical power for the aircraft. The electrical power will be utilized by the propulsion, avionics, and all other electrical systems used in modern commercial aircraft. To validate the SOFCC-GT system, steady state and transient modeling will be used to simulate the system operation under various flight conditions. Pressurized testing of an SOFCC system will be completed and studied to evaluate the power densities generated by the SOFCs and to increase the fidelity of the system models.