Developing the propulsion system for a hydrogen powered commercial passenger aircraft

Lead Research Organisation: Newcastle University
Department Name: Sch of Engineering


The Newcastle university involvement in the H2Gear project focuses on the development of the electrical network for the H2Gear all electric aircraft. This project will be specifically centred on the development of a protection system for the aircraft electrical network, creating optimal fault protection, reconfiguration and discrimination strategies designed to best protect the electrical network from faults. Aircraft fault protection systems and certification have not yet had to cater for fault protection for an all-electric aircraft as past commercial aircraft have also relied on hydraulic and mechanical systems to various extents. Therefore it is first important to establish the requirements for the fault protection system given the inter-reliant nature of on-board networks and the potential for cascading faults in a fully electric system. It should be within the capacity of the protection system to detect when a fault is occurring, determine the nature of the fault and its location, discriminate and execute the correct response to isolate and eliminate faults. Through simulations the effectiveness of these strategies in protecting the network from faults and ultimately ensuring the safe operation of the aircraft will be investigated, as will the practicalities of physically implementing these designs and integrating into the rest of the systems.

Planned Impact

This CDT will produce power electronics specialists with industrial experience, and will equip them with key skills that are essential to meet the future power electronics challenges. They will be highly employable due to their training being embedded in industrial challenges with the potential to become future leaders through parallel entrepreneurial and business acumen training. As such, they will drive the UK forward in electric propulsion development and manufacturing. They will become ambassadors for cross-disciplinary thinking in electric propulsion and mentors to their colleagues. With its strong industrial partnership, this CDT is ideally placed to produce high impact research papers, patents and spin-outs, with support from the University's dedicated business development teams. All of this will contribute to the 10% year upon year growth of the power electronics sector in the UK, creating more jobs and added value to the UK economy.

Alongside the clear benefits to the economy this CDT will sustain and enhance the UK as a hub of expertise in this rapidly increasing area. UK R&D is set to shift dramatically to electrical technologies due to, amongst other reasons, the target to ban petrol/ diesel propulsion by 2040. Whilst the increase in R&D is welcome this target will be unsustainable without the right people to support the development of alternative technologies. This CDT will directly answer this skills shortage enabling the UK to not only meet these targets but lead the way internationally in the propulsion revolution.

Industry and policy stakeholders will benefit through-
a) Providing challenges for the students to work through

b) Knowledge exchange with the students and the academics

c) New lines of investigation/ revenue/ process improvement

d) Two way access to skills/ equipment and training

e) A skilled, challenge focused workforce

Society will benefit through-
a) Propulsion systems that are more efficient and require therefore less energy reducing cost of travel

b) Engineers with new skillsets working more cost-effective and more productive

c) Skilled workforce who are mindful considering the environmental and ethical impact

d) Graduates that understand equality, diversity and inclusion

Environment will benefit through-
a) Emission free cars powered by clean renewable energy increasing air quality and reducing global warming

b) Highly efficient planes reducing the amount of oil and therefore oil explorations in ecological sensitive areas such as the arctic can be slowed down, allowing sufficient time for the development of new alternative environmental friendly fuels.

c) Significant noise reduction leading to quiet cities and airports


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
EP/S024069/1 31/03/2019 29/09/2027
2744276 Studentship EP/S024069/1 30/09/2022 29/09/2026 Joseph Campbell