Schübeler Composite leads charge to create high-efficiency engine
By Schubeler Composite
The demand for jet engines and compact axial compressors in the performance class up to 30 kW have increased in the recent years for various application fields such as racing, wind tunnel operation, industry and civil protection (drones). The German company Schübeler Composite started together with the Laboratory for Materials and Fixing Technology (LWF) (University of Paderborn) a new research project to develop a 30 kW jet engine, which has a multi-purpose usage. Unlike conventional — fossil-fuel driven — aggregates, the new development is driven by means of a high-performance and high-efficiency electric motor and is made entirely of lightweight materials.
By Schubeler Composite
The drive is based on the idea of a classic fan engine with high bypass ratio. The core engine that drives the main fan shall be replaced here by an extremely efficient electronically commutated electric motor. Only a very small part of the total air flow is conducted through the motor for cooling purposes.
Expansion of the application spectrum
Schübeler Composite develops – alongside the aerodynamic compressor – also the highly efficient electric drive motor and achieves with the combination of a classical fan stage and an electric motor, the independence of the drive from fossil fuels. The completely emission-free, quiet and vibration-free operation of the jet engine allows the extension of the use of spectrum, amongst other things its use is planned for wind tunnel measurements as a mass flow generator, for UAV propulsion, man-carrying gliders and industrial applications (e.g. as CO2 laser).
The jet engine will therefore consist largely of various lightweight materials such as carbon composites (carbon fiber reinforced plastics) and a high-strength aluminum alloys. This is necessary in order to fulfill the high requirements in terms of reliability and power density. Schübeler Composite increases its integration of advanced engineering knowledge (know) and its perfected practical expertise (how), that has grown for many years. This is the prerequisite to start such an innovative project and thus dare to enter into a new area of technology as well as to challenge the combination of new technologies in the enterprise.
Cope with high performance requirements
The joining of the lightweight components, which will be under very high mechanical and thermal loads when operating, will probably be one of the biggest challenges in the development of the jet engine. “We think we have found exactly the right partner with the LWF for the upcoming challenges. We look forward to a successful cooperation.”, says Daniel Schübeler, CEO of Schübeler Composite. Prof. Dr.-Ing. Meschut Gerson, director of the LWF, noted “Because of our almost 40 years of experience in the calculation of characteristic values and interpretation of glued lightweight compounds under highly dynamic loads, the company Schübeler Composite approached us. We are looking forward to the challenges ahead of us, some of which may participate in both project partners.” During the project the LWF will make the used compounds predictable by numerical simulations and scalable for future performance levels. “At the end of the project Schübeler Composite is then able to interpret the sophisticated compounds within the new product independently,” adds Marc Wünsche, project editor at the LWF.
The project gets an innovation grant from the German Ministry of Economy and Energy as part of the Central Innovation Program for SMEs (ZIM).