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Comparison of candidate architectures for future distributed propulsion aircraft

Jones, Catherine E. and Norman, Patrick J. and Galloway, Stuart J. and Armstrong, Michael J. and Bollman, Andrew M. (2016) Comparison of candidate architectures for future distributed propulsion aircraft. IEEE Transactions on Applied Superconductivity, 26 (6). ISSN 1051-8223

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Turbine engine driven distributed electrical aircraft power systems (also referred to as Turboelectric Distributed Propulsion (TeDP)) are proposed for providing thrust for future aircraft with superconducting components operating at 77K in order for performance and emissions targets to be met. The proposal of such systems presents a radical change from current state-of-the-art aero-electrical power systems. Central to the development of such power systems are architecture design trades which must consider system functionality and performance, system robustness and fault ride-through capability, in addition to the balance between mass and efficiency. This paper presents a quantitative comparison of the three potential candidate architectures for TeDP electrical networks. This analysis provides the foundations for establishing the feasibility of these different architectures subject to design and operational constraints. The findings of this paper conclude that a purely AC synchronous network performs best in terms of mass and efficiency, but similar levels of functionality and controllability to an architecture with electrical decoupling via DC cannot readily be achieved. If power electronic converters with cryocoolers are found to be necessary for functionality and controllability purposes, then studies show that a significant increase in the efficiency of solid state switching components is necessary to achieve specified aircraft performance targets.