DOI: 10.3390/aerospace10090745 ISSN:

A Study on Thermal Management Systems for Hybrid–Electric Aircraft

Maria Coutinho, Frederico Afonso, Alain Souza, David Bento, Ricardo Gandolfi, Felipe R. Barbosa, Fernando Lau, Afzal Suleman
  • Aerospace Engineering

The electrification of an aircraft’s propulsive system is identified as a potential solution towards a lower carbon footprint in the aviation industry. One of the effects of increased electrification is the generation of a large amount of waste heat that needs to be removed. As high-power systems must be cooled to avoid performance deterioration such as battery thermal runaway, a suitable thermal management system is required to regulate the temperature of the powertrain components. With this in mind, the main objective of this research is to identify promising heat transfer technologies to be integrated into a thermal management system (TMS) such that power, mass, and drag can be minimised for a parallel hybrid–electric regional aircraft in the context of the EU-funded FutPrInt50 project. Five different TMS architectures are modelled using the Matlab/Simulink environment based on thermodynamic principles, heat transfer fundamentals, and fluid flow equations. The systems are a combination of a closed-loop liquid cooling integrated with different heat dissipation components, namely ram air heat exchanger, skin heat exchanger, and fuel. Their cooling capacity and overall aircraft performance penalties under different flight conditions are estimated and compared to each other. Then, a parametric study is conducted, followed by a multi-objective optimisation analysis with the aim of minimising the TMS impact. As expected, none of the investigated architectures exhibit an ideal performance across the range of the studied metrics. The research revealed that, while planning the TMS for future hybrid–electric aircraft, alternative architectures will have to be developed and studied in light of the power requirements.

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