9eGEN project moves closer to the practical use of high voltage in fast helicopters

Clean Sky Press Release | March 13, 2020

Estimated reading time 2 minutes, 33 seconds.

The use of high voltage systems will ensure that helicopters have access to stronger sources of electricity, which will increase power efficiency and reduce weight. The 9eGEN project (coordinated by ASE S.p.A. in Milan) recently developed the first prototype model (B1) of a 270VDC generator and successfully validated the majority of the key elements through laboratory testing.

With Safran's Aneto engines, the Airbus Racer demonstrator is targeting a cruise speed of 215 knots. Airbus Image
The 9eGEN system will be used in the Airbus Racer demonstrator, which is targeting a cruise speed of around 220 knots. Airbus Image

The 9eGEN system consists of two main devices. The first is the high voltage nine-phase polygon connected generator mounted on the main gearbox of the helicopter, which will convert the mechanical power of the main gearbox into electric power at 270 VDC. The second device is called a generator control unit (GCU), which regulates the power output. In case of overvoltage or overcurrent, the GCU has built-in protective capabilities and communication facilities which will keep the situation under control.

Now that the prototype has been developed, it will soon be integrated into the electro-generation distribution system test bench at the Airbus Helicopters site in Marignane, France. This is a significant step in its journey — eventually, the 9eGEN B2 prototype will become part of the RACER (Rapid And Cost-Effective Rotorcraft) demonstrator.

9eGen 270VDC generator
Key elements of the 9eGEN system have already been validated through laboratory testing. Clean Sky Photo

 

RACER, a fast compound helicopter with a high cruise speed of around 220 knots, is part of the Clean Sky 2 Fast Rotorcraft Innovative Aircraft Demonstrator Platform. It will incorporate speed and agility with sustainability, and the 270 VDC high voltage network that is being developed by 9eGEN will work together with the usual 28 VDC network to power RACER. The use of high voltage systems in helicopter will lead to more powerful electrical sources routed with low electrical wiring gauge with positive impact in power efficiency and weight reduction.

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