Embraer’s Energia sustainable aircraft development program is focused on 19- to 30-passenger seats in both the hydrogen fuel cell and hybrid electric categories, and the Brazilian manufacturer expects the concept to roll off the production line in the 2030s. We anticipate strong demand for
It’s been a year since Embraer unveiled its Energia program, which explores concepts featuring hydrogen-fired, all-electric, hybrid-electric and hydrogen-electric propulsion systems to power aircraft ranging from 9 to 50 seats. I was. At our December briefing, we decided to focus on advancing hybrid-electric and hydrogen-electric designs in the coming months.
The two concepts are considered in the context of both the 19-seat and 30-seat variants. The Energia Hybrid (E19-HE and E30-HE) are expected to enter service in the 500 nm range in 2030, while the Energia H2 Fuel Cell (E19-H2FC and E30-H2FC) will reach the 200 nm range in five years. According to Embraer, hybrid-electric aircraft will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by up to 90% when using sustainable aviation fuels, and external noise he will reduce by 60%. H2 fuel cells have zero carbon emissions and reduce noise by 70%.
Luis Carlos Afonso, Vice President of Engineering, Technology Development and Corporate Strategy at Embraer, said: “Once these assessments are more advanced, we will begin investigating larger aircraft carrying around 50 passengers.”
The Energia Hybrid and Energia H2 Fuel Cell feature rear-mounted engines and a clean wing design. The latter concept also has a fuel cell stack at the rear, where hydrogen reacts with oxygen to produce electricity and water as the main outputs.
Embraer says fuel cells are “much more efficient” than small gas turbine engines, but they are heavier and produce a lot of heat. To circumvent the thermal management dilemma, airframe manufacturers designed air inlets at the base of the vertical stabilizer that feed ram air to the heat exchangers.
“The carefully designed flow path allows this system to minimize drag and even provide thrust,” explained the Brazilian aviator. Inside the 19-passenger version of the cabin, the seats are organized in three rows of his, “the interior is sized for comfortable walk-through, giving passengers space where they need it.” increase”.
The Energia Hybrid has a smaller wing and is lighter. “Small electric engines are used when a short-term power boost is needed, such as when the aircraft is taxiing, taking off, or climbing. You can avoid using it,” said Embraer.
Regarding market demand, Embraer has outlined three scenarios. evolution; and revolution. Rodrigo Silva e Souza, Embraer’s vice president of marketing, said the first scenario is based on “simple exchanges and some natural growth” and that by 2035 he expects demand for 4,000 Energia aircraft. is assumed.
A second scenario assumes that Energia’s promised operating cost reductions and proof of sustainability will cause some operators to replace their aircraft sooner than others, with 7,000 aircraft by 2035. aircraft demand.
The third and most optimistic scenario envisions a world where people switch from traveling by car to short-haul flights in sustainable regional aircraft. Assuming such a change in behavior occurs, Souza believes that by 2035 he could have delivered 20,000 Energia aircraft.
However, there are many challenges to overcome before the concept aircraft can be widely deployed. These include the development of an airport network that needs to take place in parts of the world beyond the United States and Europe, and the availability of pilots in North America, which is particularly scarce, Souza said. increase. Other challenges include the willingness of operators to adopt new technologies and the need for new infrastructure for both battery charging and hydrogen refueling.
Embraer has formed an Energy Advisory Group of more than 20 airline representatives to consult through the next phase of the study.
All images credited to Embraer/Eduardo Kui