High Power Density Carbon Neutral Electrical Power Generation for Air Vehicles

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Cookesville, Tennessee
Project Term:
07/12/2021 - 06/12/2024

Technology Description:

Electric propulsion for air vehicles requires a high-power density and high-efficiency electric storage and power generation system that can operate at 35,000 feet in altitude to meet economic and environmental viability. Tennessee Technological University will combine a stack comprised of tubular Solid Oxide Fuel Cells (SOFCs) with a gas turbine combustor to address challenges faced in all electric propulsion-based aviation. The combined SOFC-combustor concept maximizes power density and efficiency while minimizing system complexity, weight, and cost. By eliminating components and subsystems typically found in fuel cell-gas turbine hybrid systems, this design provides operational flexibility with a rapid response to flight and load conditions and enables system startup in less than 30 minutes. This elegant and revolutionary SOFC-combustor concept meets specific power and energy requirements to enable economically viable net-zero greenhouse gas emissions for long-range electric commercial aviation. The deliverables for this Phase 1 project are demonstration of a 1 kW SOFC-combustor and the design of a 5 kW ESPG system.

Potential Impact:

Electrified aviation propulsion systems have the potential to achieve ultra-high fuel-to-propulsive power conversion efficiencies compared with existing turbofan and turboprop systems.


A high specific power electrified propulsion system framework could enable net-zero carbon aviation by facilitating the transition to carbon neutral liquid fuels (CNLFs) while meeting all mission requirements.


This program could ensure U.S. technology leadership in ultra-high efficiency aircraft propulsion systems capable of exploiting CNLFs.


The developed ESPG sub-system could provide the foundational technology for a new industry in ultra-high efficiency propulsion systems while improving the competitiveness of the existing air transportation industry by reducing fuel costs.


ARPA-E Program Director:
Dr. James Seaba
Project Contact:
Prof. Rory Roberts
Press and General Inquiries Email:
Project Contact Email:


Wright State University
Oak Ridge National Laboratory
Raytheon Technologies Research Center
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