Detailed plans for an eco-friendly hybrid aircraft capable of switching back and forth between an electric motor and a traditional internal combustion engine has earned Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University its first-ever patent from the European Patent Office (EPO).
The invention, a “hybrid aircraft and method for in-flight operation,” developed by inventors with Embry-Riddle’s Eagle Flight Research Center (EFRC), had previously received two U.S. patents.
“Embry-Riddle has dozens of active, approved or pending U.S. patents, but this is the first time we’ve received a European patent,” reported Dr. Stephanie A. Miller, executive director of technology transfer and research park initiatives. “It’s a significant milestone, reflecting the effectiveness of our applied research enterprise.”
The invention encompasses a parallel hybrid aircraft propulsion system.
“With this design, an internal combustion engine allows a propeller-driven aircraft to climb to a cruising altitude before an electric motor takes over,” said Richard “Pat” Anderson, lead inventor and EFRC Director. “A hybrid clutch assembly interconnects the internal combustion engine propeller flange to the propeller driveshaft, which makes it possible to transfer power smoothly from one system to another.”
Inventors named on the patent are Anderson, Embry-Riddle graduates Lori Costello, Charles N. Eastlake and Matt Gonitzke, and Associate Professor of Aerospace Engineering Glenn P. Greiner.
In the future, hybrid gasoline-electric aircraft would dramatically reduce petroleum fuel consumption as well as carbon dioxide emissions. “The future of flight should include cleaner, quieter options for human mobility,” Anderson said. “Our patented concept for a hybrid aircraft will support that vision.”
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, the world’s largest, fully accredited university specializing in aviation and aerospace, is a nonprofit, independent institution offering more than 80 baccalaureate, master’s and Ph.D. degree programs in its colleges of Arts & Sciences, Aviation, Business, Engineering and Security & Intelligence. Embry-Riddle educates students at residential campuses in Daytona Beach, Fla., and Prescott, Ariz., through the Worldwide Campus with more than 125 locations in the United States, Europe, Asia and the Middle East, and through online programs. The university is a major research center, seeking solutions to real-world problems in partnership with the aerospace industry, other universities and government agencies. For more information, visit erau.edu, follow us on Twitter (@EmbryRiddle) and facebook.com/EmbryRiddleUniversity, and find expert videos at YouTube.com/EmbryRiddleUniv.