SonicBlue Aerospace, Inc., founded in 2005, is an aerospace company focused on the development of a family of hybrid-electric gas turbine engines. These electric turbomachinery engines are to be zero-emission, and 100% more efficient than the most advanced engines flying today. Unprecedented thrust-to-weight ratios of 17:1, fully integrated superconducting power propulsion and generation technologies form the world’s first all-electric “non-Brayton” engine cycle. SonicBlue hybrid-electric engines will have half the parts count and half the manufacturing costs, significantly reducing the bottom-line operating costs for customers (airlines).
SonicBlue’s radical departure from mechanically linked and “drive shaft” driven engines of today, to a completely electric engine architecture of the future, makes this company the pioneer of hybrid-electric propulsion for the future of all aviation. SonicaBlue will be the first to build and fly a 100 percent efficient hybrid-electric (no batteries) gas turbine engine that operates at up to 150 megawatts of electric power. It will be the largest in its engine class, producing 147,000 lb. of thrust in an engine design, termed SuperFan. The company holds other smaller hybrid-electric gas turbines for regional jets, business jets, and helicopters. Through its engineering teams, University research and industry partners and related government collaborations, SonicBlue is poised to transform not only how we fly, but it will also create a greener future in aviation.
The core of the SonicBlue hybrid-electric shaftless engine is its superconducting power and thrust generating turbine core. The engine burns fuel and converts it to high megawatt power levels, this in turn is used to rotate the turbomachinery of the compressor and bypass fan electrically without the limitations of efficiency of a mechanical drive shaft. Electricity left overpowers a plasma ion combustor using some of the electric power from the core. Further electric power still remains to further raise the electrification and the efficiency of the entire aircraft, from health management, onboard computer and monitor systems, to future aerodynamics management.
SonicBlue has designed a first of its kind a superconducting electric supersonic compressor which allows for independent rotation of each stage independent of the other, counter-rotating. Thus no torque effects happen, swirl and shock waves and management thereof may be controlled, offering the world’s first hypersonic rotating turbomachinery. HYSCRAM-SA may perform up to Mach 6.0 with its image here of its 13-stage electric supersonic compressor.
Supersonic and hypersonic platforms describes the superconducting electric core of the HYSCRAM-SA engine, a turbine combined cycle with rocket cycle for space access, but this same core engine technology also serves the SuperFan engine design in SonicBlue, the highest efficiency, lowest CO2, and greenhouse gas emissions engine ever, and the lowest cost. It will be the “first and truly green” hybrid-electric turbofan engine ever developed in the market today. It will serve the wide-body airliner market growing at $600 million in revenue a year.
Subsonic, supersonic or hypersonic platforms as air breathers, still require the ability for low-speed, high thrust propulsion. This is revolutionized by SonicBlue in its 3-stage Bypass fan, two fans, and one counter-rotating diffuser, and it’s all-electric driven by superconducting hollow ring-shaft motors. It uses the electricity coming from the turbine core, just like the electric compressor, generated by the superconducting 3-stage turbine core. In SuperFan it provides the majority of the thrust up off the runway and climbs out to cruise in subsonic flight. It is variable speed and moves twice the amount of air, and thrust, than a conventional turbofan with a single-stage fan.