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IHI Group outlines upcoming advanced technologies; aims to “quickly begin” commercial production of bio-jet fuel

IHI engine maintenance

The IHI Group has pledged to develop lighter aero engine components and support algae biofuel and electrification initiatives.

The Japanese company, which is involved in the manufacture and maintenance of various aero engines, said it was taking a “multifaceted approach” to reducing CO2 emissions in aviation in its 2020 Integrated Report. IHI said it would also support operational optimisation through digital twins.

Lighter engine components include carbon fibre reinforced plastics (CFRP) fan cases and fan blades as well as ceramic matrix composite (CMC) turbine blades.

IHI Group 2020 Integrated Report
Click to enlarge. Source: IHI Group 2020 Integrated Report

In terms of electrification, IHI said it was exploring autonomous air cooling systems; engine embedded electric machines; and metering-integrated fuel-feeding electrification.

“The biggest challenge is development of a large-capacity electric motor generator that can handle the necessary increase in power consumption,” the report noted. “IHI is developing an engine embedded electric machine which achieved a rated output of 250 kW in ground tests in February 2020.

“In May 2020, we completed the world’s first successful evaluation test of an air cooling system for 100 kW-class power electronics. In addition, we will optimise the system by linking it with electrification of the fuel system and the air conditioning and cabin pressurisation control system, which are currently under development.”

IHI added that it would further develop advanced technologies and is aiming “to establish a new position in the aircraft industry, and thereby better contribute to mitigation of climate change through total energy management of aircraft”.

The report also gave an update on IHI’s efforts to develop technology for the stable production of bio-jet fuel from fast-growing microalgae, a project started in 2017. The company has also been developing an integrated process for reforming oil extracted from the algae to manufacture fuel.

Click to enlarge. Source: IHI Group 2020 Integrated Report

“We are the first Japanese corporation to apply for and obtain ASTM D7566 Annex 7 standardisation approval,” the report stated. “Fuel that conforms to this standard can be mixed as is with existing fuels, meaning that engines and fuel supply infrastructure would need no modification.

“Based on the progress of this technology development, we aim to quickly begin commercial production of bio-jet fuel. In FY2020, we plan to supply our fuel for use in the aircraft of domestic regular airline routes for commercial demonstration flights.”

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