Is an electric jet plane possible?

Yes. Yes. The fan section produces approximately 90% of the thrust in modern high bypass turbofan engines. The power source used to turn the fan section is irrelevant. It will produce the same thrust output regardless of whether it is turned by internal combustion, electric motors, or hamsters if it spins at a certain rpm.

Turbofan Jet engines currently have a self contained gas generator section that produces the hot combustion gases necessary to turn a turbine. This section is connected to the fan section by a rotating shaft. The fan could be turned by an electric motor. You could use gears to increase the rpm to create enough thrust to fly at high speeds. Current aircraft engines use geared fans. They are used to reduce fan speed below the engine rpm. This allows for larger fan sections and fuel efficiency.

Yes, an electric turbine engine can be used to power an aircraft or “Jet” currently in production.

It is not currently practical.

It would take a lot of batteries to make the required quantity. The weight of lithium ion batteries is very heavy and they have a low energy density when compared to jet fuel. The aircraft would have to be light enough to transport a payload that is commercially viable and within a reasonable range.

Commercial aircraft use Lithium Ion Battery Charging times are very long. The current fossil fuel-powered aircraft can be turned around within 30 minutes. This allows for high aircraft productivity and high revenue generation for commercial operators. 8-hour turn times are unpractical and can be a deal breaker.

The battery packs can be difficult to suppress fire. An internal combustion engine can be used to secure fuel flow to the engine compartment and isolate the fuel tank flow to extinguish the fire’s fuel. To put out the fire and prevent it from relighting, you can pump halon or another fire extinguishing substance into the engine compartment. This system is very effective in controlling and extinguishing internal jet engine fires.

How can you stop a large aircraft battery pack from catching fire? The temperatures at which lithium ion batteries can burn are extremely high, reaching over 1000 F. This is enough heat to melt aluminum. It is extremely difficult to extinguish lithium fires. There are no onboard suppression systems that could contain them. The adjacent battery cells could quickly ignite, creating an airborne disaster. The Electric Jet could not carry passengers. But the pilots would die.

An electric passenger plane is possible but not yet commercially viable. It will become possible in the future if technology advances increase the energy density and decrease the recharging time of power storage devices.

It’s not going to be cheap fossil fuel forever. Maybe someday all passenger high-speed aircraft will be powered entirely by electric energy.

 

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