On the way to climate-friendly aviation

On November 13, 2023, the German Aerospace Center inaugurated the HepCo test environment. In future, the Institute of Electrified Aircraft Propulsion will conduct research there on various test benches, which are currently under construction, and will also cooperate with BTU and chesco.

For a climate-friendly future, new technologies are needed in aviation to enable emission-free flying. In order to translate the results of research into reality, these technologies must be tested under real conditions, in some cases at full scale. On November 13, 2023, the German Aerospace Center (DLR) officially inaugurated the HepCo (Hybrid Electric Propulsion Cottbus) test environment, which will be used to test components of electric and hybrid-electric aircraft propulsion systems as well as entire propulsion architectures.

"The new HepCo test hall in Cottbus offers our scientists the necessary and optimal infrastructure to develop and test new technologies. The aim of our research work is emission-free aircraft propulsion systems for climate-friendly aviation," says DLR Executive Board Chairwoman Prof. Anke Kaysser-Pyzalla.

In the 13,300 square meter hall on the site of the future Lausitz Science Park (LSP) initiated by BTU, the DLR Institute of Electrified Aircraft Propulsion will carry out experiments on electromagnetic compatibility, high-voltage tests, electric motor tests, including noise emission and thermal management tests. The test benches will be designed in such a way that their use is not only relevant for research, but also for industrial partners. This symbiosis is in line with the idea of the LSP as an innovation landscape that combines excellent basic and applied research with innovative spin-offs and Company Relocations.

"Another milestone in the structural development of Lusatia: the flying of the future will be tested in Cottbus in future. I am very pleased about today's opening of the HepCo test environment of the DLR Institute of Electrified Aircraft Propulsion. DLR can now conduct even more intensive research into lower-emission, more strongly electrified aviation propulsion systems for civil transport aircraft. Lusatia is 'ready for take-off' when it comes to developing highly efficient, climate-friendly and sustainable technologies - and the DLR Institute of Electrified Aircraft Propulsion is a key part of this," adds Dr. Manja Schüle, Minister of Science, Research and Culture of the State of Brandenburg.

Cooperation between test centers in Cottbus

With the inauguration of the DLR test environment in Cottbus, a further step is now being taken towards the establishment of test centers for emission-free aviation. The Brandenburg University of Technology Cottbus-Senftenberg (BTU), chesco (Center for Hybrid Electric Systems Cottbus) and DLR are building on a cooperative division of tasks: the test capacities for component and system tests on site are closely coordinated and designed to complement each other. They cover all areas of safety-relevant testing for basic research and product development, from low-emission to zero-emission, partially to fully electrified aircraft engines. The proofs required for product approval are to be made possible through cooperation between the facilities.

The DLR Institute of Electrified Aircraft Propulsion Systems

Officially opened in March 2022, the Institute of Electrified Aircraft Propulsion is researching alternatives to conventional types of propulsion and their potential for use in civil aviation in order to make it lower-emission and therefore more climate-friendly in the future. The institute's unique selling point is its holistic approach to future hybrid-electric or fully electrified propulsion systems.
Like the DLR Institute for Low CO2 Industrial Processes, the Institute of Electrified Aircraft Propulsion Systems is a member of the Lausitz Science Network founded by BTU, an alliance of twelve research institutions that aims to jointly develop the strengths of Cottbus-Senftenberg as a research location and increase its visibility.

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DLR Executive Board Chairwoman Prof. Dr.-Ing. Anke Kaysser-Pyzalla at the opening of the HepCo test hall © DLR
From left to right: Doreen Mohaupt (Head of Urban Development Cottbus), Manja Schüle, Anke Kaysser-Pyzalla, Gesine Grande (BTU), Lars Enghardt (DLR) © DLR
HepCo test hall © DLR