The $1.2 million Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) contract will provide funding for VerdeGo to perform advanced risk reduction on the VH-3-185 hybrid powerplant, which has applications to both military and commercial high-performance electric aircraft.
The contract has a period of performance of 14 months and was awarded under a Commercial Solutions Opening (CSO) focused on technologies that have both military and commercial applications. This contract along with a portfolio of other hybrid programs and a recent Series A financing round are leading to substantial growth in VerdeGo’s Daytona Beach, FL-based team of hybrid propulsion experts.
VerdeGo Aero specializes in serial and parallel hybrid-electric propulsion and battery-electric aircraft systems. The company has completed hundreds of hours of full scale and full power durability and hybrid performance testing, and is working to develop, certify, manufacture, and service the next generation of propulsion units for electrified aviation.
The VH-3-185 is VerdeGo’s third generation of hybrid powerplant. Designed for use in electric aircraft, it features a certified aircraft diesel engine that burns either jet fuel or sustainable aviation fuel and converts that energy into electric power to drive arrays of electric motors, mechanical shaft horsepower to directly drive a propeller or a gearbox, or a blend of electric and mechanical output.
“Many eVTOL aircraft developers are beginning to realize the limitations in range and endurance when relying upon batteries as the primary energy source,” said Dr. Pat Anderson, CTO of VerdeGo Aero. “In the military context, these limitations combined with the need for established charging infrastructure at every operating location make battery-only designs unsuitable for those missions. Hybrid powerplants, which do not have these limitations, are therefore an attractive solution for the military, and for that matter commercial operators, as well.”
“The Agility Prime program has been exploring and evaluating hybrid propulsion architectures combined with EVTOLs for dual use applications where additional range over what current battery only solutions may offer is of higher importance. The program office is excited to continue those efforts and better understand what capabilities VerdeGo’s VH-3 Powerplant may offer future systems over the course of this Phase 2 effort,” said Sterling Alley, Agility Prime program manager and technology transition lead.
The 185kW VH-3 is proving technologies that are also being applied to powerplants up to the 1MW+ power range. The similarities between military missions and high-performance commercial missions lead to a common need for large amounts of reliable onboard propulsion power for VTOL, STOL, and CTOL aircraft.
Why it’s important: As stated by Dave Spitzer, VerdeGo’s VP of Product Development, “this Direct-to-Phase II effort is exciting because it’s going to accelerate our efforts to bring the VH-3 to market.” “The VH-3 will be a key enabler for bringing new capabilities to the warfighter, and we’re honored that the Air Force recognizes the potential in VerdeGo’s hybrid technologies.”
Source // VerdeGo Aero press release