NASA Distributed Propulsion & Energy Harvesting Hummingbird Engine

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March 13, 2017 | Originally published by Date Line: March 13 on

A new engine concept from NASA’s Glenn Research Center allows for truly distributed propulsion. The concept enables airframe and system modularity by allowing parts to be swapped or repaired easily. Design changes can be applied to individual components and not the entire propulsion system. The NASA Glenn innovation eliminates heavy shafts and disks, and allows for airplane modularity as well. This design also enables subsonic to high supersonic flight with the same flowpath. If parts are damaged during flight, only a small percentage of thrust is lost. In addition, the blades can be retracted to enable ramjet or scramjet mode. The engine concept can be used in aviation and marine propulsion.