The secrets of the newest Il-114-300

Its construction uses modern composite materials, so it is much lighter and more economical, including new powerful Russian engines

On April 7, at the aircraft plant in Lukhovitsy near Moscow, the second prototype of the Il-114-300 was presented. This new turboprop aircraft is an upgraded version of the Il-114 and is intended for regional transportation. Its construction uses modern composite materials, so it is much lighter and more economical, including new powerful Russian engines.

IL-114-300 is already called an air minibus. It is modern, safe, but also unpretentious in maintenance at any airfield, even if there is a difficult short runway. Hundreds of regional airfields need the Il-114-300, which will replace the obsolete An-24 and An-26 aircraft. The main task is to connect remote settlements with regional centers.

“The main thing for regional aerodromes is that this aircraft has a minimum clearance. Here you can get to everything without special airfield equipment. The plane also has its own built-in ladder, through which all 68 people can climb. The Il-114-300 can carry up to 7 tons at a time, “Zvezda’s correspondent Alexei Koshkin said.

Deputy Prime Minister of Russia Yuri Borisov, together with the leadership of the United Aircraft Corporation, boarded a prototype aircraft and talked to test pilots right in the cockpit, where all the instruments are located on five modern LCD monitors. 

“For 30 years we have not made such aircraft. The market is waiting for something, ”Borisov said.

The Deputy Prime Minister also examined the production facilities of the enterprise and the IL-114-300 final assembly shop. There he was also presented with a second prototype aircraft, the assembly of which is proceeding according to the approved deadlines. This model has an updated airframe. It is being assembled using serial technologies, just as all the planes that will go to carry passengers and goods in the regions will be built.

Mass production expected to start in 2023

“We expect that from 2023 the aircraft will enter the series. The production capacity of this workshop is designed for at least 12 aircraft per year. The aircraft has chances in terms of export potential. It can be useful both in India and Iran, ”the Deputy Prime Minister said.

This new turboprop aircraft will withstand temperatures ranging from +45 to -55 degrees. According to the chief designer, the Il-114-300 is also super-safe.

“It has a modern flight and navigation complex for flights in adverse weather conditions, it has modern digital control engines. There is a new air conditioning system on it, ”said Sergei Ganin, chief designer of Il PJSC.

The new aircraft is being created from domestic components. Most of the equipment systems were developed by Rostec enterprises.

“Any employee can come up here, look at a 3D model in order to control or get some initial data for performing work on the plane,” said Alexander Fokin, head of the final assembly shop.

The first prototype Il-114-300 took off for the first time on December 16, 2020 at the airfield in Zhukovsky. The flight task included checking the operating modes of the power plant, the stability and controllability of the aircraft, as well as the functioning of its systems. Flight tests are still ongoing. Two more aircraft will join the test program. During the assembly of this aircraft, the cooperation of various enterprises of the United Aviation Corporation is being worked out.

Alternative to Suez: The Northern Sea Route

Finnish designers have developed a container ship for the Northern Sea Route

Suez Canal was blocked for one week by the giant container ship Ever Given. Alternative routes from Europe to Asia are increasingly being discussed. The Northern Sea Route (NSR) is no exception.

On March 22, the day before the incident in the Suez Canal, the Finnish design bureau Aker Arctic , specializing in ice technology, presented a project of an Arctic container ship for the NSR. Detailed information is contained in the corporate publication of a Finnish company. 

Prototypes

The concept design of a container ship with a capacity of 8 thousand TEU for year-round operation on the NSR is based on previous developments by Aker Arctic for the region. A series of reinforced ice-class container ships of the Norilsk Nickel type and LNG carriers of the Arc7 class for the Yamal LNG project.

The container ship for the NSR will differ from other vessels of a similar type with an ice-reinforced hull. As well as icebreaker-type bow lines, and equipment for protecting cargo from the cold.

Two options

According to Luigi Portunato, shipbuilding engineer at Aker Arctic, the vessel can be built in two versions.

The first assumes the use of the “double acting ship” technology. It is due to the hull lines and the propulsion complex higher than the nose. In this case, the hybrid propulsion system consists of one shaft line with a central propeller and two rudder propellers along the sides.

The second , more traditional option, involves the use of two shafting with propellers and two rudders.

The container ship with rudder propellers will be able to operate on the NSR all year round. It would be moving stern ahead in difficult ice conditions. A container ship with propellers in difficult conditions will need the help of an icebreaker.

A special feature of the double-acting container ship will be an additional wheelhouse located in the aft part of the mooring deck. That will be used when moving aft forward. In addition, due to low operating temperatures, the bridge between the engine room and the wheelhouse with living quarters will be located below deck.

Container ship for work on the Northern Sea Route / Illustration: Aker Arctic

Specifications

At the moment, the following technical characteristics of the container ship from Aker Arctic are known:

  • container capacity – 8000 TEU;
  • length – about 300 m;
  • width – 46 m;
  • draft – 13 m;
  • power (option 1) – 56 MW (propeller 1×22 MW, rudder propellers 2×17 MW);
  • power (option 2) – 44 MW (propellers 2×22 MW);
  • icebreaking capacity (option 1) – 2.3 m (at 3 knots, nose forward);
  • icebreaking capacity (option 2) – 1.9 m (at 3 knots, nose forward)

Project economics

When developing the project of the container ship, two options for the use of Arctic container ships on the Northern Sea Route were calculated. From Asian ports to European ports. As well as only in the section between the supposed container hubs in Murmansk and Kamchatka.

As a result, the designers came to the conclusion that the cost of transportation of a conventional container decreases with an increase in the vessel’s capacity for all options. At the same time, it is difficult to pinpoint the point when the options for transportation along the NSR become more profitable than the route through the Suez Canal. This is influenced by many factors, including the cost and type of fuel, the degree of loading of the vessel, etc.

According to Luigi Fortunatto, in the current market conditions, using an Arctic container ship is slightly more expensive than crossing the Suez Canal. The economic efficiency of Arctic container ships could be increased by switching to liquefied natural gas (LNG). At the same time, the shorter route from Asia to Europe along the NSR gives a gain in time. If earlier the speed and adherence to the schedule could only be guaranteed in summer, then with the new container ship we can already talk about the winter-spring period.

It is worth noting that the Aker Arctic publication does not mention the customer for the new vessel. It can be assumed that it is a subsidiary of Rosatom, Rusatom Cargo, which is implementing a project to create the Northern Sea Transit Corridor (SMTK). Earlier it became known about the company plans to start pilot operation of Arctic container ships of the Arc7 class as early as 2024.

Explained: ZF two-speed EV gearbox

By Daniel Gardner

German transmission giant cuts new teeth on two EV ratios

With the exception of a handful of high-end high-performance models, all electric vehicles use a simple single-speed transmission to send power from the motor to the wheels.

The solution is cost-effective, and the incredible torque characteristics of an electric motor ensure swift acceleration even with one gear. But now an innovation by transmission giant ZF is about to take EVs up a gear – literally.

Its new universal drive unit, offering a turn-key drivetrain for manufacturers looking to develop a mainstream EV, incorporates a 140kW electric motor and, crucially, a game-changing two-speed gearbox.

At low speeds and in stop-start traffic, an electric motor is at its most efficient, offering regenerative braking to recoup power under deceleration and without power-sapping drag to fight. But at cruising speed, the rapidly spinning motor puts a high demand on the battery, compounded by aerodynamic and tyre resistance.

However, when vehicles fitted with ZF’s new unit pass 70km/h, the gearbox shifts up into its taller cruising ratio, lowering the motor’s RPM for greater efficiency and optimised torque.

Until now, manufacturers have had to choose between low-speed torque or high-speed efficiency and lock that decision into the single gear ratio, but this potentially revolutionary twin-ratio solution is offering something closer to the best of both worlds.

High hopes Down Under

Touring this great land of ours under EV power is a tall order, but multi-speed ’boxes could be part of the answer. Lower gears would provide maximum towing torque for trailers and caravans, while higher gears would impart long legs for vehicles on the interstate run, reducing charge consumption.

Ratio to the finish

As with manual and automatic gearboxes, expect to see EV transmissions with more ratios. ZF is up to nine in its automatics for ICE, and more cogs in an EV gearbox will bring similar benefits – more potent acceleration and torque, increased motor life, and longer cruising range.

Rival gear

Global auto supplier GKN is already manufacturing a two-speed transmission it calls the eAxle, which is, in part, responsible for the dazzling performance of the Porsche 918 Spyder and BMW i8. But with the potential to drive a greater number of mass-market cars, the unit cost of ZF’s transmission will plummet.

Source: WHICHCAR

Beijing wants 100,000 hydrogen cars by 2025

Lured by government incentives and research, manufacturers are rushing to set up production plants

China expects to have 100,000 cars powered by clean-burning hydrogen cells on its roads within five to six years as it challenges such countries as Japan and South Korea for dominance of the emerging carbon-free automotive markets.

There are already more electric vehicles in China than anywhere else, but an expert in new energy sources with the Chinese Academy of Sciences told Xinhua that the research and production focus was now shifting to hydrogen fuel cells. With their outstanding energy-conversion efficiency and zero carbon emissions, the cells are tipped to replace fossil-fuel engines and rechargeable batteries as the global power source for transport.

The blueprint for the program will be China’s successful marketing of electric cars: There were almost none 10 years ago, but a million electric and hybrid cars were sold to the public and private sectors last year, more than the rest of the world combined.

They use lithium-ion packs, which need to be recharged every 350-600 kilometers. In contrast, fuel cells generate their own electricity when hydrogen interacts with oxygen and do not need charging. Instead, they have hydrogen tanks that can hold far more energy, while the only byproducts are heat and water.

Beijing aims to add 30,000 “clean” vehicles in 30 cities each year from 2019, mostly powered by hydrogen, with the initial emphasis likely to be on public transportation. The government has invested more than US$12 billion in fuel cell technologies.

Lured by government research and production subsidies, domestic automakers such as Great Wall Motor, Yutong Bus and Foton Motor have rushed into the promising hydrogen automotive sector since last year. Changchun-based First Automobile Work, China’s oldest carmaker, has announced plans to mass-produce a fuel-cell version of its flagship marque Hongqi this year.

A 12 billion yuan (US$1.77 billion) hydrogen automobile plant is also being built in Guangdong province, backed by Hong Kong business magnate Li Ka-shing. Production will start by the end of this year, with an annual output of 160,000 units expected within five years.

Chinese policymakers may also offer incentives to accelerate the construction of fueling stations for hydrogen cars, according to China Security Times. There are currently only 12 functioning stations.

Some earlier versions of hydrogen-powered cars are already on the road, such as the Toyota Mirai and Honda Clarity, but the fuel they carry is expensive, volatile and prone to explode. To overcome these problems, the University of Science and Technology of China said this year that it had invented a new catalyst capable of preventing highly flammable hydrogen fuel cells from overheating.

A research team with the university’s School of Chemistry and Materials Science said the catalyst would prevent cells from being affected by carbon monoxide and allow for the manufacturing of high-purity hydrogen at a time when the costs of making fuel cells and building and running hydrogen pipelines and fueling stations are still prohibitive. The battery would be able to work with temperature changes.

Older vehicles may be converted to hydrogen as technologies become available. In one notable breakthrough, Chinese researchers have adapted methanol, an alcohol made easily from coal, to hydrogen gas so it can power cars. The methanol releases hydrogen and carbon dioxide when it comes into contact with water, and the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Coal Chemistry has developed a way to get a faster reaction under normal temperatures by using a device that can fit into a compact car.

The reaction chamber has a volume of only about 100 milliliters, and the vehicle can carry two fuel tanks – one for methanol and a smaller one for water – according to Xinhua and the South China Morning Post.