Environmental assessment of hybrid-electric propulsion in conceptual aircraft design

João Ribeiro, Frederico Afonso, Inês Ribeiro, Bruna Ferreira, Hugo Policarpo, Paulo Peças, Fernando Lau

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


The aeronautic industry is facing increasing pressure to design more efficient and sustainable aircraft to mitigate their impact on the environment. These solutions are mainly focused on: aerodynamics, structures/materials, propulsion and operations. This paper focuses on the potential of electric propulsion systems in different aircraft segments for reducing the environmental impact in the aircraft life cycle. With a twofold contribution and linking different areas, this study presents a methodological proposal for the environmental assessment of the propulsion system change in a consequential Life Cycle Assessment perspective. This methodology uses data from both a modified conceptual aircraft design adapted to hybrid-electric aircraft and a battery study. Results show not only the environmental impacts of the required battery systems for each aircraft segment in a life cycle perspective, but also in what contexts the hybrid-electric propulsion may be considered a best alternative environmentally when compared with fuel propulsion systems. For that, a sensitivity analysis illustrate the results for different electricity mix contexts and for different battery cell capacities. The main contribution for the overall life cycle impact is the process of charging a battery system, therefore the source of electricity generation is crucial for the environmental sustainability of a hybrid-electric aircraft.

Original languageEnglish
Article number119477
JournalJournal of Cleaner Production
Early online date29 Nov 2019
Publication statusPublished - 20 Feb 2020


  • conceptual design
  • hybrid-electric aircraft
  • life cycle assessment
  • lithium-based batteries

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