Our Prototypes column introduces new vehicle concepts and presents visuals from designers who illustrate the ideas. Some of them will be extensions of existing concepts, others will be new, some will be production ready, and others really far-fetched.
The Mercuri is a radical aircraft concept that uses a distributed layout to power 40 micro propellers embedded in its wings. It is capable of vertical take-off (VTOL) and could cover 10 times the range of asimilar aircraft with its recuperated Brayton cycle ceramic turbine and ground effect capabilities.
Renderings provided by Charles Bombardier
I recently met with and at the University of Sherbrooke’s Interdisciplinary Institute for Technological Innovation (3IT) to brainstorm on future vehicles concepts and we came up with the Mercuri personal aircraft idea by integrating some of the past and current theoretical work from the high power density engine department.
How it works
The Mercuri uses a hybrid powerpack composed of two components. The first one is a 300hp gas turbine that uses a recuperated Brayton cycle engine. The second would be an ion lithium battery that would handle peak power demands during take-off (more than 500 horsepower). The turbine’s blades would be made of ceramic (alumina) held within a composite rim to withstand internal temperatures of 1550 degrees Celsius and thus achieve high efficiencies.
Power from the turbine and batteries is distributed to 40 electric propellers embedded between the wing and the flaps. These 10 Kw microprops pull the air over the wings and permit the Mercuri to fly like an aircraft. The rear flaps can tilt upward and allow the Mercuri to vertically take-off.
The final number of props will change based on various factors. Please note that the props’ size on the renderings was increased to facilitate comprehension, which is why you count 10 of them instead of 20 on each side.
By using a distributive and hybrid power approach, it would be possible to increase the range of the Mercury by 10 times compared to similar models. If you take into account that the Mercuri was also built with ground effect in mind, you could increase its payload or further increase the range without consuming more fuel than a similar-sized turbine aircraft with VTOL capabilities.
The cockpit is roomy enough for one large person and his luggage. Most of the flight would be automated to reduce the risk of incidents, but it would be possible to take over at some point to simply have fun and fly .
The riders position initially was horizontal, lying head to the front and facing down, which is why we created a full cockpit window that extends to the floor. However, depending on the attitude of the Mercury in flight, it might be easier to seat the pilot in a conventional position, slightly leaned back.
What it’s used for
The Mercuri could be used to commute to work—if you have enough capital to purchase and operate one, that is. It could also be used as an entry-level business jet. With its VTOL capacity, you would be able to land it directly at the factory, and it would fly much faster than a helicopter. By scaling the design up, one could imagine a 100-seat regional ground effect vehicle capable of travelling near the coastline. This would increase local seaboard trading and reinforce the ties between coastal cities.
I would like to thank , who created the images of the Mercuri concept. Rico lives near Buenos Aires, Argentina. He studied Design at the University of Buenos Aires and now works as a Freelance Industrial Designer. Rico also created the images of the cart for the homeless and the shipping robot concepts.