NASA is funding research into them. The idea is to carry batteries and an electric motor to drive (or assist driving) the fan section of a turbofan engine to produce thrust. The greenies love the idea because it sounds so green, which is why NASA is spending money on the paper studies. I wouldn't care to ride on one.
The artist's conception sketches show a fairly ordinary looking airliner with two big jet engines slung under the wings.
The article does admit that the idea doesn't really work until the batteries get about five times better than they are today. Current lithium batteries store 150-200 watt hours per kilogram. Everyone admits that the idea needs batteries that can do 1000 watt hours per kilogram, five times better than today. That is gonna take a while. It took 50 years to go from NiCad batteries to lithium for a maybe three times improvement. At that rate of progress it will take another fifty years to get to 1000 watt hours per Kg.
Same issue of Aviation Week carries an article explaining that the International Civil Aviation Organization banning the shipment of lithium batteries on passenger airliners because of the fire hazard.
Your tax money at work.