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PERFECTING THE JET ENGINE WEALTH CREATION

The Trent 1000 which entered service with All Nipon Airways in October 2011 delivers the lowest fuel burn, emissions and noise for the Boeing 787 Dreamliner Each fan blade experiences about 100 tonnes Alternatively, they can increase amount of air being sucked into
and formed the basis for the Environmentally Friendly Engine propulsive efficiency, principally the engine relative to that going
of centrifugal load, equivalent to hanging a by increasing fan diameter. But through the engine core. To do
this has to be balanced with this, the engine’s fan blades need
freight train off each blade. increases in weight and drag to be as large as possible while
which in turn increase fuel minimising the weight and drag
consumption and consequent that increase fuel consumption.
CO2 emissions. Finally, designers There are a number of projects
need to design a propulsion within Rolls-Royce working to
system that minimises noise increase propulsive efficiency.
which can increase engine At the moment, Rolls-
weight and aircraft fuel burn. Royce aero engines use super
plastically formed/diffusion
BIGGER FANS bonded (SPF/DB) hollow
titanium fan blades to deliver the
Making the most of propulsive most efficient fan system created
efficiency is crucial to reducing to date. With the advances in
fuel consumption. A jet engine composite technology, the time
works by sucking in large is right to produce a new, lighter,
amounts of air – see Back to composite system. Composite
basics. So, one way to boost Technology and Applications
efficiency is to increase the Limited (CTAL), a joint venture

BACK TO BASICS
A jet engine works by sucking in large amounts of air, adding energy about 100 tonnes of centrifugal load, equivalent to hanging a freight
to it and pushing it out through the back of the engine. The force train off each blade. All the while the fan blade tip travels at more
(thrust) that is created is used to propel the aircraft forward. than 1,000mph, is exposed to the environmental conditions and
The most obvious part of any large engine is its fan, which must be built to withstand impact from airborne objects, including
sucks in air at the front of the engine. In modern gas turbine birds, which can create massive forces.
engines, more than 90% of this air is routed directly to the back of While 90% of the air in the fan passes directly down the bypass
the engine via the bypass duct. This bypass air provides about 75% duct, the rest passes through the engine’s core, where it is used to

PERFECTING
of the engine’s thrust. generate the power that drives the fan. The cold air is compressed
To develop the most efficient engine, the fan system needs to approximately 1/50th of its original volume, by several stages of
to balance ever larger fan diameters to drive propulsive efficiency compression. Compressing the air raises its temperature to more
benefits against the consequent increase in weight and drag. than 700 °C; at this point, some of the air is routed away from the
Simplistically speaking, the intent is to produce the largest and main gas path and taken to cool even hotter components in the

THE JET ENGINE


lightest fan system possible. combustor and turbine further back in the engine core.
Technologies such as Rolls-Royce’s hollow super plastically When the air leaves the compressors, it enters the engine’s
formed/diffusion bonded SPF/DB titanium fan blades have been combustor, where fuel is injected and burned, sending hot gases
used to achieve this. But the lightness of the fan needs to be downstream to the turbines. Gas temperatures within the combustor
balanced with its strength. Consider that each fan blade experiences are above the melting point of its nickel alloy walls, so cooling air and
a thermal barrier coating are used to protect these walls.
THERMAL, PROPULSIVE AND TRANSFER EFFICIENCIES The final stage of the engine core is its turbines, a series of
bladed disks that spin round, gaining energy from the hot gases
Fuel costs and environmental concerns are The gas turbine engine has and emissions. To make matters leaving the combustor. The hot gas expands and cools as it goes
changed dramatically since more difficult this balance is through the turbines and finally exits through the propelling
heavily influencing developments within the father of jet propulsion, Sir constantly changing in response Bypass flow nozzle. It is this expansion that provides the turbines with enough
the civil aerospace industry. The aircraft of Frank Whittle, unveiled his first to different requirements from energy to drive the compressor and the fan.
Core flow
engine in 1937. Thanks to major aircraft manufacturers. The first stage of turbine blades spin at 10,000 rpm, experiencing
the future and the propulsion systems that advances in materials, design To achieve that balance, 18 tonnes of centrifugal load, equivalent to hanging a double
power them might look radically different in and manufacturing, engines are designers have to make choices. decker bus off each blade. What is more, the temperatures exceed
now much more powerful and They can drive an engine’s 1,600 °C, beyond the melting point of the most advanced materials,
decades to come. Ingenia asked Rolls-Royce, efficient. There are however, thermodynamic cycle harder, Fan
Turbines
so a thermal barrier coating is used and cooling air flows across the
and Professor Philip Ruffles CBE, former plenty of design challenges left boosting its thermal efficiency surface of the blade, which prevents it from melting.
Thermal
to address. and cutting fuel consumption. Combustor Bypass air provides around 75% of the engine’s thrust. The
director of engineering and technology One of the major challenges However, this increases engine Compressors
Transfer
Propulsive remaining hot gas after the final stage of the turbine is allowed
at the company, about the work being for aero engine designers today maintenance costs and can to expand at high velocity through the engine’s exhaust nozzle,
Schematic showing the thermal, propulsive and transfer efficiencies of a jet
is to find the optimum balance raise combustion emissions, engine today providing the remaining 25% of thrust.
undertaken and where that might lead. between fuel economy, noise especially oxides of nitrogen.

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PERFECTING THE JET ENGINE WEALTH CREATION

between Rolls-Royce and GKN uses this composite fan system More radical still, the open design is around blade pitch
Aerospace, is developing new could weigh between 500 and rotor concept has the greatest control. With airflow on to the COMPOSITE MATERIALS
ways to manufacture carbon 1,000 Ibs less (depending on potential to increase bypass fan no longer controlled by a Minimising the weight of an engine can reduce its fuel
fibre fan blades and fan cases. the application) than today’s ratio and propulsive efficiency. duct, the engine control system consumption and carbon dioxide emissions, so engine
Historically, composite equivalent – a weight saving in Here, the fan case and nacelle, must set the blades at the designers have spent recent decades incorporating more
blades have been made by the range of 3-6%. the outer casing of the engine, correct angle to the airflow for and more lightweight alloys and composite components.
hand, but the CTAL team Rolls-Royce is also are removed from the fan any given operating condition Polymer matrix composites (PMCs) account for almost all of
intends to automate production, experimenting with mounting system, leaving the rotors or stage of the aircraft’s journey. the composite materials used in the engine today, despite
increase quality and reduce a bladed spinner in front of exposed without drag from the Installing such an engine to their relatively low temperature capability of less than 150 °C.
manufacturing time. CTAL is the main fan blades in order to surrounding casing, enabling the airframe is a challenge and But this is changing. Indeed, the gas turbine in 20 years’ time
pioneering a technique known boost mass flow. Thus additional extremely high bypass ratios to engine designers are working could see PMCs constituting much of the nacelle, fan system,
as Automated Fibre Placement in gas flow can be captured by be achieved. closely with airframers to ensure shaft support structures casings and stators with Metal Matrix
which a purpose-built robot lays the fan, without increasing the A contra-rotating system open rotor engines could Composites (MMCs) being used in intermediate and high
strips of impregnated carbon load on the fan disk. In essence, using two rows of propeller be accommodated in new pressure compressor rotors.
fibre tape on to a fan-shaped more flow is squeezed through blades would be preferable thus aircraft designs. Future open Meanwhile, MMCs offer possibilities at intermediate
mould, which is then heated a fan of a given diameter. The removing the exit swirl of air that rotor powered aircraft will also The Environmentally Friendly Engine demonstrator is a heavily modified temperatures, particularly in the engine’s compressor section.
Trent 1000 with the fan blades removed. Most of the engineering design and
and pressurised to harden the downside to this would be occurs in a normal single row be slightly slower than their analysis on the project was carried out at Rolls-Royce’s Derby site, while the While this section currently comprises alternate stages of titanium
strips. Once baked, the blade’s that the additional bladed propeller. This would eliminate conventional turbofan-operated assembly and test activity is taking place at Bristol where EFE has a dedicated alloy bladed rotating disks (separately bladed disks) and/or blisks
testbed
root and leading edge are spinner will increase overall wasted energy, thereby achieving counterparts. Along with noise, (integrally bladed disks) with static vanes, engineers are now
machined and coated to protect engine noise. the highest propulsive efficiency. this is a key tradeoff that has looking to remove the inner disk, leaving an integrally bladed
the surface, edged with titanium Engineers are studying ways A key focus of the work to be weighed up against the reinforced ring – or ‘bling’ – to carry all the centrifugal loads.
to boost strength and, finally, of reducing overall engine noise, Rolls-Royce engineers are exceptionally high efficiency The ring at the heart of the bling will be made from a very
painted with an environmental for example by using a mini- undertaking on the open rotor benefits of this engine design. HOTTER CORES demonstrate the next generation
and beyond of world class engine
strong silicon carbon fibres and very stiff titanium metal matrix
protective coating. mixer which mixes some of the Thermal efficiency is essentially composite, in which silicon fibres have been embedded into the
A similar process is being fan exit flow with the gases from technologies. titanium alloy. This composite is twice as stiff and 50% stronger
the efficiency at which the gas
followed to manufacture the fan the hot nozzle. This will reduce Engineers working on the than the parent material, while the bling will be 70% lighter than
generator converts chemical
case, and the process is being noise and improve the transfer energy from fuel into the available EFE demonstrator programme a conventional disk and blade arrangement and 40% lighter than
further developed so it can be efficiency of the engine by More radical still, the open rotor concept has thermal energy in the gas stream. have been testing a range of a blisk.
materials, cooling specifications Importantly, the move from a disk to a blisk configuration will
used to make more complex
structures. The next generation
optimising the energy between
the engine core gas stream and
the greatest potential to increase bypass ratio To extract more thermal
and different methods of film boost the aerodynamic efficiency of the compressor in the engine
energy from the fuel and
of Rolls-Royce engine that bypass stream. and propulsive efficiency. convert it into thrust, the cooling for various blade and to enable further reduction in core size, while the change to a bling
overall pressure ratio (OPR) nozzle shapes. Additional work will create space within the centre of the engine to enable further
from the front of the fan to the on lightweight intercoolers reductions in core size and space for embedded systems such as
rear of the compressor must – devices that cool the air electrical generators, all improving on basic engine performance.
be as high as possible within between compression stages – Ceramic matrix composites (CMCs) suit high temperature
the constraints of available allows the engine to pressurise applications as long as loads are modest. In future engines, a
materials. However, as the OPR the air more efficiently and large proportion of the combustor and turbine systems, nozzles
increases, so do the operating reduce the temperature of the and some of the rear structure will be fabricated with CMCs.
temperature environment of cooling air extracted to cool
the core components and the other areas of the engine.
temperature of the air used to Ongoing studies continue
cool the turbines. to investigate the ‘statorless’
Rolls-Royce carries out turbine. The usual set of
numerous technology stationary guide vanes, which
programmes to improve engine direct gas flow into the next
design and performance. One stage of rotating rotor blades,
such is the Environmentally would be removed so that the
Friendly Engine (EFE) demonstrator gases exiting the upstream
which focuses on improving rotor impinge directly on the
the thermal efficiency of the downstream rotor. This would
A joint initiative by GKN and Rolls-Royce, CTAL aims to leapfrog the manually- engine. EFE utilises a three-shaft lead to a large reduction in
intensive production method of producing carbon composites. They have Trent 1000 engine as used on components and weights, and
developed an automated process capable of significantly faster production Open rotor concept: open rotor technologies offer the potential for significant
rates. Here, an engineer is supervising the lamination of hundreds of layers of reductions in fuel burn and CO₂ emissions relative to turbofan engines of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. This consequently generating fuel A bladed disk, a blisk and a bling
pre-impregnated fibres to produce considerably lighter fan blades © Rolls-Royce equivalent thrust has been heavily modified to burn benefits.

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PERFECTING THE JET ENGINE PROFILE

Lastly, advances in computing


power have led to engineers
of the gap, according to engine
condition, on a second-by-
These future aircraft concepts
are not only radically different,
foresee what the aeroplanes of
tomorrow will look like, but all A BUSINESSLIKE
APPROACH TO
on the project developing new second basis. Systems such as but all point towards a need the signs are that they will burn
algorithms for electronically active tip clearance control are for closer integration between less fuel and emit less carbon
monitoring and controlling the paving the way to an intelligent the airframe and the engine, dioxide and oxides of nitrogen.
engine. Active tip clearance engine that will ‘morph’ to its even designing the aircraft and
control is a key example. Here, operating conditions. the engine as a single, fully See Professor Philip Ruffles’
control software has been integrated entity. talk: Past, present and future

LEARNING
developed to monitor and alter
AIRCRAFT OF Danish physicist Niels Bohr – sustaining the traditions

THE FUTURE
the gap between the tip of a reportedly said that “prediction of Sir Henry Royce at http://
turbine blade and its casing. is very difficult, especially tv.theiet.org/technology/
The turbine tip seal gap is in the Ultimately, tomorrow’s engines about the future”. We cannot transport/13479.cfm
magnitude of the width of a will largely be defined by future
human hair. It minimises airflow aircraft designs. New concepts
losses and keep the blades and in development include Boeing’s
blended wing body, Lockheed
BIOGRAPHY
casing cool. However, the gap

SIR CHRISTOPHER SNOWDEN FREng FRS


Professor Philip Ruffles CBE FREng FRS enjoyed a distinguished
width normally varies throughout Martin’s box-wing and Northrop
career in engineering at Rolls-Royce, becoming director of
flight, as the casing and blade Grumman’s flying wing designs.
engineering and technology from 1997 to 2001. He led on
heat up and cool down and All of the proposed aircraft are
the development of the Trent aero engine, which won the
as the blade is subjected to designed to halve landing and
MacRobert Award. Professor Ruffles was also awarded and the
centrifugal forces. take-off emissions of nitrogen
Prince Philip Medal from the Royal Academy of Engineering and
With active clearance control, oxides by reducing the take-off
became a Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 2001.
Few engineers have moved between business and academia as
sensors in the EFE continuously thrust requirements. They also
monitor the width of this gap aim to cut fuel consumption
fluently and as often as Professor Sir Christopher Snowden. This
and feed data back to the by nearly 50%, compared with Ingenia would like to thank Dr Rebecca Pool, science and technology experience has put him in demand in many areas, not least with
engine’s electronic control unit. aircraft flying today, with a large writer, Ian Doherty, Strategic Marketing Manager at Rolls-Royce, and
Crucially, the control system can proportion of this benefit being John Whurr, Chief Project Engineer – Future Programmes, Rolls-Royce,
policymakers. He tells Michael Kenward that his multidisciplinary
use this data to alter the width delivered by the engines. for their help in producing this article success has not blunted his desire to get to grips with new
technology and share his knowledge with a wider audience.

When it was put to Christopher Snowden


that he should try for the position of vice-
MULTIDISCIPLINARY
Pursuing both business and academic
chancellor of the University of Surrey in activities has long been a personal mission
2004, he had his doubts. He was running for Snowden. It stems from early work
a very successful business and was not experience when he was in his early
sure that the university would welcome twenties. On leaving University of Leeds
a business outsider. Snowden was chief with a degree in electronic engineering, he
executive of Filtronic ICS at the time, but his wanted to do something practical and go
friends told him that he was regarded by straight into industry. He got a job as an
most as an academic as well and after much applications engineer at Mullard and raised
consideration he decided to take on the the idea of getting more qualifications. The
university position. company’s response was that “experience is
It turned out to be a good decision much more valuable.” However, when new
for both parties: for the past seven years, recruits with further degrees leapfrogged
Snowden has overseen the University of him into more senior positions, he decided
Surrey’s steady rise up the academic league to look further afield.
A 10 Watt microwave power MMIC amplifier, which
in 2004 achieved the world record for the highest tables, making it to number 12 in the Even though he had a house with
power density and efficiency © C. Snowden Guardian newspaper’s universities league a mortgage, Snowden returned to
table, 30 places up since his appointment. university. He had already won a prize for
It brings the university near the top-10 an undergraduate project on a distortion
position that Professor Sir Christopher free audio amplifier and had sold the idea
Airframers are looking to the future with designs that can accommodate open rotor (above) or geared turbofans © concept by Royal Aeronautical Society with Snowden (he was knighted in 2012) set to BT. Now, for his next degree, he chose
rendering by Kaktus Digital himself as a goal on taking up the post. microwave communications engineering.

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