Rolls-Royce UltraFan testing

New Rolls-Royce Engine in Critical Testing

Feb. 25, 2019
All carbon-fiber composite components of the UltraFan GTF engine low-pressure system have started an evaluation sequence in a test engine

Rolls-Royce reports its aircraft engineers successfully tested critical components of the developer’s forthcoming UltraFan engine design, evaluating all the composite material elements (fan blades, fan case, and annulus fillers) of the new design’s Advanced Low Pressure system (ALPS) on a donor engine. The test was carried out at Rolls’ engine center in Derby, England.

UltraFan will be Rolls-Royce’s first aircraft engine to adopt geared turbofan technology (its current aircraft engines are mainly high-bypass turbofan technology), a power system it expects will provide at least 25% more fuel-efficiency and similarly reduced emissions levels compared to current standards. The UltraFan’s core architecture incorporates various new technologies and a broader application of high-temperature materials will establish a high power rating but greater fuel efficiency and reduced emissions.

In a geared turbofan, a planetary reduction gearbox between the fan and the low-pressure shaft allows the latter to run at a higher rotational speed, so there are fewer stages used in the turbine and the compressor, reducing weight and enhancing overall efficiency.

The ALPS parts are manufactured at Rolls-Royce’s Composites Technology Facility, a Composites Centre of Excellence, including robotic assembly of carbon-fiber composite materials followed by heat- and pressure-treatment and finishing with a titanium leading edge.

According to Rolls, the ALPS is a demonstration of its IntelligentEngine vision. Each blade has a digital twin – an identical virtual copy. Data collected during testing will be supplied to the digital twins, so that engineers may predict how each blade will perform in service.

“These incredible technologies are taking our world-leading fan efficiency to the next level,” stated Ash Owen, Rolls-Royce chief engineer, Civil Aerospace Demonstrator Programmes. “More than a decade of research and development has brought us to this point and I’m confident that after extreme weather testing in Canada and performance testing in Germany, we can prove ALPS technology even further here in Derby, moving us one step closer to our UltraFan demonstrator.” 

The Advanced Low Pressure System program is a partnership of Rolls-Royce with Clean Sky, Innovate UK, the Dept. for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, the Aerospace Technology Institute, ITP Aero, and GKN.

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