Aircraft engine demonstrator program targets emissions

The €2 million in funding will be used on research and development of composites and metals designed to reduce aero-engine weight and cut emissions by 50 percent by 2020.

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The G5Demo project, led by GKN Aerospace (Redditch, Worcestershire, U.K.) and part of the Swedish Green Aerospace Demonstrator program, is to receive €2 million ($2.71 million USD) in funding from Vinnova, a Stockholm-based government agency that promotes innovative systems. An aircraft engine demonstrator program, G5Demo is focused on developing and maturing technologies that will cut aero-engine CO2 emissions by 50 percent by 2020. Matching funds, in the form of an equivalent investment by GKN Aerospace, will be provided over a two-year period to support an increase in the scope of G5Demo activities.

The Green Aerospace Demonstrator program is intended to encourage industry and research establishments in Sweden to participate in international new technology demonstrator programs, such as Clean Sky (a European research project for the introduction of new, radically “greener” air transport products). One goal is an increase in small- and medium-sized company/organization participation.

G5Demo currently supports two Swedish aerospace manufacturing technology centers: Linköping-based COMPRASER, which focuses on composites, and Innovatum (Trollhättan, Sweden), which focuses on metals.

GKN Aerospace acquired Trollhättan-baed Volvo Aero in 2012 and has integrated the company to form GKN Aerospace Engine Systems. GKN’s second Swedish facility is GKN Aerospace Applied Composites AB (ACAB) in Linköping, with 70 employees and an annual turnover of 130,000 Swedish Krona (SEK) or $20 million. The latter produces a wide range of products, from filament-wound driveshafts, pressure vessels and missile components to resin transfer molded (RTM) below-deck missile exhaust channels for Visby-class corvettes (73m/240-ft stealth ships that serve Sweden’s Navy) to aerospace engine and structural components.

GKN Aerospace will contribute innovative manufacturing technologies and advanced materials to the project, reportedly enabling lightweight, state-of-the-art engine structures that then can be validated in the full-sized aero-engines that will function as the project’s demonstrators. Through G5Demo, GKN Aerospace will support Sweden-based universities, research centers and small-/medium-sized enterprises, introducing them to international collaboration and working with them to realize and assess a variety of new technologies and processes.

Engine parts under development through G5Demo already include a 15 percent lighter turbine structure that can survive significantly higher temperature conditions; a composite/metal hybrid fan frame that is 30 percent lighter than comparable frames; rotating frames for “open rotor” engines; and compressor structures manufactured via additive manufacturing (i.e., 3-D printing). Also under investigation are automated composite manufacturing, novel welding technologies and new, high-temperature metal alloys.