Rolls-Royce outlines composites use in next-generation engine

The Rolls-Royce Advance and UltraFan engines will feature carbon fiber/titanium fan blades and use ceramic matrix composites in high-heat components.

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Rolls­-Royce (London, U.K.) on Feb. 26 shared details of its next-generation of engine designs, which could be ready within 10 years, featuring technology innovation designed to transform performance.

Rolls-­Royce says it is looking to build on the success of the Trent family of engines with two new generation engine designs. The first design, Advance, will offer at least 20 percent better fuel burn and CO2 emissions than the first generation of Trent engine and could be ready by the end of this decade.

The second, UltraFan, a geared design with a variable pitch fan system, is based on technology that could be ready for service by 2025 and will offer at least 25 percent improvement in fuel burn and emissions against the same baseline.

The designs will feature architecture and technology improvements, all currently at an advanced stage of development, that include:

  • A new engine core architecture­ to deliver maximum fuel burn efficiency and low emissions
  • A CTi fan system featuring­ carbon fiber/titanium fan blades and a composite casing that reduces weight by up to 1,500 lb/680 kg per aircraft, the equivalent of carrying seven more passengers at no cost
  • Advanced ceramic matrix composites —­ heat resistant components that operate more effectively in high turbine temperatures
  • A geared design, called UltraFan, which will deliver efficient power for high-­thrust, high-­bypass ratio engines of the future.

Colin Smith, Rolls-­Royce director ­engineering and technology, says, "These new designs are the result of implementing our ongoing technology programs. They are designed to deliver what our airframe and airline customers tell us they need: even better fuel efficiency, reliability and environmental performance."

In addition, Rolls­-Royce says it has developed and tested technologies to support the Open Rotor engine concept and is positioned to mature them should there be clear market demand for such a product. 

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