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Rolls-Royce opens composite fan blade facility in Bristol, U.K.

The facility is developing carbon fiber composite fan blades and fan cases for the Rolls-Royce UltraFan jet engine demonstrator.
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Rolls-Royce composites facility Bristol UK

Source | Rolls-Royce

 

Rolls-Royce (Derby, U.K.) reported on Jan. 9 that it has opened a new facility in Bristol, U.K. to develop carbon fiber composite fan blades and fan cases for use on jet engines. The company says the goals for its new technologies are to reduce emissions, significantly reduce jet engine weight and lower fuel consumption.

The fan blades and fan cases being made at the facility are a feature of the Rolls-Royce UltraFan engine demonstrator, an engine design that the company says will reduce fuel burn and CO2 by at least 25% compared to its first Trent engine design. According to Rolls-Royce, one of its fan systems made with carbon fiber composites can save almost 700 kilograms per aircraft, the equivalent of seven passengers and their luggage.

carbon fiber composites at Rolls-Royce Bristol facility

Source | Rolls-Royce

Rolls-Royce says its fan blades comprise hundreds of layers of carbon fiber materials pre-filled with resins. After heat and pressure are applied, each blade is finished with a thin titanium leading edge, which reportedly offers protection against erosion, foreign objects and bird strikes.

Rolls-Royce has developing carbon fiber technologies for several decades for use in engine parts. The new facility intends to take this technology to the next level, in part due to partnerships with the National Composites Centre (Bristol) and the Rolls-Royce University Technology Centre at the University of Bristol, in addition to other universities and research centers in the U.K. and Europe.

Rolls-Royce composites facility in Bristol

Source | Rolls-Royce

The new facility will reportedly use low-energy, low-emissions processes, and is said to feature state-of-the-art automated manufacturing methods and materials. It also intends to maximize the use of raw materials, reducing waste. Rolls-Royce has pledged to achieve zero emissions at its operations and facilities by 2030.

The facility has secured 150 jobs in Bristol. An existing Rolls-Royce composite manufacturing technology facility, along with around 30 employees, has been transferred to Bristol from the Isle of Wight. 

“This incredible new facility exemplifies our commitment to creating cleaner, more efficient forms of power,” says Alan Newby, Rolls-Royce director of aerospace technology and future programmes. “Our highly-skilled employees will use the latest technology, materials and manufacturing techniques to develop components that will contribute to lighter, quieter, more powerful jet engines with fewer emissions.”

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