Friday, September 4, 2015

News: Rolls-Royce harnessing world-leading technology for new Trent engines

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The latest Trent engines from Rolls-Royce will create the highest thrust, have the highest operating temperatures, and the most advanced cooling systems the engineers have ever designed in a civil engine, and turbine blades made in Rotherham will be critical to their success.

The most advanced turbine blade casting facility in the world was officially opened on the Advanced Manufacturing Park (AMP) in Rotherham earlier this year.

When fully operational in 2017, the £110m, 150,000 sq ft facility will employ 150 people and have the capacity to manufacture more than 100,000 single crystal turbine blades a year. These blades will feature in a wide-range of Trent aero engines.

The Trent XWB is already the world's most efficient large civil engine. A 97,000lb thrust version is currently undergoing a rigorous test regime as it prepares for first flight later this year. It employs advanced technologies to produce the extra thrust and optimum aircraft performance.
Simon Burr, most recently director of Trent XWB Programmes and now COO for Civil Large Engines at Rolls-Royce, said: "The Trent XWB-97 will be the highest thrust engine we have ever certified, the highest operating temperatures and the most advanced cooling systems we have ever designed in a civil engine. We are working at the leading edge of technology but that is what you do to produce the world's most efficient engines.

"To get the performance and efficiency from this machine we need to grow the turbine temperature capability to a level higher than we have with any large aero engine in the past. Maintaining thermal efficiency at those higher temperatures is critical, so we've invested in new materials and coatings for the high-pressure turbine blades, but also employed an intelligent cooling system that provides the right amount of cooling air to the blade throughout the flight cycle."

The engines will contain turbine blades manufacturing in Rotherham at Rolls-Royce's Advanced Blade Casting Facility (ABCF). "Grown" in a special process which ensures that they are created from a single metal crystal to maximise their strength, these SX blades generate the power of a Formula 1 racing car.

The turbine extracts energy from the hot gas stream received from the combustor in high-thrust aero engines. Turbine blades convert the energy stored within the gas into kinetic energy. It is required to withstand centrifugal loads of up to ten tonnes while operating at temperatures in excess of the melting point of the alloy. One HP blade lasts five million flying miles before being replaced.

Using alloys that are more expensive than silver, the temperature within the high pressure turbine is 1,700 degrees centigrade, so they have to be coated with a special ceramic and cooled with air passed through the discs and out of a series of precise holes in the blade.

Burr concluded: "You are always balancing durability against efficiency in designing aero engines but we have over 80 million hours of Trent experience behind us. This is a robust engine built on decades of 3-shaft engine design understanding."

Rolls-Royce website

Images: Rolls-Royce / Team Activ

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