Rolls-Royce completes first successful tests of UltraFan technology demonstrator

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Rolls-Royce announces Thursday that it has successfully completed the first tests of its UltraFan technology demonstrator at its Derby, UK facility. The first tests were conducted using 100% sustainable aviation fuel (SAF).

This is a historic moment for Rolls-Royce: it is the first time in 54 years that the aero engine manufacturer has tested an entirely new engine architecture.

Confirming the capability of the suite of technologies incorporated in the demonstrator is a major step toward improving the efficiency of current and future aero engines. The UltraFan improves the efficiency of the Trent XWB, already the most efficient large aero engine in service in the world, by 10%.

In the near term, options exist to transfer technologies from the UltraFan development program to current Trent engines, which will provide customers with even greater availability, reliability and efficiency.

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In the long term, UltraFan’s scalable technology, with thrust between 25,000 and 110,000 pounds, offers the potential to power new narrow- and wide-body aircraft planned for the 2030s.

“The technologies we are testing under this program have the capability to improve current and future engines. That’s why this announcement is so important: we are witnessing a historic shift in improving engine efficiency. When combined with sustainable aviation fuels, more efficient gas turbine engines will be key to achieving the industry’s goal of net zero flights by 2050. Today we are closer to achieving this ambition,” commented Tufan Erginbilgic, CEO of Rolls-Royce.

“Collaboration is key to driving the decarbonization of air transport and the UltraFan program is a great example of what can be achieved when government and industry come together for a common purpose,” Erginbilgic added.

The tests were conducted on Bench 80, the world’s largest and smartest aviation engine bench in the world. Air bp supplied 100% of the PBS, derived primarily from sustainable waste-based feedstocks such as used cooking oils.

The demonstrator test is the culmination of many years of work, which has been supported by the UK Government through the Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI), Innovate UK, EU Clean Sky programs, LuFo and the State of Brandenburg (Germany).

UltraFan has been a decade in the making and its concept was publicly presented in 2014. It is a fundamentally different design architecture to the approximately 4,200 large Rolls-Royce Civil engines currently in service, as it incorporates a gear design that no other player in the industry has produced before at this size.

These are its main technical characteristics:

  • A new, proven, Advance3 core architecture, combined with our ALECSys lean burn combustion system, to deliver maximum fuel burn efficiency and low emissions
  • Carbon titanium fan blades and a composite casing
  • A geared design that delivers efficient power for the high-thrust, high bypass ratio engines of the future. The power gearbox has run at 64MW, an aerospace record
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