The UltraFan is a new generation turbofan engine manufactured by Rolls-Royce which could be ready for service from 2025. The main purpose of this new engine is to get a better fuel economy, promising at least 25% improvement in fuel burn, achieved by a variable pitch fan system. The geared pitch UltraFan aims for a 15:1 bypass ratio and 70:1 overall pressure. This is an important upgrade because the Trent 700 has a 5:1 bypass ratio and Advance has an 11:1 bypass ratio.
Rolls-Royce announced that this turbofan engine should work with 100% Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) because gas turbines will continue to power long-haul aviation for many years. Features of the engine include Advance 3 core architecture combined with Rolls-Royce’s ALECSys lean-burn combustion system, to deliver maximum fuel burn efficiency and low emissions, carbon titanium fan blades and a composite casing that reduces weight by up to 1,500lb per aircraft, advanced ceramic matrix composite (CMC) components that operate more effectively in high-pressure turbine temperatures, and a geared design that delivers efficient power for the high-thrust, high bypass ratio engines of the future.
Behind the scenes, the engine is equipped with many sensors and technology:
”Each fan blade has a digital twin which stores real-life test data, allowing engineers to predict in-service performance. When on test at Rolls-Royce’s new £90m Testbed 80 facility, data can be taken from more than 10,000 parameters, detecting the tiniest of vibrations at a rate of up to 200,000 samples per second.”
This new engine is almost 3.6 meters in diameter and the first engine should be produced by the end of the year. The UltraFan development received funding from a variety of agencies such as Aerospace Technology Institute and Innovate UK (United Kingdom), LuFo (Germany), and Clean Sky Joint Undertaking (European Union).
Some key engineering features of this engine include:
- The new Advance 3 core architecture, combine with ALECSys lean burn combustion system;
- Carbon titanium fan blades and a composite casing that reduce weight by ip to 680kg per aircraft;
- A geared design that delivers efficient power for the high-thrust, high bypass ratio engine.
Some other features are the CTi fan system that makes each fan blade pitch variable and removes the need for a thrust reverser and the use of next-generation components like ceramic matrix composites for nozzles and shrouds, next-generation high-strength nickel alloys, compressors with bladed disks, and metal-matrix-composite rings and advanced hybrid ceramic bearings all combine to withstand higher temperature and help to push the pressure ratio to 70:1. Also, by wrapping a new low-pressure system around the Advance core, the low-pressure turbine is removed and both the geared fan and intermediate pressure(IP) compressor are driven by the IP turbine.
The first engine demonstrator it will be called UF001 is already in production and Rolls-Royce engineers are looking forward to seeing it built and ready for testing.
We can say that the aviation industry is ready to change the way we travel because of the commitment to greener technologies. UltraFan engine is another example because is a first step twords greener fuels which reduce CO2 and NOx emissions. This also means a better turnaround time and a reduction in noise pollution, which could make living around the airport a better place.