Inspenet, November 25, 2023.
Rolls-Royce has marked a significant milestone in its commitment to sustainability by announcing that not only its UltraFan jet engine The demonstration engine, considered the largest and most powerful in the world, has operated at full power using 100% sustainable aviation fuel (SAF), but tests have confirmed that all of its current civil engines are 100% SAF compatible.
In response to increasing pressure on the aerospace industry to develop more efficient and environmentally friendly technologies, this step by Rolls-Royce is particularly relevant as it covers a whole range of products, including its outstanding engine.
The UltraFan, recognized for its size and power, has a 356 cm fan and has the capacity to generate 64 MW of power. In static testing, it has demonstrated a maximum thrust exceeding 85,000 pounds and its technology can be expanded up to 110,000 pounds to accommodate narrow- or wide-body aircraft planned for the 2030s.
One of the standout features of the UltraFan is its geared turbofan and variable pitch fan system. This feature allows the engine’s turbine and fan to operate at their optimal speed, while the carbon composite fan blades can adjust their pitch to optimize each phase of flight. The use of composites in the engine’s construction helps reduce its weight compared to engines using titanium alloy and is estimated to be 10% more efficient than its predecessor, the Trent XWB.
According to Rolls-Royce, some of the technologies developed for the UltraFan can be incorporated into the company’s other current engines. One commonality between these engines is that they have all been certified compatible for operation exclusively with SAF.
A Virgin Atlantic Boeing 787 Dreamliner, equipped with Trent 1000 engines, is expected to make the world’s first transatlantic flight powered entirely by SAF. Currently, international regulations allow mixing up to a maximum of 50% SAF with 50% conventional jet fuel. Successful completion of flight tests and static demonstrations could potentially influence changes in these technical regulations.
“We estimate that to achieve Net Zero flight by 2050, a combination of highly efficient, next-generation gas turbines, such as UltraFan, running on 100% SAF, are likely to contribute around 80% of the total solution.“said Simon Burr, Group Director of Engineering, Technology and Safety at Rolls-Royce plc.
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