Composites Today

Magazine For Composites Professionals

Successful run of UltraFan technology demonstrator to maximum power

Rolls-Royce announced it has successfully run its UltraFan® technology demonstrator to maximum power at its facility in Derby, UK. The initial stage of the test was conducted using 100% Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF).

UltraFan is a demonstrator aero engine – the largest in the world – containing a suite of new technologies that deliver greater fuel efficiency, which in turn means lower emissions and greater sustainability.

This is an important milestone for the UltraFan demonstrator, which was successfully tested for the first time earlier this year. Since then, the UltraFan team has been gradually increasing the power as part of the rigorous testing regime and the demonstrator has performed in line with our expectations. The results of the test will provide us with valuable learning and data, which our teams will now take away and continue to analyse.

This achievement reinforces our confidence in the suite of technologies that has been developed as part of the UltraFan programme. Confirming this capability is a big step towards improving the efficiency of current and future aero-engines as UltraFan delivers a 10% efficiency improvement over our Trent XWB, which is already the world’s most efficient large aero-engine in service. In total that’s a 25% efficiency gain since the launch of the first Trent engine.

UltraFan demonstrator features carbon composites titanium fan blades with a titanium leading edge and a composites casing. That combination reduces the weight of the overall fan system, helping to create additional fuel burn efficiency. The blades were created at the Bristol centre of excellence for composites technology, using an automated tape layup system while the titanium sheath protects against foreign object damage and bird strikes.

The blades are created through the build-up of hundreds of layers of carbon-fibre materials, pre-filled with toughness-enhance resin material. Heat and pressure are then applied.

The blades have already been extensively tested on an Advanced Low-Pressure System (ALPS) development engine, including in-flight testing on the Rolls-Royce Flying Test Bed.

The blades on the UltraFan demonstrator are also record-breakers – with a diameter of 140 inches the fan system is the largest in the world.