Rolls-Royce has successfully completed the first tests of its UltraFan demonstrator aero engine at its facility in Derby, UK. The first tests were conducted using 100% Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF).
The company claims the new engine technology is quieter and more fuel efficient than anything it has made before. UltraFan delivers a 10% efficiency improvement over the Trent XWB, which is already the world’s most efficient large aero engine in service.
It is the first time in 54 years the aero-engine manufacturer has tested a brand-new engine architecture, and it is proof of what can be achieved when industry and Governments work together. Confirming the capability of the suite of technologies incorporated in the demonstrator is a big step towards improving the efficiency of current and future aero-engines.
The UltraFan is the world’s largest aero-engine demonstrator containing a suite of new technologies that deliver greater fuel efficiency, which in turn means lower emissions and greater sustainability. These technologies are scalable and capable of being developed to create an engine with a thrust range of 25,000lb to more than 100,000lb for narrowbody or widebody aircraft that may be developed in the 2030s.
UltraFan aero engine has a 140-inch fan diameter; the large fan and relatively small core are key to its efficiency. The engine can deliver 64MW of power during testing and offers a 25% fuel burn improvement on the first generation of the Trent engine.
“The UltraFan demonstrator is a game changer – the technologies we are testing as part of this program have the capability to improve the engines of today as well as the engines of tomorrow,” said Tufan Erginbilgic, CEO of Rolls-Royce. “That is why this announcement is so important – we are witnessing history in the making, a step-change in engine efficiency improvement. When combined with Sustainable Aviation Fuels, more efficient gas turbine engines will be key to hitting the industry’s target of Net Zero flight by 2050. Today we are closer to achieving this ambition.”
The first test of the aero engine took place in the world’s largest and smartest indoor aero-engine testing facility – Testbed 80. The 100% SAF, derived primarily from waste-based sustainable feedstocks such as used cooking oils, was provided by Air bp.
The UltraFan has been a decade in the making after being unveiled publicly in 2014. It is a fundamentally different design architecture to that within the approximately 4,200 Rolls-Royce Civil large engines currently in service, as it incorporates a geared design that no other industry player has produced at this size before.