As the aviation industry continues to seek out advanced technologies for the means of reducing emissions and the amount of fuel needed for flight, aircraft engines parts are constantly being improved. Beyond initiatives centered around the efficiency of fuel combustion, manufacturers also seek ways to achieve more efficient cooling and heat management to reduce the strain and wear placed on engine components as fuel is continuously burned at intense temperatures. In recent years, several technologies have been researched and developed for the means of creating more efficient aircraft, one of which is capable of increasing combustion efficiency, reducing heat strain, and achieving greener operations.
From the Fraunhofer Institute for Material and Beam Technology IWS, professors Frank Brückner and Mirko Riede developed laser-fabricated microstructures which are capable of maintaining the service lives of thermal barrier coatings. While this assists in heat reduction, such advancements also pose to mitigate the number of pollutant emissions expelled from an aircraft engine. The project was achieved due to close collaboration with Rolls-Royce, whom of which is a world-renowned engine manufacturer.
The technology developed by the partnership is based on additively manufactured microstructures which are relied on for the construction of Thermal Barrier Coatings (TBCs). These TBCs are then implemented on turbine components and aircraft engine parts to affix a ceramic insulating layer to an oxidation-resistant adhesion promoter layer. As many aircraft engine parts and aircraft turbine tools are damaged from expansion as a direct result of heat, the technologies designed by IWS initiate vertical segmentation cracks of the ceramic material layer so that tensile stresses are mitigated for avoiding high amounts of damage. To produce the microstructures that are paramount for such engine advancement, single-mode fiber lasers touting high precision are used to create microstructures as small as 30 microns.
While the insulation and microstructure technologies are capable of increasing the efficiency of an aircraft engine, they also serve to increase combustion temperature. While increasing temperatures can be thought of as detrimental, such heat will create more efficiency as fuel is more optimally burned. As such, fuel consumption rates can be decreased by up to ten percent, and greenhouse gas emissions will be cut down as well. With the reduction of fuel consumption, aircraft operators can save upwards of $2.9 million every year with the implementation of such microstructures.
As of the present, the technology developed by Fraunhofer researchers and Rolls-Royce has had successful test flights in 2015, also being approved by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA). With the completion of production-ready manufacturing, such technology has already seen implementation in long-haul aircraft such as the Airbus A350-1000. In the coming years, the partnered entities hope to see further implementation of their microstructure technology on other aircraft for the benefit and efficiency of engines.
Beyond specific changes to the engine itself, aircraft may also increase their fuel efficiency through improving aerodynamics and navigation. With the addition of winglets, flexible navigation systems, continuous climb, and descent operations, lighter construction, and more, drag can be reduced while also ensuring optimal operations that expend less fuel. If you require various aircraft engine parts, airframe structural materials, and other various aircraft components for increasing efficiency, look no further than Dynaron Enterprises.