Rolls-Royce lean-burn combustion engine starts icing tests


The lean burn engine in Manitoba, Canada

Rolls-Royce engineers have started icing tests of on its lean-burn demonstrator engine, which uses a combustion system that improves the mixing of air and fuel before ignition for a leaner burn and lower emissions.

The ALECSys (Advanced Low Emissions Combustion System) demonstrator successfully started the tests in Manitoba, Canada, at temperatures of -20C, one month after its first ever test run in Derby. 

Technology from ALECSys is being used in both the Advance3 and the UltraFan engines. By constantly monitoring environmental conditions and the pilot’s thrust requirement, ALECSys alters the mixture of fuel and air delivered to various injection points to minimize NOx and other emissions. Tests have so far shown a halving of NOx at cruise, compared to today’s levels.

Andy Geer, Rolls-Royce, chief engineer and head of technology programs, said, “This is another significant step for the ALECSys program. Our computer models have given us an in-depth understanding of how the system works in extremes of cold and this series of tests will physically validate that. We are confident that this will offer significant benefits for our customers.”

ALECSys, which has received funding from the European Union’s Clean Sky SAGE (Sustainable And Green Engine) program, is carrying out the tests housed in a Trent 1000 “donor” engine.

March 27, 2018


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Ben has worked all of his career as a journalist and now editor, covering almost all aspects of technology, engineering and industry. In the last 20 years he has written on subjects from nuclear submarines and autonomous cars to future design and manufacturing technologies and commercial aviation. Latterly editor of a leading engineering magazine, he brings an eye for a great story and lots of experience to the team.

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