Rolls-Royce has run its UltraFan engine at maximum power at its Testbed 80 facility in Derby, UK.
The UltraFan is the world’s largest jet engine and has a fan diameter of 140 inches, (3.5m). The world’s most powerful jet engine, the GE9X, has a fan diameter of 134 inches (3.4m).
UltraFan was originally revealed as a new engine unit in 2014. However, a subsequent lack of interest in a new large gas turbine from aircraft makers meant that the engine became a testbed for new technologies for Rolls-Royce’s current and future range of aero-engines.
The initial stage of UltraFan’s test was conducted using 100% Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF).
The testing, which started earlier this year is being done in the world’s largest aero-engine testing facility – Testbed 80, in Derby, UK.
Engineers have been gradually increasing the power of the engine as part of the test program. Rolls-Royce said the engine has performed in line with its expectations.
UltraFan, which is 10% more efficient than Rolls-Royce’s current Trent XWB, features several new technologies. These include the ALECSys (Advanced Low Emissions Combustion System), Advance3 engine core, the Advanced Low Pressure System (ALPS) and the Power Gearbox.
The engine also uses new materials and features carbon titanium fan blades, a composite casing and advanced ceramic matrix composite (CMC) components to reduce weight and operate more effectively in high-pressure turbine temperatures.
According to Rolls-Royce, UltraFan’s technology is scalable and could be used in engines capable of from 25,000 to 110,000 lbs thrust in new narrowbody and widebody aircraft in the 2030s.
The company said that it had already identified several technologies that are transferable to its current Trent engines to improve availability, reliability and efficiency during testing.
Tufan Erginbilgic, CEO of Rolls-Royce, said, “Hitting full power with our UltraFan demonstrator sends a strong message that we are leading the way in the transition to more efficient and sustainable aviation. This fantastic milestone puts us in a strong position to support the plans of our customers as they develop the next generation of super-efficient aircraft.”
Simon Burr, group director of engineering, technology and safety at Rolls-Royce said, “We estimate that to reach Net Zero flying by 2050, a combination of highly-efficient, latest-generation gas turbines such as UltraFan operating on 100% SAF are likely to contribute around 80% of the total solution, which is why today’s announcement is such an important milestone for Rolls-Royce and the wider industry.”