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Fraunhofer – Enabling higher performance jet engines

EARTO Innovation Awards 2018 – Impact Delivered Category

  Jet engine components are exposed to extreme thermal loads, particularly during take-off and landing, and need to be protected by thermal barrier coatings (TBC). These can be damaged by the mechanical stresses of repeated thermal expansion and contraction. One promising idea for enhancing TBC endurance involves tailoring the surface design of components to create a stronger bond with the ceramic top layer.   Innovation: In collaboration with Rolls-Royce, EARTO member Fraunhofer developed additive manufactured filigree metallic structures and a process for coating entire curved components. The solution, based on the work of FP6 project TOPPCOAT, increases TBC performance and lifetime, allows for longer service intervals and reduces fuel consumption by 10%, increasing the overall efficiency of jet engines.   Impact delivered: The innovation has been deployed by Rolls-Royce in its XWB 97 model, used on the Airbus A350. This engine is now the fastest selling widebody jet engine ever, with 1700 engines ordered by 45 customers. Rolls-Royce has invested €100m in its German plant to meet demand. Thanks to the engine’s reduced fuel consumption, a saving of around €2.4m per aircraft per year is estimated. For the 160 Airbus A350s on order, this adds up to savings of €420m  
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  The Fraunhofer- Gesellschaft is a German RTO, which has a clearly defined mission of application-oriented research, with a focus on key technologies of relevance to the future.