Rolls-Royce has officially started building the world’s largest engine, UltraFan®, which will redefine sustainable travel for decades to come.
Work on the first module is underway at our dedicated DemoWorks facility in Derby, UK, and the demonstrator engine, which has a fan diameter of 140 inches, will be completed by the end of the year.
The engine is the basis for a potential new family of UltraFan engines able to power both narrowbody and widebody aircraft and deliver a 25 per cent fuel efficiency improvement compared with the first generation of Trent engine.
That performance improvement is crucial to aviation sustainability. Gas turbines will continue to be the bedrock of long-haul aviation, and UltraFan’s efficiency will help improve the economics of an industry transition to more sustainable fuels, which are likely to be more expensive in the short-term than traditional jet fuel. The first test run of the engine will be conducted on 100 per cent Sustainable Aviation Fuel.
Chris Cholerton, Rolls-Royce, President – Civil Aerospace, said: “This is an exciting moment for all of us at Rolls-Royce. Our first engine demonstrator, UF001, is now coming together and I’m really looking forward to seeing it built and ready for test. It is arriving at a time when the world is seeking ever more sustainable ways to travel in a post-COVID 19 world, and it makes me and everyone on our UltraFan team very proud to know we are part of the solution.”
As engine build starts, other key parts are already coming together for delivery to Derby. Work is underway on UltraFan’s carbon titanium fan system in Bristol, UK, and its 50MW Power Gearbox, which is powerful enough to run 500 family cars, in Dahlewitz, Germany.
UltraFan is part of the of Rolls-Royce’s IntelligentEngine vision – for example each fan blade has a digital twin which stores real-life test data, allowing engineers to predict in-service performance. When on test at Rolls-Royce’s £90m new Testbed 80 facility, data can be taken from more than 10,000 parameters, detecting the tiniest of vibrations at a rate of up to 200,000 samples per second. Data that helps us understand our engines and further improve them.
Key engineering features of the engine include:
- A new, proven, Advance 3 core architecture, combined with our ALECSys lean burn combustion system, to deliver maximum fuel burn efficiency and low emissions
- Carbon titanium fan blades and a composite casing that reduce weight by up to 1,500lb per aircraft
- Advanced ceramic matrix composite (CMC) components that operate more effectively in high pressure turbine temperatures
- A geared design that delivers efficient power for the high-thrust, high bypass ratio engines of the future
Significant investment has been made to develop the UltraFan demonstrator and associated technologies by Rolls-Royce and a variety of funding agencies, including the Aerospace Technology Institute and Innovate UK (United Kingdom), LuFo (Germany) and Clean Sky Joint Undertaking (European Union).