Rolls-Royce’s UltraFan engine project has taken a step forwards, as for the first time, all composite elements of the Advanced Low Pressure system (ALPS) including fan blades, a fan case and annulus fillers, were tested together on a donor engine.

The engine parts are manufactured using state-of-the-art, fully automated construction methods at Rolls-Royce’s Composites Technology Facility, a Composites Centre of Excellence.

Each fan blade is made robotically, building around 500 layers of carbon fibre materials. Heat and pressure are then applied, and each blade is finished with a leading titanium edge, which offers protection against foreign objects and bird strikes.

Rolls-Royce said the Advanced Low Pressure System demonstrates it’s IntelligentEngine vision. Each blade has a digital twin and during testing, data will be collected and fed into the digital twins, allowing engineers to predict how each blade will perform in service.

Ash Owen, Rolls-Royce, chief engineer, Civil Aerospace Demonstrator Programmes said: “More than a decade of research and development has brought us to this point and I’m confident that after extreme weather testing in Canada and performance testing in Germany, we can prove ALPS technology even further here in Derby, moving us one step closer to our UltraFan demonstrator.”

The UltraFan is expected to deliver significant weight, noise and fuel burn reductions, and will be 25% more efficient than a first-generation Trent engine.

The Advanced Low Pressure System programme is a partnership between Rolls-Royce, Clean Sky, Innovate UK, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, the Aerospace Technology Institute, ITP Aero and GKN.

Image: Rolls-Royce tests Advanced Low Pressure System (ALPS) in Derby, UK

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