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Volvo Aero's new fan frame on display at the Paris Air Show

Unique carbon-fiber engine component contributes to lower fuel consumption

Volvo Aero has developed and manufactured a fan frame for an aircraft engine that is based on advanced load-carrying parts made of both composites and titanium.

"This is our first demonstrator for the next generation of fan frames. It is also the largest size we have ever produced and the first tangible product from our light-weight focus area of cold structures," said Thomas Sätmark, Vice President Engineering & Technology at Volvo Aero.

The results of Volvo Aero's development activities are expected to generate widespread attention when they exhibited at the Paris Air Show for the first time.

The fan frame is one of the most complex parts of an aircraft engine. One of the reasons for this is that the entire engine is attached to the aircraft through the fan frame engine mount lugs.

"The intermediate case is the center of the engine or its 'backbone'," said Anders Sjunnesson, technology development manager at Volvo Aero.

The fan frame, which has a diameter of approximately 2 meters, is the largest part of a jet engine. For this reason, it was a major challenge for Volvo Aero's engineers to reduce the weight of the component. Volvo Aero has succeeded in reducing the weight of the external section by almost 30%. For the entire component, the weight reduction is about 20%.

In the component that will now be exhibited at Le Bourget outside Paris, Volvo Aero's engineers have succeeded in combining aerodynamic solutions that reduce noise from the engine with a new material and manufacturing technique that retains the component's load-carrying capability, all under the framework of the VITAL European research and technology program, .

One of the bases of the solution is that large parts of the component are manufactured in composites, for example, aerodynamic fan outlet guide vanes. The weight of the metal parts has also been substantially reduced by developing new manufacturing methods for the titanium structures.

The result of this highly advanced development work is fan frame for commercial turbofan engines with a weight of only 180 kg, the like of which has never been seen before.

Two demonstrators have been produced, one of which has been subjected to a fan blade out test, whereby an explosive charge blows a fan blade away from the hub while the engine is tested to see whether the components can sustain the extreme mechanical loads. The second demonstrator is now on display at the Paris Air Show.

It is probable that in a few years the technology behind the demonstrator will be found in aircraft engines of the future that will consume significantly less fuel that today's models. The idea is also that it will also be possible to apply this technology to current aircraft engines, and generate the associated positive effects in terms of fuel consumption and emissions.

Press release issued by GKN Aerospace Engine Systems on June 14, 2009


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GKN Aerospace Engine Systems Compressors, Shafts & Shaft Assemblies, Combustion Chambers, Engine Nozzles, Engine Housings, Engine Parts, Turbofan Engines, Exhaust Systems


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Engine Components

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