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AMRC developing propeller blades to reduce C emission

Feb '20
Composite scientists at the University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre have are developing lightweight propeller blades to help the UK aviation sector reduce its carbon footprint and noise emissions at airports. The project is being carried by an industry-led consortium with two other members of the High Value Manufacturing Catapult.

The AMRC, along with the National Composites Centre in Bristol and the Manufacturing Technology Centre in Coventry, is supporting private sector partner Dowty Propellers (part of GE Aviation Systems) for the Innovate UK funded Digital Propulsion project.

The consortium is tasked with growing the UK’s aerospace propeller manufacturing base by harnessing composite technology with industrial digitalisation to cut production costs and increase the performance of future propulsion systems in Europe’s €200 billion aviation sector.

Elaine Arnold, automation technical lead for the AMRC Composite Centre, said: “In a world of increasing passenger numbers the demand for cleaner, cheaper and yet more comfortable air travel has never been greater. To meet this demand, it is vital that the UK maintains and extends its world leading capability in sustainable UK aviation propulsion technologies.”

It is also key to achieving Europe’s Flightpath 2050 vision, which is for: ‘The European aviation community to lead the world in sustainable aviation products and services, meeting the needs of EU citizens and society’.

The £20 million-Digital Propulsion project aims to evolve technologies within a new digital infrastructure to realise innovations in propulsion performance and cost.

Arnold said: “The Digital Propulsion project aims to evolve technologies within a new digital infrastructure to realise innovations in propulsion performance and cost.”

“Part of the role of AMRC is to explore novel and innovative ways to design and manufacture varying types of propeller blades, from regional to small, including the load bearing structure, the cores, the blade roots and relevant hub connections. This is being carried out alongside the National Composites Centre (NCC) who will be exploring the use of their specific manufacturing and design technologies,” Arnold added.

“The other side to it, and much more excitingly, is that both the AMRC and NCC are collaborating to form a new braid that fits these new shapes. Engineers have been coming up to Sheffield and us down to Bristol which means a cross pollination of ideas and for everyone to see that we are better working together,” she said.

Elaine said the work being done by engineers at the AMRC drew on capabilities offered by a collection of state-of-the-art equipment recently purchased by the AMRC with funding from the Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI) which will enable the development of novel braiding designs. “Our portfolio of cutting edge equipment means we’re able to access a wide range of advanced technologies to do this work including finite element analysis, braiding, tailored fibre placement, resin transfer moulding and press forming.”

“It is very much a collaborative piece of work and a great example of why collaboration across the High Value Manufacturing Catapult centres is of tremendous benefit to industry; engineers from the AMRC and NCC are exchanging their understanding and knowledge of capabilities to find and develop innovative manufacturing methods that will not only reduce costs but increase performance, positioning the UK as a world leader in this field,” she said.

The AMRC is working with Catapult colleagues in the Bristol based National Composites Centre and the Coventry based Manufacturing Technology Centre in the ATI-funded programme. They are also investigating the shift from manual to automated blade manufacturing processes.

Fibre2Fashion News Desk (SV)

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