UltraFan: Rolls-Royce's World's Largest Aero-engine Demonstrator

The Rolls-Royce UltraFan engine is being completed in Derby, UK, prior to its first run on 100% Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) later this year.



July 18, 2022

DALLAS - Rolls-Royce has entered the final build phase for the world’s largest aero-engine technology demonstrator, UltraFan, which provides a suite of technologies to support sustainable air travel. 

The demonstrator engine, with a fan diameter of 140 inches, is being completed at the company's facility in Derby, UK, prior to its first run on 100% Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) later this year. It offers a 25% fuel efficiency improvement compared with the first generation of Trent engines. 

UltraFan supports a variety of sustainability solutions. In the nearer term, Rolls-Royce says there are options to transfer technologies from the UltraFan development program to current Trent engines to deliver even greater fuel efficiency and reductions in emissions. 

In the longer term, UltraFan’s scalable technology from 25,000-100,000lb thrust offers the potential to power new narrowbody and widebody aircraft anticipated in the 2030s.

Further, the company says UltraFan provides a platform for the use of a diverse range of energy options and power systems—including current jet fuel and SAFs as well as future potential for hybrid-electric and hydrogen.

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Photo: Rolls-Royce

Comments from UK, Rolls-Royce Officials

Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said, “Rolls-Royce has long been synonymous with British excellence in engineering. Building the cutting-edge UltraFan demonstrator shows there’s no sign of this reputation slowing down, with Rolls-Royce playing a central role in our plans to capitalize on the global shift to cleaner, fuel-efficient flight. 

Kwarteng added, "UltraFan, backed by the UK Government through the Aerospace Technology Institute Programme, is a major opportunity for growth and jobs for the UK. I look forward to seeing planes across the world powered by technologies developed in this ultra-efficient engine demonstrator for years to come."

Chris Cholerton, President – Civil Aerospace, Rolls-Royce, said, “Our UltraFan engine technology demonstrator is arriving just as the world is seeking transformative technology to deliver sustainability. We are now in the final build phase and we will perform the first test run on 100% sustainable aviation fuel later this year. The suite of technologies we are testing on the demonstrator will create opportunities to make improvements to our current fleet and provide a new capability for future propulsion systems. 

“This program is a significant investment in the future and I am delighted that the UK’s Aerospace Technology Institute and Innovate UK, Germany’s LuFo, and the EU’s Clean Sky programs have all recognized the benefits of UltraFan and provided their support.” 

Photo: Rolls-Royce

Key Engineering Features of the Engine

  • A new, proven, Advance3 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.
  • Advanced ceramic matrix composite (CMC) components that operate more effectively at high pressures and temperatures.
  • A geared design that delivers efficient power for the high-thrust, high bypass ratio engines of the future. The power gearbox has run at 64MW, an aerospace record.

When UltraFan is on test at Rolls-Royce’s new £90m 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. 

Featured image: Rolls-Royce