Designing S-ducts for efficient aeroengines

Trent XWB powering the Airbus A350 XWB
Trent XWB powering the Airbus A350 XWB (credit: Rolls-Royce)

Research at the Whittle Laboratory at the Department of Engineering and at Loughborough University led to a new design for the ducts (‘S-ducts’) that link compressors in an aeroengine, improving engine efficiency and reducing emissions.

Rolls-Royce incorporated the new design into the Trent XWB generation of engines, which were first delivered in 2014. The new S-duct provides fuel efficiency improvements of 0.25%. In 2019 alone this is estimated to have delivered fuel cost savings of $19.2 million for airlines. Rolls-Royce has delivered over 919 engines with the new S-duct design since 2014, and in 2020 there are 370 Airbus A350 aircraft in-service with the S-duct design.

“The Trent XWB engine is the world’s most efficiency aeroengine. In a highly competitive market focussed on fuel efficiency, the levels of improvement offered by the S-shaped duct technology represent a key competitive advantage, and can make all the difference in winning a contract. The Trent XWB has been the fastest-selling widebody engine ever, with over 919 delivered as of 30 June 2020.”

– Engineering Fellow, Rolls-Royce