Redesigning compressor blades for civil aeroengines

Researchers at the Whittle Laboratory (credit: StillVision Photography)

Collaborative research between the Whittle Laboratory at the Department of Engineering and Rolls-Royce into gas turbine aerodynamics between 2005 and 2014 has led to a new compressor blade design that is now standard in all modern Rolls-Royce civil aero engines.

The developed elliptical leading edge blade technology has been used in almost 2,500 new aero engines delivered over the period 2014–2020, with a further almost 2,000 engines on order as of December 2019.

As well as being part of new engine designs, four older generations of engines have been revised and retrofitted with the technology. For two engines alone, 45 airlines are operating aircraft equipped with this technology. The technology delivers fuel savings of 0.5% to 0.7%, which can be estimated to be delivering savings of $219 million per year for airlines.

“This is a great example of how the long relationship between Rolls-Royce and the Whittle Laboratory helps to ensure that technology is successfully transferred into product.”

– Engineering Fellow (Aerodynamics), Rolls-Royce