Rolls-Royce has won a place in the record books by building a massive 70,000 horsepower aerospace gearbox.
Fine-tuned at Rolls-Royce’s dedicated facility in Dahlewitz, Germany, the power gearbox will play a central role in the company’s next-generation UltraFan engine, helping improve efficiency over a wide range of thrusts.
Demonstration tests began way back in May on a specifically designed rig and have proven that the Power Gearbox is capable of managing the equivalent power of around 400 family cars at full throttle.
The engineers will now focus on lower power functions such as endurance and reliability. Future demonstrators will also strive to achieve the 100,000 horsepower mark. When running at maximum power, each pair of teeth on the gearbox will transmit more power than an entire grid of Formula 1 cars between them, reports Rolls-Royce.
The Power Gearbox has a planetary design, with each ‘planet’ capable of holding the force of a Trent XWB engine at full throttle. It is designed to allow the shafts at the core of the engine to run at very high speeds while allowing the fan at the front of the engine to run at a slower speed.
According to the engineers, the associated improvement in efficiency and reduction in weight will allow the UltraFan engine to offer a 25% fuel efficiency improvement over the first generation of Rolls-Royce Trent engines.
As well as high power testing, the Power Gearbox is also undergoing Attitude Rig testing, which simulates the effect of the gearbox being on the wing of an aircraft in flight, through phases such as take-off, climb, banking and descent.
The UltraFan engine, which is scheduled to be available from 2025, will feature maximum fuel burn efficiency and low emissions through a new engine core architecture.
Weight of the new engine will be further reduced through the use of Carbon Titanium (CTi) in fan blades and a composite casing. Engines will boast of an increased efficiency thanks to the use of ceramic matric composites (CMCs) which are heat resistant and require less cooling air.
Image and content: Rolls-Royce