GE Aviation is advancing groundbreaking work to develop noise and emissions-reducing technologies for aircraft engines under a research partnership announced today by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
GE and the U.S. FAA will invest nearly $55 million over five years to accelerate development of a series of technologies for more sustainable aviation, including open fan engine architecture, electrification, noise-lowering technologies, and more, as well as ongoing research into alternative jet fuels through the FAA‘s Continuous Lower Energy, Emissions and Noise (CLEEN) program. This is the third CLEEN award GE Aviation has received since 2010.
“GE Aviation has a robust pipeline of breakthrough technologies to help achieve our ambitious decarbonization goals for aircraft engines. This investment by the U.S. FAA brings us another step closer to introducing open fan, hybrid electric and new engine core technologies to our customers sooner, improving fuel efficiency and lowering carbon emissions from aviation,” said Arjan Hegeman, general manager of advanced technologies for GE Aviation.
GE Aviation and Safran in June 2021 launched a bold technology development program targeting more than 20 percent lower fuel consumption and CO2 emissions compared to today’s most efficient engines. The CFM RISE* (Revolutionary Innovation for Sustainable Engines) Program will demonstrate and mature a range of new, disruptive technologies for future engines that could enter service by the mid-2030s. Funding from the CLEEN program supports research and development efforts for several of the most promising technologies to achieve CFM RISE Program goals for a major step-change reduction in carbon emissions for future, next-generation single-aisle aircraft engines.
Technologies being funded by CLEEN Phase III include:
Open fan—GE Aviation and its partners plan to mature and test an open fan engine architecture, in which fan blades are not enclosed by a fan case. Open fans increase air flow, which could create greater propulsive efficiency for future aircraft engine applications. These studies will leverage previous successful results and new technology to evaluate and mature open fan noise strategies.
Acoustics—Plans to advance acoustic technologies for new engine architectures include developing novel acoustic liners and outlet guide vanes to reduce noise.
Low emissions combustor—GE Aviation will test new combustor technology designs that lower nitrogen oxides (NOx), as well as non-volatile particulate matter emissions.
Hybrid-electric—CLEEN III funding will help mature an electric machine that is a critical part of an overall integrated electric power generation system.
Advanced thermal management—Also key to lower carbon emissions is continually advancing thermal management in a jet engine’s core. GE Aviation is developing heat recovery systems among other thermal management technologies that can handle hotter core temperatures to improve efficiency and reduce fuel burn.
Alternative jet fuels—Through CLEEN III, GE Aviation engineers will continue their research and development efforts into alternative fuels, such as Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF). In particular, these efforts will look to increase SAF blending limits beyond 50% and explore the best ways to enable standardization of a 100% SAF that does not require blending with petroleum-based jet fuel. All GE Aviation and its partners engines can operate with approved SAF, which is produced from sustainable feedstocks and other alternative processes, lowering lifecycle carbon emissions up to 80% compared to petroleum-based fuels. GE has been actively involved in assessing and qualifying SAF since 2007 and works closely with producers, regulators, and operators to help ensure that sustainable fuel can be widely adopted for use in aviation.
Previous CLEEN awards announced in 2010 and 2015 supported GE Aviation technology advancements, including Twin-Annular Pre-mixing Swirler (TAPS) combustor designs that led to technology now in CFM LEAP and GE9X engines, open fan architecture, Flight Management Systems, alternative fuels and electrification.
*RISE (Revolutionary Innovation for Sustainable Engines) is a trademark of CFM International, a 50/50 joint company between GE and Safran Aircraft Engines. LEAP engines are a product of CFM.
Image: Hybrid-electric motor generator test at Peebles Test Operation in Peebles, Ohio.