Giant Rolls Royce turbofan engine design gets £2M grant for topology optimisation

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The next generation of Rolls Royce UltraFan engine architecture has received a £1.998M grant from the Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI) for its focus on weight reduction and fuel efficiency, together with reduced noise.

UltraFan will have the largest fan diameter, making it the world’s largest geared turbofan engine, delivering an estimated 25 per cent improvement in efficiency over the first generation of Rolls-Royce Trent engines.

Altair Engineering will develop and deploy virtual simulation tools, software and methods to assist with UltraFan weight reduction for this Physical Optimisation of Structural Topology for Integrating Engines (POSTIE) project.
As part of this, Altair’s Multi-disciplinary Optimisation (MDO) design software tool, established in the automotive sector, will be enhanced by Altair Engineering to take into account the highly complex, multi-physics nature of aero engine design.

POSTIE will develop engineering processes and methods to enable the rapid design exploration of the engine at component, sub-system and system levels to enable the development of an innovative product.

Ready for service from 2025, UltraFan is designed for use across the civil aviation sector, spanning a 25k-110k thrust range.

“Continued investment in propulsion related research is essential to ensuring the UK remains a world leader in turbofan engines and components,” said Mark Scully, ATI’s head of technology for advanced systems and propulsion.

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“Around 50 per cent of the ATI R&T portfolio supports significant developments in new propulsion architectures, technologies and manufacturing capabilities to improve competitiveness and accelerate introduction of new turbofan engines.”