Turbine test

A single-stage supersonic high-pressure turbine is being tested by scientists at the German Aerospace Centre in Göttingen for Rolls-Royce.


A single-stage supersonic high-pressure turbine is being tested by scientists at the German Aerospace Centre (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) in Göttingen for Rolls-Royce.



The high-pressure turbine will be used to develop engines for use in business jets. According to the DLR, its test-bed is the only one that can suitably measure the flow characteristics of the turbine to find a balance between costs and performance.



In preparation for the tests, scientists must make sure that the turbine rotors will be able to stand the pressure acting on it. At maximum speeds, this can be equivalent to 37,000 times the Earth’s gravitational pull.



Sensors will be used to measure the pressure, temperature and other parameters of the turbine’s aerodynamic characteristics. For instance, the pressure inside the turbine will be measured using high-speed pressure transducers that collect data at a rate of 250,000 measurements per second, generating a volume of 100 gigabytes.



Dr Ingo Röhle, head of the Turbine Department at the DLR Institute of Propulsion Technology, said: ‘The turbine test-bed enables us to operate almost life-size high-pressure turbines using the correct Mach number and air properties. This means that we can accurately simulate the conditions that will occur when the turbine is actually used in the engine.’



The turbine is expected to reduce energy consumption and CO2 emissions, as well as lower production costs. Dr Röhle added: ‘In this way, engine research contributes in a very practical way to protecting the environment, while at the same time it helps to secure high-tech employment in Germany in general, and in the Göttingen region in particular.’



The project has received €2.5m (£2.3m) in funding through the aeronautics research programme of the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology. The turbine has already undergone a series of tests and measurements that were completed in 2007. The second series of tests, which is currently underway, will help determine the turbine’s final design.



Based on previous results, Rolls-Royce has already been able to successfully negotiate a contract for an engine based on this new high-pressure turbine technology.