Rolls-Royce bosses say their new composite technology hub exemplifies the company’s commitment to creating cleaner, more efficient forms of power.
The Filton-based facility represents a £25m investment from the firm and will focus on developing jet engine technologies expected to “transform flight, reduce emissions and set new benchmarks for efficiency”.
Securing 150 jobs in the city, the manufacturing hub will act as a catalyst for what company bosses say is the crucial role Rolls-Royce has to play in the transition to a net zero carbon economy amid growing concerns about the climate emergency facing the planet.
Work begins this month on ultra-light weight components for the UltraFan, described as “a revolutionary new engine design”, which the firm promises will reduce fuel burn and CO2 by at least 25 per cent compared to the first Rolls-Royce Trent engine.
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Alan Newby, director of the Rolls-Royce aerospace technology and future programmes, said: “This incredible new facility exemplifies our commitment to creating cleaner, more efficient forms of power.
“Our highly-skilled employees will use the latest technology, materials and manufacturing techniques to develop components that will contribute to lighter, quieter, more powerful jet engines with fewer emissions.”
Rolls-Royce is pledging to use low-energy, low emissions processes in the new hub, which features state-of-the-art automated manufacturing methods and materials.
It will maximise the use of raw materials to reduce waste. The engineering giant has pledged to achieve zero emissions at its operations and facilities by 2030, although this commitment excludes power generation and test operations.
It has also pledged to reduce the impact of existing technologies; to pioneer electrification in aviation, and to work with the industry to accelerate the use of sustainable fuels.
The fan blades are made by manufacturing techniques that build up hundreds of layers of carbon fibre materials, pre-filled with “state-of-the-art toughness-enhanced” resin material. Heat and pressure are then applied, and each blade is finished with a thin titanium leading edge, which offers extreme protection against erosion, foreign objects and bird strikes.
Rolls-Royce has been involved in developing carbon-fibre technologies for decades and already uses the material for parts within its engines. Bosses say the new facility will take this technology to the next level.
Manufacturing techniques that have been developed in partnership with the National Composites Centre in Bristol. It will put into practice research conducted at the Rolls-Royce University Technology Centre at the University of Bristol, as well as several other universities and research centres.
Main photo thanks to Rolls-Royce
Read more: Sector spotlight: Engineering