MTU Aero Engines: Award-Winning Technology

By Martina Vollmuth (MTU Aero Engines), MTU Aero Engines
05:14 PM, July 18, 2013

In view of increasingly scarce resources, rising fuel prices, and the growth in air traffic – which continues unabated at an average rate of 5 percent per year – passengers, people living in the vicinity of airports, authorities, organizations, and other players in the aviation industry are calling for more fuel-thrifty and cleaner aircraft and engines. MTU Aero Engines has been working on innovative technologies for decades to further improve the environmental compatibility of future engines.

The target: Each new engine is to burn less fuel and be cleaner and quieter than its predecessor model. The key to success: With the PurePower® PW1000G Geared Turbofan™ (GTF), MTU and its US partner Pratt & Whitney have developed a solution for meeting the exacting requirements of the future. They are building a highly advanced engine that burns 15 percent less fuel, emits 15 percent less CO2, and cuts the perceived noise level in half. It marks the debut of a new family of environmentally friendly engines.

InitiatorMTU Aero Engines
Project start

Contact person
Martina Vollmuth
German Industry’s 32nd Innovation Award

Project benefit

  • Saving of energy
  • Reduction in CO2 emissions
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An indispensable, key component of the GTF is MTU’s high-speed, low-pressure turbine. Germany’s leading engine builder has been specializing in low-pressure turbines (LPT) for aircraft engines for decades and has become the world’s technology leader in this field. The company’s masterpiece is the high-speed turbine for the GTF, which beats conventional models by a wide margin. MTU is the leading manufacturer of this engine component worldwide. In March and April 2013, the company won two German Industry Innovation Awards for the novel technology.

Photo: MTU Aero Engines
Photo: MTU Aero Engines

The geared turbofan is based on an entirely new engine architecture: What sets this innovative propulsion system apart is that it features a reduction gearbox between the fan – that is, the large rotor at the engine inlet – and the low-pressure turbine, which drives the fan. With today’s engines, the two are seated on a common shaft. Uncoupling the two components allows the fan with its large diameter to rotate more slowly and the turbine to rotate much faster. This lets the individual components achieve their respective optimum speeds, greatly boosting the geared turbofan’s efficiency. The result is a significant reduction in fuel consumption, emissions of CO2, and noise; moreover, the propulsion system is much lighter than a conventional engine, as it has fewer stages, and hence a lower parts count.

Apart from the high-speed, low-pressure turbine, MTU also contributes the forward four stages of the high-pressure compressor to the GTF. This new transonic compressor is characterized by a markedly increased efficiency, which gives it a clear edge over most existing commercial models. It comes as an all-blisk design – blisks (blade-integrated disks) are high-tech rotors in which the disk and blades are produced as a single piece, eliminating the need for blade roots and disk slots. This increases strength and lowers weight. The GTF is a textbook example of successful technology development funding: Two of its key components – the high-speed, low-pressure turbine and the high-pressure compressor – are based on technologies developed under national and European research programs. With both components, MTU is setting new standards worldwide.

The GTF concept is catching on: The engine has meanwhile developed into a bestseller. Some 3,500 orders have been received to date. First applications include the Bombardier CSeries and Mitsubishi MRJ regional jets, the Airbus A320neo short- and medium-haul aircraft, and the Irkut MS-21. Last but not least, Embraer, too, has selected the clean engine as the powerplant for its second-generation E-Jets.

The geared turbofan offers even more savings potential, and work on its optimization has already commenced. Jointly with Bauhaus Luftfahrt, MTU has defined an ambitious program to further reduce the CO2 emissions of aircraft engines: With its Clean Air Engine (Claire) technology initiative, the company aims to reduce its CO2 emissions by 30 percent by the year 2035 in staged goals. The GTF engine alone already provides a reduction in CO2 emissions of around 15 percent. The second stage is aimed at reducing emissions by at least 20 percent by the year 2025. This can be achieved by making thrust generation even more efficient, for instance through the further development of individual components or through the use of a shrouded, counter-rotating propfan. The necessary technologies were developed by MTU already back in the 1980s. The company expects to achieve the 30 percent target in 2035. In the third and last stage, the efficiency of the core engine will be further enhanced, for example through the use of a heat exchanger.

An established global player

With more than 75 years in the aircraft engine business, MTU Aero Engines and its predecessor companies have acquired unique expertise and experience that makes it an established player and must-have partner in the engine community. The company is a technological leader in high-pressure compressors, low-pressure turbines, manufacturing processes, and repair techniques.

MTU has a workforce of 8,500 employees worldwide and operates affiliates in all important regions and markets. The site in the north of Munich is home to its corporate headquarters and the MTU Group’s biggest location. In fiscal 2012, the company posted consolidated sales of around €3.4 billion. MTU Maintenance is the world’s largest independent provider of maintenance services for commercial engines. In the military arena, MTU Aero Engines is Germany’s leading industrial company for practically all engines flown by the country’s military.

MTU is fully committed to operating in a green and sustainable manner. The company makes it a point to ensure that its products as well as its manufacturing and maintenance processes meet the most stringent environmental standards. MTU makes conscious use of resources, materials, and energy, and it keeps noise and pollutant emissions in its production and maintenance shops as low as possible. The German engine manufacturer takes its responsibility for the environment very seriously: The protection of the environment is one of MTU’s corporate objectives and a responsibility shared by everyone in the organization.

This project description was originally presented in the Global Compact International Yearbook 2013.

About the Authors
Vollmuth, Martina

Martina Vollmuth works at MTU Aero Engines.

MTU Aero Engines

MTU Aero Engines is a engine manufacturer and an established global player in the industry. It engages in the development, manufacture, marketing and support of commercial and military aircraft engines in all thrust and power categories and industrial gas turbines. The German manufacturer and with its various affiliates has a presence in all significant regions and markets worldwide.

In the years ahead, MTU will focus its resources on its core business, seek stakes in emerging engine programs and expand its service offerings.

The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect CSR Manager's editorial policy.
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