Electro-mechanical magnetic blade pitch control

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Open-rotor aero-engines offer an alternative configuration to conventional high-bypass gas turbine engines, They offer significant CO2 reductions, and for an industry producing over 600 million tonnes of CO2 yearly, adopting this engine could save 180 million tonnes/year - a huge leap for the aviation industry and for the protection of our planet. Open rotor engines can also be configured to operate with future bio-fuels to remove fossil fuels entirely from flight propulsion.

The engine requires accurate control of the angle of the engine blades, and it is this area of control that requires the greatest attention in order to realise the potential fuel savings. Current hydraulic systems transfer fluid to the rotating actuator components in order to control the blade angle, requiring high-maintenance dynamic seals with potential for leakages.

The key areas of innovation in this project centre around the development of a fault tolerant electro-mechanical pitch control mechanism utilizing an ultra-high torque density magnetically geared motor. The system is designed to be fault tolerant (it will remain in operation even after a number of systems failing) from the rotating electrical power transfer device through to the mechanical actuator.

Innovative lightweighting technology will deliver a step-change in motor/actuator weight-saving. A full-size actuator will be built and tested and a number of components and sub-assemblies of the actuator will be vibration tested at representative temperatures. The coordinated research activities will take the technology from TRL2 to TRL4.