Rolls-Royce and Japanese Materials Institute Partner to Develop Superalloys for Turbines, Targeting Greater Fuel Efficiency, Lower CO2
Rolls-Royce has entered a multi-year partnership with Japan’s National Institute for Materials Science (NIMS) to develop new high-temperature superalloys for use in gas turbine engines. The new Rolls-Royce Center of Excellence for Aerospace Materials will be based at NIMS’ Sengen site in Tsukuba, north of Tokyo.
Both competitive and environmental benefits result from increasing the temperature capabilities of materials operating in the hottest parts of a gas turbine to improve fuel efficiency, which in turn reduces the emissions of carbon dioxide.
Relatively small rises in temperature capability can bring quite large gains in fuel efficiency, so today’s agreement—which will see Rolls-Royce invest funds annually over an initial five-year period—represents a step toward achieving environmental benefits and specific targets for airplane engines’ CO2 emissions.
Certain technical properties have already been targeted as part of the agreement, which will involve seeking materials with significantly improved fatigue and creep capabilities at higher temperatures.
Materials can be a discriminator in our industry, so this is a vital programme for us. NIMS has an impressive record in developing high-class single-crystal superalloys; they led the way with earlier generation materials, and we look forward to working with them on sixth-generation nickel-based alloys, and in investigating radically new alloys that may offer the potential for step-change temperature capability.—Ric Parker, Rolls-Royce Director of Research and Technology
It is the first scientific research program the company has directly funded in Japan, although Rolls-Royce has significant and long-standing links with Japan in terms of product development, supply arrangements, as a market for products in the company’s aerospace, marine and energy sectors, and as a participant in previous JAXA research programs.
Rolls-Royce has worked with NIMS for around 15 years, during which time they also collaborated with existing Rolls-Royce University Technology Centers (UTCs). This is expected to continue during future work programs—with Cambridge University, experienced in the physics of blade alloys, Birmingham University, which studies the castability of materials, and Cranfield University that focuses on coatings developments.