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Alcoa unveils first aluminum alloy fan blade forging for jet engines; $1.1B supply agreement w/ Pratt & Whitney
14 July 2014
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Under a new 10-year, $1.1-billion agreement, Alcoa will supply key parts for Pratt & Whitney’s jet engines, including the forging for the first aluminum fan blade for jet engines. The forging was developed for Pratt & Whitney’s PurePower engines using an advanced aluminum alloy and a proprietary manufacturing process. Also for the PurePower engines, Alcoa is developing a fan blade forging using its most advanced aluminum-lithium alloy.
Under the $1.1 billion deal, Alcoa will supply components for Pratt & Whitney’s PurePower PW1000G, V2500, GP7000 and several other regional jet and military engines. The unique Geared Turbofan architecture of the PurePower engine allows for aluminum alloys to be used in the Pratt & Whitney designed fan blades, making the engine lighter, as well as more fuel and cost efficient.
We’re going where no materials scientist has gone before. Combining Alcoa’s proprietary alloys and unique manufacturing processes with Pratt & Whitney’s design, we cracked the code on forging an aluminum fan blade that is lighter and enables better fuel efficiency. Through this exciting new 10-year deal, Alcoa will deliver not only aluminum fan blade forgings but also a range of other advanced product forms, from blades and vanes to structural castings, for some of Pratt and Whitney’s best-selling engines.—Alcoa Chairman and CEO, Klaus Kleinfeld
In the PurePower PW1000G engine family, an advanced gear system separates the engine fan from the low pressure compressor and turbine, allowing each of the modules to operate at their optimum speeds—i.e., the fan to rotate at a slower speed and the hot section to operate at higher speeds, optimizing the running conditions of both.
This enables both an increase in the diameter of the fan and the low pressure compressor and turbine to operate at a high speed. The increased efficiency also translates to fewer engine stages and parts for lower weight and reduced maintenance costs.
The large, light-weight fan moves more than 90% of the air around the core, delivering a very quiet engine with very low fuel burn. The larger fan diameter also opens the door to materials beyond titanium and composites.
The PurePower engine will be used to power some of the world’s highest volume aircraft, including the next-generation Airbus A320neo. The transaction includes United Technologies Corporation “One Company” terms and conditions that provide for a common contracting approach between UTC and Alcoa divisions, thereby facilitating future collaboration.
Alcoa plans to use aluminum and aluminum-lithium from its Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and Lafayette, Indiana facilities for the front fan blades, which will be produced using proprietary manufacturing processes at its Cleveland, Ohio plant. Several of Alcoa’s facilities including La Porte, Indiana; Whitehall, Michigan; Dover, New Jersey; and Wichita Falls, Texas will supply the blades, vanes and structural components, produced using nickel-based superalloys, titanium as well as aluminum.
This supply agreement supports Alcoa’s strategy of profitably growing its aerospace business, which had revenues totaling $4 billion in 2013. The Company holds leading market positions in aerospace forgings, extrusions, jet engine airfoils and fastening systems and is a leading supplier of structural castings made of titanium, aluminum and nickel-based superalloys, which are produced by its downstream business, Engineered Products and Solutions (EPS). The Company also holds leading market positions in aerospace sheet and plate produced by its midstream business, Global Rolled Products (GRP).
With 20 years of research and development, component rig testing on all major modules, extensive ground and flight testing of a full-scale demonstrator engine complete and extensive ground and flight testing of its first two engine series well underway, the PurePower PW1000G engine with Geared Turbofan technology delivers significant reductions in:
- Fuel burn
- Environmental emissions
- Engine noise
- Operating costs
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