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Rolls-Royce announces successful first tests of UltraFan technology demonstrator; 100% SAF

Rolls-Royce successfully completed the first tests of its UltraFan technology demonstrator at its facility in Derby, UK. The first tests were conducted using 100% Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF).

Confirming the capability of the suite of technologies incorporated in the demonstrator is a big step towards improving the efficiency of current and future aero-engines. UltraFan delivers a 10% efficiency improvement over the Trent XWB, which is already the world’s most efficient large aero engine in service.


Key engineering features of the demonstrator include:

  • A new, proven, Advance3 core architecture, combined with ALECSys lean burn combustion system, to deliver maximum fuel burn efficiency and low emissions.

  • Carbon titanium fan blades and a composite casing.

  • A geared design that delivers efficient power for the high-thrust, high bypass ratio engines of the future. The power gearbox has run at 64MW, an aerospace record.

In the nearer term, there are options to transfer technologies from the UltraFan development program to current Trent engines, providing customers with even greater availability, reliability and efficiency.

In the longer term, UltraFan’s scalable technology from ~25,000-110,000lb thrust offers the potential to power new narrowbody and widebody aircraft anticipated in the 2030s.

The UltraFan demonstrator is a game changer—the technologies we are testing as part of this program have the capability to improve the engines of today as well as the engines of tomorrow. That is why this announcement is so important—we are witnessing history in the making; a step-change in engine efficiency improvement. When combined with Sustainable Aviation Fuels, more efficient gas turbine engines will be key to hitting the industry’s target of Net Zero flight by 2050. Today we are closer to achieving this ambition.

—Tufan Erginbilgic, CEO, Rolls-Royce plc

The tests took place in the world’s largest and smartest indoor aero-engine testing facility: Testbed 80. The 100% SAF, derived primarily from waste-based sustainable feedstocks such as used cooking oils, was provided by Air bp.

UltraFan has been a decade in the making, with the concept unveiled publicly in 2014. It is a fundamentally different design architecture to that within the approximately 4,200 Rolls-Royce Civil large engines currently in service, as it incorporates a geared design that no other industry player has produced at this size before.

Demonstrating at this scale gives Rolls-Royce the flexibility to scale down as required by its customers, the company said. It also puts the company in the unique position of being able to offer a portfolio of two-shaft, three-shaft, direct drive and geared propulsion solutions to power future aircraft.


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