E-BREAK (Engine Breakthrough Components and Subsystems) is a large-scale project, funded by the Seventh Framework Programme (the European Union’s prime way to fund research activities in Europe), aiming at reducing air traffic emissions by adapting engine sub-systems (e.g oil system, secondary air system) to the new constraints of temperature and pressure. The project started on October 2012 and finished in March 2017, through a consortium made of 41 partners from 10 countries. Avio Aero was the leader of Sub Project #5 (SP5): “Lightweight TiAl for breakthrough components”. And it was involved also in Sub Project #2 for the Air System Sealing and for the Oil System.
The project, moreover, was an enabler of the Ultra High Overall Pressure Ratio integrated engine development, supporting efforts done in previous Level 2 programs (LEMCOTEC, NEWAC, VITAL, DREAM...). The main constraint was related of the achievement of ACARE 2020 (Advisory Council for Aeronautics Research in Europe) targets. In its 2020 vision, ACARE aims to reduce CO2 emissions by 50% per passenger kilometer, with an engine contribution targeting a decrease by 15 to 20% of the specific fuel consumption. NOx emissions would have to be reduced by 80 and efforts need to be made on other emissions too. Joining the results of previous projects mentioned above, the CO2 reduction up to 32% goal (for the most favorable engine architecture) has been achieved thanks the further technologies developed inside E-BREAK.
To do so, the consortium had to develop, validate and integrate specific key engine subsystem technologies to address and enable solutions regarding these fields: Advanced sealing technologies and oil systems, Engine variability and thermomechanical behavior, Health monitoring, High temperature and abradable materials, and Lighter material.
In particular, Avio Aero was responsible for SP5, where studies for new types of lightweight heat resistant materials were needed. “The use of TiAl for engine’s parts was a major breakthrough for the engine weight reduction” said Giusy Galati, Project Manager for Avio Aero. Technical gaps hindering the use of TiAl, as well as the affordability and accuracy of the manufacturing process, has been assessed during the SP5 both for casting and EBM processes.
Above all this, in the SP5 a key issue was investigated: raw material recycling for both casting and EBM processes. “This item is particularly important, because it allows to decrease the waste material and the relevant costs.” Avio Aero was involved also in another 2 Work Packages (namely the engine subsystems: Air System Sealing and Oil System. For the first one, geometry optimizations, focused on specific components and features, have been modelled and experimentally validated by the University of Genova. While a new tool available for air/oil separator numerical simulation was performed for the Oil System.
During the Forum Horizon 2020 – the event that the French government organizes every year in Paris, with the participation of top level people amongst which the French Minister of Higher Education, Research and Innovation and members of the European Commission - the consortium was awarded, scoring another great achievement. The Forum closing was an award ceremony called “Les étoiles de l’Europe”, fifth edition of an event rewarding the best European Projects. The Stars of Europe ceremony was held on 4 December 2017 at the Musée du Quai Branly Jacques Chirac, as part of the 4th Horizon 2020 Forum. The winners, and Avio Aero team among them, were welcomed and congratulated by Alain Beretz, Director General of Research and Innovation, and by Jean Chambaz , President of the Pierre and Marie Curie University and President of the 2017 Jury of the Stars of Europe.
The Avio Aero team achieved a great result in terms of experience and lesson learnt. “The biggest challenge has been to collaborate very close for 4 years with all major EU engine producers to develop together this new material and its manufacturing process, learning from their experience and providing our company with strong contribution based on additive technology” commented Michele Coppola, SP5 leader, thinking about this great experience.