February 26, 2015
Rolls-Royce opens Turbine Blade Casting Facility
Rolls-Royce marked the official opening of its new £110m Advanced Blade Casting Facility (ABCF). When fully operational in 2017, the 150,000 ft² (14,000 m²) facility in Rotherham will employ 150 people and have the capacity to manufacture more than 100,000 single crystal turbine blades a year. These blades will feature in a wide-range of Trent aero engines including the Rolls-Royce Trent XWB, which powers the new Airbus A350 XWB. The turbine extracts energy from the hot gas stream delivered by the engine’s combustor and uses it to drive the fan and the compressors. The blades produced in Rotherham operate in the hottest part of the engine at temperatures up to 200 degrees above the melting point of their alloy and sit in a disc that rotates at more than 12,000 rpm, creating a centrifugal force equivalent to the weight of a London bus hanging off each blade. They are grown in a special process which ensures that they are created from a single metal crystal to maximise their strength. They are then coated with a heat-resistant ceramic and when in use they are cooled with air that passes through a series of precisely placed holes in the blade.