March 23, 2015
MTU Aero Engines develops new turbine blade material
MTU Aero Engines’ materials experts and their partners have jointly developed a new class of unique, intermetallic high-temperature materials for highly stressed engine components: Titanium aluminide (TiAl) is the name of the new lightweight material for turbine blades that combines the advantages of metallic and ceramic materials, offering the best of both worlds. The job was done in record time. “While previously, the introduction of a new material used to take 20 years or so, we’ve succeeded in coming up with an entirely new material class and maturing it for production within a mere seven years,” comments MTU Chief Operating Officer Dr. Rainer Martens. The hardware is already flightworthy: Back in late September of last year, an Airbus A320neo was the first aircraft ever to take to the skies with custom-made TiAl blades installed in its engines; certification was then obtained last December. The blades in the new material are fitted to the third rotor stage of the unique, three-stage, high-speed low-pressure turbine developed by MTU for the geared turbofan engine for the A320neo. Research continues unabated: The materials experts are busy developing an enhanced TiAl alloy. Their aim is to make more turbine stages from the new material. The innovation would be good news for the environment – for TiAl allows engines to be built that use up less resources, burn less fuel, and are cleaner and quieter than today’s models. “I’m sure that his material will help further bring down the weight of engines appreciably,” adds Martens.. “I’m sure that his material will help further bring down the weight of engines appreciably,” adds Martens.