Leading Technology Roadmap
In its Leading Technology Roadmap, MTU charts the company’s planned course for its commercial and military business: We will refine and optimize our high-pressure compressor, high-speed low-pressure turbine, and turbine center frame. Key technologies required to achieve these plans are new, light-weight high-temperature materials, additive manufacturing techniques, and virtual design and production. The roadmap contains some 150 defined technology projects.
Our technology roadmap pursues two main objectives:
- one is refining our Geared Turbofan combined with two revolutionary propulsion concepts.
- another is electrifying the powertrain as far as possible to minimize in-flight emissions. In our view, the focus is quite clearly on the fuel-cell. We call this the flying fuel cell.
Robust, high-temperature materials
Any new materials for the next generation of engines have to be lightweight, extremely resistant to heat and robust against environmental influences. Specifically, compared to their predecessors, they are required to be up to 30 percent lighter and able to withstand higher temperatures of several hundred degrees. To achieve this, we use only the best metals from the previous generation in conjunction with entirely new material classes. We focus on intermetallics, materials produced by powder metallurgy and ceramic composites for manufacturing turbine blades, disks and housings.
MTU uses selective laser melting to produce borescope bosses on an industrial scale for the PW1100G-JM GTF engine that powers the A320neo. We plan to gradually expand the range of additive components we produce using these methods in order to fully tap the benefits they offer. These include greater freedom of design, shorter production times, faster innovation cycles, producing lighter components with added functionality, and lower development costs. Bearing housings, brackets and struts could all be manufactured using additive methods.
Virtual design and manufacturing
We plan to expand digitalization in the areas of development, materials engineering, manufacturing and maintenance. In the long term, our aim is to connect the entire value chain, and map it virtually as well. This makes the development and manufacture of increasingly complex products faster and more efficient.
ICM2E (Integrated Computational Materials & Manufacturing Engineering) is the name given to the use of simulation techniques in materials development and production, which eliminates the need for time- and costly-intensive testing. “Lifecycle engineering” describes the push to spread digitalization throughout the engineering processes (key aspects include virtual engines and digital product development). This produces a digital twin of each physical component, into which flows all the data from along the entire value chain: from development to maintenance and repair.
To further promote digitalization in aviation, the German Aerospace Center (DLR) has founded four new research institutes—one is the DLR Institute for Test and Simulation for Gas Turbines (SG) in Augsburg, Germany, which focuses on the virtual engine. MTU is involved with this unique research institute in its role as a partner and contributor of ideas. Technologies for intelligently connecting production processes and for engineering come under the heading of the digital factory. Here the focus is on simulating production processes and tool developments, as well as all value streams.