Clean Engines for Reduced Fuel Consumption
Contaminated aircraft engines work less efficiently and require more fuel. Therefore, researchers from Darmstadt University of Applied Sciences are searching for new methods to allow engines to be cleaned more frequently and to a higher standard, which in turn would mean engines operate more efficiently.
Darmstadt University of Applied Sciences and Lufthansa Technik AG's new joint research project focuses on finding methods for efficiently cleaning engines of commercial aircraft. "The components become dirty during operation, which reduces efficiency and increases fuel consumption," explains Professor Gerald Russ, leader of the project. The deposits include dust, pollen, sand and exhaust gas residues. "Our aim is to develop a method of cleaning the engines in 'on wing' situations, meaning that the engine does not need to be removed from the wing," Russ continues. In a recent preceding project, a method was developed in which the engines are cleaned using a concentrated, heavy stream of frozen carbon dioxide particles. This process is currently being tested in Lufthansa's maintenance operations. The project partners expect to reduce fuel consumption by 0.5 percent using the new method.
The goal of the new project is to clean a larger area of the engines, as well as to test new cleaning methods. The main challenge: accessing hard-to-reach components without needing to dismantle the engine. At the same time, the cleaning process must not damage the components. In the first stage the scientists will test various new cleaning processes on individual parts. In the following stage, the parts will be incorporated into the engine components in order to establish whether the cleaning processes are suitable for purpose. The research group hopes to further develop their knowledge using computer simulations of various cleaning processes.
At Lufthansa Technik AG's Frankfurt site, the parts will be analysed to determine which of them become contaminated and how this happens. The German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi) has provided 1.08 million Euro in funding for the scheme.