Technological innovations from Goodrich Corporation in lightweight composites, structural design and engine fuel components are key enablers that help customers meet future environmental requirements.
"While 'being green' is currently the fashion for industry in general, it has been a way of life for Goodrich and the aerospace industry since day one," said Harry Arnold, vice president of technology for Goodrich. "Economics and the environment are linked in our business; our customers have the task of building and operating aircraft that consume the least fuel while carrying the maximum payload, and to do so safely and cleanly. We work relentlessly to reduce weight, enhance aerodynamics and improve fuel efficiency on all products and services across the enterprise."
The majority of noise from aircraft is generated from the engine by fans, compressors, and from jet mixing. As a primary designer and manufacturer of nacelles, Goodrich engineers reduce noise through dispersion, dampening, absorption and frequency change. Acoustics specialists continue to find new ways to manufacture quieter systems, reducing noise during take off and landing as well as noise in the interior cabin throughout flight. Carbon- based composite materials, 10 times stronger and three times lighter than steel, are used to mold the outer shell of the engine nacelle. These advanced nacelle systems absorb engine energy, aiding in significant noise reduction; their light weight enhances fuel economy.
Carbon dioxide emissions are directly related to fuel burn, and fuel burn is directly related to weight. While reducing component weight is one way to reduce fuel burn and its attendant emissions, the future demands even more creative solutions. Goodrich is at the forefront of leading edge research and technologies in this area, such as fuel burn optimization.
For new engines, efficiency can be increased by raising the pressure and temperature in the engine core during the combustion process. This, however, increases nitrogen oxides (NOx) emissions, a common pollutant. By tracking physical and acoustic aspects of the combustion process, Goodrich engineers are enabling engines to operate at higher temperatures by burning leaner while avoiding problems with instability; these hotter, more efficient engine cycles have the added benefit of eliminating much of the carbon byproduct and NOx of the combustion process, resulting in reduced emissions. Goodrich researchers have developed specialized audio and optical sensors that identify instabilities by actually listening to and viewing fuel burn; high speed valves and control logic can then properly adjust fuel flow. Continued development is getting this technology out of the lab and into the real world environment. A complementary collaboration with Iowa State University is focused on detection and control of thermoacoustic instabilities generated during combustion.
Elsewhere, Goodrich is partnering with a multi-company/university team, led by Rolls-Royce, on a research project dubbed the Environmentally Friendly Engine (EFE) technology program. Goodrich's Engine Control and Electrical Power Systems team, headquartered in Birmingham, UK, is Rolls-Royce's largest partner on the program and will be providing the next generation of electronic and fuel system controls for a number of engine technology validation runs over the course of five years.
Changes on the horizon include engines that emit 20 percent less carbon dioxide and 80 percent less NOx, and reduce noise by 18 decibels. "Reducing weight, fuel burn and drag, without compromising safety or performance, is our continuous improvement quest. The better we are, the more we help our customer achieve their green goals," Arnold said.