Pratt & Whitney's Geared Turbofan demonstrator engine has successfully operated using an alternative fuel blend during Phase I ground testing in West Palm Beach, Fla. Pratt & Whitney and engineers from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), in a partnership under the NASA Fundamental Aeronautics program, completed the test using a synthetic fuel blend as part of a program comparing potential emissions benefits for future aircraft applications. Pratt & Whitney is a division of United Technologies Corp.
"The Geared Turbofan engine is setting new standards for environmental performance and jet propulsion efficiency," said Bob Saia, vice president, Next Generation Product Family, Pratt & Whitney. "The successful demonstration of alternative fuels on our Geared Turbofan engine validates the flexibility of this engine's design to take advantage of multiple sources of fuel and leverage the environmental and economic benefits available today."
Pratt & Whitney is aggressively researching and testing alternative fuels for the aviation industry. In addition to the Geared Turbofan demonstrator engine, the company has partnered with the U.S. Air Force to test and certify alternative fuels for the TF33-powered B-52 aircraft and F117-powered C-17 transport. The C-17 recently completed its first transcontinental flight operating entirely on a blended synthetic fuel. As part of Pratt & Whitney's overall alternative fuel research, the company will conduct additional ground and flight tests across a range of products. Current plans for testing this year include commercial, military and business jet engines.
Pratt & Whitney actively participates in several international organizations working together to bring alternative fuels into field use. These organizations include the American Society of Testing and Materials, the Coordinating Research Council, and the Commercial Aviation Alternative Fuels Initiative.
The Geared Turbofan demonstrator engine is part of Pratt & Whitney's overall technology readiness program to power the next generation of commercial aircraft. The company is actively testing key components of the Geared Turbofan engine on 15 test rigs worldwide. The Geared Turbofan engine targets double-digit reductions in fuel consumption, engine noise, environmental emissions and maintenance costs.
In a Geared Turbofan engine, a state-of-the-art gear system allows the engine's fan to operate independent of the low-pressure compressor and turbine, resulting in greater fuel efficiency and a slower fan speed for less noise. The Geared Turbofan engine builds on more than 20 years of technology development with improvements in every major module.