The concept of this project was the TRL 6 demonstration of a high speed, light weight, large capacity variable displacement piston pump for medium and large aero-engine fuel system applications, capable of high efficiency performance at fuel flows of up to 40,000 pounds per hour and pressures up to 2200 pounds per square inch.
Piston pumps currently find application on the fuel systems of small and medium engines. This project aimed to build on AEC’s pedigree and inherent high reliability in this market while addressing the speed limitations of the current piston pumps. By increasing the maximum speed capability the large flow output can be achieved with a smaller displacement pump, to meet the required mass target of 50 lbs. Higher speed requires a greatly increased duty, a term used to compare the relative levels of stress and velocities of the pumping elements.
This higher duty performance was achieved through the application of modern materials, coatings, manufacturing technologies and advanced analysis methods. The pump was designed to retain the current high mean time before failure of 300,000 hours, with an overhaul life of 30,000 hours.
The project was split into eight work packages, with the overall aim being to design and manufacture a variety of options for the high duty pump’s internal components to be tested within a flexible demonstrator vehicle. The optimum combination was then identified and subjected to further testing to demonstrate TRL6, resulting in a final design proposal for a large engine application.
AEC has in-house pump design, manufacture and performance and environmental test capability. However, this technology programme required external capabilities relating to specific design and manufacturing processes and capabilities, and materials technology. Therefore, the overall strategy was for AEC to integrate the research establishments and the SMEs’ capabilities to design, make and evaluate the key component technologies.
The development of a high efficiency fuel pump ultimately delivered higher efficiency and lower emissions part of the Cleansky key objective. With the likely smaller engine core in combination with evolving engine architectures and advanced cycles, there will be a trend for increased heat rejection into fuel. The design and material choices deployed in this technology project have started to demonstrate.
The project aimed to develop and demonstrate a high efficiency fuel pump that will support engine technologies that deliver higher efficiency and lower emissions, helping to reduce the environmental impact of aviation. With the likely smaller engine core in combination with evolving engine architectures and advanced cycles, there will be a trend for increased heat rejection into fuel. The fuel pump proposed in this project will feature novel component technologies that will minimise the heating of the fuel from the engine control system. This in turn will assist in minimising any additional engine heat exchanger equipment, thereby reducing engine drag and weight. This will have a direct contribution to reductions in fuel consumption and emissions.
The global market for engines required for regional and large civil aircraft from 2016 onwards is of the order of 3,000 per year. This equates to a potential market of 3000 fuel pumps per year, sustaining operational capacity for around 400 skilled employees per annum. Additionally, this will support a much larger supply chain base. Although this project directly impacts on specialist suppliers, the wider impact in terms of engine sales will have an impact many times more significant than the direct impact alone.