No aircraft engine works without cooling. The combustion chambers of modern aircraft engines get so hot that the material would not survive the ignitions. Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Material and Beam Technology IWS , in cooperation with Rolls-Royce, have succeeded in developing a new type of materials with better stability. Additive manufactured microstructures in the thermal barrier coatings not only make the turbine components more heat-tolerant, but also reduce the strain caused by expansion and contraction associated with significant temperature changes. Prof. Frank Brückner and Mirko Riede (both Fraunhofer IWS) as well as Dr. Dan Roth-Fagaraseanu (Rolls-Royce) received the Joseph von Fraunhofer Award 2018 for this research.
The microstructures on the order of just 30 μm are manufactured by a specially developed single-mode fiber laser. As a result, the fuel can now be burned more efficiently at higher temperatures, which reduces fuel consumption by 10% and ensures correspondingly lower emissions. Fraunhofer IWS estimates that the annual cost savings per aircraft (which in part also result from other measures) is about 2.9 million US dollars. The first production model has been approved by the EASA (European Aviation Safety Agency) in November 2015. Trent XWB-97 has been taking the Airbus A350-1000 into the air since the beginning of 2018.