HEETE compressor

Rolls-Royce has started evaluations of an advanced engine compressor as part of the US Air Force Research Laboratory’s (USAFRL) Highly Energy Efficient Turbine Engine (HEETE) technology programme.

The testing forms part of a $19.6m HEETE contract, secured by the company in September 2007, to develop next-generation propulsion systems, which are designed to help the USAF reduce fuel consumption.

Tom Bell, Rolls-Royce Customer Business – Defense president, said: "By achieving the goals of the HEETE program with our demonstrator, Rolls-Royce will have proven advanced compressor technology that can be applied to future transport, patrol and ISR applications, ranging from our successful AE family to larger engine applications, to meet the future needs of the US military by increasing range and reducing fuel consumption."

The programme’s conceptual design review (CDR) and preliminary design review (PDR) were successfully completed by the company in May 2008.

A key element of the USAF’s Versatile Affordable Advanced Turbine Engines (VAATE) programme, the HEETE is a technology development programme aimed at the production and demonstration of solutions that may lead to lowered fuel consumption for embedded engine applications.

Equipped with high temperature, pressure ratio compressor technologies and associated thermal management features, the programme intends to specify the next generation engine architecture for subsonic aircraft, such as future transports, tankers, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and subsonic strike vehicles.

The technologies have already demonstrated increased ranges of 30%, increased payload/fuel load for future transports of 50%, and a 90% increase in loiter time for UAVs.

Work under the contract is being carried out at the company’s LibertyWorks research unit in Indianapolis, Indiana, US.

Image: Advanced technology HEETE compressor is currently undergoing testing at US Air Force Research Laboratory. Photo: courtesy of Rolls-Royce, 2012©.