In the last few days, the Safran Group signed a contract with SOLVAY S.A. that in the future, advanced resin-based composite materials supplied by SOLVAY will be used on their LEAP engines manufactured by CFM (joint venture by Safran and GE) and will be installed on those flights from Airbus and Boeing.
To meet flight needs, the aircraft engine is expected to have a small size but a huge power. Those rotating accessories, because of their severe working environment, are demanded to be produced with materials that have high specific strength, good heat resistance and strong corrosion resistance. And for engines used in civil aviation, the structure and properties of the materials used must be stable for more than 10 thousand hours.
The materials of the flight engine have also gone through many changes. Aluminum alloy, magnesium alloy, high-strength steel and stainless steel etc, had all been used in the aircraft engines in the early stage. But in the later stage, in order to meet the needs of increasing engine thrust and the flight speed of the aircraft, the titanium alloys, superalloys and composite materials have been successively adopted in this industry.
The service temperature of resin-based composite material is generally not higher than 350 °C. Therefore, resin-based composite materials are mainly used in the cold end of engines, for example, fan blades are important parts in the turbofan aircraft engine, and can influence the performance of the turbofan engine.
Resin-based composite fan blades have many advantages compared with those of titanium alloy. In addition to the obvious weight-reduction, the resin-based composite fan blades have less impact on the fan casing and can improve the fan casing's containment.
Moreover, the resin-based composite material can also be used in the engine nacelle, some international manufactureres have already used it at nacelle intake, fairing, thrust reverser etc,.
Thanks to its characteristics, the resin-based composite material can largely reduce the weight of the aircraft, the fuel consumption, CO emission, noise and maintenance cost, and will play a very important role in aircraft engines.