Engineering researchers build advanced lightweight engine blades

Published: Nov 5, 2008 11:42:05 AM
Media Contact: Sally Credille, src0007@auburn.edu, 334.844.3447

Yasser Gowayed

Yasser Gowayed

Through a grant from the Air Force Research Laboratory, Auburn University faculty member Yasser Gowayed, along with a team of researchers from the Department of Polymer and Fiber Engineering, is designing and constructing physical models for a high-temperature capable, lightweight blade used in gas turbine engines. The blades are constructed from advanced ceramic matrix composites (CMCs), which can operate 400-800 degrees Fahrenheit hotter and 75-200 pounds lighter than traditional metal engines. Using the blades can reduce fuel usage and engine size, decrease gas emissions, extend range, reduce operational cost and increase payload.

"Through this research, we can improve on the current design tool, which was developed at Auburn under different Air Force and NASA programs, to understand the impact of the environment on the material behavior and life at such high temperatures," said Gowayed. "The successful application of these new advanced materials depends greatly on the design tools necessary to predict as-manufactured properties and develop design procedures utilizing the full range of their capabilities."

The Samuel Ginn College of Engineering is working with the Goodrich Company, Rolls Royce North America Technologies and the Southern Research Institute to better understand the material's mechanical and thermal responses and enhance their load-carrying capacity and resistance to the operating environment.