Latest News | 18 January 2021

Rolls-Royce completes first engine run on world’s largest testbed

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Rolls-Royce has successfully completed the first engine run on its new state-of-the-art testbed in Derby.

Called Testbed 80, the £90 million facility at the engineering giant’s civil aerospace site, in Sinfin, has been dubbed the largest and smartest indoor aerospace testbed in the world.

With an internal area of 7,500 square metres, the testbed is larger than a football pitch.

Ahead of its official opening in the coming months, Testbed 80 recently completed its first run on a Rolls-Royce Trent XWB engine.

Chris Cholerton, the firm’s president of civil aerospace, said: “This is an important landmark in our journey towards a more sustainable future for aerospace and aviation.

“It’s great that the first engine test has been a success and we are looking forward to the official opening of the facility in the coming months.”

The successful run of the first engine is a major milestone for the new testbed, which has been under construction for almost three years.

It has been designed to test a range of engines of all sizes, including the Trent XWB and the Trent 1000.

It will also have the capability to test the UltraFan demonstrator, Rolls-Royce’s blueprint for the next generation of even more efficient engines, as well as the hybrid or all-electric flight systems of the future.

Mr Cholerton said: “Testbed 80 will not only test engines such as the Trent XWB – the world’s most efficient aero-engine in service – but also the engines and propulsion systems of the future, which will see us take another step towards decarbonisation.”

As part of Rolls-Royce’s decarbonisation strategy, the company is promoting the scaling up of Sustainable Aviation Fuels, which can already be used as a “drop-in” fuel in its existing engines.

To support this commitment, Testbed 80 has been equipped with a 140,000-litre fuel tank for different fuel types, including Sustainable Aviation Fuel.

The data systems inside Testbed 80 are more capable and complex than any of Rolls-Royce’s existing testbeds, delivering data in the fastest time directly to secure storage, linked for the first time to the firm’s analytical models and engineers.

The testbed collects data from more than 10,000 different parameters on an engine, using an intricate web of sensors that detect even the tiniest vibrations at a rate of up to 200,000 samples per second.

This data helps Rolls-Royce understand its engines better, monitoring how every single component behaves in a range of conditions, and consequently providing crucial insights to inform future engine improvements for availability and efficiency.

The testbed is also home to a powerful X-ray machine that is able to capture 30 images per second and beam them directly to a secure cloud, where engineers around the world can analyse them along with the 10,000 other data parameters it can measure.

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