GKN Aerospace wins contract for Additive Manufacturing of rocket engine turbines
September 10, 2018
GKN Aerospace Sweden AB has been awarded a development and manufacturing contract by ArianeGroup, Issy-les-Moulineaux, France, for the metal Additive Manufacturing of two full-scale turbines for the Prometheus low-cost reusable rocket engine demonstrator on liquid oxygen and methane propellants. It is believed that the turbines will be the first additively manufactured rocket engine turbines produced in Europe.
The turbines will generate power for the methane fuel system, with the first set to be delivered at the end of 2019. Manufacturing will take place in cooperation with partners and at GKN Aerospace’s highly-automated Engine Systems Centre of Excellence in Trollhättan, Sweden.
The new turbines must cope with challenging loads including very high pressure, high speed and high temperatures. To produce them, GKN Aerospace will reportedly use the latest Additive Manufacturing technologies to achieve higher performance, lower lead times and significant cost reduction. The company expects this development to support the adoption of AM for future higher loaded critical components in terms of pressure, temperature and rotational speed.
Sébastien Aknouche, Vice President and General Manager, Services and Special Products Engine Systems, GKN Aerospace Sweden AB, added, “With the support of the Swedish National Space Agency, ESA and ArianeGroup we are proud to participate in the Prometheus project and to make a technological contribution to this key European space project. This allows us, together with our suppliers, to work with our customer to develop and demonstrate advanced AM technologies in operation and at full scale. We look forward to demonstrating the benefits and the added value in weight and cost reduction, and in faster production rates. These factors, along with our established expertise in space turbines, have resulted in the award of this engine turbine contract.”
Prometheus is an ESA funded programme with ArianeGroup as the prime contractor. GKN Aerospace’s Space Business Unit in Trollhättan, Sweden, has been active in the Ariane programme from its inception in 1974 until the current Ariane 6 partnership, and has reportedly produced over 1,000 combustion chambers and nozzles as well as over 250 turbines for the Ariane rocket to-date. Today it is the European centre of excellence for turbines and metallic nozzles, having contributed to the programme at every stage from initial research and development through cooperation with academia to serial production.