Airframers and engine builders alike are increasingly using composites to lower aircraft weight. It is no surprise, then, that the Gas Turbine Fuel Systems Division (GTFSD) of Parker Aerospace is also exploring the implementation of lighter-weight composites.
Parker GTFSD is the first in the industry to offer engine OEMs composite engine oil reservoirs as a way to lower weight in their power plants. Lowering weight reduces an engine’s fuel consumption, yields a higher power-to-weight ratio, and provides greater fuel efficiency – all of which lead to the reduced emissions desired by both engine OEMs and their customers.
The new composite reservoir design can be up to 40 percent lighter than conventional steel or aluminum oil tanks. With excellent fire resistance, the composite reservoirs will also eliminate the need for weight-adding fire blankets.
Designed to last the life of the engine, the main engine oil reservoir provides clean, deaerated oil to the engine for use by the turbine engine bearings, pumps, and transmissions. Reservoirs typically incorporate a variety of different components to monitor and manage the health of the engine oil system.
These can include an integrated deaerator, visual oil sight gauge, remote oil level indicator, pressure regulating, relief, and fill valves, a gravity fill cap, and an adapter. Conventional tanks can be made of a stainless-steel weldment or aluminum with a fire blanket. The entire tank must be designed and certified to meet the FAA’s 15 minute, 2000-degree F fireproof requirement.
GTFSD’s composite tank innovation
With research begun in 2005, the GTFSD lubrication team has now finalized the design and material technology needed to produce composite engine oil reservoirs capable of handling oil system pressure requirements while withstanding the hostile environment of aerospace gas turbine engines. Development, design, and testing of the new tanks are taking place at the GTFSD’s Naples, Florida, facility in collaboration with Parker’s central engineering resource, and the Applications and Technology Transfer lab at the Center for Composite Materials / University of Delaware.
Successful flame resistance and high g-force vibration testing have moved the tank development into the prototype stage, while a product design review is currently underway with a customer’s demonstration engine. The 18.4-gallon tank in review weighs 50 pounds and can withstand engine oil temperatures from -65˚ F to 392˚, vibration loads exceeding 22Gs, and proof pressure of 33.9 psig. In addition, GTSFD is well along in defining the processes for manufacturing the composite tanks, confirming manufacturing repeatability, and establishing inspection standards to ensure 100-percent quality.
Composite reservoirs bring the same positive benefits to virtually anything that flies – including commercial, regional, and business jets. The lighter-weight reservoirs are particularly helpful for larger commercial aircraft where engine oil reservoirs need to accommodate higher fluid volumes. Military aircraft, too, enjoy the same advantages.
Lighter-weight composite reservoirs can prove beneficial for an aircraft’s specific mission requirements, whether it is for longer range, greater cargo-carrying ability, or additional ordnance capacity.
The GTFSD lubrication design team is dedicated to finding innovative, engineered solutions for customers’ toughest challenges. Whether for industry-leading lubrication pumps and accessories -- fully integrated subsystem or system solutions that include advanced thermal management technologies -- or components like composite oil reservoirs, our unique designs consistently save space and reduce weight, offering greater reliability, easy maintenance, simple operation, and longer life.
Our portfolio of lubrication products is used to support commercial and military programs worldwide and includes the following:
To learn more about the capabilities of Gas Turbine Fuel Systems Division, please visit our website.
This post was contributed by Glen Kukla, engineering team leader, Gas Turbine Fuel Systems Division, Parker Aerospace.