A GT Facility for the development of new sensor and other technologies

SCITEK presented their new Gas Turbine facility currently under development, at the 9th EVI-GTI Conference which took place in Graz last week.

Find out more in our abstract below. Author: Marios Christodoulou

We live in a world of connectivity, with mobile phones and other personal devices equipped with instrumentation that can record our everyday activities generating a large amount of data and statistics that help us (or otherwise) know more about our daily actions and health. Sophisticated sensors have become smaller, cheaper and are built in to everyday gadgets. The use of new and innovative instrumentation has not greatly increased in gas turbine engines partly because the operating environment is harsh and also due to difficulty in convincing engine manufacturers to try out new sensors on their engines. Engine manufacturers want to buy new technologies in a fully developed state. However, this requires many cycles of testing on GTs leading to a catch 22 situation and in effect stifles innovation.

Including new sensors that are at TRL4 in a GT development programme is not attractive and not a high priority during engine development as engine manufacturers face other more challenging technological and financial pressures. Typically, a new engine is developed every ten years with the development time lasting five years. For sensor manufacturers, this is too long and costly which only provides them with an opportunity to try a new sensor on an engine every ten years. This greatly discourages innovation and the proof is the limited number and type of sensors currently installed on flying engines.

There is clearly a need for a facility that is independent of OEMs using low cost retired engines as a platform for innovative technologies to be developed and tested to TRL7. Such a facility will be significantly more cost-effective, offering sensor companies lower development costs and a significant reduction in the development time of their products. It will also have the added advantage of providing experience and training to non-aerospace companies to adapt mainstream products for use in aerospace which will encourage innovation.

SCITEK is already in the process of establishing this facility using a small geared turbofan engine which will initially be used as part of an ATI funded project starting in June/July 2019, to develop an innovative telemetry product. This engine facility will also be made available to other companies for the demonstration and development of new technologies. Other types of engines, smaller and bigger can also be used in the future. Hands on training courses to aspiring aerospace engineers will also be offered as part of the service, either as part of a university course, or to employees of engine OEMs where it is more difficult to get hands on engine experience.

SCITEK considers that such a facility will facilitate a step change in the development of new and innovative technologies of benefit to the GT community.

Email Marios at marios@scitekconsultants.co.uk to find out more about our Gas Turbine facility.