Moving towards the next generation of powerplant systems
The NIPSE (Novel Integration of Powerplant System Equipment) European research project headed up by Safran Nacelles aims to reduce the volume of equipment on the powerplant systems (engines - nacelles) of next-generation aircraft by 15%. We caught up with the head of the project, Iain Minton, the Technical Director at Safran Nacelles Ltd in Burnley (United Kingdom).
What exactly does the NIPSE European research project involve?
The exponential increase in air traffic is leading aircraft manufacturers to design more efficient planes equipped with engines that take up less space and that will consume 25% less fuel than previous generations of engines. This is the case with Ultra-High Bypass Ratio (UHBR) engines. To make these new powerplant systems as efficient as possible, it is essential to reduce the size of the nacelles and to redesign the positioning of certain equipment on the engine, such as the fan module. This is the aim of the NIPSE program. As a nacelle-manufacturer, Safran Nacelles was appointed the industrial coordinator for the project. Two other Group companies - Safran Electrical & Power and Safran Aircraft Engines are also involved in the project.
What are the specific areas of research?
Ten European companies and organizations from the aeronautical sector are involved in the project. Their mission is to determine the best options for positioning the various pieces of equipment on the engine or inside the nacelle and to analyze the improvements that need to be made in the thermal management of these new powerplant systems.
On a general level, the project partners are working on the design of less bulky equipment, which is more functional and more resistant to high temperatures. Some of the partners are focusing on optimizing the heat exchangers (used to cool the fuel and engine oil) and the best way to improve their size relative to their efficiency. Safran Nacelles is responsible for improving the performances of the engine-nacelle system, notably by working on its overall architecture.
Another important aspect of the project is the development of a high-power calculation tool that will make it possible to automate the positioning of the equipment and their connections in order to reduce development time.