Safran orchestrates SOPRANO
Since September 2016, Safran Tech, Safran's R&T center, has been coordinating the SOPRANO research project selected by the European Commission. The aim is to enhance knowledge about soot formation and emission in aircraft engines to reduce the environmental impact.
Initiated last September, the SOPRANO(1) European research project aims to improve knowledge about soot formation within aircraft engines and thereby foster the design of combustion chamber architecture which emit less particles, regardless of the engine speed. Over the past few decades, research efforts have mainly focused on reducing noise as well as nitrogen oxide (NOx) and carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.
Academic chambers and digital models
In practical terms, the SOPRANO project aims to quantify and qualify the soot formation process within combustion chambers. "Up until now, the majority of data available involve measuring the output of the chamber or engine… And yet, very little is known about what exactly goes on inside the combustion chambers," says Lisa Bouheraoua, Injection Technology Manager and Project Coordinator at Safran Tech. "As such, we know that lean combustion systems tend to reduce soot emissions but we don't know how or to what extent." The challenge over the next four years will therefore be to understand the mechanisms at work to be able to design even less polluting engines in the future. The teams involved in the project will use various experimental tools, in other words "academic" combustion chambers(2) or semi-industrial chambers, in addition to digital tools. "Modeling tools for fine particles already exist but they are not yet complete. One of our key objectives is to improve them so that they are more predictive and better adapted to aircraft," explains Lisa Bouheraoua.
Safran Tech coordinates a European project
Forming part of the Mobility for Growth European call for proposals, SOPRANO has a budget of €6.8 million over a four-year period, fully funded by the European Commission. The program brings together twenty or so partners: engine manufacturers, including Safran, Rolls-Royce, GE Avio, MTU Aero Engines, and research centers such as ONERA, CNRS and CERFACS. These entities are part of well-established international and national networks such as LECT (Low Emission Comb Techno) and INCA (Initiative en Combustion Avancée).
"It was a very proud moment when the project was selected by the European Commission because it's a first for our R&T center to be able to coordinate a European project," emphasizes Lisa Bouheraoua. As the main point of contract for the European Commission, Safran is also tasked with monitoring and coordinating the work of the partners involved. "We regularly meet with people in charge of the program's technical contributions to take stock of the progress they've made and then share this information with the European Commission. We're also tasked with managing the communications and circulating the results to all of the stakeholders potentially concerned by the issue of soot."
(1) SOot and Particles Reduction in Aeroengines through inNOvations
(2) Simplified models for studies and experimentation