NASA Glenn has been directly involved in the effort to bring CMC materials to turbine hot section components. The NASA Ultra Efficient Engine Technology program (UEET) was focused on driving the next generation of turbine engine technology. One of the major thrusts is the development and demonstration of advanced high-temperature materials which are capable of surviving the extreme environments of turbine combustion and exhaust. More recently, the NASA CLEEN and NextGen programs aim to improve aircraft propulsion efficiency. A major thrust is to demonstrate that advanced high-temperature materials can survive the environment of turbine combustion and exhaust. These materials enable higher engine temperatures directly improving efficiency while reducing cooling hardware. NASA Glenn Research Center has been involved with in the development of SiC/SiC for aero-turbine vanes and blades for a significant period of time. Recent efforts include those aimed at investigating the advantages and disadvantages of SiC/SiC vanes and blades. NASA Glenn has also conducted research on environmental barrier coatings for SiC/SiC turbine engine components. The research conducted as part of this Phase II program is directly applicable to the NASA Glenn efforts noted and can be used to complement those development efforts. Similarly, the results from the NASA work could help to improve the materials and tools being developed in this program.
In the commercial sector, the Rolls Royce Trent 1000 and Trent XWB engines are being developed for the Boeing 787 and Airbus A350 XWB aircraft, respectively. There are currently 1031 Boeing 787s on order and 812 Airbus A350 XWBs on order. The Trent 1000 was the launch engine for the Boeing 787. These are large markets where the benefit of this technology will have a lasting impact on efficiency and cost. By working closely with Rolls Royce during the early stages of this development program, MR&D has ensured that the resulting products will meet the requirements of future customers. Through its own investment in EBCs, Rolls Royce has demonstrated a serious interest in this technology and, as demonstrated above, have a sizable market for its application. The aerospace industry is not the only potential beneficiary of this technology. The Department of Energy (DOE) is working hard to improve the efficiency of power generators. Just as with aircraft engines, power turbines' efficiency improves with higher operating temperatures. As an example, current turbines operate at 2600°F, which provided a large improvement in efficiency over earlier models operating at 2300°F. CMC turbine blades and vanes will allow even higher temperature operation and is a topic which the DOE is currently investigating.