Ceramics have been important to reducing weight in China’s first turbofan jetliner engine.

Morgan Advanced Materials’ Technical Ceramics Business, which developed the ceramic cores, says they are essential for the creation of hollow air passages in the engine’s turbine blades.

The CJ-1000A engine is being developed for China’s first passenger jet – the COMAC C919, which is due to be rolled out from 2020.  The new engine will replace the imported engines which were used during the aeroplane’s development.

Ceramic cores

The engine design uses hollow turbine blades and vanes to reduce overall weight and provide internal cooling passages to prevent the blades overheating when in use. To achieve hollow blades with the required combination of light weight and robustness, ceramic cores are placed in the centre of the mould during casting of the components. Morgan Advanced Materials was commissioned to create these ceramic cores at its manufacturing facility in Wuxi, Jiangsu.

Morgan worked with the engine manufacturers and designers to achieve the exact dimensions required for the internal cooling passages. The cores are manufactured in heat-resistant materials that can withstand the casting process without compromising the integrity of each blade’s superalloy construction. Once cast, the ceramic core is leached out to leave the blade hollow.

In total, Morgan has supplied four core designs to support the casting of stage 1 &2 blades and vanes. To date, over 1,000 individual cores have been manufactured. These numbers are expected to rise significantly when the aircraft enters mass production, as 600 engines per annum will be required to meet the forecasted target of 150 aircraft a year.

“Groundbreaking” work

Raymond Gao, General Manager of the Morgan’s Ceramic Core Technology facility, said: “This is a ground-breaking project for the Chinese aerospace industry and we’re delighted to play such an important part in getting this pioneering engine into production.”

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