A Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 on a Boeing 787 Dreamliner (Image source: Rolls-Royce plc)

Parker Aerospace and GKN Aerospace to develop passive cooling solutions for next-generation aircraft engines

The two companies signed a technology development agreement for integrating existing macrolamination technology directly into aerostructures.
Parker Aerospace, a business group of Cleveland-based Parker Hannifin Corporation, has reached a collaborative technology development agreement with GKN Aerospace Sweden AB to bring structurally integrated thermal management solutions to advanced aerospace engines using macrolamination techniques. 

The agreement will leverage the thermal analysis and macrolamination manufacturing capabilities of Parker’s Gas Turbine Fuel Systems Division and GKN’s engine-structure design and manufacturing expertise to develop integrated engine static-structure thermal management technologies.

“Parker Aerospace is proud to bring its macrolamination pedigree from decades of fuel spray nozzle development, in collaboration with GKN Aerospace engine design and testing capabilities,” says Director of Business Development Shawn Isham from Parker’s Gas Turbine Fuel Systems Division. “Together, our companies will develop integrated structural thermal management solutions for current and future high-bypass turbine engines.”

In terms of static-structure thermal management, macrolamination shares the “high surface area to volume ratio” approach of traditional “plate-fin” heat exchanger designs. However, where plate-fin designs employ finned chambers sandwiched between two surfaces, macrolamination achieves that forming microstructures – possibly carbon nanotubes or graphene nanocomposites – onto single sheets of cooling material. Those sheets are then fused to secondary material with high thermal conductivity.

This technique improves heat rejection efficiency over traditional plate-fin designs and has already gained traction in the aerospace and defense (A&D) microelectronics industry (e.g., circuit boards and heatsinks) where size comes at a premium. Furthermore, regarding integration into engine nacelles, macrolaminated materials retain structural load-bearing properties.

“Structurally integrated thermal management solutions will be a key enabler for advanced engine architectures requiring more heat sink capability with limited weight impact,” says GKN Engine Systems Vice President of Business Development Alex Guruprasad.

GKN, based in Trollhättan, Sweden, is responsible for design, development, manufacture, assembly, and certification of numerous turboprop and turbofan solutions for major customers like Boeing, Spirit AeroSystems, and Pratt & Whitney. Additionally, the company’s maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO) service client list is even more extensive.

As airline operators push for more efficient engines, the development of integrated macrolaminated passive cooling systems may even impact existing aircraft engines and nacelles.

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William Kucinski is content editor at SAE International, Aerospace Products Group in Warrendale, Pa. Previously, he worked as a writer at the NASA Safety Center in Cleveland, Ohio and was responsible for writing the agency’s System Failure Case Studies. His interests include 'literally anything that has to do with space,' past and present military aircraft, and propulsion technology. And also sportscars.
Contact him regarding any article or collaboration ideas by e-mail at william.kucinski@sae.org.
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