March 16, 2017
UTRC and NASA successfully test the world’s first boundary layer ingesting fan for jet engines

CLEVELAND, Ohio - The first-of-its-kind boundary layer ingesting fan for jet engines, designed by UTRC under funding from NASA-Glenn Research Center, has been successfully tested at NASA-Glenn in Cleveland.

Developed as part of a 10-year effort to demonstrate this technology for future aircraft, the fan's unique configuration pulls lower-velocity air from the aircraft surface into the engine, thereby reducing the power required to generate thrust. This results in notably decreased fuel burn during flight time.

To accomplish this efficiency, a team of UTRC engineers and scientists developed a novel design that integrates the fan and a non-conventional inlet into a single engine system that is embedded into the aircraft surface. The resultant streamlined structure mitigates the impact of the fan on the inlet flowfield.

According to Research Center experts who contributed to the project, the difficulty in designing a fan of this type lies in the large non-uniform inlet flowfield and the resulting structural impact on the rotating fan, as the blades move into and out of the distorted pressure region. Inventing a distortion tolerant fan for this type of environment required the use of unsteady computational fluid dynamics calculations to enable new dynamic design concepts.

UTRC proved the efficacy of its game-changing fan concept using NASA-Glenn’s transonic wind tunnel. In order to accommodate the fan’s unusual construction, NASA made significant modifications to its existing wind tunnel, thereby creating the only test facility in the world capable of running a configuration of this type with the proper control of the inlet flow.

Throughout the test, the incoming air velocity and the thickness of the incoming boundary layer were varied to demonstrate the fan's capability.

"The new fan technology was successful in every respect," said Om Sharma, Senior Fellow, UTRC, who worked on the project from its inception. "It will lead to advanced propulsion systems for multiple cutting-edge aircraft designs currently being pursued by NASA and its industry partners."

Contact: Laura Stevens, (860) 610-1653

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