This Wednesday afternoon started by clambering onto a minibus and embarking on a trip to Rolls-Royce visitor centre in Derby. There were 15 engineering students in total and upon arrival we were shown around the heritage centre which included looking at a RB211 and a Trent 800, both of which are turbofan engines. The RB211 is the engine which famously bankrupted Rolls-Royce during development in the 1970s. In order to keep up with competition, GE, Rolls-Royce had developed carbon fibre fan blades which failed at the last stage of testing. After returning to the drawing board titanium fan blades were employed and the company was nationalised after spiraling costs. The company survived, of course, and has turned into a household name and a company that many engineers aspire to join.
The Trent 800 is a part of a family of Trent engines developed after the RB211 and includes some very interesting technology. The nosecone, for instance, has a rubber tip to stop large blocks of ice being drawn into the engine. If ice does develop on the nose an imbalance breaks it up. The fan blades are diffusion bonded super plasticity formed titanium, which sounds and is pretty impressive. The Aerospace Materials module that I am currently taking deals with metallurgy of various engine components and goes into explaining how turbine blades can survive at a temperature 200 degrees above their melting point. After the heritage centre we were shown around the new visitors centre which included a corporate video introduction to Rolls-Royce. Most people reading this know that Rolls-Royce doesn’t produce motorcars but how aware are you of the various land and sea projects? The visitors centre briefly explained Rolls-Royce involvement in these other markets but the focus was on aeroengines and the central focus at the end of the tour was overlooking the Trent 700 production line. If you are interested in Rolls-Royce and jet engines I’d recommend watching How to Build … A Jumbo Jet Engine.