Blowing Hot and Cold: GE, the Boeing 777X, and a New Cold Flow Facility

Apr 26, 2016

November 2016 - With unity of purpose, collaboration can lead to incredible results - results big enough to help power a Boeing 777X, the largest and most efficient twin-engine jet in the world, and hopefully decrease fuel consumption, polluting emissions and noise levels in the aerospace industry at large. GE is proud to be front and center at the opening of a new facility in Zielonka, Poland, that aims to perform just this, and in doing so create incredible opportunities for research centers and industry partners worldwide.

Such opportunities will surely become a regular occurrence with Polonia Aero opening, on November 4, one of the world’s largest and most advanced cold flow turbine test laboratories. The facility will function as a strategic asset to enhance the technological level of aero engines, and is the product of a partnership between GE Aviation’s Avio Aero and Military Aircraft Works No 4 in Warsaw, the Military University of Technology and the Warsaw University of Technology. One of its first assignments will be testing a new engine for the equally new Boeing 777X.

In 2016, Polonia Aero will run tests under the Polish technological program Innolot, and at the same time will verify the fulfillment of GE9X Low Pressure Turbine efficiency targets. GE9X is the new generation engine that will power the Boeing 777X, and Avio Aero has responsibility for its entire low-pressure turbine module.

The aerodynamic conditions of the turbines in the facility are similar to those that occur in-flight, but at lower temperatures, hence the designation “cold flow.” The testing mechanism is relatively simple: air drawn from the outside environment is compressed and heated up to 375°C before being thrust at a maximum flow rate of 80 kg/s towards the low-pressure turbine to be tested. Monitoring the airflow inside the turbine enables testers to observe and assess its reactions, validate numeric models and define areas for improvement.

“This project is a great opportunity for the aerospace industry, and a prime example of cooperation between private companies and universities,” said Giacomo Vessia, President of Polonia Aero. “The laboratory will be opened to research centers and industry partners worldwide. All companies will have access and will be able to test their turbines and prototypes. Also, students of technical universities will be able to gain experience in one of the most innovative R&D centers in the world, acquiring practical knowledge during research activities and experiments. This is an ‘open formula’, and one that is unusual for this type of scientific unit.”

Avio Aero, a GE Aviation business specialized in the design, production and maintenance of components and systems for the aviation industry, was the main initiator and project leader for Polonia Aero, and brought both financing and know-how to the table.

Elżbieta Bieńkowska, European Commissioner for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs, said, “The Polonia Aero project is a great example of effective spending of EU funds, and combines industry and science. That is perfectly aligned with the strategies of development promoted by the EC. We should be proud that these modern and innovative centers are established here in Poland, and that they will serve the development of Polish science and modern industry.”