Development of an optimised database for a specific category of titanium alloys has been achieved with the Clean Sky 2 ADVANCE project, paving the way for aircraft weight reduction to save fuel and reduce CO2 and NOx emissions.

  • ADVANCE successfully developed an accurate database for reliably modelling titanium aluminide (TiAl) alloys used for manufacturing aircraft engine rotating blade components
  • With this data, components that are 50% lighter can be modelled and developed, resulting in fuel burn and emissions reductions

With high strength, low weight, and corrosion resistance properties, alloys based on titanium aluminide (TiAl) are highly suitable for use in aeronautics, where their unique attributes help reduce aircraft weight — aviation’s prime pathway to the Clean Sky 2 high level objectives of cutting fuel-burn and reducing emissions. But to exploit the full potential of these metals and accelerate their introduction into new products, known gaps in the aeronautics industry’s TiAl thermodynamic database have to be plugged.

Cue Clean Sky 2’s recently completed ADVANCE project. ADVANCE successfully developed an accurate ‘CALculation of PHAse Diagrams’ (CALPHAD) database. CALPHAD databases are valuable tools used to accurately model the properties and behaviour of materials — particularly multicomponent alloys.

The CALPHAD database developed by the ADVANCE consortium supports the rapid computational design and optimisation of new lightweight, high temperature tolerant TiAl and TNM alloys (which contain Titanium, Aluminium, Niobium, and Molybdenum). These are promising candidates for use in the manufacture of aircraft engine rotating blade components.

Taking the heat

To populate the database a series of experimental alloys were produced from elements of the highest available purity.

Eighty-four different alloys were made, from which over 360 samples were produced, heat-treated and subjected to inspections and analysis using a range of techniques, including light optical and scanning electron microscopy, X-ray diffraction and high-energy X-ray diffraction. The results enabled the project team to better understand the microstructure and chemistry of the alloys.

A lighter load for lighter emissions

With this information, updated descriptions of these various alloys were integrated into a thermodynamic CALPHAD database which has been validated against independent multicomponent data. Armed with the database, it will be possible to substitute engine parts currently manufactured from Nickel-based alloys with those made from TiAl alloys, a weight saving of 50% which translates into environmental benefit in the form of reduced fuel burn and emissions.

This project generated the needed data infrastructure to accelerate design and insertion of novel high-performance TiAl-alloys into aero engine components.

Anders Engström, President of Thermo-Calc Software AB, the Stockholm-based firm that coordinated ADVANCE

Indeed, projections by the consortium indicated that the updated CALPHAD database cuts the time required for the introduction of new alloys by at least 50%.

Beyond the accurate CALPHAD thermodynamic database, the results have been disseminated in a range of open-access publications, and preparation is underway for an updated version of the CALPHAD thermodynamic database for commercialisation.

The ADVANCE project ran from 2018 until June 2022 and was coordinated by Thermo-Calc Software AB (TCSAB), supported by Max-Planck-Institut für Eisenforschung GmbH; Helmholtz-Zentrum hereon GmbH (Hereon); and Montanuniversität Leoben (MUL). The project budget of €1 112 800 was covered in full by the EU. MTU Aero Engines AG was the Topic Manager.


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