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Poles are working on the airplane revolution.  An idea that is supposed to change the industry is blooming in the Aviation Valley

Poles are working on the airplane revolution. An idea that is supposed to change the industry is blooming in the Aviation Valley

Poles are working on the airplane revolution.  An idea that is supposed to change the industry is blooming in the Aviation Valley

More than 20 years after the Aviation Valley was established, the initiative was ripe to change the entire aircraft market. The Polish branch of MTU Aero Engines Polska is working on a hydrogen engine that will revolutionize aircraft. But this is not the only path the company has taken to achieve the goals of achieving zero-emission aviation.

More than 20 years have passed since the Aviation Valley was established in 2003, an association that today brings together 193 entities employing a total of 35,000 people. people and whose sales amount to EUR 3.5 billion. However, Aviation Valley is not only a legal organization, but also an actual and physical technology park in Jasionka near Rzeszów, where companies from the aviation sector build their headquarters and factories.

When we started in 2008, there was actually nothing here – we had green fields, storks, and deer that continued to look through our windows for a long time. The airport was an ordinary hangar, the guests were surprised that it was an airport at all

– said Aneta Strugalska, financial director and member of the management board of MTU Aero Engines Polska. The company is celebrating its 15th anniversary and invited us to visit their plant. However, we started with a short drive through the Aviation Valley. Today, it is still mainly green areas – where you can certainly still sometimes see a hare or a deer – but interspersed with large hangars and more. There is, for example, a modern, expressionist building of the Łukasiewicz Podkarpackie Science Center. The airport is no longer an ordinary hangar, but a modern terminal with a train attached to it. By the way: a sign of the times – for two years, Jasionka has also been a military base where American soldiers are currently stationed, although this is a completely different topic.

If 15 years ago there was practically nothing in this place, today the situation is completely different and the Polish Aviation Valley can be impressive. Not only visually, because as one of the management board members of MTU Aero Engines Polska joked – it is difficult to find an airplane today that does not have a part manufactured here. There is a grain of truth in this, considering that the Aviation Valley includes Boeing, Safran and Collins Aerospace, brands that are certainly not anonymous to aviation fans.

MTU Aero Engines Polska produces parts, but its ambitions go much further

MTU Aero Engines is an international company with 18 locations in nine countries. It employs 12,000 people in total. people of 88 nationalities. The Polish branch was established in 2008, a factory hall and headquarters were built in 10 months, thanks to which the activities of MTU Aero Engines Polska began in 2009. Initially, they planned to employ 418 people, today, after two expansions, they have 1.2 thousand. employees. Over the next three years, they plan to increase this number to 1.5 thousand. They cooperate in business with 60 entities from the Aviation Valley, which, as they emphasize, allows for the exchange of experiences.

The Polish branch produces components for civil, military and business aircraft engines. It specializes in low pressure turbines, high pressure compressors and central turbine frames of aircraft engines. In addition, it deals with servicing civil aircraft – the company states that it is one of the three largest entities in this field. It also earns money from its 5 percent stake in the V2500 engine, which is used in the Airbus A320. It is the only company in Poland that has direct shares in this engine.

Production and engineering generates PLN 818 million in turnover in the Polish branch of MTU, and the company expects an increase of 63%. until 2026. A year ago, their shares in V2500 provided them with PLN 754 million (the forecasted increase by 2026 is 12%). The Shared Services Center has “only” PLN 43 million in turnover, but the expected increase is as much as 75%. The company has already spent over PLN 950 million on investments in the Polish plant alone. This does not include expenses for work on an innovative hydrogen engine, which we will discuss in a moment.

They want to create a hydrogen aircraft engine. It is to be tailored for airplanes

Fly Net Zero is an initiative aimed at achieving zero carbon dioxide emissions in aviation by 2050. MTU Aero Engines Polska is engaged in work that will help achieve this goal. Claire’s technological map, i.e. Clean Air Engine, was created ( Clean Air Engine), which consists of three pillars.

The first is evolutionary designs. – This is the development of the GTF engines that power the Airbus A220 family of the PW1100 engine. We will continue to modify it and work on its second generation, because we believe that this is the architecture of the future. The bypass ratio will change, i.e. the ratio of external to internal flow. This means the engines will be more efficient and less fuel-consuming. Current GTF engines reduce the negative impact on the environment by approximately 20%. using conventional fuels. The second generation engine will reduce the negative impact on the environment by 60%. using sustainable fuels. It will also be adapted to be powered by hydrogen, just like the first generation, said Marcin Pietrzak, Director of Engineering and Technology at MTU Aero Engines Polska, one of the first nine engineers employed in the company.

The second pillar was called WET. – This is still the GTF architecture enriched with an additional water circulation, which further contributes to the reduction of CO2 and nitrogen oxide emissions, and also reduces the phenomenon associated with condensation streams – explained Pietrzak.

The last pillar is an engine powered exclusively by hydrogen, i.e. Flying Fuel Cell (FFC) technology.

A completely revolutionary concept, because we are investing in a fuel cell. We don’t want to go into batteries, we want to go into fuel cells

– said Pietrzak.

– This is so important for MTU Aero Engines Polska because, looking at the entire group, we are the only ones involved in the construction of this type of engine. Our design department designs such an engine. We do everything in cooperation with MTU Munich, but we are involved in the construction and development of materials for this type of engine. We are talking about a concept that has zero impact on the environment. From a fuel cell, the only by-product is water in the form of steam, says Pietrzak.

However, there may be some doubts here. , show that 57 percent The impact of aviation on global warming comes from contrails, the formation of which is mainly caused by water vapor. However, as Dr. Marc Stettler, who deals with transport and the environment at Imperial College London, points out, in order to reduce their impact on the climate, it is enough to lower the flight altitude, thanks to which the steam will not freeze. If only 2 percent flights with the highest cruising altitude would reduce it by 300 meters, the environmental impact of contrails would be reduced by 57%. (all aviation is responsible for approximately 2.4% of global CO2 emissions). MTU Aero Engines Polska emphasizes, however, that FFC engines are designed for aircraft that are to fly at lower altitudes, where water vapor does not freeze.

The second doubt may concern hydrogen production. However, production using renewable energy sources is possible. MTU claims that this issue will not be a problem in the future, especially since the Polish branch already buys 100% of the shares itself. energy from renewable energy sources. The company believes that over time, hydrogen will only be produced in a sustainable way, e.g. directly from the water electrolysis process.

MTU Aero Engines focuses on hydrogen because, according to the company, it is a cleaner and better source of energy. – Aviation is expensive and you have to take into account the period of time the plane stays on the ground, when it does not earn money and only generates costs. The battery drive, on the other hand, extends the stay on land because it requires long battery charging, and parking at the airport is expensive. In the case of hydrogen, apart from the issue of obtaining hydrogen, we have a situation like with kerosene – we plug it in, refuel it and go on – explains Marcin Pietrzak.

In addition, the use of a hydrogen fuel cell provides an advantage in the form of mass, which is crucial in the development of aviation. The industry is constantly looking for new, lighter materials from which aircraft can be made, such as new metal alloys, composite materials and even ceramics. After all, a lighter aircraft allows for less fuel consumption, so it is not surprising that the sector is constantly looking for improvements in this matter. However, the electric batteries on board increase its weight, which they do not lose during the flight, unlike hydrogen, which is consumed, so the weight of the entire aircraft decreases during the flight.

The hydrogen engine will be ready within a decade. The aviation revolution is a matter of time

The FFC hydrogen engine project, in which MTU Aero Engines is involved, is a unique project on a global scale. The vast majority of other companies are trying to transplant solutions from the automotive industry to the aviation industry. MTU Aero Engines took a different path. – FFC is a technology designed strictly for aviation and its requirements. We are working on our own fuel cells, our own electric engine, our own hydrogen supply system, cooling, etc. It’s all tailor-made, we don’t want any prosthetics. The solution is prepared for specific aircraft models – explains the Director of Engineering and Technology at MTU Aero Engines Polska

The first land-based demonstrator is expected to be ready in an optimistic version in 12 months, but the realistic date is 2026. The first engine intended for flight is planned for 2029, and the first application in 19-seat short-range aircraft in 2032. Further plans include work on the use of FFC engines in long-range aircraft.

We don’t need a breakthrough, it’s just a matter of time before this technology comes into use. However, I predict that conventional drives, using either kerosene or sustainable aviation fuels, will coexist with drives using hydrogen

– summarizes Marcin Pietrzak.

Source: Gazeta

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