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News Link • Transportation: Air Travel

GE's next-generation composite turbine blades to improve aircraft fuel efficiency

That engine is being developed for the Boeing 777X passenger airplanes that are set to enter service in 2020 and the new blades promise to provide larger, lighter engines with greater fuel efficiency.

Jet engine turbines are wonderfully simple machines when you look at a schematic, but that belies a remarkable underlying complexity. The blades have an intricate shape of complex curves that are hard to manufacture and must stand up to incredible temperatures, pressures, and hot corrosive gases. Even the fan blades of a modern jet engine, which have an easier time of it, are incredibly difficult to manufacture.

Traditionally, fan blades have been made out of metal, but these have their limitations. Composite materials seem a promising alternative, but GE says that even though composite blades are lighter and more durable than metal blades, they need to be thicker.

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