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The desire for high performance and efficient thermodynamic operation of the traditional turbofan forces tradeoffs to be made during its design. The thermodynamic Brayton cycle states that a high engine efficiency requires a high engine pressure ratio (PR) which is the pressure achieved through the compressor portion of the engine. Achieving a high PR in the traditional configuration requires many stages of compression, which increases engine length and greatly increases weight. The many stages of compression also increase the combustor and turbine temperatures in order to produce sufficient power to drive them. Operation at high temperatures requires the addition of compressor bleed air passages to cool components thus increasing complexity and reducing performance. The use of a single combustor prohibits efficient operation away from the design point, as conventional engines cannot create high PRs at reduced power settings. As an additional complication, traditional combustor location between the compressor and turbine stages requires long shafts and complex bearing and mechanical systems.
Air Force scientists have developed the Revolutionary Innovative Turbine Engine (RITE) to address many of these technical issues associated with the traditional gas turbine configuration. The RITE is an engine configuration enabled by a dual compressor rotor (DCR). This design integrates inter-turbine burner technology (ITB) into a major configuration change to the traditional gas turbine through the use of the DCR. ITB technology reduces peak engine temperature with multiple stages of heat addition. Lower peak engine temperatures reduce emissions, manufacturing costs, and engine performance losses associated with thermal management. ITB technology allows for a higher engine PR for improved efficiency without a high peak engine temperature.
The DCR is a single rotor with two stages of axial compression, one forward flow, one reversed flow, and a tip turbine. The DCR reduces engine axial length requirements by stacking multiple compressor stages onto the same plane. The pairing of DCR and ITB technology allows for independently controlled and supported rotors. The independent control this provides allows for improved performance-matching and enables the RITE core to operate at its design point during all points of the mission, increasing part lives and improving performance.
This US patent 8,726,635 is related to US patents 8,192,141 and 8,356,469. The ‘141 patent embodies the dual compression rotor with counter rotating blades. The ‘469 patent incorporates the dual compression rotor configuration into a turbine engine along with a centrifugal compression rotor positioned aft with a second compression chamber – an inter-turbine burner – between. The ‘635 patent adds a combustion chamber in front of the dual compression rotor.
- Reduces engine weight and costs
- Eliminates the need for complex shafts and bearing systems through its use of independently supported rotors with turbine stages onboard
- Turbine stages located radially outboard of compressor stages reduces internal engine temperatures and improves turbine tip clearances by reducing thermal growth of the rotor
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- Potential for collaboration with Air Force researchers