Volvo Aero develops lightweight fan frame

Volvo Aero has developed a new fan frame concept utilizing lightweight carbon-fiber composite material. The unique composite fan frame concept (patent pending) has the potential of saving 30% in weight compared with cast titanium, and it is easy to industrialize.
A full-scale fan frame prototype is now being manufactured. This part will be validated in a full-scale test within the EU-funded VITAL project.

VITAL is a four-year project that started in January 1, 2005. It is now approaching the final validation phase. The project brings together European engine companies and universities. One sub-project in VITAL, SP4, involves lightweight engine structures and is headed by Volvo Aero.

To prepare for future production of composite engine components, Volvo Aero acquired the composite company Applied Composites AB in Linköping, Sweden.

 “The acquisition is part of our investment in lightweight technologies, which will result in reduced fuel consumption and, consequently, lower emissions from aircraft,” explains Olof Persson, President of Volvo Aero.

Volvo Aero intends to immediately establish a new operation that will develop and manufacture selected aircraft engine components in composite materials. These components will be significantly lighter than comparable components in metal and will then significantly influence fuel consumption and, thereby carbon-dioxide emissions.

“Lightweight technology is already one of our focused areas. Our goal is to become a world leader in lightweight structures. For that reason, it feels natural that we take this step by utilizing the broad and in-depth knowledge within ACAB,” says Olof Persson. 

As a consequence of the acquisition, Volvo Aero will invest SEK 50 M (approximately USD 8 M) in research and development within the area of composites during the next 18 months.