As airplanes grow larger and larger, bigger jet engines are needed to propel them into the sky and keep them there. GE has just begun initial testing for the world's largest jet engine which spans an amazing 11 feet in diameter.
The new GE9X engine not only holds the record for largest jet engine diameter, but also the most extensive use of 3D printed parts made from ceramic matrix composites (CMCs). GE9X was sent off to the GE engine testing facility, and you can take a look at the massive engine and equipment needed to move it below.
3D printing has allowed GE to create innovative fuel nozzles with internal caverns, which were previously impossible to create.
“These tunnels and caves are a closely guarded secret. They determine how the fuel moves through the nozzle and sprays inside the combustion chamber.” ~ GE Aviation spokesman Rick Kennedy
These hollow parts allow the internal temperature of the engine to be sustained at higher levels, while simultaneously decreasing fuel and emissions. This, in turn, means that the hotter the engine operates at, the more efficient it therefore becomes.
Powered by 16 carbon fiber fan blades that pump air into an 11 stage high-pressure compressor, this engine outshines anything else on the market, generating over 100,000 pounds of thrust. The pressure ratio maintained in the engine is 27:1, boosting efficiency and allowing the engine to gain even more power.
The massive amounts of thrust generated by this engine aren't actually a world record, in fact, the GE90-115B, the GE9X's predecessor holds the world record with 127,000 pounds of thrust. This engine wasn't built without a need, however, as Boeing has already asked GE to make more than 700 of the jet engines which totals to a sale of over US$29 billion. Boeing will fit the engine on the new 777x jetliner for airlines ranging from Lufthansa to Qatar Airways.
GE had never tested such a massive engine, so they had to upgrade their entire testing facility just to facilitate the GE9X.
“We also upgraded our engine hoists and transporters to handle the GE9X and modified a wall in our prep building so the engine can be moved after final assembly to make its way to the test stand.” ~ Brian DeBruin, plant manager for GE Aviation’s Peebles Test Operation
Testing for this engine started last month and will continue on for many months in order to verify the engine's capabilities before it is handed off for commercial production. As with many other large projects, the timeline for this engine being implemented into airline fleets is still a few years off. GE estimates that the GE9X will start being serviced by the end of the decade.