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Development of a titanium composite brake part for weight reduction and hence lower fuel burn and emissions on a large, long haul aircraft

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - TMC Brake (Development of a titanium composite brake part for weight reduction and hence lower fuel burn and emissions on a large, long haul aircraft)

Reporting period: 2015-12-01 to 2016-05-31

This TMC Brake project reviews the market opportunity and technology needs for silicon carbide fibre reinforced titanium matrix composite aircraft brake drive keys.
Brake drive keys are installed in aircraft wheels to transfer loads between the carbon-carbon brake disks and the wheel. Drive keys are currently made from steel or nickel alloys as they operate at temperatures of 500oC to 600oC in normal landings and a 1000oC if an aircraft aborts a take off.
TISICS develops and produces silicon carbide (SiC) monofilament metal composite technology for titanium and aluminium matrix components. SiC reinforced titanium (TMC) increases tensile strength by up to 50% and stiffness by 100%. Compression strength >2.5GPa which is higher than landing gear steel. The fibre also provides an increase in operating temperature which allows the parts to operate above 500oC.
TISICS has international patents for TMC splines for drive keys. The patent relates to work carried out using older versions of the technology. This project aims to update the performance information and the processing knowledge in order to determine a development route to an economic high volume production process.
The project focuses on a relatively simple component to initiate a new material into civil aerospace use. Reducing aircraft weight has a direct impact on fuel consumption and hence aircraft emissions. Carbon fibre has demonstrated a higher value material can displace common materials where the benefit is shown. CFRP was used in simple fairings before large structures. On average weight reduction leads to a 4% reduction in fuel burn over a year, and 1kg less fuel results in 3.15kg less CO2 emissions.
This project has demonstrated the potential for weight reduction through the use of TMC in brake drive keys. Weight reductions in the region of 100kg-110kg per Airbus A380 is possible with SiC-TMC Drive keys
This brake component technology is applicable to all large long haul aircraft. The technology will need further development to achieve high volume production rates to meet demand and the necessary production economics. This work would form a case for a Horizon 2020 Phase 2 development programme to achieve product ready technology. Once a supply chain and industry qualification is established on relatively simple brake components, titanium composite use will extend to landing gear, engines and structural parts leading to higher efficiency aircraft and a robust European titanium composite industry.

The overall objective was to assess the viability of titanium matrix composites for aircraft brake drive keys. The potential has been demonstrated to TISICS. The Commercial case is based around the Airbus A380 due to the high number of brakes. Weight reduction will lead to reductions in fuel burn and hence CO2 emissions. Growth of the titanium composite technology will lead to job creation and further opportunities for light weight materials for higher efficiency systems.
The project was ambitious and addressed technical development and design for drive keys as well as manufacturing trials to assess different manufacturing techniques. The commercial potential for the technology in the framework of the current civil aerospace market in particular the market for very large twin aisles and the Airbus A380, was reviewed. The programme looked at how to engage with the aircraft brake supply chain.

The outcomes of the work have been an adaptable FEA model to allow TISICS to tailor the composite architecture in the drive key. Manufacturing trials have identified the issues and opportunities for near net shape manufacturing of brake drive keys and have identified a novel processing route which will potentially deliver lower costs but also improved performance.

The commercial case and road map to achieve the required development and sales opportunities is better understood and will be addressed in more detail when moving to a larger product development programme.
The development of a titanium composite brake drive key provides the potential for 30% to 40% weight savings compared to nickel alloys or steels. This cannot be achieved with alternative material technologies. The process routes to manufacture these parts include conventional machined techniques as well as preform methods utilising titanium powder based methods.

TISICS has utilised its latest generation silicon carbide fibre which provides improved performance and significantly improved economics compared to earlier versions of the fibre.

The impact of this work when taken to full industrial maturity will be to create an initial civil aircraft produce in titanium matrix composite. Once established as a mainstream material technology TISICS will expand the component technologies to address a wider range of brake, landing gear, engine and structural components for aircraft. Implementing this technology will lead to more efficient civil aircraft with a direct impact on fuel burn and hence CO2 emissions. Reducing fuel burn should lead to lower airline operating costs which translate into cheaper flights and or more robust economic performance for airlines.

TISICS anticipates that the growth of the titanium composite technology in Europe will lead to new high technology jobs in the direct manufacture of the metal composite parts as well as the supply chains. It is anticipated that where European manufacturers adopt the technology they will gain a technical advantage which they can exploit through increased sales particularly where current technology has reached the limit of optimisation. This may provide early adopters with the opportunity to offer better technical solutions to compete against emerging economies with different operating costs.

The direct impact of the project to date is to increase awareness of the technology through the EU Horizon 2020 network. TISICS will utilise this experience to disseminate information on the project and technology.
TISICS 140µm Silicon carbide fibre composite
Business jet size drive key showing composite architecture
Airbus A380 sized titanium composite drive keys
Airbus A380 Size drive key showing composite regions