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Electro-mechanical magnetic blade pitch control

Project description

The EU aviation industry is open to a novel idea that could save fuel and cut emissions

Annual global emissions from the international aerospace sector are already approximately 70 % higher than they were 15 years ago. The International Civil Aviation Organisation predicts they could increase by another 300 % by 2050 if measures are not taken. More efficient engines are one way to reduce emissions, and open rotor engines, under development since the 1980s, are gaining attention again. Characterised by two contra-rotating fans, open rotor architectures efficiently increase propulsion, thereby reducing fuel consumption and emissions. Controlling the angle of the blades has conventionally been achieved with hydraulic systems requiring extensive maintenance to prevent hydraulic fluid leakage. The EU-funded ROTATOR project is developing an electromechanical magnetic control system to further increase the reliability and cost-effectiveness of novel open rotor engines.


Advanced electro-mechanical magnetic pitch control mechanism (PCM) for open-rotor architectures.

Open-rotor engines offer an alternative configuration in which the bypass duct is omitted, allowing for significantly higher bypass ratios without incurring the weight and drag penalty associated with a nacelle. It also offers significant CO2 reductions, and for an industry producing over 600 million tonnes of CO2 yearly, adopting this engine could save 180 million tonnes/year. The engine requires accurate control of the blade pitch via an actuation system, and it is this area of control that requires the greatest attention in order to realise the potential fuel savings. Current hydraulic systems transfer fluid to the rotating actuator components in order to control the blade pitch, requiring high-maintenance dynamic seals with potential for leakages.

The key areas of innovation in this project centre around the development of a fault tolerant electro-mechanical pitch control mechanism utilizing an ultra-high torque density magnetically geared motor. The system is designed to be fault tolerant from the rotating power transfer device through to the motor torque production, with the development of a lightweight rotating fault tolerant high frequency transformer, fault tolerant electrical drive and fault tolerant motor architecture. Innovative light-weighting technology to form structural parts of the motor and actuator system will deliver a step-change in motor/actuator weight-saving. Development of multi-physical digital twins at the concept stage and then to predict failure rates of the various components.

A full-size PCM will be built and tested and a number of components and sub-assemblies of the actuator will be vibration tested at representative temperatures. The coordinated research activities from four highly experienced partners from industry and academia will take the technology to TRL4.


Net EU contribution
€ 738 606,00
S2 5BQ Sheffield South Yorkshire
United Kingdom

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The organization defined itself as SME (small and medium-sized enterprise) at the time the Grant Agreement was signed.

Yorkshire and the Humber South Yorkshire Sheffield
Activity type
Private for-profit entities (excluding Higher or Secondary Education Establishments)
Total cost
€ 1 055 152,50

Participants (3)