ASE AeroSystems and Rolls-Royce create a green “Flex Cell” to test a wide range of engine types that pulls energy from the grid to start the engine and then returns electricity to the grid once it’s running.
Rolls-Royce Indianapolis is a leading supplier of small to medium size engines used in industrial, marine, and aviation applications. A flexible engine test cell was needed for production testing for multiple engine models ranging from 4000-12,000 SHP (shaft horse power), with engine rotation in either the clockwise or counterclockwise direction.
Program goals included drastic improvement in test cell turn-around time for configuring the test cell for the different engine models, and reduced engine preparation time while in the test cell.
The range of engine testing performance requirements precluded the use of standard testing hardware such as eddy current and water brake dynamometers so an AC dynamometer was selected for power absorption and motoring.
While AC dynamometers have been used to test gas turbine engines, a unique system was needed to satisfy the broad range of speed, torque, and power required at Rolls-Royce. The use of an AC dynamometer not only provided an opportunity to achieve superior test system control, it is a “greener” solution since much of the power produced by engine under test is converted into electricity and returned to the electrical grid rather than wasted as heat.
More than 17 engine model variants including 501’s, AE’s (Allison Engine’s), and others engines are supported. The final test bed is rated for 8100 N-m (6000 ft-lb), 9 MW (12,000 hp) and 20,000 rpm.
ASE partnered with world class manufacturers of medium voltage drive systems, and high-speed gearboxes. Success required high levels of competency and coordination between ASE, its partner suppliers, Rolls-Royce engineering and facilities teams, and Indiana Power and Light (IPL).
“Since project inception, the ASE team provided exceptional support and displayed technical breadth while instituting a state-of-the-art regenerative driveline. Through quick responses and access to all levels of the organization, I felt that my project carried a high priority.
Building relationships with their customers appeared to be important to the ASE team. In general ASE and RR had a great working relationship that I believe will continue for future Experimental and Test projects. “
TS871 Project Manager
The scope of the project included:
- Dyne System & E-House Compound
- Driveline Gearbox
- Test Bed & Torquemeters
- Docking Station, Alignment Station & Engine Carts
- Telescoping Augmentor Exhaust
- Overhead Bridge Crane
- Facility, Engine & Spindle/QSA Lubrication Systems
- Scavenge Oil System
- Controls & Instrumentation
- Control Room Refurbishment
ASE looks forward to working on more modular green solutions like this in the future.
Aero Systems Engineering, Inc. (ASE), based in St. Paul, Minnesota, is a leading global provider of mission-critical testing and engineering services to manufacturers of jet engines and industrial gas turbines, maintenance, repair, and overhaul (“MRO”) providers, governments and militaries. ASE serves the aerospace and energy markets in: 1) independent testing services at its aerodynamic laboratory; 2) design and build of aerodynamic ground test facilities and equipment; and 3) design and build of engine test facilities and equipment. ASE provides products and services under the brand names AeroSystems and FluiDyne.