By Randy B. Hecht
As a passenger, you’ve seen airlines enforce stricter size and weight limits on luggage. Did you know the aerospace industry is also working to reduce “excess baggage” in jet engines and aircraft bodies? That’s because in flight, weight reduction converts to higher fuel efficiency and lower carbon emissions.
Today, technologies like additive manufacturing make it possible to build engine components that are lighter, stronger, more fuel efficient, and able to perform over extended lifespans. At the same time, advanced materials and surface solutions enable those engines to operate reliably at extreme temperatures — and the more heat an engine can take, the more fuel efficient it will be.
The impact is impressive, not incremental.
We can measure how coatings on operation critical jet engine components reduce CO2 emissions, and the numbers may surprise you. In 2019, for example, worldwide flights produced 915 million tonnes of CO2. That year, Oerlikon materials and surface technologies alone reduced emissions by more than 25 million tonnes.
Having trouble visualizing 25 million tonnes of emissions? Try this: The volume is the equivalent of CO2 emissions that would be generated by providing a year’s worth of energy for 3 million homes. And that’s the benefit created from just one area of our innovations for the sector.
The impact of all our jet engine solutions offsets our emissions as a company by a factor of 160 — and our global sustainability contribution extends to automotive, power generation, tooling and many other industries.
Defined by what our coatings — and we — are made of.
To achieve these results, we must balance the competing requirements that uniquely define jet engine design and construction: safety, weight, cost, and temperature. The challenge has always been one of the most demanding in mechanical engineering. And it has become even more pressing as the world recognizes the urgent need for solutions to the climate crisis.
This brings Oerlikon’s two driving missions into union. We are global experts in research and development of advanced materials that change the limits of what is possible in industrial design. And we approach materials science both as engineers and as people who employ sustainable innovation to improve the world.
By collaborating with our aerospace customers on engineering innovation, we are helping to make the demand for air travel compatible with the need for air that’s clean and healthy.
Want to learn more? Our sustainability report can introduce you to more technologies that deliver innovative and practical sustainability solutions and set the stage for further advances.
Tapping the potential of additive manufacturing.
The challenges don’t stop there. Neither do our solutions.
The aerospace industry is under constant pressure to shorten development and manufacturing cycles without sacrificing quality and safety standards. How can they slash expensive tooling costs, eliminate production waste, reduce waste, and create customized, integrated designs that simplify parts assembly?
Oerlikon is working in partnership with aerospace leaders to realize this technology’s potential to revolutionize everything from industry supply chains to space missions. Additive manufacturing presents opportunities to achieve all these objectives in a single solution. It enables production of parts whose complexity is beyond the capabilities of traditional manufacturing. At the same time, it reduces engine weight, improves operating efficiency, decreases downtime needed for maintenance and repairs, and optimizes the use of production resources to minimize waste.
Next time you board a flight with a more compact carry-on, remember that in addition to saving your back, you’re helping to reduce emissions. Which is just what we’re doing each time we achieve a new breakthrough in these mission-critical sustainable innovations.