Sunday, August 7, 2022

Innovation: DRDO develops near isothermal forging technology for aero-engines

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New Delhi: The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has developed the near isothermal forging technology to produce all the five stages of high-pressure compressors (HPC) discs out of titanium alloy using its unique 2000 MT isothermal forge press, Defence Ministry said in a statement on Friday. In any aero-engine, the HPC discs have to be replaced after a specified number of operations or in case of damage. The technology has been developed by the Defence Metallurgical Research Laboratory (DMRL), a premier metallurgical laboratory of DRDO at Hyderabad. 

"This is a crucial technology for establishing self-reliance in aero-engine technology. With this development, India has joined the league of limited global engine developers to have the manufacturing capabilities of such critical aero-engine components" the statement added.

In order to meet the bulk production requirements, DMRL technology was transferred to the defence PSU MIDHANI through technology transfer. Using the isothermal forge press facility available at DMRL, Hyderabad, bulk quantity (200 numbers) of HPC disc forgings pertaining to various compressor stages have been jointly (DMRL & MIDHANI) produced and successfully supplied to HAL (E), Bengaluru for fitment into Adour Engine that powers the Jaguar/Hawk Aircrafts. 

In India, the Adour engine is overhauled by HAL (E), Bengaluru under a licensed manufacturing agreement with OEM. Like in any aero-engine, the HPC Drum assembly has to be replaced after a specified number of operations or in case of damage. The annual requirements of these high-value HPC discs are quite large, warranting indigenisation. HPC drum is a highly stressed sub-assembly and is also subjected to low cycle fatigue and creep at elevated temperature. The raw materials and forgings for the HPC drum are required to be of the highest quality which can meet the specified combination of static and dynamic mechanical properties. 

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DMRL developed this forging technology by integrating various science and knowledge-based tools. The methodology adopted by DMRL is generic in nature and can be tuned to develop other similar aero-engine components.  The compressor discs produced using this methodology met all the requirements stipulated by the airworthiness agencies for the desired application. Accordingly, the technology was type certified and a letter of technical approval (LoTA) was accorded. Based on the exhaustive component level and performance evaluation test results, HAL (E) and Indian Air Force cleared the components for engine fitment. Apart from DMRL and HAL (E), various agencies such as MIDHANI, CEMILAC and DGAQA worked in unison to establish this crucial technology. 

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