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A lightweight aero-engine pipe

News International-French

15 Aug 2014

The COMPipe technology, developed by Sigma Components as part of the €1.8m Clean Sky programme will deliver weight savings for aero-engines, reducing costs and CO2 emissions.

UK Prime Minister David Cameron attended the official launch of COMPipe at Farnborough Air Show 2014. Sigma Components’ managing director Mark Johnson invited the Prime Minister to compare the weight of the traditional aero-engine pipe, with the new lightweight COMPipe while explaining the potential global impact of the savings that could be made.

A great example of a small UK manufacturer that has benefited from the Government’s growth programmes on offer to innovative, ambitious firms, Sigma Components has been able to make huge strides in developing new technologies with the support of the CleanSky programme.

It was also one of the first UK manufacturers to sign up for the sharing in growth programme, which is now valued at more than £2.1m over five years. The company’s Hinckley headquarters and Farnborough site are already benefiting from an intense programme of business improvement initiatives to accelerate growth and maintain global competitiveness, with funding matched by Sigma’s own investment in skills and facilities.

Although the project is not due to be completed until Autumn 2014, the potential weight savings from the new composite pipes and end fittings are already surpassing expectations. If all the engines due to be delivered over the next 20 years were made using COMPipe and its fittings, conservative estimates predict a saving of 4.5million tonnes of CO2 could be made over the life of the engines. This potential could be realised, as COMPipe can be formed into a 3D shape, replicating existing pipe geometry.

Using approximately 150 composite pipes and fittings per engine, the total weight saving per engine is at least 10kg. Lowering the engine weight has a knock-on effect of reducing weight elsewhere in the aircraft, known as the snowball effect; creating an overall empty weight saving of up to 80kg for a twin-jet aircraft.

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