GE demos world’s largest jet engine, tests 3D-printed fuel nozzles

General Electric’s aviation division is thinking big — really big– when it comes to its future jet engines. The company last week began testing the world’s largest jet engine, firing up the propulsion system that has has a whopping 18-foot-wide inlet duct. Not only is it large, the new GE9X jet engine is also cutting-edge, with 3D-printed fuel nozzles used to power GE’s most fuel-efficient jet engine to date.

The GE9X is a remarkable piece of equipment, featuring 16 carbon fiber fan blades, a combustor and turbine made with heat-resistant ceramic matrix composites, and 19 fuel nozzles that were designed and 3D printed specifically for this engine. Instead of using the traditional casting and welding to create the nozzles, GE relied on additive manufacturing to produce them, using the expertise it acquired when it bought Morris Technologies and Rapid Quality Manufacturing in 2012.

GE turned to 3D printing to reduce the weight of the fuel nozzles and improve their performance. The nozzles were designed with an intricate architecture that uses tunnels and caves to reduce the weight of the material, yet maintain its strength.

“These tunnels and caves are a closely guarded secret,” said Rick Kennedy, a GE Aviation spokesman. “They determine how the fuel moves through the nozzle and sprays inside the combustion chamber.”

The result is a nozzle that is 25 percent lighter and still as strong as existing nozzles. This lighter weight translates into less fuel consumption and monetary savings for airlines that incorporate this engine into their planes.

Besides a weight savings, the 3D-printed nozzles save GE time and money in manufacturing. Because they are 3D printed, the nozzles also can be manufactured at a much faster rate and with less waste than traditional nozzles, which require GE to weld up to 20 smaller pieces to form the final product. This welding process is time consuming and produces a lot of waste material, which is money lost by the company.

GE has been testing individual components in its GE9X engine over the past few years, but last week’s experimental run was the first test of the engine as a whole. The engine was tested at the company’s Peeble’s Ohio facility which was built for this large-scale testing. To complete the test, GE used two concrete stands capable of suspending the colossal engine.

The GE9X can produce up to 100,000 pounds of thrust and will be the primary engine for Boeing’s next-generation 777X jet. The engine is scheduled to enter service in 2020 with more than 700 engines collectively worth $29 billion already on order. Emirates, Lufthansa, Etihad Airways, Qatar Airways, and Cathay Pacific are among the airlines planning to add the 777X jet and GE9X jet engine to their fleet of aircraft.

Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Robotic companions and computer-aided karaoke

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it's fun to gawk!
Product Review

2019 Volkswagen Jetta offers German refinement and tech at an affordable price

With enough tech to make villains jealous, the Volkswagen Jetta punches above its class as a forward-thinking sedan. Spacious, comfortable, and efficient, the Jetta is a refined offering. German refinement comes with a serious attitude.
Gaming

Epic Games is offering $100 million to game developers with no catch

Epic Games launched a new grant program called Epic MegaGrants. The program will dish out $100 million in funds to developers working in the 3D graphics community, even if they don't use Unreal Engine.
Computing

Make the most of your toner with our five favorite color laser printers

Color laser printers have improved dramatically over the years, and today's models offer both blazing print speeds and great image quality. Here are our favorite color laser printers, from massive all-in-ones to smaller budget options.
Emerging Tech

Trip to Neptune’s moon, Triton, could inform search for extraterrestrial life

NASA has proposed sending a craft to Neptune to study its largest moon, Triton. Studying Triton could offer clues to how liquid water is maintained on planets, which may indicate what to look for when searching for life beyond our planet.
Emerging Tech

NASA’s Mars 2020 rover passes its tests with flying colors

The Mars 2020 rover team has been undertaking a series of tests to see if the craft will be able to launch, navigate, and land on the Red Planet. Called Systems Test 1, or ST1, these tests represent the first test drive of the new rover.
Emerging Tech

A hive of activity: Using honeybees to measure urban pollution

According to a new study from Vancouver, bees could help us understand urban pollution. Scientists have found an innovative way to measure the level of source of pollution in urban environments: by analyzing honey.
Outdoors

Light up the night! Here are the five best headlamps money can buy

Headlamps make all the difference when camping or walking the dog at night, especially when you're in need of both hands. From Petzl to Tikkid, here are some of the best headlamps on the market.
Emerging Tech

Spacewalk a success as astronauts upgrade batteries on the ISS

The International Space Station was treated to some new batteries on Friday, thanks to two NASA astronauts who took a spacewalk for nearly seven hours in order to complete the upgrades.
Emerging Tech

Asteroid Ryugu is porous, shaped like a spinning top, and is formed of rubble

The Japanese Space Agency has been exploring a distant asteroid named Ryugu with its probe, Hayabusa 2. Now the first results from study of the asteroid are in, with three new papers published.
Emerging Tech

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it’s a super-speedy pulsar

A super-speedy pulsar has been spotted dashing across the sky, discovered using NASA’s Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope and the Very Large Array. The pulsar is traveling at a breathtaking 2.5 million miles an hour.
Emerging Tech

Chilean telescope uncovers one of the oldest star clusters in the galaxy

An ultra-high definition image captured by the Gemini South telescope in Chile has uncovered one of the oldest star clusters in the Milky Way. The cluster, called HP 1, could give clues to how our galaxy was formed billions of years ago.
Emerging Tech

Astronomers discover giant chimneys spewing energy from the center of the galaxy

Astronomers have discovered two exhaust channels which are funneling matter and energy away from the supermassive black hole at the heart of our galaxy and out towards the edges of the galaxy, dubbed galactic center chimneys.
Emerging Tech

A milestone in the history of particle physics: Why does matter exist?

If matter and antimatter were both produced in equal amounts by the Big Bang, why is there so much matter around us and so little antimatter? A new experiment from CERN may hold the answer to this decades-long puzzle.