Initiated last September, the SOPRANO(1) European research project aims to improve knowledge about soot formation within aircraft engines and thereby foster the design of combustion chamber architecture which emit less particles, regardless of the engine speed. Over the past few decades, research efforts have mainly focused on reducing noise as well as nitrogen oxide (NOx) and carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.

Safran on board (not exhaustive):
CFM56-7B engine components Safran Aero Boosters)
CFM56-7B engines (within CFM International) (Safran Aircraft Engines)
Wiring (Safran Landing Systems)
Accessory gearbox for CFM56-7 / -7B engines (Safran Transmission Systems)

Academic chambers and digital models

In practical terms, the SOPRANO project aims to quantify and qualify the soot formation process within combustion chambers. "Up until now, the majority of data available involve measuring the output of the chamber or engine… And yet, very little is known about what exactly goes on inside the combustion chambers," says Lisa Bouheraoua, Injection Technology Manager and Project Coordinator at Safran Tech. "As such, we know that lean combustion systems tend to reduce soot emissions but we don't know how or to what extent." The challenge over the next four years will therefore be to understand the mechanisms at work to be able to design even less polluting engines in the future. The teams involved in the project will use various experimental tools, in other words "academic" combustion chambers(2) or semi-industrial chambers, in addition to digital tools. "Modeling tools for fine particles already exist but they are not yet complete. One of our key objectives is to improve them so that they are more predictive and better adapted to aircraft," explains Lisa Bouheraoua. 

Engine A330

Safran Tech coordinates a European project

Forming part of the Mobility for Growth European call for proposals, SOPRANO has a budget of €6.8 million over a four-year period, fully funded by the European Commission. The program brings together twenty or so partners: engine manufacturers, including Safran, Rolls-Royce, GE Avio, MTU Aero Engines, and research centers such as ONERA, CNRS and CERFACS. These entities are part of well-established international and national networks such as LECT (Low Emission Comb Techno) and INCA (Initiative en Combustion Avancée).

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