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NASA announced this week it is “winding down” the three-year Phase 1 of its Hybrid Thermally Efficient Core (HyTEC) project. And according to the illustration accompanying the announcement, the new engine technology could include an unducted open-fan configuration. Phase 1 has focused on selecting component technologies for reducing the core size of the HyTEC concept engine. Phase 2 will involve testing and demonstrating the core.

Working in conjunction with industry, the NASA program’s goal is to develop airliner-scale hybrid-electric engines with reduced-size cores and greatly increased bypass ratios. The project’s target is to increase fuel efficiency by 10% compared with current-generation high-bypass turbofan engines. Reducing the size of the key core components such as the high-pressure compressor (HPC), the combustor section, and the high-pressure turbine (HPT) necessitate working with new materials that can withstand higher temperatures and improving aerodynamic performance within the core.

The illustration accompanying the NASA announcement includes an artist’s conception of the HyTEC small-core components incorporated into GE’s developmental CFM RISE engine, expected to enter service in 2030. The RISE research team currently view the open fan (uncowled) as “the most efficient and sustainable option” for improving engine emissions without compromising performance.

Anthony Nerone, head of the HyTEC team at NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, said, “Phase 1 of HyTEC is winding down and we are ramping up Phase 2. This phase will culminate in a core demonstration test that proves the technology so it can transition to industry.” The HyTEC program is part of NASA’s Sustainable Flight National Partnership to work toward “the next generation of ultra-efficient airliners.”

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