DRDO develops single crystal blades for helicopter engine application

The helicopters that are used in strategic and defence applications need to have powerful and compact aero engines for their reliable operations in extreme conditions.

Created On: Apr 29, 2021 13:04 ISTModified On: Apr 29, 2021 13:04 IST
Single crystal blades

The Defence Research and Development Organisation has developed a single crystal blade technology as part of their indigenous helicopter development program for the helicopter engine application.

DRDO has also supplied 60 number of crystal blades to HAL (Hindustan Aeronautics Limited). Single-crystal blades are used in helicopter engines.

As per the Defence Ministry, this is part of a program that has been taken up by the Defence Metallurgical Research laboratory- DMRL. It is a premium laboratory of DRDO which will develop 5 sets (300 numbers) of single-crystal high-pressure turbine- HPT blades. They will be developed with the use of a nickel-based superalloy.

The Ministry also informed that the supply of the remaining 4 sets will be completed in due course. The Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh congratulated DRDO, HAL, and the industry involved in the development of this critical technology.

Development of crystal blades by DMRL:

The development of crystal blades was undertaken by DRDL based on its expertise which was acquired when such technology for an aero-engine project was being developed earlier.

Complete vacuum investment casting process to realize the blades has been established at Defence Metallurgical Research laboratory.

According to the Defence Ministry, a special ceramic composition had to be developed to make strong ceramic moulds. It was significant that the composition must bear up against the metallostatic pressure of liquid CMSX-4 alloy at 1500 degrees Celsius or above during the casting operation.

Use of single-crystal blades in helicopters:

According to DRDO, the helicopters that are used in strategic and defence applications need to have powerful and compact aero engines for their reliable operations in extreme conditions.

In order to achieve this, single-crystal blades with complex geometry and shape are used. They are manufactured out of nickel-based superalloys capable of withstanding high temperatures of operation.

Only very few nations worldwide such as the UK, France, USA, Russia have the capability of designing and manufacturing such Single Crystal (SX) components.

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