Rolls-Royce has patented a turbofan engine for supersonic aircraft, featuring a unique design with a fan, bypass duct, mixer, and thrust nozzle. The engine’s controller adjusts components to vary thrust levels for different flight operations while maintaining constant airflow parameters. GlobalData’s report on Rolls-Royce gives a 360-degree view of the company including its patenting strategy. Buy the report here.

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According to GlobalData’s company profile on Rolls-Royce, Photovoltaic drones was a key innovation area identified from patents. Rolls-Royce's grant share as of January 2024 was 60%. Grant share is based on the ratio of number of grants to total number of patents.

Variable geometry turbofan engine for supersonic aircraft thrust control

Source: United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Credit: Rolls-Royce Holdings Plc

A recently granted patent (Publication Number: US11884414B2) discloses a turbofan engine designed for providing propulsive thrust to a supersonic aircraft. The engine features an engine core with a compressor, combustor, and turbine in flow series, a fan located upstream of the engine core, a supersonic intake to slow down incoming air, and a bypass duct surrounding the engine core. A mixer is included to blend the exhaust gas flow from the engine core with the bypass airflow, with a thrust nozzle for discharging the mixed flows. A controller is configured to adjust the engine thrust for various flight operations, including a transonic push operation and a supersonic cruise operation. The controller achieves this by varying the area of a variable area throat of the thrust nozzle or adjusting components to maintain a constant fan inlet non-dimensional mass flow.

Furthermore, the patent includes claims related to the fixed geometry of the intake, the configuration of the variable area throat, and the components that control the relative areas available for the exhaust gas flow and bypass airflow at the mixer. The patent also covers the application of the turbofan engine in a supersonic aircraft and outlines a method for operating the aircraft during transonic push and supersonic cruise operations. By adjusting the thrust output through nozzle area variation or component adjustments while maintaining a constant fan inlet mass flow, the engine can efficiently transition the aircraft from subsonic to supersonic flight. This innovative technology aims to enhance the performance and efficiency of supersonic aircraft propulsion systems.

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GlobalData Patent Analytics tracks bibliographic data, legal events data, point in time patent ownerships, and backward and forward citations from global patenting offices. Textual analysis and official patent classifications are used to group patents into key thematic areas and link them to specific companies across the world’s largest industries.