Chinese Companies Break The American Monopoly! Create Core Components Of Aero Engine

- Jan 20, 2021-

In the past two days, with the victory of the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, some exciting new terms have been hotly discussed by everyone. In the future, China will be built into a powerful country in science and technology, a country in quality, a country in aerospace, a country in network, a country in transportation, and a digital China, and the vast number of scientific and technological personnel are also striving to achieve these grand goals.   Today's show we are going to focus on a metal called rhenium. This metal is very scarce, and the world's annual output is only more than 40 tons. It is very expensive and the price is similar to that of platinum. It is invaluable because it can play a very important role in aviation and defense manufacturing.   Continuously breaking foreign monopolies   In Hebei Langfang Science and Technology Park, an aero engine designed for drones and business jets is undergoing a 150-hour test run to assess the engine's technical performance, reliability, and life span under various conditions.    Zhu Junqiang, director of the Institute of Engineering Thermophysics, Chinese Academy of Sciences: After 150 hours have been completed, the first flight is guaranteed to be fine, and the test flight can be carried out at different altitudes. The engine is basically finalized.    During the 13th Five-Year Plan period, my country has launched major special projects for aero engines and gas turbines. The aviation industry continues to make efforts to narrow the gap with international engine manufacturers. Xu Gang, director of the Light Power Laboratory of the Institute of Engineering Thermophysics, Chinese Academy of Sciences: This turbofan engine's fuel consumption and life indicators have reached the international advanced level. It is also a blank in China. All parts are independently designed and produced. Especially the high-temperature single-crystal turbine blades inside, which can actually be said to be one of the difficulties in the machining of the engine.   The single crystal blade is located in the high temperature, complex stress, and harsh environment of the aeroengine. It is a key part of aerospace products. Its casting process directly determines the performance of the aeroengine.    In the center of this 1000 kg thrust engine, the core component is the 60 monocrystalline blades in front of you. The engine compresses the air and then presses it into the combustion chamber, where it combusts violently with fuel in a limited space, produces a violent gas jet, drives these blades to rotate at high speed, and makes the seemingly thin parts burst out with amazing power. Each blade The horsepower output is equivalent to a 2.0-displacement SUV car, and the temperature is about 1720 degrees.   Under the high temperature of 1700 degrees, ordinary metals are not heat-resistant enough. The production of single crystal blades is inseparable from a precious rare metal-rhenium.    At Chengdu Hangyu Super Alloy Technology Co., Ltd., we saw rhenium, a key metal in the production of single crystal blades. This is a natural element that was discovered late by humans. Because the discoverer was a German chemist, it was named rhenium after the Rhine. Its content in the earth's crust is smaller than all rare earth elements, and it is more difficult to obtain than diamond. According to the US Geological Survey, the proven reserves of rhenium are only about 2500 tons. The price of rhenium is similar to that of platinum, about two to three hundred yuan per gram.   The one capable of purifying rhenium is the parent company of Chengdu Hangyu Super Alloy Technology Co., Ltd., a listed mining company. In 2010, the company discovered rhenium in its Huanglongpu molybdenum mine in Luonan County, Shaanxi Province, with reserves of 176 tons, accounting for about 7 of the reserves, second only to Chile, the United States, Russia and Kazakhstan. In recent years, with the development of the aviation industry, the average annual growth rate of rhenium consumption is 3. Although the price is high, the supply has been in short supply.   Chengdu Hangyu Super Alloy Technology Co., Ltd. Chairman Zhang Zheng: Our original idea was to produce rhenium. Handed over to domestic users. We increase our income every year, which is a very good help for listed companies.    The United States is a large consumer of rhenium, and it controls the sales market and has always been in a monopoly position. Because rhenium can be widely used in jet engines and rocket engines, about 80% of rhenium is used in the production of aero engines, which is of great significance in military strategy. In order to maintain its dominant position in the aviation industry, the United States and other Western countries have imposed material and technological blockades against China all the year round.    Deputy General Manager of Chengdu Hangyu Super Alloy Technology Co., Ltd. Song Yang: Some areas of it are restricted to Chinese people. They don't want such technical secrets or technical information to be known and controlled by China.   The more the blockade is, the more it explains the strategic importance of aero engines, and the more breakthroughs are needed. Zhang Zheng, chairman of the mining company, made an important decision: to produce its own monocrystalline turbine blades for aero engines. In July 2012, the State Council issued the "Twelfth Five-Year National Strategic Emerging Industry Development Plan", which listed the aviation equipment industry as a project in the high-end equipment manufacturing industry, and clearly proposed to break through the core key technologies of aero engines and accelerate the advancement of aero engines. Industrialization. It is vigorously advocated at the national level, but the procurement of production equipment is facing huge difficulties-foreign giants have once again imposed a technical blockade against China, and the key link in production equipment-the heat treatment furnace is jammed due to the blockade of Western countries.   Several major aero-engine production companies use first-class heat treatment furnaces dedicated to the aviation industry. However, because of the tight seals in Western countries, manufacturers that can produce such equipment cannot sell the equipment to Chinese companies, and domestic companies can only produce secondary furnaces.    Song Yang: The secondary furnace has a temperature difference of plus or minus 5 degrees, from plus or minus 3 to plus or minus 5 degrees. This little difference, the difference in the effect of the equipment structure after heat treatment is very obvious.   Time is waiting for no one. The expert group has taken a different approach and tried to use the first-level heat treatment furnace in the electronics industry to replace the traditional first-level heat treatment furnace in the aviation industry. This kind of cross-industry mashup is a bold attempt in the production of aero engines. No one is sure whether it will succeed or not. Fortunately, this furnace has a lower deviation of plus or minus 3 degrees than originally thought, and it only deviates from plus or minus. At 2.1 degrees, this is almost more precise than the first-class furnace.    solved the problem of the heat treatment furnace, but their tight nerves were still not relaxed at all. Because the entire production line is still short of an important single crystal casting equipment-single crystal furnace. After several rounds, they found a supplier of a single crystal furnace in the UK and put forward a customized request.    Song Yang: At the beginning, it was possible for a Chinese manufacturer to produce monocrystalline blades. They wanted to sell a piece of equipment to China, but they didn't want to help us make it happen.    On July 22, 2015, Chengdu Aerospace's approved products were released, and the pass rate was amazing. This professional manufacturer of single crystal furnaces could not help but look at this new entrant in the industry differently. Zhang Zheng, Chairman of Chengdu Hangyu Super Alloy Technology Co., Ltd.: The manufacturer of this furnace is so happy that the yield rate is so high. He specially flew over to celebrate with us. He has made this professional equipment for decades and experimented with it. Furnace products achieve high yield.    Song Yang, deputy general manager of Chengdu Hangyu Super Alloy Technology Co., Ltd.: I think China has so many years of experience. Anyone who has blocked China from abroad can make a breakthrough in this field by relying on our own self-reliance and hard work.    0.5 kg parts support 400 kg weight Chinese spacecraft test water 3D printing    In order to break through the core technology blockade of China by the West, Chinese entrepreneurs and scientists boldly practiced and innovated. They not only created the core components of rhenium metal monopolized by Western countries, but also created new metal manufacturing methods.    On September 20, 2017, the world's top metal 3D printing equipment manufacturer Slingmann signed a cooperation agreement with a Chinese company to establish a joint application research and development center with a Chinese company to launch application research and development for the Chinese market.    The 3D printing technology of metal materials has a high threshold, great difficulty, and high added value. The output value of metal 3D printing also accounts for more than 80 of the entire 3D printing industry. In terms of metal 3D printing, the technology of Western countries has also been in China for a long time. Nowadays, metal 3D printing is increasingly appearing on high-end equipment made in China, which makes the world's companies also notice the innovation and achievements made by Chinese companies in this area. The exhibition hall of the Fifth Academy of the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation condensed the main achievements of China’s spacecraft development. These spacecraft’s requirements for weight reduction can be described as extremely stringent, because every additional gram of weight will bring a lot to the launch. High cost, and will increase the complexity of aerospace projects, and even directly affect the feasibility of the entire program. In order to reduce the weight of each gram, the researchers thought of any possible method from the material and structure.    Zhang Xiaoyu, Additive Manufacturing Technology Project Manager of the General Department of the Fifth Academy of China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation: This is our current lightweight material called honeycomb sandwich structure. This structure is entirely honeycomb, and the upper and lower surfaces are made of carbon fiber. This carbon fiber is very expensive. One kilogram of it is almost more expensive than the same weight of gold.    Weight reduction is a relentless pursuit. The carbon fiber material, combined with the honeycomb structure, has almost reached the limit of weight reduction, but engineers and technicians are still not satisfied with this. They hope that the weight will be reduced. But how can we achieve new breakthroughs?    Located in a factory in Changping District, Beijing, it is producing parts made of titanium alloy, aluminum alloy, stainless steel and other metals. But unlike other metallurgical plants, here, the reporter could not see large-scale metal forging equipment, nor could they see many skilled workers operating, only a 3D printing machine was busy working.    This metal printing technology is called laser selective melting, using a laser to irradiate pre-spread metal powder to shape and fix it.    After two days, the manufacturing process is finally coming to an end. The technicians carefully swept away the excess powder from the printer, and a very complex and delicate titanium cube appeared. Sun Feng, deputy general manager of Xinjinghe Laser Technology Development Co., Ltd.: Titanium alloy is a very difficult material grade in our metallurgical industry. Its metallurgical process is very complex. Through our 3D printing process, A titanium alloy that is so difficult to make, through our 3D printing process, presents such a lightweight structure.    In the manufacturing industry, the traditional manufacturing method is; subtractive manufacturing, which uses existing geometric model workpieces, and gradually cuts, polishes, and reduces materials with tools to eventually become the required parts. On the other hand, 3D printing is on the contrary. It is based on a digital three-dimensional file. On a plane without any materials, it is printed layer by layer, adding materials to form a three-dimensional whole. This is called 3D printing, also known as For; additive manufacturing. Such a cube with a side length of about 20 cm, if manufactured by traditional metal casting technology, weighs at least 5 kg, but the weight of this part is only 0.5 kg, only one-tenth of the previous one, which greatly reduces the weight. But it has high strength. Sun Feng gave us a demonstration on the spot.    Sun Feng, who is nearly 100 kilograms, has no problem standing on this cube. Sun Feng told us that it can withstand a load of 300 to 400 kilograms, which may be 800 times to 1000 times the load.    At present, metal 3D printing can be seen on the important parts of many aircraft, ships and even spacecraft in my country. Whether it is the engines and parts of airplanes and ships, or aerospace equipment such as launch vehicles, space vehicles, drones, etc., metal 3D printing parts are quietly replacing traditionally manufactured parts, and provide high-end manufacturing such as aerospace More possibilities. Many large and small parts of spacecraft can use this structure to replace the original heavy metal. Even a strand of hair can be suspended from a small part on a large satellite.   Sun Feng: Its lightweight effect is very good. The weight reduction of the entire part has reached more than 30. It has given us the whole rocket to launch this piece, saving several million, even tens of millions of yuan in cost. As far as our traditional manufacturing industry is concerned, it may take months or even years to manufacture a satellite. It may only take more than ten days to realize the entire satellite mechanism through our 3D printing process. A small satellite can be used come out.    As a cutting-edge advanced manufacturing technology, 3D printing has become an important driving force for a new round of technological and industrial revolutions. However, most of the equipment and processes are not yet mature, and stable, durable, and high-performance industrial products cannot be produced in batches. They are in the stage of model manufacturing and experimentation. But this situation is changing. my country's metal 3D printing is constantly moving closer to cutting-edge manufacturing.   In the workshop of Xinjinghe, a large titanium alloy spacecraft part will soon be born in this large metal 3D printer independently developed by a Chinese private enterprise.    Different from the technology of small precision metal 3D printers, large printers adopt a different technical method-coaxial powder feeding process. China is already at the forefront of the world in this technology. At present, only a few countries such as Germany, the United States, and China can use 3D printing technology to produce metal parts up to the forging level. And Xinjinghe's ability to manufacture large-scale titanium structural parts in batches is already international.   This kind of laser; the process of printing metal powder makes the metal material cool and solidify very fast, the structure is small, the mechanical properties are excellent, and it also has the same high strength as forgings.   The spacecraft component with a diameter of 4 meters is split into six large parts of about 2 meters, and after 3D printing and processing, the whole is welded. In the past, such a huge metal piece from mold opening to forging, and then to mechanical processing is a very vast project, which usually takes a year to complete, but with 3D printing, it only takes 3-6 months.    Zhang Xiaoyu: Maybe we will have a launch model soon next year or the next year to make such an attempt. We now have about 60 to 100 products that are already in the process of manufacturing, and we have begun to install stars, and we have begun to do complete mechanical experiments.