Engine maker Pratt & Whitney is expanding the market for its patented EcoPower engine washing system to helicopters. The first EcoPower helicopter engine washes were performed earlier this year on a U.S. Navy SH-60 Seahawk at Naval Base Coronado, Calif.
EcoPower has been used by major airlines and various militaries for years and has produced dramatic fuel consumption and maintenance savings in both high- and low-pressure compressors while reducing emissions. In September a Dassault Falcon 2000EX was the first business jet to have its engines washed with EcoPower.
The “closed-loop” system uses a series of special nozzles that atomize water into smaller-size droplets that are more effective at cleaning various engine surfaces, including turbine blades. The waste water is then collected and purified for reuse. Pratt & Whitney claims that when used regularly, EcoPower can reduce a cleaned engine’s fuel burn by 1.2 percent, reduce carbon-dioxide emissions, decrease exhaust gas temperature by up to 15 degrees Celsius, and decrease maintenance costs. The company claims that more than 10,000 engines were cleaned with EcoPower between 2004 and 2010, saving 67 million gallons of fuel and eliminating 660,000 tons of CO2 emissions. Pratt & Whitney claims the typical twin-aisle airliner will emit 330 fewer tons of CO2 per year if its engines are cleaned regularly with EcoPower.
The truck-mounted system allows aircraft to be serviced in place and the average cleaning takes approximately one hour. Because the system uses only water–as opposed to chemical agents–it avoids any detrimental reaction to gas-path coatings and sealants. Using atomized water also reduces the chance of water contamination in the oil system and imposes lower starter loading requirements.
The helicopter market could provide even more compelling metrics for the use of EcoPower, because of the more frequent need to perform engine washes for rotorcraft flown in sandy or saltwater environments. “Helicopters operating in harsh environments with salt and sand need to be washed after almost every flight,” noted Pratt & Whitney product line management vice president Lou Quattrochi.