The Loughborough based Rolls-Royce University Technology Centre (UTC) in Aerothermal Processes is an innovative partnership which brings together a leading UK University with one of the world’s foremost aerospace companies.
Built on a decades-long history of collaboration, the partnership provides a unique infrastructure in which Rolls-Royce and University staff work together to advance understanding and provide design capability in the field of combustion aerodynamics and aerothermal technology. This cutting-edge research is driven by real industrial challenges and generates innovative technologies for current and next generation low emission gas turbine engines.
For continued sustainable growth of the UK aerospace industry, propulsion systems require the development of low emission, ‘leaner and greener’, gas turbines. The Loughborough UTC grew from a need to reduce emissions and meet future emissions targets, and now represents a long-standing strategic partnership with Rolls-Royce that was formally established in 1991. Over the last 25 years the UTC has evolved into a mature collaboration with a global and interdisciplinary research staff. This growth has been achieved by successfully adapting and consistently producing innovative results for the industry.
And it’s not just about science and engineering. The scale and success of the partnership has allowed staff and students to gain exposure in managing complex projects, work with people from other universities and industries, and engage in STEM outreach activities with local schools. UTC Business Manager, Emma Callaghan, who recently completed her MBA at Loughborough whilst helping to manage the Rolls-Royce partnership, has worked with a local school to engage children through a time capsule event and practical STEM challenge, providing an opportunity for students to gain an appreciation of what it means to study in higher education.
Building on the expertise of the Loughborough Rolls- Royce partnership, the Government announced plans for a new £15m National Centre in Combustion and Aerothermal Technology (NCCAT) to be based at Loughborough. Set to open in early 2019, NCCAT will act as the UK’s primary hub for research and development of future low-emission aero gas turbine combustion technologies, with opportunities for wider exploitation beyond aerospace (e.g. energy). Funded through a partnership comprising the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, the Aerospace Technology Institute and Innovate UK, with support from Rolls-Royce and Loughborough University, the Centre will support activities over a range of Technology Readiness Levels (TRL 1-6) through the alignment of early research activities with future commercial goals. This will promote multi-disciplinary and integrated design methodologies which will ensure the fast pull through of new technologies.
Mark Jefferies, Chief of University Research Liaison at Rolls-Royce said “I am delighted that we are able to further strengthen our existing strategic partnership with Loughborough University through this investment. The new Centre will help train the next generation of highly skilled engineers and scientists who will play a key role in helping the UK develop the advanced technologies needed by the aerospace industry to meet international environmental performance targets”.
This article first appeared in the 2018 State of the Relationship report, commissioned by Research England and compiled and published by NCUB.