Rolls-Royce propels aviation into the future

The Indianapolis-based subsidiary of Rolls-Royce has announced the formation of a university technology centre at Purdue University in the USA

The Indianapolis-based division of Rolls-Royce has announced the formation of a university technology centre at Purdue University, an alliance in which researchers will work on propulsion technologies for future aircraft that may fly as fast as seven times the speed of sound. By Mark Fletcher This centre, which is the first created at a university in the United States, is based at Purdue's Maurice J. Zucrow Laboratories, where engineers conduct research in propulsion. "The U.S. model for the academic centre at Purdue is based on similar partnerships Rolls-Royce has formed within European universities but is adapted to U.S. academic and business practices," said Norm Egbert, vice president of engineering and technology for Rolls-Royce Corp. Rolls-Royce has 19 university technology centres in the UK and one in Sweden and has strategic relationships with eight other universities, as well as with the German Aerospace Research Establishment. The university technology program provides support for product development and more fundamental research, including work to develop jet engines for advanced civilian and military aircraft. Egbert said Purdue was an ideal choice for the centre because of its high-quality research facilities, large number of engineering graduates and close proximity to the company's corporate offices in Indianapolis. Rolls-Royce and Purdue have worked together in previous research that received funding from the Indiana 21st Century Research and Technology Fund, established by the state to promote high-tech research and development and to help commercialise university research. Engineers at the Zucrow Laboratories will work with Rolls-Royce in research to develop engines for future aircraft that use high Mach propulsion systems to travel three to seven times the speed of sound, or up to 5,000 miles per hour. They will study the behaviour of jet fuels at the high temperatures and pressures required for high Mach propulsion aircraft. Researchers also will focus on creating a new class of fuel injectors for the engines. Rolls-Royce also will work with Purdue engineers in collaboration with other global universities in the Rolls-Royce university technology network to study fatigue, vibration and other factors critical to improving the performance of jet engines, especially as they age. Learning more about how jet engine components respond to vibration will enable researchers to develop ways to better predict the durability of the components, which will lead to improved safety, inspection and overhaul procedures.MF The Harrier, powered by a Rolls-Royce Pegasus engine. Picture courtesy Rolls-Royce PLC