New centre places Loughborough at heart of UK aerospace engineering and technology development

The Business Minister, Anna Soubry MP, has today announced £9.8 million of funding towards the establishment of a new facility that will position Loughborough University as a primary UK hub for aerospace engineering and technology.

The Government funding is being delivered through a partnership of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, the Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI) and Innovate UK.

The National Centre of Excellence in Gas Turbine Combustion System Aerodynamics will focus on the development of future low emission aerospace combustion systems that will reduce the environmental impact of aircraft. Rolls-Royce will be a lead partner in the project, building on the existing relationship between Loughborough University and Rolls-Royce. 

The Centre will allow industrial problem-owners to visit and work closely with academic researchers to ensure that new technologies are translated from theory to practice as quickly and as efficiently as possible.

It will also become a training ground for current and future aerospace engineers in a critical skill area for the UK.

The Centre will include new laboratory and office space, which will sit alongside the existing Unsteady Fluid Mechanics Laboratory – part of the Loughborough-based Rolls-Royce University Technology Centre (UTC) – on Loughborough University Science and Enterprise Park. The facilities will be available to a range of users from a variety of industrial sectors.

Of the new development, Professor Robert Allison, Vice Chancellor of Loughborough University, says: “The University is delighted to be developing this pioneering National Centre of Excellence.

“Loughborough has a long tradition of working closely with industry, aligning its research activities with the requirements of companies and organisations. The boundaries between research, design, development and manufacture are becoming increasingly blurred, and so it makes absolute sense to bring the researchers and engineers together to ensure the fast pull through of technology to industry.”

“The aerospace industry has been set some challenging goals for reducing the environmental impact of air travel, and one way that future aircraft will meet this is through lower engine emissions,” said Dr Simon Weeks, Chief Technology Officer of the Aerospace Technology Institute. “The Institute is proud to support this new National Centre of Excellence at Loughborough University. Not only will it keep the UK at the forefront of gas turbine combustion, and help retain our global leadership in aircraft engines, but it will deliver broad spill-over benefits into other sectors.”

Chris Barkey, Director – Engineering & Technology, Rolls-Royce, said: “We welcome the significant new investment announced today by the Business Minister. The new Centre will play a key role in helping the UK develop the advanced technologies needed to meet international environmental performance targets. By enabling closer cooperation between the university and industry, it will also help train the next generation of highly skilled engineers and scientists. I am delighted that we are able to further strengthen our strategic partnership with Loughborough University through this investment.”

Preliminary work began on the new facility in August and it is expected that the Centre will be operational in early 2018.

Notes for editors

Press release reference number: PR 16/16

The National Centre of Excellence in Gas Turbine Combustion System Aerodynamics will cover Technology Readiness Levels (TRLs) levels 1-6, from the formation of basic principles to the demonstration of a model or prototype in a relevant environment. TRLs describe the stages involved in assessments of the maturity of evolving technology.

The Centre will focus on the development of future low emission aerospace combustion systems that fulfil the targets set out by the Advisory Council for Aviation Research and Innovation in Europe (ACARE). The targets in ACARE’s vision to 2020 are to:

−      reduce fuel consumption and CO2 emissions by 50% per passenger kilometre

−      reduce NOx emissions by 80%

−      reduce perceived noise by 50% 

−      make substantial progress in reducing the environmental impact of the manufacture, maintenance and disposal of aircraft and related products.

Its longer term goals are outlined in its Flightpath 2050 document.

Loughborough University is one of the country’s leading universities, with an international reputation for research that matters, excellence in teaching, strong links with industry, and unrivalled achievement in sport and its underpinning academic disciplines.

It has been awarded five stars in the independent QS Stars university rating scheme, putting it among the best universities in the world, and was named University of the Year in the What Uni Student Choice Awards 2015.Loughborough is consistently ranked in the top twenty of UK universities in the Times Higher Education’s ‘table of tables’ and is in the top 10 in England for research intensity. It was 2nd in the 2015 THE Student Experience Survey and was named Sports University of the Year 2013-14 by The Times and Sunday Times. In recognition of its contribution to the sector, Loughborough has been awarded seven Queen's Anniversary Prizes.

In September 2015 the University opened an additional academic campus in London’s new innovation quarter. Loughborough University London, based on the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, offers postgraduate and executive-level education, as well as research and enterprise opportunities.

Innovate UK is the new name for the Technology Strategy Board – the UK’s Innovation agency. Taking a new idea to market is a challenge. Innovate UK funds, supports and connects innovative businesses through a unique mix of people and programmes to accelerate sustainable growth. For further information visit

About Rolls-Royce

Rolls-Royce’s vision is to be the market-leader in high performance power systems where our engineering expertise, global reach and deep industry knowledge deliver outstanding customer relationships and solutions. We operate across five businesses: Civil Aerospace, Defence Aerospace, Marine, Nuclear and Power Systems. Rolls-Royce has customers in more than 120 countries, comprising more than 380 airlines and leasing customers, 160 armed forces, 4,000 marine customers including 70 navies, and more than 5,000 power and nuclear customers.  Annual underlying revenue was £14.6 billion in 2014, around half of which came from the provision of aftermarket services. The firm and announced order book stood at £76.5 billion at 30 June 2015. 

In 2014, Rolls-Royce invested £1.2 billion on research and development. We also support a global network of 31 University Technology Centres, which position Rolls-Royce engineers at the forefront of scientific research.






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