Prosperity Partnerships - University of Nottingham and Rolls Royce

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A short video on the new Prosperity Partnership project between the University of Nottingham and Rolls Royce.

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Professor Seamus Garvey - Professor of Mechanical Engineering, University of Nottingham (SG)

My name is Seamus Garvey, Professor of Mechanical Engineering at University of Nottingham, and I am teaming up with Frank Kirkland and colleagues at Rolls-Royce to do some fundamental mechanical engineering science for future aerospace.

Aerospace has been a process of evolution for many decades. We have got more or less to the top of the development curve for existing engine architectures and in order to make the next step forward to make better engines that eat less fuel, we need a fairly fundamental re-architecture, redesign and that opens up all sorts of uncertainties and there isn't the development time to wait for evolution to sort those out, so we need to go at them from first principles.

Frank Kirkland - Chief Designer, Civil Aerospace, Rolls-Royce (FK)

Rolls-Royce has incredible people inside it, but we want the academic independence and excellence that is represented by the universities we team with and a network of contacts about what is leading edge in the topics that we are trying to research and also an independence of thought so that we don't get tram lined down one approach.


One of the problems we will be trying to solve in this project is getting high pressure contacts right. There are places inside engines where the pressure between two metal surfaces, where power is being pushed across it, reaches unimaginable levels 400,000 times as big as atmospheric pressure and we are going to get the material science right and the mechanical engineering right, to make sure that those contacts will still be good even after 30,000 hours without a service.


I've worked in aerospace a long time, but this is one of the most exciting times in my career because we are at the point of generational change where we are actually going to introduce power gearbox into gas turbines and there's more electrification of the product coming over the horizon. This will make a fundamental difference in terms of reducing fuel burn, upping efficiency and making the product much more attractive to airline customers.


The big difference that this Prosperity Partnership now makes is that we will be able to take a programme approach, instead of thinking about individual projects one at a time and collaborating with two other top class universities, Oxford and Imperial College. We are thinking about a broad theme, we are looking at where the gaps are and we are filling in those gaps with full complementary between the universities.


Aerospace is a fiercely competitive market. We have major and very competent competitors in the US, there are other nations like China and Japan which would like to get into this, but it is difficult and that's a big barrier to entry. One of the things we want to do with this is to push ourselves up through the technology ladder so that barrier entry is harder for everybody else, but is sorted for the UK.