s part of a public-private partnership Rolls-Royce will establish a $24 million turbine lab for compact gas turbine engines at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana.
Development and testing of next-generation turbine airfoils will be housed at Purdue’s Zucrow Laboratories, one of the nation’s largest university propulsion laboratory for research focused on reducing fuel consumption and emissions for next-generation jet engines.
Construction and installation of the new test rig began in 2015, with plans for Purdue students and researchers to launch their collaboration with Rolls-Royce through this program beginning in August.
As an incentive, Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC) offered Purdue University up to $6 million to support the partnership through the Indiana 21st Century Research and Technology Fund, a fund promoting Indiana economic growth and innovation-driven public-private partnerships. Purdue University has contributed $8 million toward with program, with Rolls-Royce committing to contribute up to $10 million.
“Working together with the state of Indiana and Purdue University, we are strengthening the state’s aerospace industry,” said Marion Blakey, President & CEO of Rolls-Royce North America. “The strong relationships we enjoy in the state enable us to make significant and repeated investments like these in Indiana, from our recent $600 million facility modernization and technology initiative, to the opening of our facility earlier this year at Purdue’s new Aerospace District in West Lafayette. Together, we are ensuring that Indiana remains a leader in the aerospace industry for decades to come.”
Through this program’s research, Purdue students and researchers will help Rolls-Royce deliver significant operational and fuel-efficiency benefits for current and next-generation aircraft, officials said. Turbine airfoils extract energy from the high-temperature, high-pressure air produced by the engine’s combustor. Operating in the hottest part of the engine, in temperatures that are far greater than the melting point of metals, the airfoils must be engineered to provide optimum performance in this extreme environment.
“Purdue and Rolls-Royce have a long history of collaboration in research and development that leads ultimately to critical advances in the aerospace industry,” said Purdue President Mitch Daniels. “With the additional support from the state of Indiana, we look forward to even greater successes for our partners, our researchers and our students.”
The program will advance Indiana’s position as a global leader in aerospace innovation, with Indiana currently ranked No. 6 in the nation for aerospace manufacturing attractiveness by global professional services firm PricewaterhouseCoopers, according to state officials.
“Rolls-Royce continues to address our customer’s needs for powerful thrust and fuel efficiency,” said Phil Burkholder, President of Defense Aerospace, Rolls-Royce North America. “This agreement will allow us to work with Purdue’s innovative jet propulsion labs at Zucrow to construct modern, efficient advanced turbine airfoils for current and future engines.”