National Centre for Propulsion and Power gets boost from the Wolfson Foundation
The Centre, based at Cambridge’s Whittle Laboratory, will play a key role in accelerating the decarbonisation of flight and power generation
Modern aviation and power generation have brought many benefits – connecting people across the world and providing safe, reliable electricity to billions – but rapidly decarbonising these sectors is one of today’s greatest challenges. The Whittle Laboratory at Cambridge believes that a crucial part of the solution lies in re-engineering the technology development process itself – dramatically cutting the time to translate innovative ideas into zero-carbon products and reducing the period required to deliver the UK government’s ambitious net-zero targets.
For 50 years, the Whittle Laboratory has made critical advances in both the aviation and power sectors, making it one of the world’s leading centres for power and propulsion research. Partnering with Rolls-Royce, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Siemens, and more recently with companies such as Dyson, Reaction Engines and Lilium, the Whittle has led the transformation of both computational and experimental methods, developing and successfully translating hundreds of low emission technologies into practical products.
In 2019 the UK government’s Aerospace Technology Institute, in collaboration with the University and industrial partners Rolls-Royce, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Siemens and Dyson, decided to establish The National Centre for Propulsion and Power (NCPP) at the Whittle Laboratory. This was based on pioneering trials that saw the timescale required to design, build, test and learn from a concept cut from months to days, a time reduction of a factor between 10 and 100. The National Centre will provide an unparalleled experimental capability, scaling this rapid test capacity to a wide range of decarbonisation challenges, including those described in the Prime Minister’s Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution.
“The strategic goal of the Centre is to combine this new rapid technology development capability with the Whittle Laboratory’s pioneering research and global industrial network. This integration will be central to ensuring that the UK leads the race to decarbonise flight and power generation.”
Based on the Whittle’s track record of excellence and its compelling vision for the future, the Wolfson Foundation has committed its support to one of the Centre’s two Future Propulsion and Power Halls, an essential component of the National Centre. Occupying 264m2, it will be the focal point of the Centre’s extraordinary testing capacity, which is critical to the Whittle Laboratory’s accelerated throughput of zero-carbon technologies. The flexible design of the Hall will ensure it links to the existing Whittle facilities and to the expansion planned as part of the broader Whittle Laboratory redevelopment.
Vice-Chancellor Professor Stephen J Toope remarked: “I am delighted that the Wolfson Foundation is supporting the new National Centre for Propulsion and Power at the Whittle Laboratory. The development of new technologies that allow us to decarbonise air travel and power generation will be central to our efforts to create a carbon-neutral future. The Centre’s vital work demonstrates the University’s leadership in addressing the fundamental challenges of climate change.”
Paul Ramsbottom, CEO of the Wolfson Foundation, commented: “The Whittle Laboratory at the University of Cambridge has delivered world-leading engineering innovations for nearly 50 years, transforming jet travel and power generation. We are delighted to be funding new laboratory space in the National Centre for Propulsion and Power for the rapid design and testing of sustainable technologies, meeting the urgent global challenge to decarbonise aviation and industrial power systems.”
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