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University shapes transport of the future


Electrically powered planes and ships which are lighter, can travel further, cause less pollution and have oil-free engines are a step closer to becoming a reality, as a new centre for research at The University of Manchester opens today (Friday, November 12).

The Rolls-Royce University Technology Centre in Electrical Systems for Extreme Environments will be officially opened by Rolls-Royce Chief Operating Officer John Cheffins, just one mile from where Charles Rolls and Henry Royce forged their original partnership at Manchester’s Midland Hotel in 1904. The Centre will work in collaboration with Rolls-Royce, and two other UTCs at the Universities of Sheffield and Strathclyde, to develop the electrical systems which will power the planes and ships of the future.

Research will focus on designing electrical systems which are lighter and more efficient than the heavy pneumatic and mechanical systems used on ships and planes today. Reducing weight will reduce fuel consumption, lower emissions, increase efficiency and ultimately reduce the cost of travel. The Centre, part of the University’s Power Conversion Group, will design electrical systems for air, sea and land vehicles which operate in ‘extreme environments’ like those experienced by planes at altitudes of 60,000ft and by ships submerged in freezing waters. The Centre will house a state of the art laboratory in which all of these conditions can be tested using an ‘Autonomous Vehicle Demonstrator’.

Dr Sandy Smith, Director of the RRUTC, said: “Rolls-Royce were looking for a research team with expertise not just in electronics, but in electrical power engineering, and there are not many groups left now in the UK who specialise in these areas.” Dr Smith added: “This collaboration puts us at the leading edge of technologies in this field and we hope this is a stepping stone to a much bigger relationship with Rolls-Royce and opens doors to working with other world-leading players.”

Professor Alan Gilbert, President and Vice-Chancellor of The University of Manchester, said: "While remaining totally committed to fundamental research, The University of Manchester also places a high value on the development of intellectual property. The new Rolls-Royce Centre is exactly the kind of research collaboration that we are determined to encourage and support."

Dr Mike Howse, Rolls-Royce Director of Engineering and Technology, said: “The University of Manchester is one of three universities we have selected with a good mix of skills to target our future needs. I’m looking forward to an excellent working relationship and anticipate the results will quickly show the value of this partnership.”

Simon Hunter | alfa
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