Equipment to underpin aerospace research at Nottingham

Lead Research Organisation: University of Nottingham
Department Name: Div of Materials Mech and Structures


Aerospace is a key sector for the UK, with strategic importance in view of its contribution to the economy and major research challenges to address global environmental issues. Regional, national and international strategies have identified aerospace as a key sector for the UK and Europe and this has resulted in the provision of substantial funding for the sector. The University of Nottingham aims to strengthen and consolidate its position as a leading institution for research into aerospace technologies by building on its existing broad research base and current portfolio of aerospace research and investing in infrastructure and business engagement activity to further grow its portfolio in line with industrial demands for knowledge, skills and technologies. This proposal presents a case for a 1.38M EPSRC investment into equipment to support the University's large and growing aerospace research portfolio. Building upon our substantial EPSRC portfolio related to aerospace research, the capital equipment will underpin fundamental research into aerospace technologies, leading to applied research, demonstration and exploitation. The equipment contributes to three research themes where UoN has world-leading research activities; - Power Conversion, Power Systems and Future Actuation Technologies for the More Electric Aircraft, led by Prof Pat Wheeler, Prof Jon Clare, Prof Mark Johnson - Non-Destructive Evaluation for Next Generation Aerospace Materials and Structures, led by Dr Matt Clark, Prof Andy Long, Prof Mike Somekh, Prof Richard Challis. - Advanced Manufacturing for the Aerospace Sector, led by Prof Svetan Ratchev, Prof Nabil Gindy, Dr Atanas Popov, Dr Neils Lohse, Dr Dragos Axinte.Researchers within each of these themes are addressing key research challenges for the sector and through their current and future applied research programmes will contribute to the sector's ability to meet the targets set by the Advisory Council on Aeronautics Research in Europe (ACARE). For manufacturers and suppliers, this means demonstrating continual improvements in the performance of new aircraft entering into service in 2020, compared with their 2000 equivalents, by committing to challenging targets on fuel efficiency, NOx emissions and noise. Fundamental research, leading to applied research and demonstration, is essential if the UK is retain its position as one of the world's leaders in aerospace innovation and continue to enjoy the commercial advantages provided by our air transport sector.

Planned Impact

The primary beneficiaries of research undertaken with equipment funded through this grant will be the aerospace industry, including SMEs and large multinational corporations at all levels of the supply chain. Technologies and processes developed will also have applications in other sectors: those already identified include the medical devices, automotive, military and energy generation, where in all cases we already have strong links. The development of new technologies and processes is crucial to supporting the sector's ability to meet the targets set by the Advisory Council on Aeronautics Research in Europe. For manufacturers and technology developers this means demonstrating continual improvements in the performance of new aircraft by committing to the challenging targets on fuel efficiency, NOx emission and noise. Additional challenges of decreased waste are also driving industrial research agendas. Research programmes in each of the theme areas supported under this grant will contribute to the achievement of these targets. For example, - In the power electronics theme the replacement of bleed air and hydraulic power sources with electrical equivalents, enabling a significant and valuable improvement in efficiency, system flexibility, aircraft reliability and specific fuel consumption. - In the NDE theme the development of new methods will support the widespread use of metal and polymer matrix composites in aeroengines which will lead to dramatic weight reductions, but their use is currently restricted as conventional testing techniques cannot be used to certify these new materials. - In the manufacturing theme the development of 'right first time' manufacturing into reliable and repeatable tooling systems will contribute to reduced cycle times and elimination of non-value adding operations such as fixture set-up and high precision alignment technologies. Research programmes undertaken by the themes will also ensure a strong supply of highly skilled people with expertise and skills in a wide range of technologies. From our applied research programmes, the benefits of technologies developed may be realised in the near term (1-5 years); many of the underpinning technologies are already used and ready to benefit from the research outcomes. Research impact from new, fundamental research, will be delivered over a much longer period, 5 -15 years, as processes and technologies are integrated. To ensure impact is realised, activity will be undertaken at both an individual project level and an institutional level, drawing in support from specialised units within the University as appropriate, including business development, technology transfer and marketing staff. Project level impact plans will be delivered appropriate to that project and may include staff secondment, events, publicity and marketing activity. We will work with other stakeholders, such as the KTNs, to ensure maximum impact is achieved. The University has a strong track record of engagement with the aerospace industry, successfully delivering a wide range of projects to meet industrial needs, utilising various mechanisms to deliver impact. Most of our aerospace research involves some form of industrial support or engagement and the University is committed to ensuring that our expertise is transferred to industry, both through technology and knowledge transfer and the delivery of highly skilled people. Key aspects to the University's vision for aerospace research is accelerate the impact of our research by investment in infrastructure and equipment to develop a pipeline from fundamental research to applied research and towards demonstration. The latter being achieved via the Aerospace Technology Centre, a dedicated research and knowledge transfer centre which will provide unique R&D facilities to deliver large-scale demonstration projects drawing together a range of technologies.


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Description This was an equipment award, which has facilitated significant further work in the areas of power electronics, advanced manufacturing and non-destructive evaluation. As such it is not appropriate to assign research findings directly to this award. The work underpins the Institute for Aerospace Technology at Nottingham (URL given below).
Exploitation Route N/A
Sectors Aerospace, Defence and Marine

Description This equipment grant has supported the work of the Institute for Aerospace Technology, underpinning further awards and partnerships with industry including GE, Rolls-Royce and Airbus.
First Year Of Impact 2010
Sector Aerospace, Defence and Marine
Impact Types Economic

Description ERDF
Amount £3,606,000 (GBP)
Funding ID EMX 06781 
Organisation European Commission 
Department European Regional Development Fund (ERDF)
Sector Public
Country Belgium
Start 04/2010 
End 12/2013
Description EU - INNOVATE
Amount € 3,800,000 (EUR)
Organisation Marie Sklodowska-Curie Actions 
Sector Charity/Non Profit
Country Global
Start 10/2013 
End 04/2017