Indiana, Rolls-Royce, Purdue Team Up To Launch Nation’s Most Advanced Turbine Lab

A new $24 million public-private partnership will establish the nation’s most advanced turbine lab for compact gas turbine engines at Purdue University.

A new partnership to advance research and development for next-generation gas turbine technology in Indiana was announced at the Paris International Air Show by Governor Eric J. Holcomb and leaders from Rolls-Royce and Purdue University.

Purdue University
Indiana Governor Eric J. Holcomb joined leaders from Rolls-Royce and Purdue University at the Paris International Air Show, where they announced a new partnership to advance R&D for next-generation gas turbine technology.

The new $24 million public-private partnership will establish the nation’s most advanced turbine lab for compact gas turbine engines at Purdue University. Used by companies like Rolls-Royce and government agencies such as the U.S. Air Force and NASA, this technology can help reduce pollution and advance fuel efficiencies.

“Here on the world stage of the Paris Air Show, Indiana’s leadership in the global aerospace industry is clear,” said Governor Holcomb. “Many of the innovations we’re seeing presented on the trade show floor were fostered by key partnerships between our state’s universities and industry leaders. With this latest team-up between the state, Purdue and Rolls-Royce, I can’t wait to see new turbine technology take flight in 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.

“Working together with the state of Indiana and Purdue University, we are strengthening the state’s aerospace industry,” said Marion Blakey, president and chief executive officer 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 the program’s research, Purdue students and researchers will help Rolls-Royce deliver significant operational and fuel-efficiency benefits for current and next-generation aircraft. 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 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, which promotes 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.

“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.”

Indiana is currently ranked No. 6 in the nation for aerospace manufacturing attractiveness by global professional services firm PricewaterhouseCoopers. The state is home to more than 80 aerospace companies like Rolls-Royce that employ about 7,000 workers.

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