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Green-sky thinking for propulsion and power

last modified Feb 13, 2020 02:27 PM

A rapid way of turning ideas into new technologies in the aviation and power industries has been developed at Cambridge’s Whittle Laboratory. Here, Professor Rob Miller, Director of the Whittle, describes how researchers plan to scale the process to cover around 80% of the UK’s future aerodynamic technology needs.


We’re seeing a transformational change in the propulsion and power sectors. Aviation and power generation have brought huge benefits – connecting people across the world and providing safe, reliable electricity to billions – but reducing their carbon emissions is now urgently needed. Electrification is one way to decarbonise, certainly for small and medium-sized aircraft. More than 70 companies are planning a first flight of electric air vehicles by 2024. For large aircraft, no alternative to the jet engine currently exists, but radical new aircraft architectures, such as those developed by the Cambridge-MIT Silent Aircraft Initiative and the NASA N+3 project, show the possibility of reducing CO2 emissions by around 70%.

A common thread in these technologies and those needed for renewable power is their reliance on efficient, reliable turbomachinery – a technology that has been central to our work for the past 50 years. Currently we’re working on applications that include the development of electric and hybrid-electric aircraft, the generation of power from the tides and low-grade heat, like solar energy, and hydrogen-based engines.


Read the full University of Cambridge article. 


Image credit: Whittle Lab