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UK Launches New £90M Program for Low Carbon Aircraft Engine Technology

The UK has launched a new research program aiming to strengthen the supply chain for the UK’s aero-engine industry and accelerate the development and introduction of low carbon aircraft engine technology. The total cost of the project including government and industry investment is expected to be around £90 million (US$148 million).

The program—Strategic Affordable Manufacturing in the UK with Leading Environmental Technology (SAMULET)—is a collaboration between industry and academia led by Rolls-Royce working in a consortium alongside other high profile manufacturers, Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs) and several of the UK’s top universities. The UK Technology Strategy Board is investing £28.5 million (US$46.8 million) in the programme and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), £11.5 million (US$18.9 million). Further support is under discussion with regional bodies.

SAMULET will focus on productivity and environmental improvements including reductions in raw material usage, efficient advanced manufacturing processes and lower engine fuel consumption. The program aims are to be achieved by developing new technologies and delivering a number of knowledge transfer initiatives. The program will be closely linked with the advanced manufacturing research centers (in Sheffield, Glasgow, and Ansty near Coventry) to strengthen the position of UK aerospace manufacturing and its supply chain.

The consortium is led by Rolls-Royce plc. The other companies involved as industrial partners are: BAE Systems, GKN, Tacit Connexions, Granta, and BERU F1. These companies intend to use the research facilities at the Rolls Royce University Technology Centres at Birmingham, Cambridge, Cranfield, Loughborough, Nottingham, Oxford and Southampton and the “AxRC’s” at Sheffield, Strathclyde and Coventry (Ansty).

The academic partners formally collaborating include specialist principal investigators at the Universities at Birmingham, Cambridge, Cranfield, Loughborough, Manchester, Nottingham, Oxford Sheffield, Southampton and Strathclyde. Additionally, principal academics in Oxford, Cambridge, Loughborough, Cranfield, Manchester, Birmingham Sheffield, Southampton and Strathclyde have been successful in obtaining EPSRC research grants aligned with the SAMULET program. The companies collaborating within the SAMULET program intend to sub-contract further academic research from Imperial College and the Universities of Swansea, Newcastle, Birmingham, Nottingham, Bath, Bristol, Cranfield, Sheffield, Southampton and Strathclyde.

The ACARE (Advisory Council for Aeronautics Research in Europe) targets are specifically defined and require reductions by 2020 (relative to best practice in 2000), of CO2 emissions per passenger-km by 50%, NOx emissions by 80% and noise by 50%. These targets will need to be met by any manufacturer wishing to sell engines for commercial aircraft in this time-scale. They require radical change for new aircraft, engines and their systems.

The SAMULET proposal builds on the earlier Environmentally Friendly Engine (EFE) programme, which the Technology Strategy Board, EPSRC and regions already support, and links closely to the EU Clean Sky Joint Technology Initiative which is focused on building and testing engine demonstrators validating cleaner and quieter technologies. (Earlier post.)

SAMULET is one of several major research programs which collectively aim to achieve a two-fold increase in engine deliveries over the next eight years within the current manufacturing footprint. They aim to achieve a 50% - 80% reduction in cycle times in key operations, a 30% improvement in productivity of key operations and in ‘right first time’, and a reduction in material waste of 45%. It will make it easier, faster and cheaper to make key components, with the use of less raw material and energy.


Henry Gibson

All CO2 emissions requirements will continue to strangle any recovering economy, and most manufacturing will move to undeveloped countries without many enforced requirements.

What is needed to reduce CO2 emissions is to admit that Nuclear Electrical production is one of the fastest ways to reduce CO2 production. Natural Gas consumption can only reduce the CO2 production by %50 over coal. Nuclear produces nearly Zero with all aspects combined, and electric powered mining, milling, processing and transporation can reduce this to none.

CO2 emissions can be reduced substantially by using deeply buried small low pressure nuclear reactors to provide heating and hot water for villiages or towns or cities as artificial geothermal energy. Foam glass is now available for permanent pipe insulation. Geothermal energy seems to come anyway from the decay of uranium and thorium isotopes in the earth.

Naturally, heatpumps will be used with nuclear electricity for heating as well. ECOcute seems to be a well engineered system.

There is the possibility of limiting the speed of aircraft and requiring the use of highly efficient propellor driven aircraft including piston engines. An equal carbon allowance for all persons is the only equitable solution, but life has never been equitable. Gore jets around the world preaching low CO2 during the internet age.

The problem of adequately safe storage of radio-active materials has been solved as has been the problem of adequatly safe automobiles and aircraft. US politicians and others, do not reveal that the US has an approved, working, thoroughly court tested method of containing nuclear materials, so that they can continue to appease illogical, uninformed nuclear power opponents for votes. The power companies did not pay for this so they are not allowed to use it, and the politicians will not allow it so that they can continue to have a vote getting issue. Meanwhile the highest energy producing materials from governmental sources are far more than safely removed from exposing people to deadly danger. It must be said again that people, plants, soil and animals have always been radioactive and must continue to be radioactive. Radioactivity comes from inside and outside.

Pay France to build more reactors if you want to continue to pretend that they are unsafe whilst many are slaughtered on motorways. ..HG..

Henry Gibson

There have been many proposals to use radar waves to beam power to the earth from solar cells in space. Now is the time to propose a chain of radar antennas that beam microwave electricity to commercial aircraft. France can then claim to have used nuclear powered aircraft. This principle was tested on a small plane in Canada at one time. Such planes can have low cost low efficiency high power engines for power reception failures. Some readers might be disappointed if ZEBRA batteries were not mentioned also for power reception breaks. ..HG..


Henry, I heartily endorse your comments on nuclear power.
If you run the numbers, you just can't power an advanced society with renewables alone.
Hansen, the climate change guru, says that to make a difference in time we have to go full speed ahead with nuclear.
I don't know if you have come across the liquid fluoride thorium reactor concept - after a successful demo it was discontinued as it is useless at producing weapons grade materials.
It lends itself to mass production and could use long-lived transuranic waste as fuel, solving any issues with that.
Here is a forum which discusses developing this alternative:


Dave have you a specific demo link?

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