The Royal Academy of Engineering and WMG at the University of Warwick have announced the University of Birmingham’s partnership with Rolls-Royce on Advanced Metallic Alloys as the winner of the Bhattacharyya Award for 2022. The Award, which carries a £25,000 prize, has been presented in recognition of an exemplary academia-industry partnership that has helped to lead the UK’s work on creating safe, efficient, and sustainable aeroengines for the future.
The Bhattacharyya Award is funded by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and was created to encourage more private and academic entities to collaborate, as a tribute to the late Professor Lord Kumar Bhattacharyya KT CBE FREng FRS, Regius Professor of Manufacturing at the University of Warwick and founder of WMG.
Dating back to 1989, the University of Birmingham-Rolls-Royce collaboration has enabled transformative advances in engine efficiencies - directly addressing environmental concerns, while also saving billions of pounds over 30 years of large fleet activity. Their partnership is at the heart of activities to develop and deliver the new engine technologies required to achieve or improve upon the ACARE Flightpath 2050 targets of 75% reduction in CO2 emissions and 90% reduction in NOx.
This industry-academia collaboration has seen extensive, continuous research into processes that are critical for maintaining a competitive and safe aerospace industry and cementing the UK as a leader in aeroengine architectures. These processes have included the enhancement of titanium and nickel disc alloys, development of new titanium aluminide alloys and single crystal turbine blade alloys for jet engines – all using advanced process and materials modelling.
Additionally, the partnership’s established High Temperature Research Centre is ideally placed for developing future aerospace technologies, including solutions for electrification of flight, hydrogen-powered aeroengines and use of alternative, sustainable aviation fuel.
Together, the University of Birmingham and Rolls-Royce partnership has significantly advanced metallurgy in the UK, built new infrastructure and promoted relationships between UK universities for over three decades. The partnership has also focused on developing future talent, having trained over 100 doctoral students in Birmingham who have joined Rolls-Royce as materials and manufacturing specialists.
Paul Bowen FREng, Feeney Professor of Metallurgy/Deputy-Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Industrial Partners) and Rolls-Royce University Technology Centre Director at the University of Birmingham, said:
“Our team is immensely proud to win this award on behalf of two generations of researchers in our partnership. They have produced safe, efficient aero-engines and have delivered new technologies, new buildings and developed careers. Winning this award is a testimony to the unrivalled support that Rolls-Royce have provided to universities in support of the metallurgical base of the UK.”
Professor Dame Ann Dowling OM DBE FREng FRS, past-President of the Royal Academy of Engineering, and chair of the judging panel for the Bhattacharyya Award, said:
“The University of Birmingham and Rolls-Royce’s partnership has contributed immensely to the UK’s aerospace industry. Together, they’ve embodied the spirit of the Bhattacharyya Award by promoting wider collaboration between industry and universities, and in developing the UK’s future talent.”
Margot James, Executive Chair at WMG, University of Warwick, said:
“This partnership is a well-deserving winner and demonstrates the power of industry-academia collaboration to address a challenge as timely and as globally significant as sustainable aviation. We hope that this award celebrating Lord Bhattacharyya’s legacy continues to inspire future academics and industry partners to drive further co-operation, creativity, and innovation in the UK.”