Vince Cable announces £30m to improve safety and efficiency

Posted on 22 Jul 2014 by Victoria Fitzgerald

Secretary of State for Industry, Vince Cable MP confirmed today a £30m Government and industry investment in new research to improve the safety and efficiency of gas turbines, rail tracks, fuel pipelines and other infrastructure.

The joint funding will produce two packages, the first of which will develop advanced materials such as high performance alloys for use in aerospace industries to improve efficiency, safety and noise levels of gas turbines.

The second will research methods of non-destructive evaluation (NDE) to improve safety and longevity of UK infrastructure, as well as support and enable high-value manufacturing across important UK industry sectors.

Speaking at the Mission-Oriented Finance for Innovation event at the House of Commons, Business Secretary Vince Cable said: “These new £30m partnerships are a significant investment in the development of advanced materials to support aerospace and high-value manufacturing across the UK.

“The collaborations between universities and businesses, including the likes of Rolls-Royce, Tata Steel and GKN are an excellent example of how our Industrial Strategy is giving businesses the confidence to invest and secure a stronger, more balanced economy.”

Professor Philip Nelson, chief executive of EPSRC, said: “These investments show how valuable long term partnerships between industry and the research councils can be.

“In this instance delivering better understanding of materials will bring efficiencies in production, maintenance and cost savings and help to maintain an exemplary safety record.

“EPSRC will continue to forge such collaborations to make the UK the best place for research and innovation.”

Professor Tony Dunhill, Associate Fellow for NDT said: “Rolls-Royce is delighted to be a co-investor in both of these Strategic Partnerships, Structural Metallic Systems for Advanced Gas Turbines and Non-Destructive Testing.

“The increasing demands placed on our products, together with the extreme environments in which they operate, mean that investing in skills and knowledge in advanced materials and Non-Destructive Testing is essential for our business.”

The Strategic Partnership in Structural Metallic Systems for Advanced Gas Turbine Applications is the next stage in a 10-year partnership between Rolls-Royce and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).

The partnership will develop advanced materials to reduce fuel consumption and noise, and increase aviation efficiency.

The programme will involve research at the universities of Birmingham, Cambridge, and Swansea University, also core funding partners, in addition to Manchester, Oxford, Sheffield and Imperial College London, as well as industry partners TWI, Timet and Tata Steel.

It will be funded by £8m EPSRC contribution and £12m in cash and in-kind support from Rolls-Royce.

The Strategic Partnership is unique as it combines a focused post-doctoral research with a flexible post-grad research programme.

This enables the programme to exploit fundamental research and data to benefit the UK aerospace sector as well as producing 200 highly trained engineers attaining a PhD or EngD.

The UK Research Centre in Non-Destructive Evaluation is a consortium led by Imperial College London and involving the universities of Bristol, Manchester, Nottingham, Strathclyde and Warwick.

It will involve more than 40 companies across major industry sectors including aerospace, nuclear, and oil and gas, developing tools and techniques to detect defects and extend the life and prevent failure of critical UK infrastructure such as pipelines, power stations and aircraft.

The centre will be funded by a £5.4m grant over six years from EPSRC and this will be matched by an equivalent £5.4m in cash and in-kind contributions from industrial partners of the NDE Research Association through its own Strategic Partnership with EPSRC.