UK-based global major industrial technology group Rolls-Royce announced on Monday that it had started a large expansion of its test facility at Purdue University in West Lafayette in the US state of Indiana. The company and university have undertaken joint aerospace research for several decades and currently Rolls-Royce undertakes digital engine control testing and advanced technology engine research in Purdue’s Zucrow Propulsion Laboratories.
The expansion involves the establishment of a new test facility, dubbed Rolls-Royce West Lafayette, at the Purdue Aerospace District, adjacent to the university’s campus. This development is complementary to the recent modernisation of the company’s facilities in the Indiana state capital of Indianapolis, which lies some 105 km southeast of West Lafayette.
“Rolls-Royce has a proud history of supporting our US military and commercial customers, and this new significant investment will continue to grow our capability to serve our customers,” pointed out Rolls-Royce North America CEO and chairperson Tom Bell. “This reflects yet another major investment in Indiana, and we are also planning significant investment into our test facilities at our Indianapolis manufacturing campus, which has benefitted from a recently completed $600-million modernisation programme to grow advanced manufacturing and technology capability. We thank both local and state governments for their ongoing support.”
“Purdue is delivering new, one-of-a-kind facilities that are national assets and will further differentiate the university as a state and national leader in securing and defending our country,” affirmed Purdue University president Mitch Daniels. “With this vital partnership and support from Rolls-Royce and others, we continue to expand our role as the economic engine for this region of Indiana and beyond.”
The new facility will be mainly paid for by Rolls-Royce; however, Purdue University and the Purdue Research Foundation will also make contributions. It will have significantly improved energy efficiency and assist the company in reaching its goal of halving, by 2030, net zero carbon emissions from its operations.
The new test facility will also make use of the latest digital technologies, allowing operational flexibility and accelerating engine testing and development. A key capability will be a high-altitude test cell, which will allow a range of engines to be tested under air conditions reproducing those found at high altitude, without the power plant leaving the ground. The new facility will also increase Rolls-Royce’s capability to test technologies for hybrid-electric engines, including batteries, directed energy, generators, power electronics, and thermal management.