Aerospace research at The University of Nottingham involves around 350 leading researchers, working on more than 70 projects, and covers five strategically key areas for the future of the industry.
The Institute for Aerospace Technology looks to develop this portfolio further by engaging with companies and research institutions of all sizes to deliver world-leading collaborative research programmes.
The five strategically key areas for the future of the aerospace industry that the Institute for Aerospace Technology operates within are:
Aero Engines and Propulsion
The Structural integrity and Dynamics Research Group hosts and manages the Rolls-Royce UTC in Gas Turbine Transmissions systems, an internationally-leading centre for Transmissions research.
Following many years of successful research collaboration with Rolls-Royce, a University Technology Centre (UTC) in Gas Turbine Transmission Systems was formed at the University of Nottingham in 1997. This is a multidisciplinary team which carries out basic research on the main drive shafts in aeroengines and on the bearings (including the oil system) that support the shafts. This involves research on materials behaviour testing and modelling, experimental and computational mechanics in the linear and non-linear ranges, film dynamics and two-phase flow investigations using state-of-the-art non-intrusive measurement techniques and computational fluid dynamics (CFD) methods. The state-of-the-art test rigs and equipment include full-scale aeroengine air and oil systems rigs and coupling fatigue rigs with automatic computer control and data logging facilities, as well as a range of smaller scale test equipment.
The Thermofluids Group is carrying out fundamental as well as applied fluid dynamics research including heat transfer. Of particular interest to the aerospace sector may be drag reduction and flow control technologies that are applicable to future aircraft. For example, we are currently investigating into plasma flow control technique based on all-electric actuators which can be used in reducing skin-friction drag, flow noise and flow induced vibration. We are also developing a new method to integrate drag-reducing riblets in aircraft wings made of composite materials. Our expertise in CFD has been applied to predict the behaviour of oil droplets in a high speed flow within aircraft engines. Recent capital investment in high-speed flow diagnostic tools has further enhanced our research capability
The Advanced Manufacturing Technology Group provides world-class research and specialist engineering expertise in high-precision manufacturing technologies focusing on forging, joining, fixturing, automation, metrology, assembly, EDM and near-net shape processes. Its research activities attract a wide range of funding from UK & EU funding bodies and companies. The group has established partnerships and collaborations with Rolls Royce, Airbus, BAE Systems, etc. working on both blue-sky R&D programmes focusing on the development of disruptive technologies that provide step changes in productivity and cost reduction, as well as the industrialisation of these technologies – focusing on the translation of laboratory-based technologies into pre-production systems.
For over 20 years, the Human Factors Research Group has pioneered research in designing and evaluating novel products and technologies in a wide range of industrial applications including transport, healthcare, education and visualisation technologies. The group have conducted a number of projects related to the context of aviation and aerospace. Throughout all of our work we take a systems approach in order to analyse the impact of new technologies, work and organisational systems in the aviation and aerospace industries. Work to date includes; measuring cognitive performance of air traffic controllers; designing technology to support the flightdeck of the future; and using 3D visualisation technologies in the aerospace industry.
Aerospace Materials and Structures
The Advanced Materials Group have a high level of expertise, backed up by state-of-the-art facilities, in the following areas: thermal spraying of coatings for oxidation, corrosion and wear protection; electrodeposited coating solutions for potential chromium and cadmium replacement; novel high performance thermal barrier coatings based upon ESAVD technology; laser materials processing; and coating removal techniques at end-of-life to facilitate repair and re-use. We employ finite element and metallurgical modelling tools and have first rate facilities for characterization of surface performance through tribological and corrosion testing.
A leading international organisation in this area, the Polymer Composites Group at Nottingham has worked for over 25 years on processing of polymer composites, including pioneering work on out-of-autoclave processing, automated reinforcement deposition and process modelling. Key expertise and capabilities include in-house triaxial braiding and directed carbon fibre preforming cells, a variety of resin injection systems and tooling, multiaxial reinforcement permeability analysis, and modelling of composites forming, resin injection and cure. Other current activities include modelling and analysis of composites performance under dynamic loading (impact, fatigue), recycling of thermoset composites, and processing and performance analysis for textile composites. The latter is based on our "TexGen" textile geometric modelling schema, which models a variety of reinforcement forms and facilitates "virtual testing" to determine composites processing and performance behaviour. This work was recognised as world leading in 2004 by EPSRC via the award of a Platform Grant (recently renewed to 2013). Comprising around 50 staff and students, the group is supported by funding of around £6.5million from UK research councils, government and industry.
In the area of advanced ultrasonic techniques for NDE/T and material evaluation our focus is on advanced ultrasonic techniques, especially laser ultrasonics for NDE/T. We have a history of working with difficult materials, for instance highly scattering metals and metal-matrix composites and for developing novel techniques for microstructural imaging, fatigue measurement and non linear ultrasonics. We have developed some unique instrumentation, including adaptive optical scanning acoustic microscopes; SRAS imaging (ultrasonic equivalent of EBSD); fatigue imaging, and CHOTs contactless transducer technology. We are also actively developing techniques for the elastic characterisation (measurement and imaging) of soft and hard nanomaterials and structures.
Nottingham Geospatial Institute (NGI) is one of the world's largest academic centres of excellence in the field of navigation, sensor integration and data dissemination and display. Areas of potential interest include:
Navigation Guidance & Control: World leading experts in GPS, future satellite systems (including the European Galileo program), INS, optimised position-orientation integration (Kalman filtering, etc) with awareness of aviation requirements and procedures (eg >10 contracts from Eurocontrol related to satellite navigation and its applications).
Sensor Systems: Internationally-known expertise in a range of sensors systems (including their integration with GPS-INS, etc) including radar, photogrammetry, hyperspectral scanners, LIDAR, etc.
Facilities and simulators: NGI has recently established GRACE – a £9m investment in a new building and state of the art facilities and services for industry. Facilities include state of the art GNSS test facilities including GNSS simulators (both GPS and Galileo), a new test track, regional GNSS test bed and a mobile test vehicle.
The Operational Risk and Reliability Group in Nottingham Transportation Engineering Centre (NTEC) - is the UK's foremost University research centre focused on the materials and objects that provide the central elements of all highways, railways, docks and airports. The groups Aerospace work covers:
- Aircraft Risk and Reliability Modelling
- Aircraft fleet asset management
- Fault diagnostic and prognostic methods
- Aircraft maintenance to minimise: service disruption (commercial airlines), operational capability (military)
- Maintenance process modelling and optimisation
- Functional Product performance prediction
- UAV mission unreliability modelling and mission reconfiguration
- Multiplatform mission unreliability modelling
- Aircraft vulnerability and security modelling
The Automated Planning and Scheduling Group has a strong track record of applying state of the art methods to solve real world problems. Their aerospace and aviation work includes runway scheduling for Heathrow Airport and airline scheduling for KLM.
More Electric Aircraft
The Power Electronics, Machines and Control Research Group has expertise across a range of electrical systems for the More Electric Aircraft including:
- Electrical power conversion technology
- Electrical power system modelling and simulation, including stability and design
- Health management, prognostics and diagnostics for electrical systems
- Power Device packaging, physics of failure and reliability [including environmental chambers]
- Electrical motor drives, motor design and testing [up to 120,000rpm]
- Electrical actuation systems [EMAs and EHAs]
- EMC/EMI modelling, measurement and design
- Thermal modelling and system design
- Testing capabilities up to 270kVA using California Instruments power supplies
The George Green Institute for Electromagnetics Research is at the forefront of research in Electromagnetic Compatibility (EMC) and Computational Electromagnetics (CEM) worldwide. Over many years the Institute has developed an excellent international reputation and a proven expertise in a wide range of advanced technology areas related to advanced EM design, including: numerical electromagnetic modelling; simulation and testing of complete aircraft systems for electromagnetic compatibility (EMC); electromagnetic design and protection of systems against EM threats such as lightning; radio propagation studies inside structures, EM survivability; signal integrity and power integrity studies