Rolls-Royce to build new engine testing center at Purdue University


Rolls-Royce is to develop a new test center for high-altitude and hybrid-electric engines for powering the next generation of US military aircraft at Purdue University in Indiana, USA.

The Rolls-Royce West Lafayette center will be built near the University campus and include a high-altitude test cell that will be used to test the AE 1107C engines for the V-22 Osprey, the AE 2100 engines for the C-130J Super Hercules aircraft, and the engines for the Bell V-280 Valor aircraft competing in the US Army’s Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft program.

The high altitude test cell will simulate air conditions at altitude while the engine is still physically on the ground. Gas turbine engine test cells must offer flexible operation to qualify engines for customer use. However, true high-altitude test cells are rare across the US.

The new test campus will also expand the capability for testing hybrid-electric technologies including directed energy, batteries, thermal management, generators, power electronics and other components. As customers rapidly increase demands to integrate and expand digital systems, the demand for hybrid and electric solutions will continue to grow, and the new test facility will accelerate Rolls-Royce capabilities in these technology areas.

The centre will also feature flexible testing systems, modern digital systems and data acquisition that will accelerate engine development and test schedules.

The company already has facilities at Purdue’s Zucrow Propulsion Labs, which focus on the development of digital engine controls. Purdue university and Rolls-Royce have conducted aerospace research together  for several decades.

The investment at Purdue University follows recent modernization at Rolls-Royce facilities in Indianapolis, and future planning for new test capabilities there to support military engine production.

Tom Bell, CEO and chairman of Rolls-Royce North America said, “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 benefited from a recently completed US$600 million modernization program to grow advanced manufacturing and technology capability. We thank both local and state governments for their ongoing support.”

The new facilities will be funded primarily by Rolls-Royce, with support from Purdue University and the Purdue Research Foundation. Mitch Daniels, Purdue University president, said, “Purdue is delivering new facilities that are national assets and will further differentiate the university as a state and national leader in securing and defending our country.”

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About Author


Ben has worked as a journalist and editor, covering technology, engineering and industry for the last 20 years. Initially writing about subjects from nuclear submarines to autonomous cars to future design and manufacturing technologies, he was editor of a leading UK-based engineering magazine before becoming editor of Aerospace Testing in 2017.

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