Imperial College to build £25m sustainable aviation research center


Imperial College London is to establish a ground-breaking research institute dedicated to developing sustainable aviation.

Carbon dioxide emissions from the aviation industry account for 2.5% of emissions globally, with this number predicted to triple by 2050. Most experts agree that reducing emissions will require a systematic, ecologically innovative approach backed by relevant inter-governmental declarations like the International Aviation Climate Ambition Coalition.

Imperial College alumnus Brahmal Vasudevan and his partner Shanthi Kandiah have donated £25 million (US$31.5 million) to create The Brahmal Vasudevan Institute for Sustainable Aviation. Vasudevan has previously supported Imperial with a £1.25 million (US$1.6 million) donation to establish the Brahmal Vasudevan Multi-Terrain Aerial Robotics Arena.

Brahmal Vasudevan in attendance at his namesake Multi Terrain Aerial Robotics Arena (Image: Imperial College London)

“They have provided us with an unprecedented opportunity to take on one of the greatest challenges in the fight against climate change” said  president of Imperial College London Alice Gast. “The benefit of this work will be felt for generations.”

The new, interdisciplinary institute will be based in the Department of Aeronautics.

“Shanthi and I believe that there is no better institution in the world to drive pioneering work in this field, and we are delighted to support Imperial’s efforts,” said Vasudevan, the founder and CEO of private equity firm Creador.

Priority areas of research will include low and zero pollution engines, aerodynamics, structures, materials, fuel systems, controls, and aircraft configuration. The institute will also explore the selection, combination, and refinement of emerging technologies.

Professor Paul Robinson, head of the department of aeronautics at Imperial College London said, “Achieving net-zero flight will require a radical shift across the whole system of aviation. There is much to do and not much time, but there is a will and determination being shown across the sector and beyond. Through this Institute, we have the talent, resources, and research strength to make this happen.”

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