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30 January, 2020 - 14:19 By Tony Quested

Prince Charles launches pivotal low-carbon aviation hub in Cambridge

The Prince of Wales has launched the National Centre for Propulsion and Power at the globally renowned Whittle Laboratory in Cambridge to accelerate the development of decarbonisation technologies for the aviation industry.

The centre, due to open in 2022, will unite researchers from across UK universities with industry partners such as Rolls-Royce, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Siemens and Dyson to create low-carbon technologies for the propulsion and power sectors.

Professor Rob Miller, director of the Whittle Laboratory, said: “Our enemy is time. To achieve net-zero by 2050 we have focused on accelerating the technology development process itself. 

“The results have been astonishing, with development times being reduced by a factor of 10 to 100.”

The Prince, who is patron of the University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership, hosted a roundtable meeting of aviation and power generation business leaders, senior government officials and researchers to assess how the UK could accelerate the development of decarbonisation technologies.

Prof Miller said: “We are at a pivotal moment in terms of both Cambridge’s history of leading technology development in propulsion and power and humanity’s need to decarbonise these sector. 

“Fifty years ago, the Whittle Laboratory and its industrial partners faced the challenge of making air travel efficient and reliable. Now the new Whittle Laboratory and the National Centre will enable us to lead the way in making it green.”

The research hub, supported by the Aerospace Technology Institute with funding from the Department of Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, aims to scale agile technology development to around 80 per cent of the UK’s future aerodynamic needs. The process is described as ‘tightening the circle’ between design, manufacture and testing.

Business Minister Nadhim Zahawi said: “The new centre will support the UK’s thriving aerospace sector and help it develop cutting-edge technology at an even faster pace. By fuelling innovation we will ensure the UK remains firmly established as a world leader in low carbon technologies as we make strides towards our goal of net zero emissions by 2050.”

• PHOTOGRAPH: The Prince of Wales launches the National Centre for Propulsion and Power. Credit: Nic Marchant

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