Pratt & Whitney and Rolls-Royce Announced a Joint Research Project with Virginia Tech

Pratt & Whitney and Rolls-Royce have signed a joint agreement with Virginia Tech for pre-competitive research focusing on the impact of environmental contaminants on aero-engine operation and testing.

The four-year project will leverage Virginia Tech’s research and cross-discipline expertise on engine operation, instrumentation, and geosciences as well as the current research relationships that both Pratt & Whitney and Rolls-Royce have with the university.

Students at Virginia Tech conduct tests on an airplane engine. Virginia Tech is the site of a newly announced pre-competitive research agreement with Pratt & Whitney and Rolls-Royce, focusing on the impact of environmental contaminants on aero-engine operation and testing.

“At Virginia Tech, we are honoured to be given the opportunity to build on the foundation of our existing academic alliances by partnering with Pratt & Whitney and Rolls-Royce on this project,” said Changmin Son, the Rolls-Royce Commonwealth Professor at Virginia Tech. “The multidisciplinary group, teamed with Mechanical Engineering, Aerospace and Ocean Engineering, and Geosciences, will work together to tackle the impact of the airborne particulate on aircraft engines, which is a huge challenge for today’s aviation industry.”

This research relationship continues the longstanding collaboration between Rolls-Royce and Pratt & Whitney on issues that are common across the aerospace industry. The two companies have collaborated on several government-based research projects, including a study focused on volcanic ash damage to aircraft engines.

“Pratt & Whitney sees this as a great opportunity to improve our basic understanding of an issue that is critically important to our entire industry,” said Frank Preli, vice president, Propulsion and Materials Technologies, Pratt & Whitney. “Virginia Tech has the right expertise and facilities to help us make an impact as the joint research team will investigate the fundamentals of particle [sand/dust] properties as the particles pass through the engine, with the goal of improving analysis methods to better predict those effects.”

Detrimental effects of particle ingestion are common concerns in the aerospace industry and can lead to accelerated engine aging and performance loss.

“Rolls-Royce has enjoyed a strong relationship with Virginia Tech for decades, collaborating on a variety of research projects to measure and evaluate engine performance under different conditions,” said Lisa Teague, head of Emerging Technologies and Innovation at Rolls-Royce Liberty Works. “This new joint research project will help further industry understanding of airborne particles – a key contributor to engine degradation – and their impact on operability.”