Paris – Governor Eric J. Holcomb joined leaders from Rolls-Royce and Purdue University at the Paris International Air Show, where they announced a new partnership to advance research and development for next-generation gas turbine technology in Indiana.
“Here on the world stage of the Paris Air Show, Indiana’s leadership in the global aerospace industry is clear,” said Governor Holcomb. “Many of the innovations we’re seeing presented on the trade show floor were fostered by key partnerships between our state’s universities and industry leaders. With this latest team-up between the state, Purdue and Rolls-Royce, I can’t wait to see new turbine technology take flight in Indiana.”
The new $24 million public-private partnership will establish the nation’s most advanced turbine lab for compact gas turbine engines at Purdue University. Used by companies like Rolls-Royce and government agencies such as the U.S. Air Force and NASA, this technology can help reduce pollution and advance fuel efficiencies.
Development and testing of next-generation turbine airfoils will be housed at Purdue’s Zucrow Laboratories, one of the nation's largest university propulsion laboratory for research focused on reducing fuel consumption and emissions for next-generation jet engines. Construction and installation of the new test rig began in 2015, with plans for Purdue students and researchers to launch their collaboration with Rolls-Royce through this program beginning in August.
“Working together with the state of Indiana and Purdue University, we are strengthening the state’s aerospace industry,” said Marion Blakey, president and chief executive officer of Rolls-Royce North America. “The strong relationships we enjoy in the state enable us to make significant and repeated investments like these in Indiana – from our recent $600 million facility modernization and technology initiative, to the opening of our facility earlier this year at Purdue’s new Aerospace District in West Lafayette. Together, we are ensuring that Indiana remains a leader in the aerospace industry for decades to come.”
Through this program’s research, Purdue students and researchers will help Rolls-Royce deliver significant operational and fuel-efficiency benefits for current and next-generation aircraft. Turbine airfoils extract energy from the high-temperature, high-pressure air produced by the engine’s combustor. Operating in the hottest part of the engine, in temperatures that are far greater than the melting point of metals, the airfoils must be engineered to provide optimum performance in this extreme environment.
“Purdue and Rolls-Royce have a long history of collaboration in research and development that leads ultimately to critical advances in the aerospace industry,” said Purdue President Mitch Daniels. “With the additional support from the state of Indiana, we look forward to even greater successes for our partners, our researchers and our students.”
The program will advance Indiana’s position as a global leader in aerospace innovation, with Indiana currently ranked No. 6 in the nation for aerospace manufacturing attractiveness by global professional services firm PricewaterhouseCoopers. Today Indiana is home to more than 80 aerospace companies like Rolls-Royce that employ about 7,000 Hoosiers across the state, with aerospace-related positions in Indiana offering an average salary of $89,000 annually.
The Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC) offered Purdue University up to $6 million to support the partnership through the Indiana 21st Century Research and Technology Fund, a fund promoting Indiana economic growth and innovation-driven public-private partnerships. Purdue University has contributed $8 million toward with program, with Rolls-Royce committing to contribute up to $10 million.
“Rolls-Royce continues to address our customer’s needs for powerful thrust and fuel efficiency,” said Phil Burkholder, president of Defense Aerospace, Rolls-Royce North America. “This agreement will allow us to work with Purdue’s innovative jet propulsion labs at Zucrow to construct modern, efficient advanced turbine airfoils for current and future engines.”
The announcement comes as Governor Holcomb concludes his first international trade mission as Governor. As part of the trip, Governor Holcomb met with business and government leaders in Hungary, before traveling to France to discuss Indiana growth opportunities for aerospace and Europe-based companies.
About Rolls-Royce in Indiana
For over 100 years, Rolls-Royce and its predecessor companies have been engineering, designing and manufacturing advanced technology in Indiana. Today, Rolls-Royce employs over 4,000 people in Indianapolis, with 1,050 working in production and nearly 1,400 engineers. Engines designed, assembled and tested at Rolls-Royce in Indianapolis power U.S. Department of Defense aircraft, civil helicopters, regional and business jets, and power systems for U.S. Naval vessels. These include the F-35B Lightning II; C-130J Super Hercules; V-22 Osprey; Global Hawk and Triton UAVs; various commercial helicopters and the new naval Ship-to-Shore Connector program. Rolls-Royce also operates an advanced aerospace technology research and design unit in Indianapolis, which is known as LibertyWorks.
About Purdue University
Purdue University, a top public research institution, offers higher education at its highest proven value. Committed to affordability, the university has frozen tuition and most fees at 2012-13 levels. Committed to student success, Purdue is changing the student experience with greater focus on faculty-student interaction and creative use of technology. Committed to pursuing scientific discoveries and engineered solutions, Purdue has streamlined pathways for faculty and student innovators who have a vision for moving the world forward.
The Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC) leads the state of Indiana’s economic development efforts, helping businesses launch, grow and locate in the state. Governed by a 15-member board chaired by Governor Eric J. Holcomb, the IEDC manages many initiatives, including performance-based tax credits, workforce training grants, innovation and entrepreneurship resources, public infrastructure assistance, and talent attraction and retention efforts. For more information about the IEDC, visit www.iedc.in.gov.