Airbus A380

Pioneering £8M programme aims to reduce environmental impact of gas turbine engine

Professor Walter Johnstone of The University of Strathclyde is leading on an £8 million research programme which aims ultimately to reduce the environmental impact of aviation and power generating gas turbine engines (GTEs).  

The Laser Imaging of Turbine Engine Combustion Species (LITECS) programme aims to deliver transformational combustion measurement and modelling tools to enable the development of low emission engine designs and evaluation of new low emission fuels, leading to reduced environmental impact.

As well as aircraft, gas turbines are used to power trains, ships, electrical generators and pumps, with the UK one of the technology and market leaders globally in GTE manufacturing with £27 billion exports in 2015. 

Sustainability and the need to minimise emissions are significant global issues. To respond to that, industries are committed to meeting stringent emissions targets and have committed to drastic emissions reductions by 2050.

Funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, the consortium of the universities of Strathclyde, Edinburgh, Manchester, Southampton, Loughborough and Sheffield, builds on the achievements of a previous £2.8m programme which used newly developed laser techniques to demonstrate, for the first time, two dimensional imaging of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the exhaust plume of a full-scale commercial gas turbine aero-engine (Fig 1).

Researchers, backed by industry partners Rolls-Royce, Siemens Energy, OptoSci, M Squared Lasers and Tracerco, are working to establish several new non-intrusive multi-beam laser measurement systems for simultaneous imaging of the concentration of multiple gases, soot and temperature in the exhausts and combustion zones of GTEs

The resulting measurement data will be used to develop new understanding of the combustion and emissions generation processes and apply it to advancing our strategies for emissions reduction. Measurements will be made for a range of engine conditions and new fuels, enabling for the first time, direct experimental evaluation of new fuel types and their potential to achieve reduced emissions.

The Programme Leader, Professor Walter Johnstone, from Strathclyde’s department of Electronic and Electrical Engineering said: “Serious emissions reduction can only come from new, disruptive, measurement technologies that transform the experimental characterisation, understanding and modelling of the combustion and emissions generation processes and enable direct experimental evaluation of the performance of alternative fuels. 

“The LITECS programme brings together six world leading UK engineering universities, supported by industry, to provide the multi-disciplinary expertise to address these needs. 

“Success will advance our strategies towards significant emissions reduction and ensure the UK is a world leader in turbine engine combustion research.”

Picture captions:

  1. Previous research under the project FLITES developed the first system for imaging the CO2 distribution in an aero-engine exhaust plume. The system, installed at the INTA – the Spanish Institute for Aerospace Technology, uses 126 individual laser beams to reconstruct an image of the distribution using a technique known as chemical species tomography (CST).
  2. Project Leader Professor Walter Johnstone from the University of Strathclyde

LITECS is funded by
UKRI Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council

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