June 27, 2017, by Rob Ounsworth
Propulsion Futures: We’re at the heart of a revolution in greener propulsion of transport
As part of the University’s landmark £200m investment in research, our new Beacons of Excellence are championing our transdisciplinary responses to global challenges.
Professor David Grant is Director of the Propulsions Futures Beacon. Here he outlines how our world-leading researchers are working, with our partners in industry, to deliver a revolution in sustainable transport.
Propulsion is the beating heart of modern society, the deliverer of transport, the means to move people freely.
Yet today’s transport has a cost:
- To our economy: we are running out of fossil fuels
- To our quality of life
- To our health and well being
Not only are we are running out of fossil fuels. Transport is linked to respiratory illnesses, which claimed 40,000 lives in the UK last year. Transport also accounts for 20% of all greenhouse gas emissions.
We have to make a step change in driving transport forward. What do I mean by this? As economies develop and growing populations demand more goods, services and the freedom to travel, so there will be a continued growth in transport.
For example aircraft, which already produce more that 10% of transport greenhouse gases, are predicted to double in number by 2030. That is 27,000 new large civil airliners.
So fossil fuels cannot be the future of propulsion of transport. We must find ways to dramatically reduce pollution and greenhouse gases for all aspects of propulsion in transport.
How do we achieve this?
We have to go for more electric transport and make revolutionary changes in the way we move. We must deliver new sustainable materials and improve efficiency across every aspect of propulsion, from energy storage and electrical generation to electric transmission and electric drives.
Expertise and breadth
We will lead advances in electrified propulsion with our expertise in power electronics, smart systems and sustainable materials. We use a holistic approach towards the development of all aspects of the propulsion of electric and hybrid electric transport vehicles thereby significantly improving efficiency.
Large-scale demonstrators and new materials
We have the capacity to build unique large-scale megawatt propulsion test facilities that will project us as leaders in the field. Our integrated labs will take our expertise in sustainable materials from fundamental research to devices, prototypes and finally through to full scale demonstrators.
Location and industrial partners
We are at the heart of the Midlands, and the UK and most significantly at the heart of research collaborations with industry.
Our links with industry will allow us to design and deliver full-scale demonstrators, putting new materials through their paces in a total systems approach. We will showcase our world-leading role in securing a revolution in greener transport by collaborating in an all-electric aircraft that we will fly.
Propulsion Futures Director David Grant is Professor of Materials Science and Head of Advanced Materials Research Group, Faculty of Engineering.
Propulsion Futures co-Director Micheal Galea is Deputy Director of the Institute for Aerospace Technology and Lecturer in Electrical Drives.