The University of Southampton

Towards faster lasers to map jet engines

Published: 19 December 2011

The University of Southampton’s Optoelectronics Research Centre (ORC) is developing lasers that will improve understanding of the combustion process in jet engines and reduce emissions.

The ORC is working on the £2.7m research project called FLITES (Fibre-Laser Imaging of gas Turbine Exhaust Species). It is funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, led by University of Manchester and aims to develop technology to reduce jet engine emissions.

"FLITES will allow us to map different chemical species and soot in the exhaust plume of aero engines,” said Professor Johan Nilsson at the ORC. "This will create a better understanding of the combustion process in the engine and enable us to optimise it at lower cost - with the increasing interest for substitution of fossil fuels with bio-fuels in the aviation industry, this is particularly important. Currently the cost is too high and the data collected too limited for extensive evaluations of new bio-fuels in aero-engines."

FLITES aims to establish a world-leading capability to map several exhaust species from aeroplanes using tomographic imaging.

The ORC, the University of Manchester, the University of Strathclyde, and commercial partners including Rolls-Royce, Shell, Covesion, Fianium and OptoSci, will work on the four-year study, motivated by lower-cost engine evaluation and monitoring and reduced carbon dioxide emissions and pollution.

It is expected that the research project will enhance turbine-related research and development capacity in both academia and industry by opening up access to exhaust plume chemistry.

It will underpin a new phase of low-net-carbon development that is underway in aviation, based on bio-derived fuels, and which entails extensive research in turbine engineering, turbine combustion, and fuel product formulation.

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