Turbine research centre opens

Cardiff University’s School of Engineering has opened a gas turbine research centre at the ECM2 engineering complex at Margam, Port Talbot

CardiffUniversity’s School of Engineering has opened a Gas Turbine Research Centre (GTRC) at the ECM2 engineering complex at Margam, Port Talbot.

The GTRC will test for cleaner and more efficient ways of generating power for electricity supplies and aircraft by conducting research into efficient fuel use, alternative fuels and reduction of pollutants such as nitrogen oxide and fine exhaust particulates.

The centre consists of two large-scale combustion rigs donated by Qinetiq, which can test a wide variety of alternative fuels at high flowrate, temperature and pressure. A 3D cooled traversing probe and an optical quartz combustor with advanced laser systems will allow researchers to take detailed measurements of pollutant formation within the combustor, enabling assessment of prototype designs or combustion model predictions.

Work is already underway on research contracts at the facility. These include a £140,000 EU programme in association with Qinetiq and 20 other EU partners to test alternative liquids and the gaseous fuels produced from biomass and waste gases. Another industrially sponsored programme is studying the formation of environmental pollutants such as nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide and unburned hydrocarbons within the combustor. The centre is now looking to carry out projects with other companies and organisations on a commercial basis.

Director of the Centre, Prof Phil Bowen of the School of Engineering, said: ‘Gas turbines generate something like 20 per cent of the world’s power through aircraft or electrical power generation. There are only a few combustion research centres like this worldwide, and the Gas Turbine Research Centre offers some unique features. We hope to provide significant research and development support to the international Energy sector as its strives to meet demanding global challenges ahead, and along with such facilities as the General Electric gas turbine power plant at BaglanBay, establish South Wales as a hub for cleaner power industries.’

The cost of creating the new facility was supported by a £3.85m donation from an Objective 1 European Regional Development Fund, secured through the Welsh European Funding Office and £350,000 from the Welsh Assembly Government. The University also received around £600,000 from the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales for a new viewing section for the equipment.