The Research Center will allow GE Aviation engineers and scientists to collaborate with UCRI faculty members and UC students to pursue innovations that have direct applications on GE’s future aviation products, according to company officials.
The scope of this agreement marks a “first” in Ohio between a leading aerospace company and a leading university research institute, company officials add.
“Our business is growing significantly and we have considerable new technologies that must be developed and industrialized,” said Gary Mercer, vice president of engineering at GE Aviation. “We want UC’s best minds to be a part of our journey as we influence the future course of aviation. It is also an important effort to further enhance Ohio’s aerospace capabilities.”
GE Aviation is investing almost $100 million in capital improvements at the Evendale campus to facilitate research efforts. In addition, GE has committed $6 million over the next three years to fund the six UCRI researchers and 19 UC undergraduate and postgraduate students who will work at the Evendale campus.
UCRI has also committed $1 million in funding over the next three years to purchase equipment to support the technology projects. Also, GE will benefit from UCRI’s considerable research and development experience in aerospace engineering. GE and UC have collaborated on aerospace projects for many years, and hundreds of GE Aviation employees are UC graduates.
“UCRI supports the collaborative process between industry and the university,” said David Linger, president and CEO of UCRI. “We work closely with GE Aviation to understand its business needs and drive efficient solutions.”
In 2012, the University of Cincinnati received a $5 million “Ohio Third Frontier” grant from the state of Ohio that will be used by UCRI to purchase equipment for the joint GE/UCRI research activities.
The multiyear research projects defined by GE and UCRI for the Research Center are:
- Advanced low-emission combustion. A building under construction at the east corner of the GE Evendale campus will house a new test cell for engine combustors. In the heart of a jet engine, the combustor is where compressed air and fuel are mixed and ignited to generate thrust. The test laboratory will evaluate the high compression rates demanded to achieve lower emissions in future engines such as the LEAP engine being developed by CFM International, a joint company of GE and Snecma (Safran Group) of France; and the GE9X. GE and UCRI will analyze new methods for burning fuel more efficiently and cleaner.
- Ceramic matrix composites (CMCs). GE has garnered worldwide attention as the first jet propulsion company to introduce components made of CMCs into the hot section of its future engines. The ultra-lightweight CMCs function in extremely high temperatures that enable lower fuel consumption and maintenance costs. GE and UCRI will test and evaluate these advanced materials properties in a realistic environment.
- Aircraft Energy and Thermal Management. Airplanes are demanding more electricity. GE and UCRI will link with GE’s Electrical Power Integrated Systems Research and Development Center (EPISCENTER) being constructed at the University of Dayton (UD). The EPISCENTER will team GE with UD researchers in the areas of computer modeling, simulation, and analysis of dynamic electric power systems and controls.
GE Aviation has about 9,000 employees in southwestern Ohio, and supports several thousand more employees from area aerospace companies that do business with GE. GE envisions the Research Center as an important pipeline for attracting top engineering talent from UC to GE Aviation, company officials noted.