The Rolls-Royce University Technology Centre in Combustion Aerodynamics based at Loughborough University officially was established in 1991.


Since being formed it has continued to grow and is now a mature research group of approximately 50 staff, with an annual research income of circa. £2.5M.

The core aim of the research conducted within the Loughborough UTC is to understand the complex aerodynamic processes occurring within gas turbine combustion systems and other related engine components, in order to provide advances in understanding and design capability that directly feed into next generation technologies being developed by Rolls-Royce.

Both experimental and computational approaches are used to study not only processes occurring within the combustor itself, but also the critical aerodynamic interactions with the compressor and turbine.

In 2008 the UTC opened the £3M Unsteady Fluid Mechanics laboratory which provides enhanced capability and capacity.

Over 12 test facilities provide researchers with the opportunity to operate test rigs of various sizes and over a range of temperatures and pressures.  This reflected an expansion of the UTC remit from the investigation of pure aerodynamic phenomena to one which includes all aerothermal processes occurring in the combustion system, (where aerodynamics strongly links and interacts with heat transfer, two phase flows, acoustics etc.).

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The research group expanded again in 2017

With the build of the new National Centre in Combustion and Aerothermal Technology (NCCAT), a multi-million pound development funded through a partnership comprising the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), the Aerospace Technology Institute and Innovate UK, with support from Rolls-Royce and Loughborough University.

NCCAT acts as the UK’s primary hub for research focusing on the development of future low emission aerospace combustion systems that will reduce the environmental impact of aircraft, with opportunities for wider exploitation beyond aerospace (e.g. energy).

Building on the existing relationship between Loughborough University and Rolls-Royce, the Centre is located alongside the existing Unsteady Fluid Mechanics Laboratory within the UTC on the Loughborough University Science and Enterprise Park.


As well as providing access to state-of-the-art facilities and leading research expertise for UK industrial partners, NCCAT will act as a training ground for current and future aerospace engineers in a critical skill area for the UK. These facilities will be used as part of the CDT studentship at Loughborough.

PhD projects at Loughborough will be developed during the first year which will be relevant to current and future technologies being developed by Rolls-Royce.  Loughborough has a specific track record of research excellence in gas turbine aerothermal processes, one of the three major components of turbomachinery (compressor, combustor and turbine). CDT students will hugely benefit from the network of experts and the portfolio of skills that they have built up at the heart of the CDT.

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