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12 October 2007
Wales’ First Minister, the Rt Hon Rhodri Morgan has opened the School of Engineering’s new Gas Turbine Research Centre, capping what he described as "a fantastic week" for Welsh science and engineering.
The First Minister formally opened the Gas Turbine Research Centre (GTRC), which will test for cleaner and more efficient ways of generating power for electricity and aircraft, at the ECM2 engineering complex at Margam, Port Talbot.
The launch follows Monday’s award of the 2007 Nobel Prize for Medicine to Professor Sir Martin Evans of the University’s School of Biosciences. On the same day, Biobank Cymru was launched at the School of Medicine with the aim of improving the health of future generations. Meanwhile RWE npower has announced an initial £8.4M investment to create the UK’s first Carbon Dioxide Capture Power Plant at Aberthaw Power Station.
Mr Morgan said: "It’s been a fantastic week for science, technology and engineering in Wales.
"These are four major advances. It makes me very proud, not just as First Minister, but also in my role as Science Minister."
The Gas Turbine Research Centre consists of two large-scale combustion rigs, which can test a wide variety of alternative fuels at high flowrate, temperature and pressure. A unique 3D cooled traversing probe and an optical (quartz) combustor with advanced laser systems allow researchers to take detailed measurements of pollutant formation within the combustor, enabling assessment of prototype designs or combustion model predictions.
The Centre will conduct research into more efficient fuel utilisation, alternative fuels and reduction of pollutants such as Nitrogen Oxide and fine exhaust particulates. The two rigs were donated by international technology company QinetiQ, who selected the School of Engineering as the recipient ahead of several other EU contenders.
Rhodri Morgan added: "This world class facility is another example of how Wales is becoming a hub for high-value, high-tech research and development. It also means that young people don’t have to leave Wales to find an exciting and challenging career in the science and technology sector.
"I am very excited by the way companies with a world-wide reputation for technological excellence are recognising the value of working with our universities to examine new frontiers in science and research and development.
"As the Welsh research cluster expands and the drive to reduce carbon emissions becomes more important, these facilities will be a ‘win-win’ for Wales and a ‘win-win’ for the world and its environment."
Work is already under way 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 now welcomes projects with other companies and organisations on a commercial basis.
Director of the Centre, Professor 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. here 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 Baglan Bay, establish South Wales as a hub for cleaner power industries."
Dr Simon Bennett, managing director, QinetiQ commercial business, said: "We selected Cardiff University as the recipient of the two combustion rigs because of its expertise in combustion and optical measuring techniques. The rigs already have a number of world firsts to their credit and we are pleased to be working with the university to help shape future gas turbine development."
The cost of creating the new facility was been supported by a £3.85M donation from 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.
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