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Report of the General Board on the establishment of a Professorship of Experimental Combustion

The GENERAL BOARD beg leave to report to the University as follows:

1. One of the prime challenges now facing society must be the identification of a sustainable solution to the ever-increasing requirements for power and transportation. New forms of combustion are required urgently if the generation of power for electricity and transport is not to cause further damage to the environment. This need for cleaner processes is driving the search for new and challenging technologies. One particularly promising and efficient possibility is that of lean pre-mixed combustion in which air and fuel are thoroughly mixed before entering the combustion chamber. Although the process is very successful in reducing emissions, it makes the combustion system prone to instability and auto-ignition. Advances in laser diagnostic techniques are enabling unprecedented insight into unsteady combustion processes, but further fundamental research is required to fully understand these dynamic processes and to develop reliable combustion systems using this technology.

2. The importance of this research in important and emerging areas associated with novel combus-tion cannot be over-estimated. The Department of Engineering is well placed to contribute given its considerable level of expertise in modelling using both computational fluid dynamics and theoretical models. However, a complementary experimental programme is required to challenge and validate the modelling work and to provide teaching programmes in this important area. The Department consider that its research strengths, and the resources available through its Energy Group would make it highly desirable for them to now promote a programme of academic development in the field of experimental combustion. It is envisaged that this work would provide a stimulus to other areas of research and teaching already undertaken within the Department; it would also complement the existing strengths of the Energy Group.

3. Accordingly, the Faculty Board of Engineering have advised the General Board of their view that it would now be appropriate for a Professorship to be established in the Department of Engineering for a single tenure in order to provide academic leader-ship for a research programme into experimental combustion. The holder of the Professorship would be expected to have expertise in the development of novel measurement techniques and their application to the improvement of the understanding of combustion. It is expected that this work will lead to the development of new types of combustion systems that will be explored through experiments and modelling.

4. The General Board have accepted the case made by the Faculty Board. Rolls-Royce plc have agreed to donate funds to meet not only the full costs of the Professorship but also support for associated staff costs and for research. Rolls-Royce have indicated that they intend to fund the Professorship on a five-year rolling basis, under which a minimum of three years' notice would be given of any intention to withdraw, or reduce, their financial support. In the event that the funding from Rolls-Royce plc was terminated or reduced, the Department of Engineering have undertaken to meet the full cost, or any shortfall, from funds available to them. In addition, Rolls-Royce have also agreed to fund, under the same arrangements and through their new Gas Turbine Partnership with the University, a University Lectureship and technical support for the work of the Professor. The Department have assured the General Board that no additional costs would fall on general University funds. The General Board are also assured that suitable accommodation will be available for the Professor. The Board are satisfied that an appointment at this level will be likely to attract a strong field of well-qualified applicants.

5. The General Board accordingly propose that a Professorship of Experimental Combustion be established in the University for one tenure from 1 January 2002, and assigned to the Department of Engineering. They have agreed to concur in the view of the Faculty Board of Engineering that election to the Professorship should be made by an ad hoc Board of Electors and that candidature should be open without limitation or preference to all persons whose work falls within the general field of the title of the office.

6. The General Board recommend:

I.  That the generous benefaction of Rolls-Royce plc be gratefully received.

II.  That a Professorship of Experimental Combustion be established for one tenure from 1 January 2002, placed in Schedule B of the Statutes, and assigned to the Department of Engineering.

11 July 2001 ALEC N. BROERS, Vice-Chancellor MALCOLM GRANT A. C. MINSON


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Cambridge University Reporter, 25 July 2001
Copyright © 2011 The Chancellor, Masters and Scholars of the University of Cambridge.