This World Space Week, the University of Nottingham Aerospace Unlocking Potential (UP) programme has announced it has pledged more than £110,000 in funding to three UK businesses working to improve sustainability in the aerospace sector.
Designed to help smaller companies develop new technologies and solutions to make aviation greener, Aerospace UP, a £20 million programme, is being delivered by the University of Nottingham and the Midlands Aerospace Alliance (MAA), supported by the European Regional Development Fund and Midlands Engine.
Space debris in low Earth orbit is causing damage to existing spacecraft, meaning satellites require higher, more expensive orbits. Space Resource Laboratory Ltd’s solution, Project Aryabhat, involves the development of a propulsion system that consists of a thruster, fuel tank and avionics control system that can be fitted into a satellite and deliver a de-orbiting solution, minimising the remains left in orbit at the end of the spacecraft’s life cycle.
Meanwhile, Holscot Fluropolymers Ltd is working to produce FEP bladders that will line nano, micro and small satellite propulsion tanks. FEP bladders are a lighter-weight, more compatible alternative to metal tanks, which are potentially re-fillable and re-usable in orbit, in turn, this helps to minimise waste in low orbit space.
Finally, XCAM is developing a device that allows its prototype Particulate Fall Out (PFO) monitor to detect and analyse more complex particulates. The new monitor will include the capability to use neural networks for analysis in space that will, ultimately, minimise the limitations inherent to downlinking data to Earth.
Professor Serhiy Bozhko, Director of the Institute for Aerospace Technology (IAT) at the University of Nottingham, said: “As the theme of this year’s World Space Week is ‘Space and Sustainability’, we felt it would be the perfect opportunity to shine a spotlight on companies that are striving to make the world of aerospace greener.
“At a time when the road to net zero is at the forefront of everyone’s minds, it’s great to see the innovative and fascinating solutions Holscot Fluropolymers Ltd, XCAM and Space Resource Lab Ltd are creating to minimise the environmental impact of space exploration.”
The programme not only provides funding for projects but also offers small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) with unique access to industry experts, academic support, and facilities that might otherwise have been unattainable.
Professor Pat Wheeler, Global Director of the Institute for Aerospace Technology at the University of Nottingham, said: “It is with great pleasure that we can support industry through the Aerospace UP programme. We’re leading the way in translating our pioneering research on net zero aviation into real world applications by supporting the aerospace supply chain to create innovation capacity.”
Andrew Mair, Chief Executive of the Midlands Aerospace Alliance, said: “We are proud to be awarding grants to great companies, supporting the development of excellent solutions they offer. This is a pivotal time for regrowth as the supply chain provides a critical foundation for driving innovation at deep levels, ensuring the industry can thrive into the future.”