Prestigious UK university Imperial College London has announced plans to establish a new sustainable aviation institute to aid the development of technologies and solutions to develop clean, safe, and sustainable air travel. 

Investing in the future

Imperial College alumnus Brahmal Vasudevan and his partner Shanthi Kandhiah have donated a generous £25 million to create the new Brahmal Vasudevan Institute for Sustainable Aviation. 

The donation is one of the largest in the university’s history and will make Imperial one of the most significant centres across the globe for sustainable aviation research.  

The institute aims to pioneer the breakthroughs and technologies required to support the aviation industry’s tricky but necessary transition to zero emissions and pollution. Researchers will explore various key elements of air travel such as fuel, aircraft design, air traffic control, aviation policy, airport infrastructure, and more. 

Priority areas of research include the development and exploration of new low and zero pollution propulsion technologies and the associated developments in engines, aerodynamics, structures, materials, fuels systems, control and aircraft configuration.

The institute will also consider and evaluate emerging technologies across the aviation industry to explore how they can contribute to the main goal by being refined, combined, or optimally selected. 

Professor Alice Gast, President of Imperial College London, said:

“We are deeply grateful to Brahmal and Shanthi for their generosity and vision. They have provided us with an unprecedented opportunity to take on one of the greatest challenges in the fight against climate change. […] Translating scientific breakthroughs for societal benefit is Imperial’s mission, and this Institute will empower our researchers to collaborate, innovate and pursue new ideas across fields. The benefits of this work will be felt for generations.”

Brahmal Vasudevan graduated from Imperial in 1990 with first-class honours in Aeronautical Engineering. He is currently the founder and CEO of private equity firm Creador. He has supported Imperial College London in the past. His £1.25 million donation to establish the Brahmal Vasudevan Multi-Terrain Aerial Robotics Arena in the Department of Aeronautics was welcomed by the university. 

Brahmal Vasudevan in front of the the Brahmal Vasudevan Multi-Terrain Aerial Robotics Arena
Brahmal Vasudevan at the launch of the Brahmal Vasudevan Multi-Terrain Aerial Robotics Arena at Imperial in October 2011. | © Imperial College London

Vasudevan spoke about the challenge that lies ahead and how the joint decision with his wife Shanthi Kandhiah (founder of legal firm SK Chambers) to donate to his former university was a no-brainer:

“Moving towards zero pollution is a mammoth task and aviation, in particular, is a complicated sector to decarbonise. Tackling the problem in a systematic and coherent way to achieve the goal of a net-zero, sustainable economy requires high levels of eco-innovation to succeed. Shanthi and I believe that there is no better institution in the world to drive pioneering work in this field, and we are delighted to support Imperial’s efforts.”

Last week, European aerospace manufacturer Airbus launched a new zero-emission development and research centre in the UK. Airbus already has several of these centres, known as ZEDCs, across Europe. 

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