Prince of Wales discusses climate change & zero carbon flights at Cambridge’s Whittle Laboratory

Prince Charles tackled a topic close to his heart in Cambridge yesterday: climate change. In his capacity as Royal Founding Patron of the University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability and Leadership (CISL), The Prince of Wales visited the Whittle Laboratory.

Based on Cambridge University’s campus, the Whittle Laboratory was established in 1973 by Sir Frank Whittle, the man credited with inventing the turbojet engine, which revolutionised air travel. His designs led to the creation of systems that are used today with regards to powering large aircrafts over great distances.

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After arriving at the laboratory, Prince Charles was greeted by Lord Lieutenant Julie Spence as well as members from the Lab and University. Charles was also presented to Mayor Gerri Bird, Vice chancellor Stephen Toope, Chair of the County Council Chancellor Mac Mcguire and his wife, Viv.

While touring the facility, The Prince of Wales was able to witness a test being run on one of the rapid testing rigs and engage in discussions about the decarbonisation of long haul flights. Time is of vital importance when it comes to combating climate change and the plan is for the new lab to rapidly accelerate the development of technologies in the UK.

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Opening in 2022, the National Centre for Propulsion and Power will be housed in the New Whittle Laboratory and will collaborate with CISL to advance plans on creating the world’s first zero carbon flight.

Additionally, the hope is to develop alternative technologies in the aviation industry, particularly pertaining to decarbonisation. The main objective of this collaboration between CISL and the New Whittle Laboratory is to hopefully inspire the aviation industry to prioritise making zero carbon flights a realty in the very near future.

As The Prince of Wales has been a true innovator in the field of sustainability for decades and a staunch advocate for the fight against climate change,  he took part in a round table discussion to share ideas.

After the meeting, Charles had the opportunity to speak with some of the students at the lab and learn about the kinds of work that they perform. The future King then unveiled a plaque to commemorate his visit and to formally launch The National Centre for Propulsion and Power, The Whittle Laboratory, Engineering Department, University of Cambridge.

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Once the plaque was unveiled, The Prince of Wales gave a speech with a central theme of time. Charles expressed: “We haven’t got time to waste. We have run out of time now to rescue this poor old planet from man-made emissions and all the complications we’re now facing, the challenges we’re now facing. “

“It’s places like this, it is ingenious new ideas of how we decarbonise and produce the new engines, the new fuels, or whatever, for the future, and the future has to happen much quicker than it used to and that’s the problem.”

He added: “Nothing will give me greater pleasure than to launch this National Centre for Propulsion and Power, to wish it every possible success because we all depend on it to save the planet.”

After the Prince’s speech, Director of the Whittle Laboratory, Professor Rob Miller shared that he felt having the Royal visit was “terribly exciting” and they were thrilled to have someone who has been on the forefront of climate change for decades visit their lab so that they could show him exactly the kinds of technology improvements they are capable of doing.

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One of the senior lecturers in turbomachinery, Dr. Nick Atkins, discussed what Charles’ visit means to the students and staff who work at the lab. “I think it’s a fantastic boost. We’ve been working away in the background on all the details for the facility and that kind of stuff, so to see all the dignitaries here and the VIP’s, it’s a fantastic boost. It means we can see a bit of reality, we can see the bigger picture, so we can sort of come up for air and see the light at the end of the tunnel, it’s a fantastic day.”

As of now, the technology is basically ready to fly very short distances, such as island hopping, with electric power. It is anticipated that zero carbon flights for longer distances will be possible within the next decade.

A passionate example to all, The Prince of Wales not only talks the talk in regards to climate change, but he definitely walks the walk. Charles had his Aston Martin Volante car equipped so that it would run on surplus English white wine, as an alternative to petrol. Although initially balking at the idea, the engineers at Aston came through and now the Prince says that his car actually runs better and is more powerful using the wine than the petrol. He also shared that it smells delicious while you are driving!

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From being a pioneer in the organic farming industry to planting over 200,000 trees to increase the Duchy woodland, it’s safe to say that the issue of climate change and what can be done to help is safe hands with The Prince of Wales.

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