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Rolls-Royce Funded for Quantum Jet Engine Airflow Project

Partnership with Riverlane and Xanadu secures $885,000 in funding from UK and Canada

Berenice Baker, Editor, Enter Quantum

March 11, 2024

2 Min Read
A Rolls-Royce jet engine
A Rolls-Royce jet engineRolls-Royce

Aerospace engine manufacturer Rolls-Royce has partnered with quantum companies Riverlane and Xanadu to develop quantum algorithms that model airflow through jet engines. 

The project has secured a grant worth more than $514,000 from Innovate U.K. and an additional $371,000 from the National Research Council of Canada Industrial Research Assistance Program as part of a U.K./Canada quantum computing alliance.

Rolls-Royce aims to use the project, known as Catalyst, to rapidly evaluate and implement new quantum algorithms to make future product design processes more efficient. It contributes to the first of the U.K. Government’s National Quantum Strategy Missions, which aims to deliver “increased compute power that can deliver the next generation of drugs, chemicals, and materials.”

Rolls-Royce carries out complicated mechanical and materials research, using models with several billion variables. Its ambition is to reach a trillion and beyond.

While quantum computers that could support this are years away, the company has been an early experimenter with quantum and hybrid algorithms. Many of the processing steps will always remain on a classical computer, but adding quantum algorithms to key steps could accelerate overall processing time and deliver an industrial advantage.

Related:Quantum Technology Access Program Takes Use Cases Center Stage

“This is the first quantum computing research and development collaboration to be led by a large industry partner, instead of smaller start-ups. Developing industrially robust software is a multi-year activity, even without the new thinking needed by quantum computers,” said Rolls-Royce fellow in computational science Leigh Lapworth.

“Our shared vision and approach will make us one of the first companies to benefit from fault-tolerant computers. The techniques we develop in this project will be those that enable us to benefit from the UK’s quantum pathway of a million error-corrected quantum operations in 2028; a billion in 2032; and a trillion in 2035." 

Rolls-Royce and Riverlane previously announced a partnership to develop tools to simulate large, complex materials on a quantum computer in December 2023.

About the Author(s)

Berenice Baker

Editor, Enter Quantum

Berenice is the editor of Enter Quantum, the companion website and exclusive content outlet for The Quantum Computing Summit. Enter Quantum informs quantum computing decision-makers and solutions creators with timely information, business applications and best practice to enable them to adopt the most effective quantum computing solution for their businesses. Berenice has a background in IT and 16 years’ experience as a technology journalist.

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