Projects led by MICRA partners University of Nottingham, Loughborough University and University of Leicester were amongst the winners at The Engineer magazine’s 2019 Collaborate To Innovate (C2I) Awards. Judged by a panel of leading UK engineers, winning entries had to demonstrate that they were innovative, collaborative and likely to have an impact in their field of application.
Category: Energy & Environment
Winner: SCENe (Sustainable Community Energy Networks)
Partners: University of Nottingham with Loughborough University, Igloo Blueprint, Urbed, Siemens, Solar Ready and Confers
A University of Nottingham led scheme aimed at increasing supplies of sustainable energy that’s created what it terms a “living laboratory” in Trent Basin.
The project applies multi-vector energy systems, including solar power and localised energy storage, combined with carbon neutral housing technology, to create what the partners say is the first robust and “smart” business model for sustainable community energy. A team led by Professor Mark Gillott, Chair in Sustainable Building Design at the university and the academic lead for project SCENe, built an early demonstrator living lab at the university campus, using smart technology to monitor and record energy shared usage, which gave commercial partners the reassurance to scale it up.
Category: Information, Data & Connectivity
Winner: GeoSHM (GNSS and Earth Observation for Structural Health Monitoring)
Partners: University of Nottingham with UbiPOS, BRDI, Leica Geosystems, GVL & Transport Scotland
A satellite based system for the structural health monitoring of bridges.
GeoSHM (GNSS and Earth Observation for Structural Health Monitoring) uses multiple space technologies combined with in-situ sensors to provide a real-time picture of bridge movement and stresses. At the core of the system are GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite System) receivers that pick up positional data via the GPS, Galileo and BeiDou Navigation Satellite (BDS) constellations. This real-time monitoring is complemented by interferometric synthetic-aperture radar (InSAR) data provided by Earth Observation (EO) satellites that can track potential ground subsidence of the structure.
Category: Aerospace, Defence & Security
Winner: UK Scientists generate electricity from rare element to power future space missions
Partners: University of Leicester, National Nuclear Laboratory & European Thermodynamics Ltd
A National Nuclear Laboratory led effort exploring a new radioisope power source for space exploration.
Most space probes are powered by photovoltaic cells, but solar power is not suitable for all exploration missions. Deep into the solar system, the distance from the sun is so great that its rays are too feeble to provide enough power. Conversely, too close to the sun and the elaborate cooling systems needed to keep the spacecraft functional require more power than solar panels can provide. On planets and moons with thick cloud cover, the sun cannot penetrate to the surface.
In these cases, engineers use nuclear power. This is in the form of a device called a radioisotope thermoelectric generator (RTG), consisting of a chunk of a radioactive material which gets hot as a result of nuclear decomposition. One end of a thermocouple is attached to the hot material, while the other is kept at the much colder temperature of the spacecraft’s environment. The temperature difference forces a current to flow from hot to cold.
The RTG designed by the Leicester team is the first to use uses americium derived from the UK’s civil plutonium stockpile rather than plutonium 238 as its active element.
Category: Manufacturing Technology
Winner: SHYMAN – Sustainable Hydrothermal Manufacturing of Nanomaterials
Partners: University of Nottingham with Promethean Particles and others
A new process for the industrial scale production of nanoparticles.
Radio frequency identification (RFiD) tags are a key underpinning technology for the so-called Internet of Things. But the high cost of producing one of the key raw materials for these tags – silver nano-particles – is holding back the full potential of the technology. University of Nottingham spin out Promethean Particles hopes to change this.
These tiny particles, that can measure less than one billionth of a metre, are used in the manufacture of inorganic and organic pigments and metal nanomaterials, which are used in industrial applications including printed electronics, Metal Organic Frameworks (MOF), catalysts, healthcare and nanocomposites, including plastics and coatings.