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News Article | May 4, 2017
Site: www.theengineer.co.uk

Warwick Manufacturing Group will play a key role in two new vehicle projects exploring high power battery and autonomous technologies. Part of the University of Warwick, WMG is set to receive a total of £4.25m for its role in the new research. The first project – for which the Group has been awarded £3.8m – will see WMG working with BMW and Delta Motorsport to design and develop power dense batteries in the UK. High-power batteries are viewed as a vital technology to enable the widespread adoption of electric vehicles, particularly outside of mainstream automotive applications. Professor Dave Greenwood from WMG said: “This research collaboration will utilise WMG’s electrochemical materials and engineering expertise, and use WMG’s world class battery testing and validation facilities, for understanding optimal power density in application of Li-ion battery cells, modules and packs.” “It will push forward the boundaries of existing knowledge of Li-ion cells and battery systems to support higher power capabilities than is currently normal within commercial systems, and to apply this to the developed system. While most mass market car battery applications are more focused on high energy density, higher power will be more important for other vehicle and transport sectors such as high performance cars, rail, marine, buses, trucks, and off-road vehicles.” The second endeavour will see WMG working as part of an AECOM-led consortium that has secured funding from Innovate UK and the Centre for Connected & Autonomous Vehicles (CCAV). Known as CAPRI, the project will aim to deliver an on-road mobility service pilot using connected and autonomous vehicles. Research will include the design, development and testing of new autonomous and connected PODs, culminating in on-road trials at the Olympic Park in London. WMG will receive £450,000 for its role in the project. “We will be addressing the cyber-physical security of the PODs,” said WMG’s Professor Carsten Maple. “We will undertake threat modelling, considering all of the possible attackers and methods for remote and local, physical and cyber attacks. Using this modelling we will undertake risk analysis and management to secure the vehicles.”


News Article | May 4, 2017
Site: www.theengineer.co.uk

Researchers in the US claim to have developed a safer alternative to fire-prone lithium-ion batteries, which were recently banned for some applications on US Navy ships. Joseph Parker, Jeffrey Long, and Debra Rolison from the US Naval Research Laboratory’s (NRL) Advanced Electrochemical Materials group are leading the effort to create an entire family of safer, water-based, zinc batteries. They are said to have demonstrated a breakthrough for nickel-zinc (Ni-Zn) batteries in which a 3D zinc “sponge” replaces the powdered zinc anode traditionally used. With 3D zinc, the battery provides an energy content and rechargeability that are claimed to rival lithium-ion batteries while avoiding safety issues associated with lithium. Their research appears in Science. Additional contributors include former NRL staff scientist, Christopher Chervin, National Research Council postdoctoral associate, Irina Pala, as well as industry partners Meinrad Machler and CEO of EnZinc, Inc., Michael Burz. “Our team at the NRL pioneered the architectural approach to the redesign of electrodes for next-generation energy storage,” said Dr. Rolison, senior scientist and principal investigator on the project. “The 3D sponge form factor allows us to reimagine zinc, a well-known battery material, for the 21st century.” Zinc-based batteries are the go-to global battery for single-use applications, but are not considered rechargeable in practice due to their tendency to grow dendrites inside the battery, which can cause short circuits. “The key to realising rechargeable zinc-based batteries lies in controlling the behaviour of the zinc during cycling,” said Parker, lead author on the paper. “Electric currents are more uniformly distributed within the sponge, making it physically difficult to form dendrites.” The NRL team demonstrated Ni-3-D Zn performance in three ways: extending lifetime in single-use cells; cycling cells more than 100 times at an energy content competitive with lithium-ion batteries; and cycling cells more than 50,000 times in short duty cycles with intermittent power bursts, similar to how batteries are used in some hybrid vehicles. With the benefits of rechargeability, the 3D zinc sponge is ready to be deployed within the entire family of Zn-based alkaline batteries across the civilian and military sectors. “We can now offer an energy-relevant alternative, from drop-in replacements for lithium-ion to new opportunities in portable and wearable power, and manned and unmanned electric vehicles, while reducing safety hazards, easing transportation restrictions, and using earth-abundant materials,” said Long. On April 14, 2017 the US Navy issued a statement saying that it was banning e-cigarettes aboard ships, submarines, aircraft, boats, craft and heavy equipment. The policy was introduced in response to continued reports of explosions of so-called Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS) due to overheating lithium-ion batteries.


News Article | May 4, 2017
Site: www.theengineer.co.uk

Researchers in Germany have claimed a first with the development of a process that is able to 3D print structures made of glass. According to the team from the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), the process could open a range of fresh applications for glass in next generation computers and medical devices. The method – which is reported in the journal Nature – uses a feedstock of nanoparticles of high-purity quartz glass and a small quantity of liquid polymer. This is cured at specific points using stereolithography. To produce a finished component the remaining liquid is then washed out in a solvent bath, the polymer still mixed in this glass structure is removed by heating, and finally the glass is sintered so that the individual glass particles are fused together. According to the group, the technique represents a major advance on previous efforts to process glass into structures. “We present a new method, an innovation in materials processing, in which the material of the piece manufactured is high-purity quartz glass with the respective chemical and physical properties,” said the project’s leader Dr Bastian E Rapp. Rapp added that the glass structures made using the new process show resolutions in the range of a few micrometres. Thanks to its transparency, thermal stability and resistance to acids, glass is increasingly widely used for a variety of industrial applications. According to the team, the ability to 3D print the material could open up new applications in areas such as optics, data transmission, and biotechnology. “The next plus one generation of computers will use light, which requires complicated processor structures; 3D-technology could be used, for instance, to make small, complex structures out of a large number of very small optical components of different orientations,” explained Rapp. Other potential applications identified by the group include the manufacture of miniaturised glass tubes for medical analytical systems and a variety of 3D-shaped optical components for use in everything from eyeglasses to lenses in laptop cameras.


News Article | May 4, 2017
Site: www.theengineer.co.uk

Prosthetic implants with enhanced resistance to bacterial infection could improve patient safety while reducing the use of antibiotics. Most prosthetics carry a low risk of infection of below one per cent. But where implants are inserted following an accident, or must be produced at the hospital, the risk of infection can increase significantly, to up to 50 per cent. Treating an infection involves removing the prosthetic and implanting a material that releases high levels of antibiotics to the site. This not only threatens the health of the patient, but risks adding to the rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Now, in an EPSRC-funded project, researchers at Birmingham University are developing implant designs and 3D printing techniques to produce surfaces that are resistant to bacterial contamination. The team will combine technology to embed silver into the material used to build implants, with additive layer manufacturing to produce the prosthetics, according to Birmingham’s Prof. Liam Grover. Using selective laser melting, they will use lasers to fuse powders together layer by layer, creating a porous structure to which the bacterial-resistant silver can be added. Their first target for the technology will be to reduce infections following the implantation of metal plates into the skull. These cranial implants must be refined to fit the patient. As a result, they are typically produced in hospital by bending a titanium sheet over a 3D printed model of the defect. They are then polished and dipped in acid, before being sterilised at over 100 degrees Celsius. While this process typically kills most bacteria, the plates still carry a much higher risk of infection than other implants produced off-site. “Obviously, if you have an infection near the brain, it can be really dangerous,” said Grover. “We think we can have a significant impact into reducing infection in this particular class of patients.” The researchers also aim to alter the structure of the implants to allow them to be imaged by MRI scanners. They will use a technique known as topological optimisation to minimise the mass of titanium used while maintaining its mechanical properties. The researchers will be working with clinicians at University Hospitals Birmingham and the Royal Orthopaedic Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, as well as companies such as Accentus Medical and Johnson Matthey, to develop the technology.


News Article | May 4, 2017
Site: www.theengineer.co.uk

Focused Ion Beam Milling (FIB), a widely used technique that enables scientists to manipulate and study materials at the nano-scale may have dramatic unintended consequences, according to researchers at Oxford University. FIB uses a tiny beam of highly energetic particles to cut and analyse materials smaller than one thousandth of a strand of human hair and has become an essential tool for a number of applications including microscopy, researching high performance alloys for aerospace engineering, nuclear and automotive applications and for prototyping in micro-electronics and micro-fluidics. Whilst the technique was previously understood to cause structural damage within a thin surface layer of the material being cut it was assumed that its effects would not extend beyond this thin damaged layer. However, the Oxford University research, published in Scientific Reports, reveals that FIB can in fact dramatically alter a material’s structural identity. The team studied the damage caused by FIB using a technique called coherent synchrotron X-ray diffraction. This relies on ultra-bright high energy X-rays, available only at central facilities such as the Advanced Photon Source at Argonne National Lab, USA, with whom the Oxford team collaborated. These X-rays were used to probe the 3D structure of materials at the nano-scale and revealed that even very low FIB doses, previously thought negligible, have a dramatic effect. Felix Hofmann, Associate Professor in Oxford’s Department of Engineering Science and lead author on the study, said: “Our research shows that FIB beams have much further-reaching consequences than first thought, and that the structural damage caused is considerable. “It affects the entire sample, fundamentally changing the material. Given the role FIB has come to play in science and technology, there is an urgent need to develop new strategies to properly understand the effects of FIB damage and how it might be controlled.” The team is now looking to build on its work to gain a better understanding of the damage formed and how it might be removed. “We have gone from using the technique blindly, to working out how we can actually see the distortions caused by FIB. Next we can consider approaches to mitigate FIB damage,” said Hofmann. “Importantly the new X-ray techniques that we have developed will allow us to assess how effective these approaches are. From this information we can then start to formulate strategies for actively managing FIB damage.”


News Article | May 4, 2017
Site: www.theengineer.co.uk

The government’s plans for the reorganisation of technical education are a good move but there is still much more work to be done A lot has happened in the last few weeks, including International Women’s Day, when I had the privilege of visiting 10 Downing Street for a special reception, hosted by the prime minister. Preceding this was another fascinating meeting, hosted by Chris Skidmore MP, minister for the constitution, on how to include more women in public appointments. The women around the table represented a wide variety of careers, from tech and computing to banking and the military. I wondered what the common spark was that had led us all to this destination from such different contexts and, more importantly, how we can offer the best possible career opportunities and training routes to today’s young people, whatever their gender, abilities, interests or backgrounds. Good career opportunities start with readily available information, and responsibility for providing this currently rests with schools – sadly without any dedicated funding. Coupled with the reduction in the provision of work experience for young people under 16, this has resulted in the disappearance of worthwhile careers information for young people across many schools in England. The industrial strategy green paper promises a new careers education strategy, which is welcome news and vital to our future productivity. Getting it right should result in students making informed decisions, leading to better outcomes for them, for industry and for the economy. One route to better career opportunities is undoubtedly through engineering, where skills are in high demand. A bill is currently passing through Parliament that could revolutionise the way in which it is taught and experienced in colleges, and, in turn, make it more accessible to learners of all abilities and backgrounds. The Technical and Further Education Bill will put into legislation the recommendations  of the Post-16 Skills Plan developed in response to an independent panel review of technical and professional education chaired by Lord Sainsbury. Published last year, the Sainsbury panel review aimed to create a simplified progression pathway at age 16 – the Royal Academy of Engineering was an early supporter of the proposals and is ready to help implement the much-needed Skills Plan. The further education sector makes a significant contribution to the engineering skills landscape, yet it has had significantly lower investment over many years than schools, and higher education. However, the chancellor’s recent announcement of an additional £500m a year for the FE sector in the Spring 2017 budget will transform colleges’ ability to deliver the new Skills Plan. For many, it will enable them to increase teaching on their courses from three to five days a week. The Sainsbury review identified  a multitude of qualifications in FE of varying quality and value to students. The system was confusing for both young people and employers, and led to a significant decrease in standards. Government has recognised the problems with FE over many years, but successive initiatives to tackle them have run into short-term funding problems and have failed to make sufficient impact. The review recommended developing one qualification or ‘route’ per cluster of occupations, creating 15 distinct progression routes for 16-19 year olds, with the emphasis on occupation-led rather than content-led routes to ensure that the qualifications are as useful, and portable, as possible. The two-year T-levels will incorporate technical skills, plus English and maths at GCSE level and a relevant three-month work experience placement. There will be opportunities for students to transfer between the A-level and T-level routes, and an important new provision of a ‘transition’ year for students who need to improve their GCSE results. Importantly, each route will be shaped by a panel of industry experts. Employers have long reported difficulties in finding entry-level employees with the right skills sets for their needs, and this will provide a means of addressing that challenge. For the engineering and manufacturing route, mapping occupations has been particularly challenging, with 130 discrete occupations for engineering technicians identified and clustered together, each of which corresponds with a current apprenticeship standard or a real technician job offered by a real company. The process has been informed through consultation with employers and other organisations across the engineering community and the next step is to develop the content for the qualifications. The academy will play a leading role in this, working with partners, including the sector bodies, professional engineering institutions, employers and FE colleges. The key challenge in developing these new qualifications is to identify the core knowledge and skills that all technicians need, whatever their specialist area. Some roles will have very different needs to others, so the profession will have to strike a balance in determining what is included in this core content. Ultimately, our aim should be to enable young people and adults to develop the skills necessary for a lifetime of rewarding employment and to meet the demands of a developing and diverse modern economy. The government’s plans for technical education are a big step in the right direction, but much work is needed, to ensure that they result in the step change in skills enhancement that we need in the UK. Dr Hayaatun Sillem is deputy chief executive of the Royal Academy of Engineering


News Article | May 4, 2017
Site: www.theengineer.co.uk

Engineer readers identify growing demand in developing economies as key driver for the aerospace sector The 280 respondents to last week’s poll on the UK aerospace sector were not impressed by the promise of space tourism to provide new work for the industry. The largest group of respondents, 45 per cent, thought that aircraft demand in high-growth regions such as China was more likely to drive growth in the aerospace sector in the short-to-medium term. Slightly more than a third – 35 per cent – thought that the need of aircraft operators to drive down their operating costs was the most likely driver, while 9 per cent agreed with the EEF and Santander’s report that the anticipated demand for space tourism would be most important. Only 3 per cent thought that increased demand from passengers for comfort would be an important driver, and 9 per cent declined to pick one of our options, with some commenters (in a more subdued comment section than we’ve seen for several weeks) wanted more clarification on what exactly was meant by “growth”; other subjects raised included the split between civil and military aerospace and the desirability of aerospace growth in the face of environmental concerns. Please continue to send us your opinions on this topic.


News Article | May 4, 2017
Site: www.theengineer.co.uk

The development of powertrains is currently in a phase of enormous change, the competition of powertrain systems is intensifying meaning the focus of development must be shifted to now. Join us at the 29th International AVL Engine and Environment where AVL will host key industry speakers to address these challenges, including competitive approaches on a system level and the technical solutions for such concepts: Throughout the two day event AVL will also be holding unique side events, including the opening of two new centres; the AVL-TU Graz Transmission Centre, and AVL ADAS/AD & Vehicle Development Centre, as well as exciting test drives with AVL vehicles on the AVL test track. Take the opportunity to join the discussion and meeting experts from the industry and register now.


News Article | May 4, 2017
Site: www.theengineer.co.uk

The Advanced Manufacturing Show, which runs at the NEC from 6–8 June, is set to showcase a comprehensive complement of world-leading metrology companies. The show features all aspects of advanced manufacturing technology – from machine tools and tooling, to workholding, software, additive manufacturing and ancillary equipment – but has also come to be a biennial focus for the quality sector. Global brands, including Hexagon Manufacturing Intelligence, Zeiss, Olympus and Alicona, are joined by UK champions such as Renishaw and Aberlink, as well as specialists such as hire and contract scanning and measurement company Manchester Metrology, inspection, fixturing and calibration experts Verus, and representatives of world-leading equipment manufacturers such as Measurement Solutions. Together they cover all aspects of scanning, measurement and quality systems from contact and optical CMMs, to laser scanners, 3D surface measurement, microscopy and automated systems. The show will feature some of the latest technology to hit the market, such as Aberlink’s Xtreme CNC CMM, which uses a non-Cartesian structure and linear motors to maintain accuracy at very high measurement speeds. Advanced Manufacturing Show event director Gordon Kirk said: “As we more further and faster along the track towards the Internet of Things, Big Data and Industry 4.0, metrology is the vital interface between the physical and digital worlds. It is therefore appropriate that it should be so well represented in an event focused on the leading edge of manufacturing technology.” The Advanced Manufacturing theme is emphasised in two conferences, The Engineer Conference and The Manufacturer Conference, which are free to attend for show visitors. Presentations by leading authorities in their fields cover subjects ranging from Industry 4.0, to additive manufacturing, novel materials and robotics. The Advanced Manufacturing Show runs in conjunction with The Engineer Design and Innovation Show and Subcon, the subcontract manufacturing show. Together, the three shows cover the complete manufacturing cycle from design concept to finished product. For more information and to register for your free ticket please click here.


News Article | May 5, 2017
Site: www.theengineer.co.uk

A report by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers claims that the commercialisation of SMR’s could resurrect the UK’s civil nuclear programme The UK should focus on developing Small Modular Reactors (SMRs) to secure the country’s future nuclear industry post-Brexit according to a new report by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers. The ‘Leaving the EU, the Euratom Treaty Part 2: A Framework for the Future’ report – which outlines a number of possible pathways the UK government could take to leaving the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom) – argues that SMRs could present the UK with key export opportunities and return the country to the international nuclear reactor supply arena. The Institution is also calling for the UK to develop its own Safeguarding Office, to ensure the country conforms to international rules on safety and non-proliferation, but says the UK should remain an associate member of Euratom for the specific purpose of R&D. Dr Jenifer Baxter, Head of Energy and Environment and lead author of the report, said: “The UK’s departure from the EU and Euratom is likely to be complicated and difficult, but it also presents the country with an opportunity to reshape its nuclear industry and once again become a world-leading innovator in nuclear technology. Political parties need to outline their vision for the future of the UK nuclear industry as part of their manifestos. “In the 1950s the UK was the first country to develop a civil nuclear programme, but we have since fallen behind countries such as China, France and Canada. Pushing ahead on the demonstration and commercialisation of SMRs would be a key way for the UK to once again become a world leader in the field. This would not only help to meet future energy demand, but also to develop skills, local employment and build future export business”

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