When it comes to building, an awful lot of material goes to waste, both at the birth and death of a project. In fact, the construction industry sends millions of tonnes of waste to landfill every year, at a huge cost to itself.
In addition to this, new laws mean that by 2020 70% of all construction and demolition waste in UK must be recycled, while none will be allowed to go to landfill. This, coupled with the cost of waste disposal, has set the construction industry on the hunt for materials that are both good for the environment and good for their bottom lines.
Dr Sam Chapman and his spin-out KENOTEQ think they have the solution to just such a problem.
Engineers at National Grid Gas Distribution are kicking off the new year with their biggest project yet. Starting at the Royal Hospital Chelsea, the team will sink a shaft 30m down into London’s sticky clay. Three hundred metres away in Battersea Park, another landmark site, a sister hole will mirror the first. The final stage of the plan will see engineers tunnel under the River Thames to join the two shafts together.
The ambitious project is part of National Grid’s £1 billion master plan to future-proof London’s ageing gas infrastructure. Once complete, the tunnel will be home to a brand new mains gas pipe, delivering energy to homes across the city.
To celebrate the great work of our QEPrize Ambassadors, we wanted to hear more about what they get up to every day, and how they are helping to shape the world of engineering. Najwa Jawahar has this year been named as one of the UK’s top 100 Rising Stars for her work as a structural engineer and role model for women in engineering. We met up with her to find out more.
Najwa, you’re a structural engineer, but what does that actually entail?
I am a senior structural engineer at WSP Parsons Brinkerhoff, and I specialise in the design of tall buildings. I use my knowledge of engineering and my brain power and apply them to the unique problems that I encounter on my projects.
The team at UKGM, the hospital where Watson will be based
From drones that deliver essential medical supplies, to surgical robots so skilled they can remove cataracts from human eyes, machines in medicine are becoming the norm. As this year draws to a close, IBM’s Watson welcomes us into the ‘cognitive era of health’. Billed by its creators as a ‘new partnership between humanity and technology’, Watson is bringing artificial intelligence to the front line of healthcare.
Meet the designers with their heads in the stars, competing to build sustainable cities on our nearest neighbour; Mars. Manufacturing is evolving here on Earth as technologies like large-scale 3D printing gain popularity. Students and professionals worldwide have this year taken their innovations a step further in the Mars City Design Competition.
The contest is the brainchild of Mars City Design CEO, founder and ‘Marschitect’, Vera Mulyani. The aim; designing and innovating a sustainable city on Mars. Entrants used their designs to solve the everyday problems of living on Mars. These covered categories looking at structural design, a city infrastructure and agriculture in space.
The landscape of manufacturing is constantly changing. In developed countries, the reliance on heavy manufacturing is declining and factories use fewer dirty, dull and dangerous processes. These roles are instead becoming automated, with robots working alongside humans to maximise efficiency.
Computer vision is one technology that has gained popularity in factories around the world. Using machine vision standardises quality control and removes human error. As a camera scans over a production line, its picks up faults or flaws in the products and marks them for removal. A team of engineers from Imperial College is even working on a ‘bionic eye’ with an artificial retina. The ‘eye’ learns on the job, and recognises and removes faulty products on the assembly line.
3D printing has exploded in popularity over the past two decades. From humble beginnings producing low-cost prototypes for manufacture, the process is now used around the world in seemingly limitless scenarios. Additive manufacturing has been used to print a bicycle, a sculpture, and even a pizza to be sent into space! But could 3D printing structures be the answer to the housing crisis hitting cities across the world? French start-up XtreeE thinks it can.
Working to a much larger scale than the average desktop printer, XtreeE provides engineers and construction companies with fabrication tools for whole projects. The start-up is the brainchild of three architects, Clément Gosselin, Nadja Gaudillière and Marc Dalibard. Collectively, the team are experts in creating innovative designs from 3D printed, cement-based materials. XtreeE also employs a host of world-class engineers and architects, dedicated to producing low cost, environmentally responsible structures.