Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering

Sustainability

How photographing flames can cut toxic emissions

  • Posted by QEPrize Admin
  • 20 November 2017

Engineers at Sandia’s Combustion Research Facility and the Technical University of Denmark have discovered a new way to see and photograph pollutants in car engines. By understanding when – and how – soot forms inside engines, researchers can cut harmful emissions at the source.

Traditional engines work by pulling petrol and air into a cylinder, compressing it with a piston and igniting it with a spark. The resulting explosion forces the piston down, producing power. In a bid to clean up their cars, many manufacturers are adopting low emission, ‘direct injection’ fuel systems. Instead of mixing the air and fuel beforehand, nozzles spray petrol under high pressure directly into the cylinder. This burns less fuel with each explosion, giving better fuel economy and lower carbon dioxide emission per mile driven.

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Cigarette butts pave the way to greener construction

  • Posted by QEPrize Admin
  • 16 October 2017

A team of engineers at RMIT University in Melbourne have found a novel use for the trillions of cigarette butts that litter our streets.

By coating discarded butts in paraffin or bitumen, the team can mix them into asphalt concrete, making a new building material. this new asphalt mixture can create cooler, greener pavements in cities and towns. By lowering the asphalt’s density, pavements become more porous, draining surface water away. Another useful property is the asphalt’s lower thermal conductivity. By soaking up less of the sun’s heat, the cool pavements could cut the ‘urban heat island’ effect felt in many cities.

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Chemical engineers ‘supercharge’ bacteria to become fuel factories

  • Posted by QEPrize Admin
  • 21 September 2017

Chemical engineers in California have found a way to produce useful chemicals in bacteria, using energy from the sun.

With fossil fuels an ever-dwindling resource, engineers must find new ways to meet our energy and chemical production needs. Inspired by plants, a team of researchers at UC Berkeley has found a way of tricking bacteria into photosynthesising. Instead of making food from CO2, water and sunshine, these bacteria are duped into making simple, organic chemicals instead.

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Cycle downriver on the Thames Deckway

  • Posted by QEPrize Admin
  • 31 August 2017

Copyright 2010 River Cycleway Consortium Ltd. Early concept design Anna Hill & David Nixon 2010.

The Thames Deckway is an exciting green transport infrastructure project in London. We aim to tackle some of the big urban challenges facing our city and others like it.

With the support of Innovate UK, we are currently working towards realising our technology demonstrator in east London in 2018.

New figures from Transport for London (TfL) show that more people are cycling in the city than ever before. Despite this, currently one bicycle journey in every 515,000 ends in death or serious injury. At the same time, air pollution from vehicle emissions results in a wide range of health impacts, which significantly reduces life expectancy within the city.  Compounding on these issues, projections of future climate change paint a bleak picture. For example, with much of the transport network below ground, more than 57 tube stations would be at risk of climate induced flooding.

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A frozen desert: The artificial glaciers of Ladakh

  • Posted by QEPrize Admin
  • 12 July 2017

Ladakh, ‘the land of high passes’, lies high in the mountains of northern India, resting against the Tibetan border. Although one of the most sparsely populated areas in the states of Jammu and Kashmir, communities have nevertheless made their home in the mountain desert since the dawn of the New Stone Age.

Villages are found at altitudes from 2,700m to 4,000m above sea level, where winter temperatures plummet to more than 30 degrees below freezing. With an annual rain and snowfall of just 100mm, settlements thrive around the glacial streams that feed the Indus and other rivers in the area.

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Nanofilter: A move to impact millions of lives

  • Posted by QEPrize Admin
  • 4 July 2017

I invented a low-cost water filter called Nanofilter®, which cleans contaminated water in order to make it drinkable. Right now, about 12,000 people use the filter every day and the plan is to impact millions of lives.

Growing up, my community in Tanzania didn’t have clean drinking water, and I will never forget how horrible that was. As a child, I would get worms because the water I drank was so dirty, and I wished someone would make it easy for us to access clean water. So, I decided to take matters into my own hands and help solve the problem facing my community: I did a PhD in Chemical Engineering and invented the Nanofilter®.

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What makes vaccines cool: Solar-powered refrigeration and international immunisation programmes

  • Posted by QEPrize Admin
  • 31 March 2017

One of the greatest breakthroughs in sustainable development discourse over the past decade has been the UN’s adoption of its ‘Global Goals,’ and the corresponding high-level recognition that sustainability is a universal issue. However, turning these good intentions into beneficial action at a local level brings unique challenges for each initiative when it comes to breaking new ground in untrodden territory.

When the World Health Organisation (WHO) began work to roll out immunisation programmes across Africa, ensuring the vaccines themselves were kept at optimum temperature during transit and storage was critical to these operations’ success.

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Loowatt: The waterless toilet generating energy from waste

  • Posted by QEPrize Admin
  • 30 March 2017

We’ve all been there, crossing our legs in the crowd as our favourite band tears up the stage, putting off the inevitable trip. Eventually, however, we all have to admit defeat and give in to the reveller’s worst nightmare: The Festival Portaloo.

Combining a minimalistic design with some innovative engineering, industrial design engineer Virginia Gardiner has found the answer to festivalgoer’s prayers. Loowatt is an environmentally friendly, waterless-flushing toilet, bringing high-tech hygiene to the campsite; the award-winning design captures waste and turns it into clean, green electricity.

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