Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering

Sustainability

KENOTEQ: Breathing life into new buildings

  • Posted by QEPrize Admin
  • 22 March 2017

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.

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Modern Electron: powering the 21st century

  • Posted by QEPrize Admin
  • 20 March 2017

When it comes to generating electricity, things have pretty much stayed the same way since the 19th century. Sure, we now have coal, gas and even nuclear powered electricity generators, not to mention a wealth of renewable energy sources, but the principles have remained the same for centuries.

Almost all of our electrical power is produced by turbines, which in turn drive a generator. The turbines themselves can be powered by any number of sources, such as wind, water, steam, or burning gas. Most of our electricity is delivered by ‘heat engines’, which convert thermal energy into mechanical energy. For example, in most major power plants, coal (or other fossil fuels) are burned to boil water. This then produces steam which powers the turbines and drives the generator, giving us electricity.

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SafetyNet – Highlighting the real problem

  • Posted by QEPrize Admin
  • 17 March 2017

SafetyNet Technologies’ primary goal is to design and build devices that increase the selectivity of commercial fishing practices. By being more selective with the fish caught, the industry becomes more sustainable. Light, which has been of interest to the fishing gear technology community since the 1970s, can be used as a tool to achieve this.

SafetyNet Technologies builds sophisticated LED systems that enables experimentation into how light can segregate between ages and species of fish. We then apply this knowledge to create simple sets of lights that help commercial crews catch the right fish.

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Air Ink: the art of pollution

  • Posted by QEPrize Admin
  • 15 March 2017

Air pollution is a major environmental risk to health. Breathing in the toxic fumes emitted by vehicles, industries, and burning fossil fuels can cause long-lasting illnesses such as heart disease, lung cancer, stroke and asthma.

In London alone, air pollution breached annual legal limits within the first five days of 2017. At a global scale, it is estimated that around 92% of the world’s population lives in areas where air quality exceeds WHO limits, resulting in more than 3 million deaths every year.

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Swarms of underwater robots could uncover the oceans’ deepest mysteries

  • Posted by QEPrize Admin
  • 13 March 2017

Underwater autonomous vehicles, or drones, have been in operation – and in the public eye – for decades. One of the earliest and most well-known remotely operated, deep-sea vehicles is Argo. Towed along the sea-bed and bristling with cameras, Argo was responsible for revealing the first glimpses of RMS Titanic in 1985, 73 years after her fateful maiden voyage.

More recently, submersible drones have been employed for other such expeditions; the hunt for missing Malaysian Airlines ‘MH370’ is noted as the largest and most expensive underwater search effort in history. Undertaking ‘deadly, dangerous and dull’ tasks across the oceans, drones help reduce the risk to human lives and extend research capabilities beneath the waves. Unfortunately, however, this much technology doesn’t come cheap.

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Laura Fitzmaurice: QEPrize Ambassador and energy engineer

  • Posted by QEPrize Admin
  • 10 March 2017

When I was younger I used to enjoy tinkering in my dad’s shed, making jewellery with his soldering iron. At school, I loved technology and design and enjoyed the freedom of being creative. Engineering is an incredibly creative subject with no limitations to what you can do. As a subject, it gives you the tools to create and build anything you can imagine.

After leaving school I studied mechanical engineering at Ulster University, spending a year abroad at St Martin’s University in Washington, USA. When I returned from the States, I decided to continue my engineering education, this time heading to the Centre for Renewable Energy at Dundalk Institute of Technology in Ireland.

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Engineering clean water in Uganda

  • Posted by QEPrize Admin
  • 8 March 2017

Over the last twenty years, Uganda has experienced an economic boom, placing it among the fastest growing economies in the world. However, an influx of people from rural areas to cities is coupled with a population growth of almost three times the global average, meaning income remains low. Despite its growth, more than 10 million people in Uganda lack access to clean, safe drinking water and water-borne diseases remain the leading cause of death in children under five.

Kathy Ku, an engineering student from Harvard University, visited the country in 2012, and became determined to engineer a solution. Joining forces with fellow student, John Kye, the pair co-founded charity SPOUTS of Water, embarking on their mission to provide safe water for Uganda.

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‘Zera’ to landfill: an innovation in waste reduction

  • Posted by QEPrize Admin
  • 6 March 2017

This year’s CES innovation awards, held in January in Las Vegas, gave us an insight into the future tech that could help transform our lives. Among the usual collection of wearables, entertainment systems and 3D printers designed to make our lives easier, there was also a category honouring the best in eco-design and sustainable technologies.

Taking the title of ‘Best of Innovations’ in the eco category was the Zera Food Recycler, a home solution set on reducing food waste sent to landfill.

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