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Battery Facility Testing 5We were approached by the BBC’s popular magazine programme, The One Show, to help them find out which AA batteries were the best performing.

We’re more used to testing batteries for transport, including cars, trains and motorsport but, as it’s Christmas, experts were more than happy to help reporter, Anita Rani with a scientific test to understand how a range of different AA batteries available on the high street might perform.

Having accepted the task, battery experts Mark Amor-Segan, Principal Engineer and Shane Beattie, Technical Manager, for the Battery Scale-up Facility, were sent 16 different AA batteries. The batteries came taped so there was no way of knowing where they were from.

The One Show were keen to test a range of batteries so what Mark and Shane did know were the chemistry families that were being tested, which were:
i) zinc-chloride,
ii) alkaline and
iii) lithium.

Battery Facility Testing 4All 16 batteries were blind tested at a constant current of 500 mA down to 1.1 V. The voltage profile was recorded using a highly accurate battery cycler. All batteries were kept at 20 degrees using a thermal chamber to provide a controlled test environment.

Having conducted the tests, The One Show were keen to demonstrate for their viewers what this actually meant. So Anita came armed with 16 toy puppies. Each were fitted with the 16 different types of batteries. It was going to be a noisy day!

Keeping the puppies in a make shift pen and at 20 degrees, the same temperature used to test the batteries, they were watched over by a researcher. Together Anita and Shane set the puppies off to see which would last the longest.

During filming we popped by to see how the puppies were performing. We all had our favourites, which you can’t blame us for, as they were all so cute. I can understand why the researcher came armed with ear muffs with all the barking.

By the time filming had finished we had our results. Thankfully the scientific results, undertaken by Mark and Shane, correlated with puppy test.

We can reveal that the worst performing battery for longevity was zinc-chloride and the longest lasting was lithium. However, once you add in the cost of run time/p, the alkaline out performs the others.

These are interesting test results and it shows that it is the chemical recipe within a battery that determines the life it has, as well as what item it is being used in.

So depending on what you are using an AA battery for you might want to think about the type of battery you buy. For example if you want a torch or small toy to last a reasonable amount of time, then an alkaline battery is the best for the job based on cost, with an average run time of 80 minutes at 500 mA and a price as low as 15 p/cell. However if you are using a camcorder or digital camera and don’t want to run out of battery, then a lithium battery is the best choice, and will last up to 350 minutes at 500 mA.

Here are our test results:

Battery Facility Testing 2 Battery Facility Testing 1 Battery Facility Testing 6

Writing about web page

wmg_idh_logo_rgb-300.jpgPosted by: David Bott, Principal Fellow, WMG

Being healthy is one of the basic needs of humanity. For centuries we have treated illness once it occurs but are increasingly aware that we could prevent it and preserve good health. Meanwhile the risks to health are changing, our understanding of diseases is increasing and the tools of technology are evolving to meet our needs, so we ought to have a plan.

There are three, very different, factors that are causing us to have to look again at how we approach health and care.

The first is the changing nature of the health challenges we face. Having mostly addressed childhood diseases in the developed world, and identified some of the more common self-inflicted problems, we are now living longer. That means we are running into the degenerative diseases that affect older adults. We are also travelling more and therefore spreading exotic diseases into populations that are not immune or at least resistant to them. This alone means that the way we approach health has to change.

The second factor is our growing understanding of how diseases affect our (human) biology and the way they impact on individual patients. We have realised that the symptoms we observe are indicators of the underlying biological problems that cause disease, and are exploring these – even down to the molecular level. However, we have also realised the complexity of most diseases and the need for co-ordination of multiple diagnostic techniques to identify the specific way a disease affects a specific person.

IDH ResearchersThe final factor – and one that we can use to offset the extra challenges caused by the first two – is the huge developments in digital technology. We can now collect, analyse and interpret information about ourselves (sometimes called “biomarkers”) and see long-term trends about our basic physical well-being and the progression of diseases. However, making this work inside the existing way we do things can cause its own challenges.

There are three main types of information that we can identify within the evolving health and care system:

There is the information that we increasingly collect ourselves. A growing number of people use a whole range of self-monitoring devices to collect information about their own health over time. Whether it is your weight, the number of steps you take, the changes in your pulse rate when exercising, your blood pressure or your blood oxygen level, all these data can be used to indicate how healthy you are. At the more sophisticated end of the spectrum, you can even have your genome read – although the detail depends on how much you are willing to pay. However, this is an unregulated and non-standardised market and the accuracy of the data and its ownership is still a matter for debate.

There are also data collected by doctors. This is part of the diagnostic process – a process which is getting more complicated. As well as measurement of parameters we are used to (temperature, pulse, blood pressure, blood components and so on) we are increasingly using imaging to understand the physical nature of disease effects. We are familiar with X-rays, but have learned the power of Magnetic Resonance Imaging and a whole range of more specific ways to see what is going on inside our bodies – as it happens. All these different sets of data have to be shared between doctors and consultants, GPs and hospitals and used in combination to identify the specific effect of the disease on the individual patient. And all this has to be carried out in a confidential and secure manner.

Digital HealthFinally, the pressure on all health services caused by the increased number and complexity of unhealthy patients means that we need to improve the efficiency of the medical system at many different levels. This is analogous to the change from craft to industry in manufacturing and it is not surprising that there is crossover between the established field of manufacturing efficiency and hospitals and general practice workflows.

The developments in these three areas are not separate. Although the personal information is currently not routinely used in diagnosis, if its provenance and quality could be better assured and securely communicated, this information about a person’s health over time could be an important input to accurate diagnosis. Also, feedback from the data provided by the doctors and hospitals could be used to modify self-help health regimes to make them even more effective at keeping people healthy and fit. Similarly, knowing the average journey patients with specific diseases make through the health system is vital to ensure the system is optimised for the real world and not an “average” patient.

So, there are plenty of opportunities to make the health system that looks after all of us more effective at preventing us from falling ill in the first place, providing early therapy to inhibit or stop the progression of a disease and treating us as quickly and effectively as possible if we do fall ill. The problem is that we already have a system designed for an older approach – to treating sick people. It has legacy systems for collecting and communicating patient data that cannot cope with the scale and complexity of what we need for this new approach. And it seems to be permanently short of money. The new frontier of user-collected health data needs to recognise its potential contribution to healthcare and either standardise itself or submit to government regulation.

Everyone knows that we have to change, but change will be difficult and cost money. The change is coming, it’s just a matter of how long it will take, and since it is the patients who will lose out if it takes longer, we need more information about what is possible and when we will currently get it, and a debate about whether that’s good enough.

And so the event we've all been waiting for... the final day of competition and a day to test the cars endurance round a track.

Warwick Racing have not completed an endurance event since being branded as 'Warwick Racing'. We've spent a lot of money and time making this international trip happen, and were just hoping for an endurance finish. One positive of the Australian competition is that there are two endurances - you only need to complete one of them to count, so we have two shots at completing all the events.

The running order of the day meant we were out first. Our first driver David Pearce went out, and we were looking good out on track. No stoppages in the first few laps, but we did have a total of 32 to complete in the first go.

Dave went off track. Hearts in mouths, he managed to pull it back onto track. We suffered a minor time penalty, but at least we were back on track and still in the race. Dave nursed the car home, finished his 16th lap, and it was time for the Chief Engineer, Oliver Adams to jump in the car.

Endurance finish

A quick driver change and restart later, Oli was flying round the track. The car was looking good and going strong, then it stalled. That familiar sinking feeling happened, but thankfully Oli was able to restart the engine and bring the car home.

We finished our first endurance in 4 years. Ecstatic was an understatement. The whole team were on Cloud 9. The pressure was off, we had finished all dynamic events and could go into the second Endurance knowing we could try and be more competitive.

Paul and Luke drove in the second endurance, finished it without too much difficulty (we did pick up a few more cones on the way though!!) and managed an overall faster time.

This was such an amazing way to end our trip - we finished not one but two endurances and thus all dynamic events at the competition (one of only 3 teams to do so!!).

Time to wind down and head home. What a way to end our trip to Australia.

Early start, gates at 7am, prepping to get to Brake test first thing.

I used this opportunity to have a welcome break from the boys and catch up on some much needed admin.

I was back in Werribee by 10am - we still were not starting reliably (if at all...) and I could tell it had been a painful few hours for the guys. The cause of this was identified as a Bosch cam sensor. This was the only sensor on the car we'd been unable to replace post FSUK 2013 because Bosch do not make them anymore.

The main sponsor present at the Australasian competition was Bosch - the guys present weren't the same as the guys we met at the Bosch test day, but they were just as friendly. They were helping us out with our problems and lo and behold... they had the sensor we needed in their 'vintage' display cabinet. I mean, what are the chances?!?!

My good friend Dave Cooper has always told me that racing is 50% luck and 50% hard work. We definitely maxed out on luck when finding this sensor. The Bosch guys let us use it for the rest of comp and - shock horror - the car was starting reliably!!!

A quick jog over to Brake test and we were ready to go. Having seen the 2012/2013 team attempt and fail the Brake test at FSUK 2013 for hours before passing, we were up against the clock to get to the Acceleration and Skidpan events before they closed at 12.30. It was 11am, and magically on our 3rd attempt, we passed Brake test! Just don't ask what the PSI was in our rear tyres...

A couple of Acceleration runs and a skidpan run later, we managed to record times for both events before they closed.

Time to prep for the afternoon event - Autocross.

Autocross went smoothly, the car was still reliably starting, and we were in much happier spirits than we had been just a few hours earlier. If Formula Student does anything, it messes with your emotions. Feet draggingly downtrodden to over the moon ecstatic in the space of 10 seconds (or however long it'll take to get the engine running...).

We were able to enjoy the rest of the afternoon with Monash Motorsport, and watch their epic Autocross runs. Their car is so impressive, and you can't help but share their happiness at doing well throughout the competition.

We headed back to the cabin, had a brief late night trip to the beach for a bit of a fire show, and had another BBQ for dinner (this time it was kebabs).

Aus comp has 2 heats of Endurance, and we're first out in the morning, so we all got an early night to let the drivers rest for the busy day ahead. 22km in the scorching Victoria sun in a cosy racesuit was not looking likely to be a comfortable experience...

Bright and early start of 5.30am to make sure we get to competition when the gates open at 7am.

The team did not appreciate the early wake up. Gotta get used to it as part of Formula Student life I'm afraid...

A breakfast BBQ with the Monash team (they sure do know how to eat...) and it was back to the pits for the Design and Cost event. We were the first team to arrive, and got set to presenting ourselves the best we could under the circumstances of limited time, resource and money.

A few of the Monash team helped us out with putting up logos and assembling our display stands. It was quickly becoming apparent that 6 people was not enough to run a smooth competition with, especially given the problems we'd suffered in the past few days.

The judges arrived and it was time for us to present 'our' design. Given that we inherited WR3 from the 2012/2013 team, none of us at competition had designed this car. The experience of completing the Design and Cost events was a great way for a few of our 2013/2014 team to gain some invaluable competition experience. We knew we were unlikely to place highly in these events, and the judges helped us in the learning of competition, and helped us identify some key features of WR3 that could be looked into further.

With Design and Cost over, it was time to look at the bane of every Formula Student teams life - Scruitineering. Courtney and I left the lads to handle it whilst we prepared for the Business event, due to start at 2pm. Time to suit up and practise, as we'd not looked at the presentation for a while...

Note to self for FSUK 2014 - allow 500% more time than you think you'll need to the static events. They are relatively easy points, but also easy to miss out through lackof preparation.

We suited up, learnt the presentation and went into the building where the judging was being held. Lucky (or unlucky) for us, we followed Monash's presentation. Once they'd finished, we were invited inside and presented as well as we could muster. Some tricky judges questions later and it was over in a flash. Results are to come out in a couple of days time...

Back to the boys and they've passed general scruit, following a few modifications, and now just have the Tilt, Noise and Brake tests to go.

We passed Tilt first time, and following some niggly starting issues, we passed Noise too. Following Noise, we have to kill the engine. Unfortunately, we were unable to get it started again to run Brake test today.

A few hours of figuring out what was wrong meant we had a plan of action to try and pass Brake first thing on Day 3. With the static events over, and 675 points up for grabs in the dynamics over the weekend, Brake was the only thing between us and racing.


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