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Highly efficient grid-scale electricity storage at fifth of cost – researchers modify hybrid flow battery electrodes with nanomaterials

Researchers in WMG at the University of Warwick, in collaboration with Imperial College London, have found a way to enhance hybrid flow batteries and their commercial use. The new approach can store electricity in these batteries for very long durations for about a fifth the price of current technologies, with minimal location restraints and zero emissions.

The researchers enhanced three hybrid flow cells using nitrogen doped graphene (exposed to nitrogen plasma) in a binder-free electrophoresis technique Highly efficient grid-scale electricity storage at fifth of cost – researchers modify hybrid flow battery electrodes with nanomaterials(EPD)

Wind and solar power are increasingly popular sources for renewable energy. Unfortunately, intermittency issues keep them from connecting widely to the National grid. One potential solution to this problem involves in the deployment of long-duration battery technology, such as the redox flow battery. Despite its great promise the current costs of this system are a key determining factor to real-world adoption. An affordable grid battery should cost £75/kWh, according to the US Department of Energy. Lithium-ion batteries, which lead the charge for grid storage, cost about £130/kWh.

Now WMG researchers have found a way of enhancing hybrid flow batteries or regenerative fuel cell (RFC) technology that could store electricity for very long durations for about one-fifth the cost of current storage technologies, with flexibility in siting and with minimal environmental impact. The technology combines carbon-based electrodes with economically sourced electrolytes, (manganese or sulphur, which are abundant chemicals in the planet) by means of a simple and yet highly effective electrophoretic deposition of nano-carbon additives (nitrogen-doped graphene) that enhance the electrode durability and performance significantly in highly acidic or alkaline environments.

The researchers have published their findings in a paper entitled, Hybrid Redox Flow Cells with Enhanced Electrochemical Performance via Binderless and Electrophoretically Deposited Nitrogen-Doped Graphene on Carbon Paper Electrodes’ in the December 2020 edition of the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces.

Dr Barun Chakrabarti, a Research Fellow in WMG at the University of Warwick and one of the lead authors on the paper said:

“This EPD technique is not only simple but also improves the efficiencies of three different economical hybrid flow batteries thereby increasing their potential for widespread commercial adoption for grid-scale energy storage.”

The hybrid flow battery’s total chemical cost is about 1/30th the cost of competing batteries, such as lithium-ion systems. Scaled-up technologies may be used to store electricity from wind or solar power, for multiple days to entire seasons, for about £15 to £20 per kilowatt hour. These batteries are also extremely useful for grid-scale load levelling applications as their design is very flexible due to their unique feature of sizing their power independently of their energy.

The energy density of a hybrid flow battery, especially the polysulphide/air system (S-Air), is 500 times higher than pumped hydroelectric storage. It is also so much more compact and can be placed near any renewable generation.

ENDS

22 JANUARY 2021

Notes for Editors

High-res image available at:
https://warwick.ac.uk/services/communications/medialibrary/images/january_2021/barun_release_image.jpg
Caption: A Binder-Free Horizontal Electrophoretic Deposition (EPD) Process Is Used to Activate Commercial Carbon Paper Electrodes Using Nitrogen-Doped Graphene
Credit: WMG, University of Warwick

Full list of researchers: Co-investigators with Dr Chakrabarti at the WMG Energy Innovation Centre at the University of Warwick are: Evangelos Kalamaras (Project Engineer, Battery Testing) and Professor Jon Low (Associate Professor, Electrochemical Engineering). Co-investigators from Imperial include Anthony Kucernak and Nigel Brandon.

The full paper with all author details can be found here: Hybrid Redox Flow Cells with Enhanced Electrochemical Performance via Binderless and Electrophoretically Deposited Nitrogen-Doped Graphene on Carbon Paper Electrodes

Background history to this area of research
Development of the EPD technology began in 2013, when Professor Low joined WMG as an Assistant Professor and researched industrial Lithium-ion battery manufacturing processes. EPD involves the migration of electrically charged particles through a fluid that is under the influence of an electric field generated by applying the right potential.

Although EPD is an industrially adopted process such as for depositing industrial coatings onto conductive substrates, its mass-scale adoption for energy storage applications has only recently seen some success. Supported by EPSRC’s First Grant (EP/P026818/1, https://gtr.ukri.org/projects?ref=EP%2FP026818%2F1) and Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund on battery and supercapacitor manufacturing (EP/R023034/1, https://gtr.ukri.org/projects?ref=EP%2FR023034%2F1), Low’s research team have developed EPD for preparing lithium-ion battery electrodes that meet industrial standards for thickness and mass loadings and published their finding in ‘Batteries and Supercaps’ (https://chemistry-europe.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/batt.201900017). They have also produced carbon electrodes with nanomaterials for improving the practical performance of vanadium-based flow batteries using deep eutectic solvent electrolytes, and published their finding in ‘Batteries’ (https://www.mdpi.com/2313-0105/6/3/38).

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION PLEASE CONTACT:

Alice Scott
Media Relations Manager – Science
University of Warwick
Tel: +44 (0) 7920 531 221
E-mail: alice.j.scott@warwick.ac.uk

 

Fri 22 Jan 2021, 16:39 | Tags: Energy Systems Research Battery Scale-Up

WMG High Value Manufacturing Catapult helps British taskforce develop UK negative pressure ventilator to assist recovery of COVID-19 patients

British taskforce develop UK negative pressure ventilatorAs the UK feels the impact of the current wave of coronavirus, the exovent task force today unveils its UK negative pressure ventilator designed to assist the recovery of COVID-19 patients and for the treatment of Pneumonia and COPD.

The exovent task force formed in March 2020 in response to the COVID-19 crisis, inspired by calls from the UK Government for rapid innovation to combat the challenge presented by this highly contagious and aggressive disease. The team is composed of anaesthetists, critical care consultants, nurses, medical clinicians, engineers, academics, scientists and manufacturers.

exovent was not part of the UK Ventilator Challenge as this was conceived for positive pressure devices. Instead, the exovent team focused on exploring the benefits of negative pressure ventilation, founded upon lessons learned from nearly 100 years of Negative Pressure utilisation.

Thanks to the investment of over £1m of volunteer time, rapid engineering development and prototyping by Marshall ADG (the UK’s leading privately owned Aerospace and Defence business) and partnership with WMG High Value Manufacturing Catapult, a highly professional system is now available for approval.

The latest and most advanced iteration, the exovent-19, is ready to progress to approval by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency. Once approved, several leading intensive and respiratory care units stand ready to trial the system, including the Critical Care Research Team, Southampton NIHR Biomedical Research Centre (University Hospital Southampton & University of Southampton) and the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, King’s Lynn NHS Trust.

Recognising the applicability of the technology to developing countries, the team has also been partnering internationally with pioneer groups in Ghana, Bangladesh, and Ethiopia to help them develop local versions that can be approved and manufactured by them using locally sourced materials where possible. Marshall has shipped two of its protoype exovent machines designed and manufactured at its Cambridge headquarters, direct to Indian ventilator manufacturer, Skanray, who plan to use them, along with the supporting design information, to develop a relatively low cost production model that can be rapidly approved and developed for mass distribution in their local markets as quickly as possible.

exovent are hoping to come to an agreement with a UK based manufacturer in the coming weeks. In addition, the team plan to develop both a global low cost system and a paediatric low cost system working with UK engineering partners.

Speaking about the new system, exovent CEO, Ian Joesbury, stated:

“We are really excited to be unveiling this life saving system which is a cutting-edge reinvention of pre-existing technology. In the UK I believe this can form part of a longer-term plan to treat COVID-19. As the patient does not need to be anaesthetised it opens up alternative treatment options that may allow more patients to be treated outside of intensive care.”

Dr Malcolm Coulthard, from the exovent team, said:

“From research and findings to date, we firmly believe that the use of negative pressure devices can transform the patient journey for COVID-19 patients and those with pneumonia and other diseases that affect breathing. The technology is safe, simple to use and systems could be built and deployed rapidly, in both the UK and overseas. Our recent paper published in the medical journal Anaesthesia demonstrates that the exovent-19 is twice as efficient as other negative pressure systems.”

Patrick Wood, Chief Technical Officer at Marshall ADG, shared:

“Our engineering team have designed a robust and reliable system using rapid prototyping methodology that enabled the first systems to be functionally tested within a few weeks of our first discussions. We look forward to seeing the system help patients across the globe once it is approved.”

Margot James, Executive Chair at WMG added: “I am very proud of WMG’s involvement in the development of exovent, the negative pressure ventilator promises to help more Covid patients be treated effectively as with established ventilator technology, whilst needing less oxygen and nursing resource. I congratulate the team of engineers and medics who have brought forward this innovation.”

How exovent works as an alternative treatment for COVID-19

One of the key features of COVID-19 is that it can cause pneumonia and acute respiratory failure, with over 2 million recorded deaths across the world by mid January 2021. Many countries, including the UK, took substantial action to mitigate the impact including putting in place support for ventilator production. However, whilst ventilators and high flow oxygen devices are clearly lifesaving, they are not without their challenges and may not be suitable for all patients, particularly the elderly.

In contrast, the exovent-19 has key benefits that make it particularly suitable to support COVID-19 patients. Use of negative pressure is far less intrusive and much more like normal breathing than either intubation or continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP). exovent-19 is non-invasive, which means that patients do not need to have their windpipes intubated, so they don’t need to be anaesthetised and oxygen can be delivered in the form of a normal oxygen mask or nasal prongs rather than through a high flow oxygen device that puts hospital oxygen supplies under pressure. Patients remain conscious, and can take medication and nutrition by mouth, and talk to loved ones on the phone.

exovent-19 works by being fitted over the patient’s torso and can operate in two modes, continuous negative extrathoracic pressure (CNEP), the negative pressure equivalent of CPAP, increases the volume of air in the lungs while the patient continues to breath for themselves by applying negative pressure to the outside of the patient’s chest and abdomen. Negative pressure ventilation (NPV) cycles that negative pressure and reduces the effort required for a patient to breath. The level of support can be increased or reduced progressively to help in the patient’s recovery. It also increases the heart’s efficiency compared to conventional ventilators which squeeze the chest and put pressure on the heart. The simple design concept for the exovent system makes it widely accessible with highly cost effective, reliable units able to be readily manufactured and approved around the world.

Longer term vision

The vision of the team is a world where everyone has access to non invasive breathing support when they need it. Recognising the important contribution that exovent systems can make in achieving this in the longer as well as the short term, the task force decided to register as a UK Charity. The team is very grateful to law firm Bates Wells who generously donated their time and expertise and to many other companies who have provided support.

The response of the Charity Commission was also enormously impressive - understanding the urgency, they registered the charity in just one working day. Charity Commission CEO, Helen Stephenson, later explained that like Bates Wells, her team was determined to do what they could to help the COVID effort and prioritised all COVID related applications.

 

ENDS

For more information see https://www.exovent.info/

Note to Editors

Medical benefits

· exovent-19 can provide an alternative choice to using continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) by delivering continuous negative extrathoracic pressure (CNEP). This device does not require to be driven by pressurised air or oxygen. Additional oxygen that the patient needs can be provided with tubing or a face mask as required

· exovent-19 should give excellent oxygen and carbon-dioxide transfer because replacing PPV+PEEP (positive pressure ventilation + positive end expiratory pressure) with NPV+NEEP (negative pressure ventilation + negative end expiratory pressure) has been shown to give equal or improved gas transfer when treating ARDS

· exovent-19 should increase the heart’s efficiency by up to 25% compared to conventional PPV which squeezes the heart and veins in the chest and may actually reduce cardiac function. This is especially important because COVID-19 can make heart function worse

· exovent-19 is non-invasive, which means that patients do not need to have their windpipes intubated, so they don’t need to be sedated or paralysed. Instead, they can remain conscious, take medication and nutrition by mouth, and talk to loved ones on the phone

· Being non-invasive and simple to use, exovent-19 could be used in intensive care or potentially on an ordinary ward

· exovent-19 only covers the torso so monitoring is still possible, and patients can be easily treated while prone (lying on their front) which is more effective in treating pneumonia. Oxygen can be delivered direct to the patient by mask or tubing as required

· exovent-19 is less likely to cause a pneumothorax (burst lung) as negative pressure ventilation produces less micro-trauma to the lung

Manufacturing benefits:

· Can be rapidly mass produced

· Uses parts currently available in the UK

· Has a small number of moving parts

· Does not compete for the same resources required by the commissioned manufacturers of PPVs

· Unlike PPVs or CPAPs, exovent does not require medical-grade compressed gases, which are at risk of shortage in the NHS due to heavy levels of demand for oxygen (although Covid-19 patients will need to be treated with oxygen)

· Is less expensive than other forms of ventilation

· Can be assembled at speed

 

Wed 20 Jan 2021, 10:00 | Tags: Partnerships Research

Anti-microbial poles for public transport to be made in light of Covid-19 pandemic

Anti-microbial poles for public transport to be made in light of Covid-19 pandemicSince the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic many people have been, or may feel, hesitant about taking public transport, due to the perceived risk of picking up germs from areas such as the grab-poles on trains, buses and trams, which are the principal point of contact.

However, a team including researchers from WMG at the University of Warwick, product designers Transport Design International (TDI), anti-microbial additive developers BioCote and Promethean Particles and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), led by Derby based manufacturers Composites Braiding Ltd (CBL), will produce lightweight composite grab-poles with an embedded anti-microbial property in their project AMICABLE, thanks to a £480,000 award from the Innovate UK Smart Grant scheme.

The anti-microbial grab poles will be for use in a wide range of public transport applications, such as bus, tram, rail and underground. This should lead to a step-change in hygiene in public transportation and a reduction in transmission of infections of various origins.

Although researchers are currently focusing on public transport applications, there could be the potential for the materials to be used on cruise ships, medical furniture or wherever there are public-facing surfaces.

The teams, from WMG, CBL and TDI have previously worked together on making the materials for the Coventry Very-Light Rail system, and using their expertise from previous projects and concepts already developed for anti-microbial efficacy in sectors such as food packaging and healthcare, they hope to make the new grab-poles within the next 12 months. At the project completion there is an opportunity to demonstrate, for the first time, the new grab-poles directly within new prototype vehicles such as Revolution VLR and the Coventry Light Rail system.

The poles themselves will be retro-fittable, so not only can they be fitted into new vehicles, they can replace current steel poles in existing ones such as buses and the Underground. The project aims to make a range of poles at costs competitive to the current steel ones, however, due to their light-weight material they will be around a third of the weight and will also help with meeting decarbonisation goals by aiding fuel efficiency and manufacturing via lower carbon methods.

Dr Darren Hughes, from WMG, University of Warwick comments:
“As we work in developing future public transport solutions such as the Coventry Very-Light Rail system, the Covid-19 pandemic opened our eyes to the importance of also making transport as clean an environment as possible for passengers. It is clear that a key point of contact for passengers is the grab-poles and other similar structures. Therefore, incorporating anti-microbial grab poles into vehicles could encourage more people to opt for public transport which is generally an environmentally efficient mode of transport.”

James Taylor, from TDI comments:
“TDI specialises in the design of very light weight vehicles and products so the introduction on this new anti-microbial technology in thermoplastic composites for compliant new vehicle interior products is an extremely exciting opportunity”

Steve Barbour, of Derby-based specialists in thermoplastic braiding CBL adds:
“Using in-mould coating impregnation and fibre commingling techniques, anti-microbial particles will be incorporated into the composite rails during the moulding process. Importantly, as the anti-microbial material will be applied during manufacture, it becomes a permanent part of the structure and therefore is expected to be less susceptible to wear. However, when it does reach the end of its life the thermoplastic matrix material will be inherently recyclable, making the grab-poles environmentally friendly.”

ENDS

13 JANUARY 2021

NOTES TO EDITORS

For further information please contact:

Alice Scott
Media Relations Manager – Science
University of Warwick
Tel: +44 (0) 7920 531 221
E-mail: alice.j.scott@warwick.ac.uk

 

Wed 13 Jan 2021, 15:01 | Tags: Materials and Manufacturing Partnerships Research

WMG working with Stratford Upon Avon Town Council on new research into sustainable transport

WMG, at the University of Warwick, is working with TravelSpirit Foundation on a government funded project which will focus on how new technologies could help create sustainable transport systems in Stratford upon Avon, Warwickshire.

Project Damascus is supported by Stratford Climate Action and Stratford upon Avon Town Council and has received funding from the Government’s Geospatial Commission. The first stage of the research, is a 3-month desktop study in Stratford upon Avon and Canterbury. The project is looking to shed light on how consolidating parcel journeys using mobility hubs could create a more pleasant experience for visitors and residents of Stratford upon Avon.

Professor Jan GodsellJanet Godsell, Professor of Operations and Supply Chain Strategy at WMG, University of Warwick is providing expert advice to the project. She said “This is an important piece of research. It has strong alignment with the government’s Green Industrial Revolution strategy and could have a widespread positive impact on many UK towns outside the larger metropolitan cities.”

Project Damascus is led by Simon Herko, President of the Travelspirit Foundation, working in consortium with Iconic Blockchain, Peera and WMG, University of Warwick and was awarded funding through a competition delivered by Innovate UK.

The research team is interested to hear from people who already shop online, local courier drivers and retailers who sell to customers online. For more information, including opportunities to get directly involved in the research, please contact:

TravelSpirit Foundation, Simon Herko simon.herko@travelspirit.io 

Stratford Climate Action: Stephen Norrie stratfordclimate@tutanota.com

Stratford Town Council: Jenny Fradgley Jenny.Fradgley@stratford-tc.gov.uk

Fri 08 Jan 2021, 07:06 | Tags: Supply Chains Partnerships Research

Restarting the aluminium industry in the Black Country

The Black Country in Birmingham was the energy and innovation stomping ground in the 18th and 19th century, creating the UK’s industrial economy. Fast forward to the 21st century there is now a need to make a business model that’s more economically and environmentally sustainable.

With the help of WMG, University of Warwick, the Black Country LEP have made a future business model for Aluminium in the Black Country based on the The Phoenix 10 Siteprovision of low carbon energy sources, as part of a project Repowering the Black Country, which aims to make the Black Country the world’s first zero carbon industrial cluster.

The aim of the project is to enable clean GVA growth of £16bn by 2030, creating or safeguarding at least 20,000 skilled jobs. Thanks to funding from Innovate UK researchers from WMG specifically looked at the Aluminium Industry in the area.

The researchers report that if the Black Country Strategic Economic Plan forecasts GVA growth of £16bn by 2030. The growth will be driven by reshoring of manufacturing from overseas and organic growth, particularly in high value manufacturing, building, transport and environmental technology sectors where the Black Country has long-standing strengths.

However, if this growth simply follows the structural templates and energy practices of the past, annual CO2 emissions from Black Country industry will almost double to 2.3M tCO2.

To deliver green growth and meet UK industrial strategy objectives researchers from WMG propose that the Black Country needs to take the opportunities created by Brexit and Recovery from Covid-19 to reconfigure and repower its industrial base and create a fundamentally new economic model for the area.

Professor Jan Godsell, from WMG, University of Warwick explains:

“This has been an exciting project for WMG to get involved in. By using circular supply chain principles, we’ve been able to demonstrate how re-industrialising around low carbon energy hubs in the West Midlands can help meet our net-zero carbon goal by 2050 but also create value-adding jobs for the region.”

Since the project has completed The Black Country Consortium has been awarded funding from UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) to support clean industrial growth through the Repowering the Black Country Project. This second round of funding, focused on helping the UK achieve net zero emissions as part of Government’s Clean Growth Strategy, will support businesses and local authorities in developing plans for zero carbon hubs and reducing energy costs across the Black Country.

Funded by UK Research and Innovation, on behalf of the UK government, Repowering the Black Country is one of only 7 projects funded nationally focused on helping the UK achieve net zero emissions by 2050 as part of the Industrial Decarbonisation Challenge. This is a key component of the government’s Clean Growth Strategy.

Tom Westley DL, Chair of the Black Country LEP Board said:
“This funding is another step toward the Black Country putting in place plans to decarbonise our industrial supply chains and lead the way nationally for industrial clean energy. The Repowering the Black Country project is a real partnership approach to planning for the future of our world-class industrial sector.

“This boost will enable the team to work across the Black Country with local authorities and industry to develop zero carbon industrial estates that optimise and generate clean energy in the most efficient way. Zero carbon means lower energy bills, lower carbon emissions and commercial opportunities locally – all of which will be good news for the Black Country economy.”

Energy Minister Kwasi Kwarteng said:
“The UK is leading the world’s green industrial revolution, with ambitious targets to decarbonise our economy and create hundreds of thousands of jobs.

“As we continue to level up the UK economy and build back greener, we must ensure every sector is reducing carbon emissions to help us achieve our commitment to net zero emissions by 2050.
“This funding will help key industrial areas meet the challenge of contributing to our cleaner future while maintaining their productive and competitive strengths.”

Andy Street, the Mayor of the West Midlands, said:

“Our region’s plan for economic recovery is all about delivering the high-paid, high skilled, ‘green’ jobs of the future. So this funding partnership is both good news for West Midlands jobs and industry, helping businesses grow while using less energy. So it’s great news for our environment.

“The West Midlands Combined Authority has an ambitious #WM2041 plan for the region to be carbon neutral by 2041. This Government funding for clean industrial development in the Black Country will help our region build on its long history of manufacturing, building a green economy that’s good for jobs and good for the planet.”

ENDS

7 JANUARY 2021

NOTES TO EDITORS

Images available at:
https://warwick.ac.uk/services/communications/medialibrary/images/january_2021/repowering_jpeg.jpg
Caption: The Phoenix 10 site in the Black Country

Report available to view at: https://www.blackcountrylep.co.uk/upload/files/Repowering%20the%20Black%20Country%20A%20prospectus%20to%20lead%20a%20clean%20growth%20revolution%20in%20the%20UK.pdf

For further information please contact:

Alice Scott
Media Relations Manager – Science
University of Warwick
Tel: +44 (0) 7920 531 221
E-mail: alice.j.scott@warwick.ac.uk

 

Thu 07 Jan 2021, 13:57 | Tags: Supply Chains Partnerships Research

Revolutionising the manufacturing industry through digitalisation

Until now, smaller manufacturing companies have missed out on the productivity benefits of digital technologies and data-driven solutions. Too many manufacturers don’t know where to start, and lack the skills required to deploy and use digital solutions. The costs are perceived to be high and the return on investment is unclear.

A consortium, including WMG at the University of Warwick, has been awarded funding through the Government’s Manufacturing Made Smarter Challenge to tackle this problem by developing a Smart InforMation PLatform and Ecosystem for Manufacturing (SIMPLE).

Project SIMPLE will bring the benefits of digitalisation to manufacturers for whom the technology, skills, and business benefits are currently inaccessible. The project will deliver a platform that is fast to deploy, easy to use, cost-effective, and versatile. And it will be supported by an ecosystem that addresses skills and training requirements.

The consortium includes a wide range of end-user, academic, and technology partners to provide the necessary breadth of expertise:

Innovare Systems (construction) is representative of SMEs seeking to improve their operations through the deployment of digital capabilities, but have a low skill level in the domain, bare bones IT capabilities and low levels of automation

Lear Corporation (automotive) is representative of global organisations challenged by their operational complexity, the diversity of technologies deployed in production, fragmented software landscape and data repositories

The UK Battery Industrialisation Centre is seeking a vendor independent solution that can support their short-term objectives and scale up rapidly to support multiple production campaigns in the future

WMG, University of Warwick is a world leading research and education group, transforming organisations and driving innovation through a unique combination of collaborative research and development, and pioneering education programmes

The Science and Technology Facilities Council is a government agency that carries out research in science and engineering. The focus for project SIMPLE is on knowledge representations and knowledge models relevant to manufacturing

Fully Distributed Systems (FDS), AI Idea Factory and 4thWall Virtual develop engineering tools, industrial software components and supply related services.

The benefits of SIMPLE will be validated via deployment of the platform at the end-user partners’ facilities - demonstrating the value in three different use cases. The deployment of a skills training system at WMG, University of Warwick, will validate the skills and training proposition.

Project SIMPLE is co-funded by the businesses in the consortium and the UK’s innovation agency, Innovate UK, through the Manufacturing Made Smarter Competition. The Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF) Manufacturing Made Smarter Round 1 Competition offers grant funding investment in projects that focus on the use of industrial digital technologies (IDTs) to transform the productivity and agility of UK manufacturing. Of 34 applications submitted, project SIMPLE is one of 14 projects approved following independent assessment and expert review.

Daniel VeraDr Daniel Vera, from WMG at the University of Warwick comments:
“At WMG, we will be focussing on making sure that manufacturers become fluent in deploying and using digital systems. Our training platform will mean that manufacturers can confidently use data-driven methods and digital solutions to optimise their processes, which in turn can speed up their project delivery and significantly improve their business operations.”

Jason Powell of Innovare Systems adds:
“The technology is important as it offers greater operational transparency, which allows greater scrutiny of performance whilst maintaining the production activities’ live information. Additionally, this system can also be used as a tool to drive production efficiency through optimising performance which will increase capacity. We are expecting this technology to boost productivity by 10% even from the early deployment.”

Matt Patching of the UK Battery Industrialisation Centre said:

“The SIMPLE toolset will help us deliver battery technologies and processes to industry at a rapid rate. The flexible design will be compatible with our range of manufacturing processes, ranging from electrode and cell assembly, to module and pack, and to consistently present the relevant information. The scalable nature means that new promising technologies in the battery field can be implemented into our digital systems as quickly as it can be installed at our site.”

The project will engage the wider manufacturing community to ensure the SIMPLE platform and methodology addresses the widest set of manufacturers’ needs. For further information, please contact peter.hopkinson@fullydistributedsystems.com.

ENDS

6 JANUARY 2021

NOTES TO EDITORS

About WMG, University of Warwick

WMG is a world leading research and education group, transforming organisations and driving innovation through a unique combination of collaborative research and development, and pioneering education programmes.
As an international role model for successful partnerships between academia and the private and public sectors, WMG develops advancements nationally and globally, in applied science, technology and engineering, to deliver real impact to economic growth, society and the environment.
WMG’s education programmes focus on lifelong learning of the brightest talent, from the WMG Academies for Young Engineers, degree apprenticeships, undergraduate and postgraduate, through to professional programmes.
An academic department of the University of Warwick, and a centre for the HVM Catapult, WMG was founded by the late Professor Lord Kumar Bhattacharyya in 1980 to help reinvigorate UK manufacturing and improve competitiveness through innovation and skills development.

About Innovare Systems

As the only provider to have complete design to delivery capability in-house, Innovare Systems is uniquely placed to simplify the offsite construction process to help clients manage time, cost and risk more effectively. Innovare Systems’ aim is to make it easy for clients to achieve the time and cost saving benefits of offsite construction and make full use of the greater flexibility offered through a joined-up design, manufacture and installation solution with its i-SIP panel system.

About Lear Corporation

Lear, a global automotive technology leader in Seating and E-Systems, enables superior in-vehicle experiences for consumers around the world. Lear’s diverse team of talented employees in 39 countries is driven by a commitment to innovation, operational excellence, and sustainability. Lear is Making every drive better™ by providing the technology for safer, smarter, and more comfortable journeys.

About UKBIC

The £130 million UK Battery Industrialisation Centre (UKBIC) is a pioneering concept in the race to develop battery technology for the transition to a greener future. The unique facility provides the missing link between battery technology, which has proved promising at laboratory or prototype scale, and successful mass production. Based in Coventry, the publicly-funded battery product development facility welcomes manufacturers, entrepreneurs, researchers and educators, and can be accessed by any organisation with existing or new battery technology – if that technology will bring green jobs and prosperity to the UK.

In addition to funding from the Faraday Battery Challenge through UK Research and Innovation and the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, UKBIC is also part-funded through the West Midlands Combined Authority. The project has been delivered through a consortium of Coventry City Council, Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership and WMG, at the University of Warwick. UKBIC was created in 2018 following a competition led by the Advanced Propulsion Centre with support from Innovate UK

About Fully Distributed Systems

FDS specialises in the development and integration of control and software solutions for manufacturing industries. In the last 5 years, FDS has developed expertise in the development and deployment of Industrial IoT integration platforms and common manufacturing and production data models, in line with the requirements of Industry 4.0 and digital manufacturing solution development.

For further information please contact

Alice Scott
Media Relations Manager – Science
University of Warwick
Tel: +44 (0) 7920 531 221
E-mail: alice.j.scott@warwick.ac.uk


Driving digitalisation

Many capital project companies have invested in digital and data capabilities, but only a few actually get the returns they expected.

Professor Naomi BrookesWMG Professor Naomi Brookes has shared her complex programme management expertise in the Data-driven Transformation of Capital Projects report compiled by leading global professional services company, Accenture.

Professor Brookes explains: “I’m delighted to have contributed to this fascinating and important report that shows a clear relationship between the effective use of digital technologies in major projects and bottom-line benefits.”

The report surveyed over 700 "owner-operators" and engineering, procurement and construction companies to see how they were driving their digitalisation.

Accenture’s report shows how a small group of companies is able to drive much higher value from digital by making specific changes to their operating environment.

Read the report in full here.

Tue 22 Dec 2020, 08:44 | Tags: Partnerships Research

Transforming Foundation Industry (TFI) Large CR&D virtual workshop

CRD call workshopWMG hosted a workshop to support launch of the Transforming Foundation Industries (TFI) Large CR&D call. The event was held to raise awareness of the funding call, which opens on 11th January 2021, to provide a space for discussion around two of the key themes and to showcase how WMG can play a role in projects for the foundation industries (manufacturers and suppliers of paper, cement, metals, glass, bulk chemicals and glass).

Keynote talks were given by WMG’s Professor Robert Harrison and Dr Stuart Bradley. Their talks on 'Advanced automation for the foundation industries and Waste heat energy recovery' provided details on WMG’s expertise and capabilities, where there are commonalities across sectors and opportunities for these industries to work together.

There were four breakout rooms where attendees were able to network and discuss project ideas for the upcoming call. The breakout rooms, hosted by subject experts, were themed around waste heat and energy storage, recovery and conversion; how waste products could be communally used and shared by foundation industry firms; and how advanced automation, machine learning and Industry 4.0 could help to advance the industries. There was also a general discussion room, where subjects such as future business models and waste streaming were considered.

As a result of the workshop, there are likely to be several applications to the TFI Large CR&D call, which we hope will be successful. It is clear that these different industries can work together to solve common problems and that organisations, such as WMG, can provide the platform to bring them together successfully.

If you work in the foundation industries and would like to hear more on how you can access support for your project from WMG experts, please contact Dr Russ Hall at R.Hall.5@warwick.ac.uk.

Wed 16 Dec 2020, 15:28 | Tags: Automation Systems Research

The UK’s Modern Slavery Act isn’t enough to tackle modern slavery

Currently there are 24 million victims of modern day slavery or forced labour around the world, with a significant amount working on project-related activities.

In a report for Association for Project Management, WMG academic Professor Naomi Brookes from the University of Warwick has worked with the University of Leeds, and University College London to identify ways to prevent modern day slavery in projects.

The key drivers of modern day slavery are:

§ Globalisation

§ Supply chain complexity

§ Informal employment practices

§ Government ambivalence

Researchers have identified several ways that can tackle modern day slavery, from organisations, public and Government.

At an organisational level there are a range of structural solutions that could inhibit modern slavery, including developing a clear policy on forced labour and slavery; training auditors and compliance officers; establishing measures to monitor suppliers and subcontractors and extending monitoring to contract agencies.

However the public can also help from home, by increasing pressure for visibility within supply chains. If supply chains are forced to show their sources and more companies apply for fair trade certification they will eliminate slavery.

The Government can also apply new legislation, although the UK’s Modern Slavery Act exists, in 2019 a panel of parliamentarians found that there was confusion over which companies are covered by the legislation, and condemned the level of reporting of supply chain transparency as inadequate.

They also found poor compliance and identified a major weakness in the legislation, since large sections of the economy, including public bodies, were exempt from the requirement to report on their own supply chain. Therefore new legislation that all must report on their supply chains could be another route forward to eliminating modern day slavery.

Another, and perhaps more effective route given the complexity of eliminating modern slavery given the difficulties at organisational and legislative levels, is multi-stake holder initiatives (MSIs), which consist of global institutions involving corporations and civil society organisations that ‘fill the gap’, providing governance solutions for ethical issues where national legislation and other initiatives have failed.

Professor Naomi BrookesProfessor Naomi Brookes, from WMG, University of Warwick comments:
“MSIs can privately regulate by meeting the basic requirements of credibility and effectiveness. If we could compare the legitimacy of several MSIs it would give us a better understanding of the criticism levelled at certain MSIs by NGOs, as well as areas that could be improved.”

Although MSIs may seem the most efficient way to tackle modern day slavery, when it comes to projects, which tend to be short-term, project management practices must be changed.

The researchers questioned many individuals from professional membership organisations, project practitioners, NGOs and academic researchers and independent experts to answer a questionnaire, which covered their individual and organisational experiences of modern day slavery.

There was then an event, where the experts were split into groups and had to answer two questions:

1. What can project professionalism do to eliminate modern slavery from projects?

2. What can professional membership organisations do to assist project professionals in eliminating modern slavery from projects?

Professor Naomi Brookes, adds:
“In reaction to the survey and event we found the best way to eliminate modern slavery was to have MSIs, it was striking to note the similarity between the participants views of professional membership organisations and functionality of MSIs in developing codes of conducts, providing learning standards as well as processes, standards and policies, issuing labels and certificates as a stimulation of legislation and developing mechanisms for auditing and compliance trans-organisationally.”

Daniel Nicholls, APM research manager, says: “This topical research is key in helping to raise awareness of modern slavery across the wider project profession. It highlights how projects are particularly susceptible, providing guidance and support for project professionals and organisations.”

In order to eliminate modern slavery in projects, further investigation of professional membership organisations acting as MSIs would be use key to identifying mechanisms of modern slavery.

ENDS

15 DECEMBER 2020

NOTES TO EDITORS

Report available to view at: https://www.apm.org.uk/resources/research/research-fund/eliminating-modern-slavery-from-projects/

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION PLEASE CONTACT:

Alice Scott
Media Relations Manager – Science
University of Warwick
Tel: +44 (0) 7920 531 221
E-mail: alice.j.scott@warwick.ac.uk

Tue 15 Dec 2020, 13:20 | Tags: Research

Fellowship funding for WMG researcher

Dr David Fengwei XieWMG Research Fellow, Dr David Fengwei Xie has been awarded a prestigious five-year EPSRC Early Career Fellowship.

Based in the International Institute for Nanocomposites Manufacturing (IINM), Dr Fengwei Xie has been working on sustainable polymer materials and composites for tackling the current issues around petro-derived plastics, recycling, and single-use plastics. His fellowship will allow him to further explore in this highly important area and to develop functional, biopolymer-based composite materials with tailored structures and properties for demanding applications.

The fellowship will provide his projects with sufficient funding and a dedicated team that will engage with the public, industry and policymakers.

An EPSRC Fellowship is designed to provide the recipient with the necessary support to establish or further develop themselves as a leader of the future. The award enables the recipient to devote their time to delivering their proposed research vision.

Dr Fengwei Xie explained: “The support provided by the EPSRC will allow me to develop my technical and transferrable skills to the greatest extent, become an independent and leading academic in advanced biopolymer materials engineering, and establish and grow my own group – fulfilling my career ambition.

“I am extremely excited to be awarded this fellowship as it will allow me to continue working on ‘green’ polymer composites for people’s welfare and a sustainable future.”

Read more about WMG’s Nanocomposites research here.

Tue 15 Dec 2020, 12:28 | Tags: Nanocomposites Research

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