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New research says Sodium-ion batteries are a valid alternative to Lithium-ion batteries

  • Lithium (Li)-ion batteries (LIBs) are the electrochemical energy storage systems of choice for a wide variety of applications, however other types of emerging battery technologies are currently on the path to share their dominant position.
  • Among them Sodium (Na)-ion batteries (NIBs) have great potential to represent the next generation low cost and environmentally friendly energy storage solution. The diverse key performance indicators required by different applications and the market diversification is the driving force pushing the Na-ion technology closer to the market.
  • A team of scientists including WMG at the University of Warwick combined their knowledge and expertise to assess the current status of the Na-ion technology from materials to cell development, offering a realistic comparison of the key performance indicators for NBs and LIBs.

Battery technologyLIBs play a primary role in the transition to a low carbon economy. However, as the market rapidly expands, the environmental and social challenges associated with the mass production of LIBs is triggering large attention toward the search for alternative energy storage solutions based on materials that can be sourced in a sustainable and responsible way. In this scenario, NIBs represent an alternative low cost, sustainable and more environmentally friendly energy storage technology.

In the paper Challenges of today for Na-based batteries of the future: from materials to cell metrics,' published on the 18th of September 2020 in the Journal of Power Sources, a large team of Na-ion technology expert scientists, led by WMG, at the University of Warwick (UK) analyse the prospect of NIBs taking a spot in the energy storage market. The paper also includes researchers from: Helmholtz Institute Ulm (Germany), College de France (France), Humboldt University Berlin (Germany), Institute for Energy technology (Norway), Université de Picardie Jules Verne (France), University of Bordeaux (France) and CIC energiGUNE (Spain).

Na- based batteries offer a combination of attractive properties. They are low cost, use sustainable precursors and have secure raw material supplies. In addition, they are considered as a drop-in technology which could benefit from the already existing Li-ion batteries manufacturing facilities.

As Li-based systems, Na-based batteries come in different forms, such as Na-ion, Na-all-solid-state-batteries, NaO2 and Na/S. While the last ones are seen as disruptive future technologies, the Na-ion technology represent an attractive technology almost ready to challenge the Li-ion batteries in specific applications.

Performance metrics are of utmost importance for the SIB technology to ensure a competitive cost per Wh and find a place in the market. In this work, the most promising electrode materials and electrolyte systems have been reviewed and performance metrics from the academic literature have been used to extrapolate full sodium ion cells performance indicators.

Authors indicate that with the ongoing development, the present best materials available for Na-ion cells should allow approaching the energy density of the present generation of Li-ion commercial cells. One of the most important application field for the developed sodium-ion battery prototypes is certainly stationary energy storage systems, where cost and cycle life represent two fundamental parameters. “In this field sodium-ion batteries have the potential to dominate the future market representing the most promising system to fill the gap between energy production and utilization by securing energy supply. However high-power applications in the electrified automotive field are a potential niche field application for NIBs” says Dr Ivana Hasa, Assistant Professor at WMG.

Further technological improvements are needed to increase the performance especially in terms of energy density. Extremely encouraging results have been achieved for the Na-ion technology in a very short time when compared to the Li-ion technology. Technological improvement will be achieved by cell component fabrication/assembly optimization, as occurred in the last thirty years for the LIB technology.

Ivana HasaDr Ivana Hasa, from WMG, University of Warwick comments:

“From an applied research point of view, the future research efforts should be devoted on fundamental research, materials discovery and understanding of the thermodynamic and kinetic processes governing the chemistry of these systems. In addition, the investigation of upscaled Na-ion batteries is of primary importance to obtain realistic data to benchmark the progress of the technology as well as the adoption of a common reporting methodology in the scientific community enabling a fair comparison among performance results.”

Tue 22 Sep 2020, 10:53 | Tags: Electrochemical Engineering Research

Report fears UK could lose out to the rest of Europe in crucial automotive battery recycling market

Electric Vehicle charging.

The UK is at significant risk of falling behind in the electric revolution and losing out to the rest of Europe on a crucial automotive lithium ion battery recycling market according to a new research report published this week by WMG at the University of Warwick and backed by the Advanced Propulsion Centre UK, the High Value Manufacturing Catapult and Faraday Battery Challenge at Innovate UK.

The new report entitled Automotive Lithium ion Battery Recycling in the UK by Anwar Sattar, David Greenwood, Martin Dowson and Puja Unadkat in WMG, at the University of Warwick calls for the UK to move quickly to establish commercial scale recycling for automotive lithium ion batteries

The WMG report notes that there are currently over a dozen such large scale lithium ion recycling facilities in the rest of Europe but none in the UK despite the fact that the UK is the second largest vehicle market in Europe with annual sales exceeding 2.3 million units in 2019, and is also amongst the top electric vehicle markets in Europe, with a 6% market penetration in the first quarter of 2020.

Jacqui Murray Deputy Challenge Director of the Faraday Battery Challenge at Innovate UK said:

“This new WMG report is a timely call for action. To achieve net zero carbon emissions, we need to be thinking about the whole system. Recycling of batteries is a challenge we see in the making, yet I am confident we can develop into a successful circular economy in the UK. Understanding, sharing and collaborating will accelerate the efforts needed to advance the right technologies and infrastructure to meet the future UK Automotive market.”

Value in EoL packs.

The report points out that the current costs of this recycling black hole are already enormous. As the UK lacks significant industrial capacity for lithium ion battery recycling, batteries are shipped to mainland Europe for material recovery. This can be a very expensive process, dependent on state of health of the pack, chemistry of the pack and size of the pack. This can mean that up to 75% of the total cost of recycling which can range from £3/kg to >£8/kg may be attributed to transportation costs and other factors such as the state of health and chemistry of the cells.

Even more concerning are the report’s comments that without its own significant recycling facilities, the UK could also be losing out on a major source of expensive and difficult to source materials to help manufacture new batteries.

By 2040, 339,000 tonnes of EV batteries are expected to reach their end of their life annually. The average value in end of life automotive packs is £3.3/kg for Battery Electric Vehicles and £2.2/kg for Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles.

By 2040, the UK will also require 140GWh worth of cell production capability, representing 567,000 tonnes of cell production per year. Recycling can supply 22% of this demand (assuming a 60% recycling rate and 40% reuse or remanufacture). The break-even point for an automotive lithium ion battery recycling plant is just 2,500 – 3,000 tonnes per year if the chemistry contains nickel and cobalt.

To satisfy 2040 demand, the UK will need 133,000 tonnes of cathode metals per year. Much of this material can be supplied by recycling end of life batteries as the report shows in the following table:

To satisfy 2040 demand, the UK will need 133,000 tonnes of cathode metals per year. Much of this material can be supplied by recycling end of life batteries as the report shows in the following table.

Based on 8:1:1 chemistry assuming 60% of end of life batteries are recycled in 2040.

Dick Elsy CEO of the High Value Manufacturing Catapult says in the report

“WMG has been at the forefront of the development of battery technology for the future of electric mobility in the UK. Internal combustion engines and systems will be replaced by electric motors, power electronics and battery packs. A key part of that future is how we responsibly recycle the materials contained in the batteries and thus create a commercially valuable circular economy. This report is one of the best that I’ve seen to present the challenges and the opportunities in such a clear way.”

One of the report's authors, Professor David Greenwood Professor of Advanced Propulsion Systems, in WMG at the University of Warwick, concludes:

“Electric vehicles offer huge potential for decarbonising transport and improving air quality, but as we accelerate their early market we must equally be thinking about what happens at the end of their useful life. Batteries in particular contain significant quantities of materials which are costly to extract and refine and which could be hazardous to the environment if improperly disposed of. Investment is needed to create suitable recycling facilities in the UK within the next few years, and beyond that, research is needed to allow economic recovery of much greater proportions of the battery material. In doing so we will protect the environment, secure valuable raw materials, and reduce the cost of transport.”

Mon 21 Sep 2020, 10:47 | Tags: Research

You can train your brain to reduce motion sickness

  • Everyone can suffer from motion sickness, and around one in three are known to be highly susceptible to motion sickness
  • Motion sickness can occur during car travel, at sea, using virtual reality headsets and is expected to be a significant factor in self-driving car
  • A cognitive training tool designed by researchers at WMG, University of Warwick has been proven to help ‘train the brain’ to reduce motion sickness by over 50%

3XD Intelligent Vehicles Simulator at WMG.

Visuospatial training exercises can train the brain to reduce motion sickness, providing a potential remedy for future passengers riding in autonomous vehicles. Researchers at WMG, University of Warwick reduced motion sickness by over 50% using the training tool and it was found to be effective in both a driving simulator and on-road experimentation.

Everyone can experience motion sickness, with 1 in 3 of us being highly susceptible to motion sickness. Motion sickness, sometimes referred to as travel sickness usually can occur during travel in cars and boats, but also when using virtual reality headsets or in a simulator.

With the concept of autonomous vehicles coming closer to our roads, the need to reduce motion sickness is more apparent than ever. It is expected that due to potential vehicle designs and people’s desire to engage in non-driving related tasks such as reading or watching films, motion sickness will be a significant factor for vehicle occupants.

In fact, if we were able to reduce motion sickness so much that people could read and work in future cars, it’s predicted that this productivity boost could be worth as much as US$508billion per year according to Morgan Stanley.

Considering the number of people affected, relatively little research has been done into motion sickness, especially not into motion sickness and autonomous vehicles.

However, in the paper ‘A Novel Method for Reducing Motion Sickness Susceptibility through Training Visuospatial Ability – A Two-Part Study’, published in the journal Applied Ergonomics, researchers from WMG, University of Warwick have been successful in reducing motion sickness.

In the project, researchers have found by using visuospatial training you can essentially train the brain to reduce motion sickness by over 50%.

Participants in the study went in either the WMG 3xD simulator for a driving simulator trial, or on an on-road trial where they were driven around as passengers, imitating what it would be like to be in an autonomous vehicle.

Baseline motion sickness was first measured during their initial ride, using a verity of pre-validated questionnaires, to report severity of the symptoms. A ‘fast motion sickness scale’, was also used to capture ‘real-time’ symptoms as participants were asked to rate their sickness every minute on a scale of 0-20 considering nausea, discomfort, and stomach problems.

Example of a visuospatial excercise part of the vandenberg and kuse mental rotations test.After their first run, participants completed various pen-and-paper visuospatial training tasks, once per day for 15 minutes per day, for 2 weeks. This included exercises such as a looking at a pattern of boxes that and having to identify which image out of three is the original just rotated, paper folding tasks and understand spatial patterns.

After the training period, participants took part in another motion sickness assessment and it was recorded that motion sickness reduced by 51% in the driving simulator, and 58% in the on-road trial.

Dr Joseph Smyth, from WMG, University of Warwick comments:

“Being able to reduce an individual’s personal susceptibility to motion-sickness using simple ‘brain training style’ tasks training is a massive step-forward in the development of future transport systems, including autonomous vehicles. Human factors research is all about how we can design products and services that are pleasurable. Motion sickness has, for a long time, been a significant limitation to many peoples transport options and this research has shown a new method for how we can address this.

“I hope that in the future we can optimise the training into a short, highly impactful method. Imagine if when someone is waiting for a test-drive in a new autonomous vehicle they could sit in the showroom and do some ‘brain training puzzles’ on a tablet before going out in the car, therefore reducing their risk of sickness. It’s also very likely this method can be used in other domains such as sea-sickness for navy staff or cruise passengers. We are particularly excited about applying this new finding to Virtual Reality headset use.”

Pete Bennett, from Jaguar Land Rover comments:

“Making our future autonomous vehicles as user friendly as possible is key, and motion sickness is something we knew we needed to research as so many people experience it even now as a passenger.

“The research done by WMG has shown that motion sickness can be reduced, and we can incorporate the research into our future vehicle design process.”

Mon 14 Sep 2020, 13:51 | Tags: Intelligent Vehicles Research Warwick News

Risk factors for mortality in diabetic patients discharged from hospital identified

HealthcareWhen patients are discharged from hospital those with diabetes are at an increased risk of readmission and mortality, there are guidelines for discharging patients with diabetes to reduce these risks, however researchers from the Institute of Digital Healthcare at WMG, University of Warwick and Warwick Medical School have identified known risk factors for mortality in adult patients discharged from hospital with diabetes.

In the paper, A Systematic Review Considering Risk factors for Mortality of Patients Discharged from Hospital with a Diagnosis of Diabetes’, published in the Journal of Diabetes and its Complications, researchers identified 35 studies that considered the risk factors relating to mortality for patients discharged from hospital with diabetes, they analysed these studies and identified 48 significant risk factors for mortality.

The 48 risk factors are grouped into the following nine categories:

· Demographic

· Socioeconomic

· Lifestyle

· Patient medical factors

· Inpatient stay factors

· Medication related

· Laboratory results

· Glycaemic status

 

Professor Theo Arvanitis, from the Institute of Digital Healthcare at WMG, University of Warwick comments:
“The most common risk factor is in the demographic category of age and the second most important factor is co-morbidity burden; this comes under the patient medical factors category, and means patients have more than one condition. We also identified BMI as a significant risk within the patient medical factors category, with those who were at the heavier end of the scales to be more at risk.

“Thirty-seven of the risk factors we identified from one research paper. This tell us that this research in general is still very early, and more studies are needed to identify the importance and possibly any other risk factors. This could decrease the mortality rate of diabetics discharged from hospitals in the future.”

ENDS

2 SEPTEMBER 2020

NOTES TO EDITORS

High-res images available at:
https://warwick.ac.uk/services/communications/medialibrary/images/april2020/theoarvanitis.jpg
Caption: Professor Theo Arvanitis, from the Institute of Digital Healthcare at WMG, University of Warwick

Paper available to view: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jdiacomp.2020.107705

 


Battery life for wearable electronic devices could be improved with design considerations to stress asymmetry clues in cylindrical battery cell formats

Researchers in WMG and the Department of Physics at the University of Warwick have found that asymmetric stresses within electrodes used in certain wearable electronic devices provides an important clue as to how to improve the durability and lifespan of these batteries.

Batteries for medical applications and wearable devices continue to evolve in size and shape, with miniaturisation of Li-ion technologies becoming increasingly popular. However, as the size of the battery shrinks, the fabrication process for composite electrodes and the use of liquid electrolyte is becoming a processing challenge for microfabrication using conventional approaches.

A diagram of how tensile strain leads to the film cracking Lithium cobalt oxide LiCoO2 (LCO) has remained a common choice of cathode for these small formats due to its high voltage platform and energy density. However, following the initial reported performance benefits of LCO, it is known that LCO cells have large impedance issues due to the growth of high surface layer resistance and charge transfer resistance. This can affect how efficiently the battery charges and discharges. There are also ethical and health considerations around the use of the element cobalt. The increasing impedance was thought to be attributable to the growth of a surface layer on both the anode (solid electrolyte interface, SEI) and cathode (cathode electrolyte interface, CEI) due to the reaction between the electrodes and the electrolyte.

However, in the paper “Ageing analysis and asymmetric stress considerations for small format cylindrical cells for wearable electronic devices” published recently in the Journal of Power Sources, the University of Warwick’s WMG and Physics department researchers disassembled these cells. They have found that and the condition of the cathode and anode varied greatly after 500 cycles, as a function of which side of the current collector it was on.

The inward facing cathode (under compression) when rolled into a jelly-roll, develops significant signs of coating delamination from the aluminium foil. On theAn image demonstrating the stresses to anodes and cathodes after cycles outward facing cathode side (under tension), however, only a partial delamination was evident and the coating was transferred unto the separator. By contrast, severe delamination was observed on both sides of the anode coating. The inward facing anode side (under compression) showed almost no coating still adherent to the copper foil, compared to the outward facing anode side (under tension). Likewise, the delaminated coating had become adhered to the separator during operation.

Dr Mel Loveridge from WMG, University of Warwick comments:

“It is interesting to note that, for both the cathode and the anode, the delamination is more severe on the electrode coating side that would have been subjected to compression stress, rather than tensile strain. This can be further explained by considering the asymmetric forces in place on either side of double side coated electrodes.”

The research team also carried out electrochemical testing, X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS), X-ray computed tomography (XCT) and scanning electron microscopy SEM), to reveal the battery’s structural features and changes. They found that it maintains 82% cell capacity after 500 continuous charging and discharging, after which it shows severe delamination due to high bending stress exerted on the cell components. However this seemingly has minimum impact on the electrochemical performance if the coating is sufficiently compressed in the jelly roll with a good electrical contact. After ageing, the surface layers continue to grow, with more LiF found on the cathode and anode.

Their research opens up exciting areas in battery manufacturing to address winding issues for cylindrical cells (especially miniaturised formats). For example, highlighting the need to understand whether there is merit in varying the coating properties on each side of double-sided coating for wound cylindrical cells, in order to improve the mechanical resilience of coatings that have asymmetric stresses exerted on them.

ENDS

25 AUGUST 2020

NOTES TO EDITORS:

Paper available to view: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0378775320309307?via%3Dihub

High-res images available at:

https://warwick.ac.uk/services/communications/medialibrary/images/july_2020/wearable_image.jpg
Caption: An image demonstrating the stresses to anodes and cathodes after cycles.
Credit: WMG, University of Warwick

https://warwick.ac.uk/services/communications/medialibrary/images/july_2020/mel_l.jpg
Caption: A diagram of how tensile strain leads to the film cracking
Credit: WMG, University of Warwick

The full research team on the paper were:

Ageing analysis and asymmetric stress considerations for small format cylindrical cells for wearable electronic devices C.C. Tan, Marc Walker, Guillaume Remy, Nadia Kourra, Faduma Maddar, Shaun Dixon, Mark Williams and Mel Loveridge.

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 25 Aug 2020, 11:57 | Tags: Electrochemical Engineering Research

C3-Cloud: the digital coordinated care platform of the future

- The C3-Cloud could be the future for supporting coordinated care across GPs, hospitals and specialties

- The novel solution would benefit patients with multiple conditions who are most in need of a holistic care plan

- It has been recognised by the European Innovation Radar as ‘tech ready’ and could be used to support remote care, not only in everyday use but also in the current and future pandemics

Typically, when a patient is receiving care from GPs and Hospitals, these are normally uncoordinated and the patient is often presented with conflicting advice, or clinicians are required to assess patients without access to all of the patient’s relevant history, often making care fragmented and inefficient, particularly for an ageing population who may have multiple conditions and need care from multiple specialists and stakeholders.Caption: Demo of the C3-Cloud Platform

Healthcare has seen an explosive growth in the amount of data produced, which has led to more data driven and evidence based protocols. However, this has also presented challenges as data can become locked in silos or to particular vendors, limiting their availability for reuse, dissemination and potential to improve patient outcomes.

However, C3-Cloud (collaborative cure and care system) is a digital infrastructure offering integrated care capability for multi-morbidity management. It enables collaboration across a number of healthcare systems and settings, allowing clinicians to semi-automatically generate a holistic personalised care plan, which offers an integrated view of the patient’s conditions, measurements, medication and goals.

Patients and their multi-disciplinary care team can collaboratively create, review and edit the plan, empowering the patient to make decisions about their care. The care plan personalisation process is supported by a Clinical Decision Support module, implementing over 500 rules, consolidating and reconciling multiple clinical practice guidelines of common comorbidities (for example, diabetes, heart failure, renal failure and depression). The system accommodates local organisational aspects such as roles, as well interoperability to existing systems, it is currently deployed in three pilot sites in the UK, Spain and Sweden, integrating with their health systems and supporting coordinated care.

The C3-Cloud technology is flexible enough to support other conditions, including supporting remote management generally, which can be applied to situations, such as in the current COVID-19 pandemic. The project has recently investigated plans for deployment in such pandemic scenarios.Professor Theo Arvanitis, Institute of Digital Healthcare, WMG, University of Warwick

Professor Theo Arvanitis, the C3-Cloud project co-ordinator from the Institute of Digital Healthcare at WMG, University of Warwick comments:

“As the world develops and becomes more digital it is essential our healthcare system does too. With an ever growing population and life expectancies increasing it’s important to make a digital healthcare system that works for everyone and that is what the C3-Cloud does.

“Not only does the C3-Cloud work across all systems, it can recommend treatments for patients with multiple health problems, which is helpful when someone is seeing multiple care outlets such as their GP and local hospital for different care needs.

“Our first pilot has taken place, and with the European Innovation Radar identifying C3-Cloud’s key components as tech ready, our next step is to expand this to large scale trials in multiple countries, this could lead to an enrolment in the system, and if there’s ever a pandemic like Covid-19 again different strategies for people with different health problems could be deployed rapidly.”

 

NOTES TO EDITORS

High-res images available to view at:

https://warwick.ac.uk/services/communications/medialibrary/images/april2020/theoarvanitis.jpg
Professor Theo Arvanitis, Institute of Digital Healthcare, WMG, University of Warwick
Credit: WMG, University of Warwick

https://warwick.ac.uk/services/communications/medialibrary/images/july_2020/c3-cloud_logo.jpg
Caption: C3-Cloud Logo
Credit: WMG, University of Warwick

https://warwick.ac.uk/services/communications/medialibrary/images/july_2020/c3-cloud-infographic.jpg
Caption: C3-Cloud Platform
Credit: WMG, University of Warwick

C3-Cloud introductory video to the public at youtube channel:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y3K_lUQkupg

C3-Cloud Website
C3-Cloud website

C3-Cloud @European Innovation Radarhttps://www.innoradar.eu/resultbykeyword/c3-cloud

Mon 24 Aug 2020, 09:26 | Tags: Research Health Informatics and Health Data Science

Aquatic robots can remove contaminant particles from water

Ocean coral.

Corals in the Ocean are made up of coral polyps, a small soft creature with a stem and tentacles, they are responsible for nourishing the corals, and aid the coral’s survival by generating self-made currents through motion of their soft bodies.

Scientists from WMG at the University of Warwick, led by Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands, developed a 1cm by 1cm wireless artificial aquatic polyp, which can remove contaminantsfrom water. Apart from cleaning, this soft robot could be also used in medical diagnostic devices by aiding in picking up and transporting specific cells for analysis.

In the paper, ‘An artificial aquatic polyp that wirelessly attracts, grasps, and releases objects’ researchers demonstrate how their artificial aquatic polyp moves under the influence of a magnetic field, while the tentacles are triggered by light. A rotating magnetic field under the device drives a rotating motion of the artificial polyp’s stem. This motion results in the generation of an attractive flow which can guide suspended targets, such as oil droplets, towards the artificial polyp.

Once the targets are within reach, UV light can be used to activate the polyp’s tentacles, composed of photo-active liquid crystal polymers, which then bend towards the light enclosing the passing target in the polyp’s grasp. Target release is then possible through illumination with blue light.

Dr Harkamaljot Kandail, from WMG, University of Warwick was responsible for creating state of the art 3D simulations of the artificial aquatic polyps. The simulations are important to help understand and elucidate the stem and tentacles generate the flow fields that can attract the particles in the water.

The simulations were then used to optimise the shape of the tentacles so that the floating particles could be grabbed quickly and efficiently.

Dr Harkamaljot Kandail, from WMG, University of Warwick comments:

“Corals are such a valuable ecosystem in our oceans, I hope that the artificial aquatic polyps can be further developed to collect contaminant particles in real applications. The next stage for us to overcome before being able to do this is to successfully scale up the technology from laboratory to pilot scale. To do so we need to design an array of polyps which work harmoniously together where one polyp can capture the particle and pass it along for removal.”

Marina Pilz Da Cunha, from the Eindhoven University of Technology, Netherlands adds:

“The artificial aquatic polyp serves as a proof of concept to demonstrate the potential of actuator assemblies and serves as an inspiration for future devices. It exemplifies how motion of different stimuli-responsive polymers can be harnessed to perform wirelessly controlled tasks in an aquatic environment.”

Mon 10 Aug 2020, 12:35 | Tags: Research

Consumers don’t fully trust smart home technologies

Smart Home Technology

Smart home technologies are marketed to enhance your home and make life easier. However, UK consumers are not convinced that they can trust the privacy and security of these technologies, a study by WMG, University of Warwick has shown.

The ‘smart home’ can be defined as the integration of Internet-enabled, digital devices with sensors and machine learning in the home. The aim of smart home devices is to provide enhanced entertainment services, easier management of the home, domestic chores and protection from domestic risks. They can be found in devices such as smart speakers and hubs, lighting, sensors, door locks and cameras, central heating thermostats and domestic appliances.

To better understand consumer's perceptions of the desirability of the smart home, researchers from WMG and Computer Science, University of Warwick have carried out a nationally representative survey of UK consumers designed to measure adoption and acceptability, focusing on awareness, ownership, experience, trust, satisfaction and intention to use.

The article ‘Trust in the smart home: Findings from a nationally representative survey in the UK’ published in the top journal PlosOne reveals their results, with the main finding that the the business proposal of added meaning and value has not yet achieved closure from consumers, as they have highlighted concern for risks to privacy and security.

Researchers sent 2101 participants a survey, with questions to assess:

- Awareness of the Internet of Things (IoT)

- Current ownership of smart home devices

- Experiences of their use of smart home devices

- Trust in the reliability and competence of the devices

- Trust in privacy

- Trust in security

- Satisfaction and intention to use the devices in the future, and intention to recommend it to others

The findings suggest consumers had anxiety about the likelihood of a security incident, as overall people tend to mildly agree that they are likely to risk privacy as well as security breach when using smart home devices, in other words they are unconvinced that their privacy and security will not be at risk when they use smart home devices.

It also emerged that when asked to evaluate the impact of a privacy breach people tend to disagree that its impact will be low, suggesting they expect the impact of a privacy breach to be significant. This emerges as a prominent factor influencing whether or not they would adopt smart home technology, furthermore making it less likely.

Other interesting results highlight:

- More females than males have adopted smart home devices over the last year, possibly as they tend to run the house and find the technology helpful

- Young people ages 18-24) were the earliest adopters of smart home technology, however older people (ages 65+) also adopted it early, possibly as they have more disposable income and less responsibilities – e.g. no mortgage, no dependent children

- People aged 65 and over are less willing to use smart home devices in case of unauthorised data collection compared to younger people, indicating younger people are less aware of privacy breaches

- Less well-educated people are the least interested in using smart home devices in the future, and that these might constitute market segments that will be lost to smart home adoption, unless their concerns are specifically addressed and targeted by policymakers and businesses.

Dr Sara CannizzaroDr Sara Cannizzaro, from WMG, University of Warwick comments:

“Our study underlines how businesses and policymakers will need to work together to act on the sociotechnical affordances of smart home technology in order to increase consumers’ trust. This intervention is necessary if barriers to adoption and acceptability of the smart home are to be addressed now and in the future.

“Proof of cybersecurity and low risk to privacy breaches will be key in smart home technology companies persuading a number of consumers to invest in their technology.”

Professor Rob Procter, from Computer Science, University of Warwick, adds:

“Businesses are still actively promoting positive visions of what the smart home means for consumers (e.g., convenience, economy, home security). However, at the same time, as we see from our survey results, consumers are actively comparing their interactional experiences against these visions and are coming up with different interpretations and meanings from those that business is trying to promote.”

Tue 04 Aug 2020, 10:56 | Tags: Research Cyber Security

Novel magnetic stirrer speaks to lab equipment

A current problem for a wide range of chemists is when stirring a solution in the laboratory there is a need to check the properties of the solution and monitor how they change.Caption: Demo of how the Smart Stirrer works.  Credit: WMG, University of Warwick

In the paper, ‘Monitoring chemistry in situ with the Smart Stirrer —a magnetic stirrer bar with an integrated process monitoring system’ published in the journal ACS Sensors, researchers from the School of Engineering, the Mathematics Institute and WMG at the University of Warwick present their innovative stirrer sensor.

The small device, called “Smart Stirrer”, performed a function of a conventional laboratory stir bar, has an integrated microprocessor and various sensors capable of wireless and autonomous report the conversion of properties of a solution. The advanced sensor stir bar is a capsule shaped magnet encased in plastic.

A beaker filled with a solution is placed on a platform that generates a rotating magnetic field, when the magnetic stirrer is placed in the solution it continuously rotates stirring the liquid.

The Smart Stirrer then monitors:

- Colour

- Transparency

- Conductivity

- Viscosity

- Temperature

Results are sent to a computer over Bluetooth, and any changes notify the user wirelessly. Although the idea of using magnetic stir bar with integrated sensors may not be entirely new, this new affordable, multi-sensor and easy programmable stirrer sensor device is first in its kind.

The concept is valuable to Research and Design laboratories and pharmaceutical and chemistry manufacturing industries because it allows wireless monitoring of several parameters of a chemical reaction simultaneously

Dr Dmitry Isakov, Assistant Professor at WMG, University of Warwick, from WMG at the University who led the study comments:

“We are still continuing research into the stirrer, the next revision of the stirrer sensor that will be smaller size and with a bit more sophisticated sensors. We are collaborating with several chemists from Warwick University. This will help us to understand their needs and help to improve the device.

“The beauty of the Smart Stirrer is that it can be used everywhere, such as a sealed vessels thus minimising the contamination of the reactor. It may give a push to new discoveries as well. It is easy to integrate the stirrer into the labware family and make it “speak” to other lab equipment.”

Samuel Baldwin, from the Mathematics institute at the University of Warwick worked on the smart stirrer during his WMG summer internship, he comments:

“I have found every stage of development of the Smart Stirrer to be very fulfilling, from circuit design, to manufacturing to finally programming. We have leveraged state-of-the-art technology to build a device with very low power consumption, a broad range of sensor capabilities, and high data-throughput over the Bluetooth Low Energy platform.

“The laboratory of the future is that of automation, reproducibility and safety; our all-in-one Smart Stirrer device eliminates the need for a vast array of individual wired sensors whilst maintaining the control and customisability that one would expect from any piece of advanced laboratory equipment. I look forward to seeing the Smart Stirrer solve laboratory problems and help us understand complex reactions.”

NOTES TO EDITORS

High-res images available at:

https://warwick.ac.uk/services/communications/medialibrary/images/july_2020/smartstirrer.jpg

Caption: Demo of how the Smart Stirrer works.
Credit: WMG, University of Warwick

https://warwick.ac.uk/services/communications/medialibrary/images/july_2020/smartstirrercartoon.jpg

Caption: Demo of how the smart stirrer works – Cartoon version

Credit: WMG, University of Warwick

Paper available to view at: https://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/acssensors.0c00720

Mon 03 Aug 2020, 10:07 | Tags: Additive Layer Manufacturing Research

Lotus to establish new Advanced Technology Centre at University of Warwick's Wellesbourne Campus

Artist’s impression of the advanced technology centre when established(Wellesbourne, Warwickshire, UK – 23 July 2020) – Today, Lotus announces a dedicated and specialist advanced technology centre, which will also be home to a new headquarters for the company’s engineering consultancy.

Located on the University of Warwick’s Wellesbourne Campus, the new facility is established in partnership with WMG at the University of Warwick. WMG is an international leader in successful collaboration between academic research, teaching, training, and industry. The substantial facility consists of offices, workshops and laboratory space with ample space for expansion.

Initially, 130 engineers will move in, complementing the 500-strong engineering team at the home of Lotus Cars in Hethel, Norfolk.

Matt Windle, Executive Director, Engineering, Lotus Cars, said:

“This is a big step forward for Lotus and our engineering consultancy.  The new space, facilities and job opportunities at Wellesbourne will be in great demand as we rapidly build our portfolio of external projects. Our team and specialist skills have grown significantly in the last two years as renewed impetus has been put in to the business with new shareholders and management. The all-electric Evija hypercar is the first new Lotus Cars product for us to deliver, with significant focus on this at Wellesbourne as we complete the project and continue to advance its technologies for our future programmes.”

Phil Popham, CEO, Lotus Cars, added:

“Wellesbourne offers an excellent facility, with plenty of expansion potential, and will be the perfect home for our new advanced technology centre. Our engineering and R&D strategy around advanced propulsion systems is lock-in-step with the Government’s vision and broader global ambitions for a low-carbon automotive future. We look forward to working in collaboration with Government and with our new campus neighbours on this future. Having research partners at the University and WMG will bring significant benefits, as will the Midlands location, which is both very accessible and home to a rich pool of automotive talent.”

Nadhim Zahawi MP, the UK Government’s Business and Industry Minister, said:

“The West Midlands has long been the beating heart of the UK’s automotive and engineering industries, and this announcement is further evidence that this proud history will continue. Lotus’ new advanced technology centre will secure over 100 highly-skilled jobs in Warwickshire, support a strong economic recovery across the region and drive forward the low carbon, electric technologies of the future.”

Professor Stuart Croft, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Warwick, said:

“We are delighted to welcome this key part of such a significant and legendary technology based company to the University and our Wellesbourne campus. This is just the beginning of a partnership. I know that it will grow, thrive, and bring prosperity and new opportunities to both Warwickshire and the West Midlands, and will call on and benefit from the significant automotive and technology skills and talents of many people in our region.”

Margot James, Executive Chair, WMG, comments:

“This is wonderful news not only for WMG, the University of Warwick and the region, but also for the UK automotive sector. The UK needs to retain R&D capability in our manufacturing sector, and at WMG we are working with partners on many R&D programmes which are focused on innovation and future growth towards net zero. We look forward to collaborating with Lotus on projects which seek to create a greener, more connected future”.

Cllr Tony Jefferson, Leader of Stratford-on-Avon District Council, says:

“This is really good news for the Wellesbourne campus, Stratford-on-Avon District and the region as a whole. We are totally committed to supporting the development of the Wellesbourne campus. We see it as a major asset for both Stratford-on-Avon District and the region and we welcome the addition of 130 skilled roles to the District. We look forward to the future development of the campus.”

Lotus Engineering, which celebrates 40 years since its incorporation in 1980, works with customers all over the world. The confidentiality of its work is paramount with strict firewalls in place between project teams. Some of the more widely acknowledged Lotus Engineering programmes from the past include the Lotus Carlton, Tesla Roadster, multiple Formula 1 campaigns, and a host of products outside of the auto industry from Olympics track bikes (2020 and 1992) to boats and light aircraft. Today, Lotus Engineering’s specialisms include vehicle dynamics and advanced propulsion systems, encompassing lightweight structures, ride, handling and performance.

Thu 23 Jul 2020, 08:14 | Tags: Partnerships Research

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