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Department of Engineering

News

Durham trains Nigeria LNG graduates

October 2017

TTE Technical Training Group and the UK’s Durham University are transferring LNG skills and competencies to a group of Nigeria LNG (NLNG) graduates.

NLNG has sent 45 technicians to the UK to a tailor-made training course that covers mechanical, process and electrical engineering relating to LNG operations. The students will spend six weeks in Middlesbrough, where TTE will deliver practical vocational training and two months at Durham University’s Stockton-on-Tees campus.

TTE has offered a series of training programmes for NLNG. It will deliver health and safety training using workshops, rigs and simulators. Training covers heat transfer, plant systems and combustion, turbomachinery and civil engineering.

“Working in collaboration with Durham University will provide the technicians with applicable and relevant skills and competencies to apply to their careers in the LNG sector,” said TTE managing director Steve Grant, pictured centre right.

The students including, left to right, Emmanuel Dibiagwu, Joanne Graham-Douglas, Abimbola Salami and Mariam Faith Ezekwesili, aim to qualify in IOSH Managing Safely.

Durham optometrist turns inventor to come up with new device to test eyesight of children with Down's Syndrome

August 2017

Simon Berry a NORTH-East optometrist approached Durham University’s Engineering department Dr Oliver Vogt, to help after working on an idea for almost two years. Conventional eye testing equipment to measure focusing ability sits close to the face and encourages children to look directly at a target so the optometrist can take the measurement. But children with Down’s Syndrome often find it difficult to hold focus and cannot concentrate for long enough to get an accurate reading. Mr Berry who specialises in children’s eye care at his practice in Gilesgate, Durham, and also works at Sunderland Eye Infirmary, said: “Children with special needs often have difficulty engaging in the eye test enough to obtain an accurate reading. I felt there had to be a way around the problem.” Simon invented a new device to help test the eyesight of children with Down’s Syndrome and has since been working with Durham University Engineering students, Matt Grozier and Fred Noble, who used a 3D printer to produce the prototype in two weeks.
Using mirrors and glass, it acts as a mini cinema screen to so the child can look at familiar images such as favourite TV characters or even pictures of their own pets. The prototype has been endorsed by Dr Margaret Woodhouse OBE, senior lecturer and optometrist at Cardiff University and a leading specialist in the visual development of children with Down’s Syndrome, who believes it could solve a real issue in the children’s eye care sector.
The technology has been tested with help from Special iApps, an educational app developer for children with special educational needs.
Mr Berry, who has previously campaigned to change rules on funding to help children with Down’s Syndrome get vouchers for specialist glasses, added: “It has been a very exciting process and the expertise of Durham University, and the help from Special iApps has been invaluable. Mr Berry is now looking for a partner to roll it out across the country.


Former Engineering student gets prestigious award from ICE "Greatest Contribution to Civil Engineering"

August 2017

Recently retired Tim Healey BSc(Hons), CEng, FICE, MIStructE, from the post of Director of Civil Engineering at Capita Property and Infrastructure (formerly Capita Symonds and before that Travers Morgan) received an award from the Institution of Civil Engineers at their 2017 South East Awards Ceremony held at the Grand Hotel in Brighton for the category of “ Greatest Contribution to Civil Engineering”. pictured Tim being presented with the award by former ICE President Jean Venables.

Since graduating from Durham Tim's 42 year career in Civil Engineering has seen him work on projects in around 20 countries, on over a dozen major tunnels and on such major civil engineering schemes as Crossrail, High Speed 2, North Wales Coast Road, Budapest Metro and the main east coast federal highway in Malaysia. Throughout his career Tim tells us he has applied the sound principles of engineering science taught to him here at Durham by such excellent tutors as Gordon Higginson, Harry Marsh, Pat Gill, David Gregory-Smith, John Wilson and others, including some sessions with Sir Derman Christopherson during his undergraduate days.

Dr Will Coombs now an Associate Professor in Engineering here at Durham, remembers Tim Healey. Will, as a student engineer at Durham, worked with Tim in the East Grinstead office of Capita Symonds.


Durham Engineering PhD students research, is the subject of a new article by Renewable Energy Global Innovations

August 2017

Zakiya AL-Busaidi’s recent paper in Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells is the subject of a new article by Renewable Energy Global Innovations. AL-Busaidi, currently a PhD student in the School of Engineering and Computing Sciences at Durham University, received her M.Sc. degree in physics at Sultan Qaboos University, Oman. Her current research focuses on how to enhance the lifetime of organic photovoltaics by using insulating polymers.

Read more about their take on our work here


DONG Energy to support PhD research at Durham University to help increase wind turbine efficiency

July 2017
DONG Energy is continuing its long-standing relationship with Durham University by supporting two PhD research studentships through the Durham Energy Institute (DEI).DONG Energy has funded the Chair in Renewable Energy position at DEI and endowed three MSc scholarships for Durham University students each year since 2011. DONG Energy will now support two PhDs as well, which will focus on the operation of wind turbines and helping to predict technical faults before they happen. Benj Sykes, DONG Energy's UK Country Manager, said: "DONG Energy is committed to investing in the UK and we're delighted to be continuing our partnership with the Durham Energy Institute through these two PhDs, alongside our existing sponsorship of Masters students and wider support. "We're passionate about supporting skills, education and the future of the offshore wind industry in the UK, and this important research into the operation of wind turbines could prove hugely significant in the future."
Simon Hogg, DONG Energy Professor in Renewable Energy at Durham University, said: "Durham Energy Institute believes that addressing energy challenges collaboratively through strong partnerships with industry ensures exciting research initiatives with real world applications that achieve maximum impact in the energy sector. "Our work with DONG Energy and these new joint PhDs are the perfect exemplar of this approach in action. We believe the research undertaken will help to make the UK wind sector even more economically competitive and a reliable part of the UK and European energy mix moving forward. This research will add to the range of exciting collaborative initiatives we are engaging in with DONG Energy, which are helping to make the UK the world leader in offshore wind energy research and installed capacity."
The two PhD research programmes are a direct outcome of a secondment by Durham University Assistant Professor Dr Peter Matthews to DONG Energy in Denmark, which revealed that wind turbine maintenance logs represent a rich source of data that would support significant advances in machine learning for improving wind turbine operational efficiency and availability. The PhDs will bring together turbine maintenance data and supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) data, with a view to developing algorithms for predicting turbine malfunction. One student (Roger Cox) will focus on developing a method for analysing and categorising relevant maintenance issues from the maintenance database. This will feed into the work of the second student (Luke Payne), who will focus on developing advanced data methods to positively identify turbines that are developing faults before they become critical and require the turbine to be taken off line. This research could prove vital in improving the availability of offshore wind turbines, ultimately helping to further drive down the cost of energy. The PhD research will be supervised by Dr Peter Matthews and Dr Christopher Crabtree from Engineering at Durham University, and will be undertaken both in Durham and on site at DONG Energy's offices.
By including the students as part of the DONG Energy team, they will be able to rapidly gain deep understanding of the company's key challenges and priorities. This will ensure that research remains highly relevant to DONG Energy, as well as enabling knowledge transfer between DONG Energy and Durham University.
Roger Cox is an experienced mechanical engineer who has worked on a number of renewable energy projects, while Luke Payne is a trained mathematician who has been involved with various data driven wind energy problems. The research is expected to be completed in December 2020 and DONG Energy is funding 66% of the two PhDs, with the remaining 34% funded by Durham University.
Image: (Left to right) Luke Payne, Christopher Crabtree, Pete Matthews and Roger Cox (Dong Energy)

Durham University in £7.6 million partnership to develop wind power technology for the future

July 2017

A collaboration, which includes Durham University, has won £7.6m funding under the EPSRC’s Prosperity Partnerships call, to improve the country’s offshore wind power technologies.

Jo Johnson, Minister for Universities and Science, made the announcement as part of a multi-million pound investment into research partnerships to strengthen links between the UK’s research base, industry and business partners.

Led by the University of Sheffield, along with partner universities Durham and Hull and business partners Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy and DONG Energy, the five-year programme will address current and future challenges in order to reduce the cost of electricity from offshore wind.

Engineering experts from Durham University will work on projects aimed at reducing the operation and maintenance costs of offshore wind turbines to ensure the efficient running of wind farms and on projects connected to anchoring of offshore structures. Technologies being developed at Durham will include new methods and sensors for earlier detection of emerging faults before the turbines need to go off line, better turbine blade and tower inspections techniques, improved analytical models for seabed soils and better designs for seabed anchors. All of these developments are aligned with the overarching aim of the collaborative project which is to reduce the costs of offshore wind energy generation.

You can read more about the project here


ORIGAMI

A tool to identify, explore and reduce the emotions associated with stress. Stress management through a mindful technique in developing countries.

March 2017

Engineering academic Dr. Qing Wang co-hosted a two days Origami workshop 28 and 29 March funded under the HEFCE Newton Fund. The workshop intends to explain how Origami is used as a mindful tool for stress identification and reduction in developing countries such as Mexico. Participants learned basic concepts of the history and applications of Origami in different sciences such as aerospace, nanotechnology, and engineering and to use Origami, through the folding of different models, to reduce the emotions related to stress. At the end of the workshop participants engaged in a proposal of their own using the acquired knowledge. The emotional state of a person deeply affects their perception, productivity, and development. Negative feelings and emotions such as stress have a direct impact on the health of people that could trigger pathologies such as dementias, premature ageing, and diabetes, amongst others. In recent years, Origami has proven to be one of the most effective activities in promoting a mindful state and is recognised by the NHS as an effective treatment for stress, depression, anxiety, and as prevention, treatment to promote mental well-being.

Resources

Engineers to develop a new technology

January 2017

Engineering academics, Dr Claudio Balocco, with Dr Andrew Gallant and Professor David Wood, have been awarded an EPSRC grant “Nano-rectennas for heat-to-electricity conversion", in collaboration with researchers from Manchester, which has started in August 2016. They aim to develop a new technology to convert radiant heat to electricity, using large arrays of electronic nano-devices known as nano-rectennas. In the future these could be used in micro combined heat-power (mCHP) systems, converting part of the heat from the burner into electricity. Unlike thermoelectric devices, these proposed energy converters are neither in physical contact with the hot source, nor require materials with a high toxicity or strict disposal regulations. They will be fabricated using “green” materials, and are based on common metals (e.g. titanium, platinum and gold), carbon (in the form of graphene) and non-toxic, highly stable organic layers.


Evolving electronics' could lead to new electrical devices

September 2016

ECS researchers have taken inspiration from nature to teach materials to form new electrical pathways. They say the finding could eventually lead to new electronic devices. They have managed to train tiny carbon nanotubes, suspended in a liquid crystal solution, to reorganise into new networks in order to solve a simple problem - sorting data into two categories.

Creating new electrical circuits

When varying electrical voltages were applied to the material using a computer programme, the tiny nanotubes changed position to create new electrical circuits and increase the material’s ability to solve the task. Although at an early stage the researchers hope their findings, published in Scientific Reports, could be used to help understand complicated information that normal computers can find difficult. For example, the new materials could be used to help find hidden patterns of symptoms associated with disease, or even predict the next emoji you might want to use. Currently silicon based transistors are used to process information in electronics, but new alternatives are being sought as they reach the limits of how small they can be made.

Inspired by nature

The Durham team took their lead from nature where living organisms evolve to perform complex tasks. Research co-author Professor Michael Petty, in the School of Engineering and Computing Sciences, said: “Living organisms have evolved in nature to perform complex tasks with remarkable ease. The human brain and central nervous system are both excellent examples. “Our research aims to explore similar evolution methods to create information processing devices. “In this case we took a random, disordered material and trained it to produce a desired output by applying voltages to it to change its electrical properties. “When the correct signals are applied the material can be trained or ‘evolved’ to perform a useful function.”

Complementary technology

Professor Petty said that although he could not see the type of material developed in the research competing with high-speed silicon in the immediate future, it could be a complementary technology. He added: “This is an emerging interdisciplinary field of research, bringing together electronics, materials science and computer science. “Although in its early stage, the concept has been proven that, using natural evolution, materials can be trained to mimic electronic circuits without the need to design the material structure in a specific way.”

The research was funded by the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme under the NAnoSCale Engineering for Novel Computation using Evolution (NASCENCE) project.


Snapshot of research in Engineerins Mechanics Group

June 2016

On the 14th June 2016 the mechanics research group in the School of Engineering and Computing Sciences held its first research day. During the day there were 23 presentations from MScR/PhD students and post-doctoral researchers at all stages of their careers. Talks covered a diverse range of topics, from computational mechanics to experimental soil mechanics, providing a snapshot of the research in the group. The aim of the day was to ensure that everyone is aware of what is going on in the group in terms of research and to foster discussion and potential collaboration on common issues/techniques/solution methods.

Resources


Parliament Live TV Event

May 2016

School of Engineering and Computing Sciences Dr Karen Johnson Senior lecturer in Environmental Engineering, gave oral evidence to the Government's Environmental Audit Committee's Inquiry into Soil Health. The Environmental Audit Committee scrutinises the UK Government's performance on environmental protection and sustainable development. Karen stated that urban soils are currently unprotected and that engineers should lead the way in the sustainable management of urban soils since soils have an important role to play both in climate change adaptation and climate change mitigation. Watch the video of the Audit Committee's Inquiry you can also follow on and read more about Karen's research


Key to Smart Power revolution

May 2016

Why understanding the energy system as a whole is key to Smart Power revolution. A new centre that will allow experts to test the entire energy system in real time has been announced. Bridging a pivotal gap in our drive towards a fully integrated, smart energy network, the centre is crucial to improving energy efficiency, driving down customer bills and reducing carbon emissions. Providing us with robust messages about the real world, the aim is to understand how we can optimise the energy network and inform future government policy. Academics from Durham ECS and DEI, together with colleagues from Newcaslte, Edinburgh, Heriot-Watt and Sussex Universities have been successful in securing £20m to form the ‘EPSRC National Centre for Energy Systems Integration’. The centre aims to galvanise research and innovation around the UK energy trilemma and will form a new highly collaborative and integrative research centre, which has at its heart the strengths of five research intensive universities, but also reaches out and collaborates with the skills and expertise of the UK academic community and many industrial partners and public sector organisations. The Centre will develop wide-scale, probabilistic modelling and simulation of integrated energy systems at sufficient detail and sophistication to meet the needs of the energy trilemma that will shape the UK’s energy policy and infrastructure over the next 50 years. More information on the project can be found here


Engineering Student wins Best PhD Student award for 2016

April 2016

Earlier this month School of Engineering Post graduate student Robert Bird presented a paper at the 24th ACMA-UK Computational Mechanics conference 2016 at Cardiff University. Roberts paper on "quasi-static configurational force brittle fracture propagation within a discontinuous Galerkin (dG) finite element setting", won him 'Best PhD Student award for 2016' based on his presentation and extended abstract. The novelty of the work was exploiting the dG face stiffness terms which describe adjacent element iteration to propagate a crack. The Conference focused on recent developments in the field of Computational Mechanics through a combination of keynote lectures, paper and poster sessions. Researchers from areas closely related to Computational Mechanics such as Scientific Computing and Applied Mathematics were encouraged to participate and also to take the opportunity to visit Cardiff, the capital of Wales.


TERRIER® and Combat Engineering

January 2016

Gareth David Ayre graduated from Durhams Engineering Department in 2003. Now Gareth is Engineering Team Lead - Bridging & Combat Engineering at BAE systems and has returned to ECS to talk about his work on the Army's most advanced multi-task vehicle named the Terrier.

The Terrier is the Army's most advanced multi-task vehicle. It is a unique platform combining combat strength with the ability to perform a huge variety of engineering tasks on the battlefield. Designed to be agile, adaptable and robust, it can carry out a multitude of tasks under the most dangerous of conditions.

The 30-tonne REMOTE CONTROLLED armoured digger built for 'the battlefields of the future, it will be used to dig holes, lift objects, drill into ground and shatter concrete. It can reach speeds of almost 50mph and is able to be controlled remotely. Machine gun and smoke grenade launchers can also be fitted for combat. The Army will receive 60 Terriers as part of £360m project with BAE Systems.

The talk was sponsored by the IMechE and is a great insight into real engineering and the experiences open to students in the engineering profession.
Read more:


World Soils Day

January 2016

Pictured here speaking at Durham University organised event to celebrate World Soils Day at Westminster on 2nd December 2015 is Dr Karen Johnson from the School of Engineering and Computing Sciences. The event was a panel debate on soil health and was well attended. The Chair of the Government's Environmental Audit Committee's Huw Irranca-Davies MP chaired the debate and launched the UK's first ever inquiry into Soil Health at the event (http://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/environmental-audit-committee/inquiries/parliament-2015/soil-health/).

The video of the event can be seen online at: https://youtu.be/6lHtsMwMgaA

More information on soil research can be found at: https://www.dur.ac.uk/ihrr/robust


ECS is awarded Athena Swan Bronze

November 2015

We in ECS congratulate ourselves on having been awarded the Athena Swan Bronze, and to celebrate this Dr Karen Johnson has structured ECS first of many Women in Engineering and Computing Sciences (WECS), termly informal meetings where the women of ECS, staff and students, will get together to discuss any issues they see relevant to encouraging women to stay in the engineering sector. The first of these meetings will be on Friday 4th December at 1pm in ECS Staff Common Room. If you have any questions about how the School is engaging with Athena Swan, please contact our ECS Athena Swan Representative Dr Karen Johnson. Our Athena Swan action plan is also available on duo and if anyone wishes to provide helpful comment it would be most welcome. Pictured left, ECS's Dr Sarah Drummond with Professor Dame Julia Higgins FRS FREng at the award ceremony in London.

More details about Athena Swan awards can be found at: http://www.ecu.ac.uk/equality-charters/athena-swan/