An integrated energy system has large potential to revolutionise our energy economy. If the UK is to achieve Net Zero by 2050, it requires little less than transformation of our current energy system in becoming smarter, cleaner, affordable and low-carbon. In light of the recent power cut in England and Wales, integration could also help make the energy system more resilient to faults and prevent failures.
In the final podcast of the Science Perspective series from #awriterinthelab, we speak with researchers in key areas of the integrated energy revolution from electrical, cyber security and transport engineers, to material scientists and industry practitioners innovating the future of solar PV, EVs, energy storage and hydrogen for an integrated energy system. Enjoy.
Digital twin technology means a lot for flood preparedness, drainage and wastewater management and a host of other things in the water sector and beyond. It also has a lot to do with running business differently as the knowledge obtained from digital twins, including how to aggregate and visualise data, has large potential to shape the future of decision-making and data.
For those unaware, digital twin is a bit of buzzword that is catching on in academic, industry and policy worlds that refers to a live real time digital counterpart of physical systems we encounter in the real world. It’s closely related to what people in academia and industry also call ‘cyber-physical’ (more about this in our podcast on ‘The Fourth Industrial Revolution’). Continue reading Digital twins ‘the final frontier’→
I knew little about subsea engineering until I met Team Tao – a team of engineers from Soil Machine Dynamics and Newcastle University. Turns out, we know very little about the things below water when it comes to the deep sea, and there is much more to explore. But there’s a catch…We don’t really have the technology to do it in a very efficient way…yet.
I had the pleasure of visiting Team Tao at Tyne Subsea in Wallsend, which operates one of the largest hyperbaric chambers in the world. Basically, it’s a really cool massive bit of kit capable of testing things at extremely high pressures – simulating water depths of 15,000m!
…through television and telephony we shall see and hear one another as perfectly as though we were face to face, despite intervening distances of thousands of miles; and the instruments through which we shall be able to do his will be amazingly simple compared with our present telephone. A man will be able to carry one in his vest pocket. Nikola Tesla (1912)
The possibilities of technology are seemingly endless. I would not be writing to you in cyberspace right now if this were not the case, and as Tesla rightly predicted you may be reading it from a device small enough to fit in your pocket. Yet despite the ubiquity of mobile wireless technologies there remain potential applications that have not yet been discovered or used yet.
We tend to take technologies for granted because they are intertwined with our regular lives, but how we interact with them is still far from straightforward.
Sometimes there are problems that are simply too unique, too individual that current off the shelf technologies cannot address them. How do you build devices to solve human problems if they’re not focused on the values and needs of people?
And how do you take available communications technologies and use them to solve real-world problems?
There’s still time to get human-computer interaction right. The ethos behind human computer interaction is not merely to get computing to work better for people, but to find ways for technology to improve and transform their lives, and create agency.
“The business and academic community has set out a vision for much greater ambition needed for Britain to be a world leader in the fourth industrial revolution”.
Thanks to the digitisation of nearly everything there are now vast quantities of data gathered by devices connected to the internet. I often notice them during my daily commute.
Prior to cycling through Newcastle I tap into local environmental sensors to see the latest info on air quality or weather data. On the road next to me I notice someone with a Fitbit or mobile phone strapped to their arm recording their heart rate, number of steps taken and how many calories they’ve burned.
The possibilities for synthetic biology are numerous. It could play a key role in resolving global environmental challenges that policy makers and regulators are struggling with. It could make industry less polluting, more sustainable and likely more profitable. This is especially true for companies with large ecological footprints who are working to decarbonise. The chemical industry could also change drastically as new forms of life could be designed to produce chemicals that otherwise would have to come from unsustainable sources like petrol.
Plastic pollution could likely become a thing of the past if replaced with bio-based instead of oil based polymers. Cheap, clean ‘next generation’ biofuels are also a major prospect that would help countries succeed in phasing out petrol based fuels altogether. Politically speaking this will take time as oil is likely not to be replaced overnight by sustainable alternatives, but synthetic biology is without a doubt a major player in energy and decarbonisation for multiple reasons.
Cities are implementing smart traffic lights, rapid EV charging points, testing autonomous vehicles and flying taxis. Countries are promising to phase out internal combustion engines by 2040 or sooner. In response to this ambitious policy, many of the vehicles on the road could be electric.
Transport by rail will change, becoming faster, more sustainable and (hopefully) more affordable. With 60% of all current travel taking place in urban areas rail is likely best placed for super mass transit systems.
The remit of the Helix is to make our lives smarter, healthier and sustainable, combining cutting edge university research with business, industry and local communities. It is transforming a former brownfield located in the centre of Newcastle into a thriving hub for commercial enterprise, residential development, urban science and innovation. Transport is very much part of its vision for the future. Continue reading The future of transport – faster, integrated and electric→