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!
I had the privilege of interviewing Dr HK Chang who showed me around the facility and introduced me to prototypes of the subsea drones Team Tao developed for the Ocean Discovery X Prize. I also spoke with Jeff Neasham who has developed a unique type of sonar that doesn’t harm marine life, which they employed for their novel subsea drone technology. Continue reading Team Tao’s subsea drones make a big splash
If cities are to overcome the numerous challenges they are currently facing, including disasters, then it requires an array of sustainable techniques, methods and approaches for managing them. Cities are robust, often resilient but also fragile in the wake of perplexing environmental problems, such as climate change.
To clarify things a bit – hazards themselves are not disasters until they harm or eliminate life. A large-scale asteroid impact is most certainly a hazard but it will not be a disaster unless it harms life or damages the processes that support it. Earthquakes and flood hazards may be potentially disastrous but only in reference to the living things they are at risk of destroying.
The good news about disasters is that while they are not always preventable, it is possible to reduce their impacts through human means. In this geological epoch, climate change will persist regardless of human intervention, but its future impacts remain an open question – and humans have a strong role to play.
The people involved are as, if not more important, than the technical and scientific tools employed. Now is the time for cities to move forward in using the many available tools for improving cities, some of which are created and demonstrated through publicly-funded research. Continue reading Tools for making cities better prepared for disasters
As International Women’s Day was just last week it is a good time to reflect upon the women of today in STEM, and the pioneers of the past.
The role of women in STEM cannot be overlooked as it has been fundamental to the growth of science (including social science), technology and society as a whole. The history of science tends to under-represent women, however, there is a range of examples of women in the ranks of physics, chemistry, biology, archaeology, anthropology, civil engineering and many other fields throughout history.
I have had the pleasure of meeting and interviewing many brilliant women scientists, mathematicians and engineers throughout my career. People who have inspired countless others through research, teaching and simply living.
This video showcases some famous women scientists and engineers, some you may have heard of, others perhaps not so much. It’s important that we tell the stories of women in STEM for whom without science would be at a great loss, not to mention our future. Continue reading Remembering women in STEM
While electricity tends to be seen as number one in terms of energy use, gas makes up 22% of the world’s energy needs and it’s growing. Many countries are transferring from coal to gas power stations resulting in reductions in CO2 emissions, methane leakage however is still a problem, which is far from climate friendly. 40% of the UK’s electricity actually comes from gas, and 83% of its homes are heated by gas. The trend is likely to continue globally with China’s future gas demand forecast to grow by 60% in future. This means better infrastructure and demand forecasts are needed
Gas clearly plays a major role in making the low-carbon transition a reality, especially since it’s not only natural gas we’re talking about here – it’s also methane (biogas), hydrogen and other cleaner alternatives. The gas network itself is also an immense infrastructure that could be used to store energy as well as distribute it. But to do this efficiently you need to make accurate forecasts, which can be challenging if you’re a network operator and you don’t know how much gas they will need to satisfy demand.
Continue reading Maths to the rescue for predicting gas demand
“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.
If I catch the Metro or bus to work I will likely run into someone with a gadget I’ve never seen before, a new type of mobile phone, notebook, tablet or other digital device that’s streaming Netflix, or some other cloud based entertainment network. And if I get a lift from a friend I often spot a Tesla electric car or Nissan Leaf, both of which hook up to the national grid for charging, but could also potentially store energy for the grid as well. Continue reading The internet of things and the fourth industrial revolution