Category: Engineering

Imperial in the news: electric cars

When the Racing Green Endurance team drove their SRZero down the Pan-American Highway in 2010, they drastically altered the image of electric cars across the world.

They proved that long journeys were possible, with the right supporting infrastructure, and, perhaps just as importantly, that electric cars don’t have to look like a G-Wiz or operate like a golf buggy. They can be sleek and sexy too, as illustrated by the growth of demand and production from manufacturers such as Tesla, Fisker and Venturi.

The Guardian blog interviewed Clemens Lorf and Alexander Schey [both Mechanical Engineering], who were part of the team prior to a talk about the project and the future of the industry, focusing especially around fuel cells and energy sources.

Imperial in the news: chemical detection

Researchers from the College have developed a technique which could be used in devices to detect tiny concentrations of chemicals by police or security staff.

Postgraduate researchers Michael Cecchini, Jack Paget and Vladimir Turek, led by Dr Joshua Edel and Professor Alexei Kornyshev (all from the Department of Chemistry) have created a self-assembling sheet of metal nanoparticles to capture ‘harmful’ molecules and identify them using Surface Enhanced Raman Scattering (SERS) of light – a technique that has been well understood since the 1970s. The new system is effective at identifying the trace amounts of different chemicals and is an improvement on current technologies to create nanoparticle sheets, the solid structures of which are difficult to manufacture.

Imperial in the news: printing body parts

The invention of 3D printing a few years ago has advanced the ways in which new products can be designed or ideas be made into reality. The latest opportunity to test the concept has seen Professor Justin Cobb [Surgery and Cancer] design a replacement knee in the MSk Lab for a soldier whose own one was smashed when he was shot while on duty in Iraq.

The report by Eureka Magazine follows the design and production of the knee at Charing Cross Hospital, where it was intricately modelled down to the micron level.  Although the design itself, made from plastic, won’t be inserted, it will allow those conducting the surgery to better configure the titanium joints prior to the operation, which is hoped to be a quicker and more effective procedure thanks to the 3D model.

Imperial in the news: particle economics

Using technology designed in the labs and research conducted at Imperial College London and the University of Manchester, Nanoco Ltd. is one of just three companies in the world able to produce quantum dots – an extremely rare material that sells for $2m per kilogramme. The company also has a number of Imperial alumni in its major design and development roles.

CEO of the company, Dr Michael Edelman, hopes to expand the business to increase output from 25kg per year to up to 400kg at a new site in Cheshire. Although quantum dots have little contemporary use, it is predicted that their properties, which include being able to emit light when electrically charged, will be vital in the future development of display screens and solar cells.