C2I 2022: Wild Card shortlist

As ever, our Wild Card category threw up some incredible projects from a variety of sectors, showcasing the power of engineering to drive innovation in all walks of life.


Project name: CHAMP – Clean Hybrid Alternative Marine Powertrain

Mathwall Marine, Purple Sector, University of Bath / IAAPS, Solis Marine, Ribs for Sale, Boat Club Trafalgar

The Clean Hybrid Alternative Marine Powertrain (CHAMP) project was formed to find a solution to reducing the environmental impact of the marine sector through transferring proven automotive technologies into marine applications.

It has delivered a methanol fuelled, electric hybrid Rigid Inflatable Boat (RIB) which can run in several modes: zero emissions electric; methanol fuelled internal combustion engine (a sustainable fuel often used in automotive race engines); hybrid performance mode using both power sources to give 740bhp; hybrid charging mode to allow for charging on the move; and anchor mode, to allow for self-charging while at anchor.

Innovations delivered through the cross-sector collaborative project include ‘HalfBoard’, a quick connection powertrain packaged in a hull shaped box and drawn from technology used in Formula 1 and Le Mans; a hybrid methanol flex fuel powertrain; a cutting edge control system and a digitally driven development programme using a motorsport approach to modelling and simulation.

Whilst similar programmes for delivering a new power train in marine would take at least three years, the team said, CHAMP was delivered in just 7 months, thanks to the collaborative cross-sector approach taken where each partner brought their unique expertise. The project has resulted in the creation of five jobs already and is expected to create 50 more jobs by 2025.

Project: Ozone for Sanitisation

ACS Clothing, University of West of Scotland, Innovate UK

Ozone for Sanitisation is a project stemming from a knowledge transfer partnership (KTP) between circular fashion solutions company ACS Clothing and the University of the West of Scotland – UWS, funded by Innovate UK. Its goal was to embed automation, engineering, physical chemistry and microbiological expertise for the design, development and implementation of a novel in-line garment decontamination process.

The project responded to a growing need in the clothing industry for technologies that can rapidly transform garments from a used, contaminated state to a disinfected and deodorised state, particularly important with the rise of rental fashion and the circularity of ACS’ operations.

The developed system in the project is an automated solution, hailed as the UK’s first automated ozone decontamination system, that addresses the constraints of current manually-operated ozonation systems, which are timely, inefficient and inflexible.

With a contact time of only four minutes, the novel system is capable of processing 20,000 garments within an eight hour shift, a three-fold improvement of the company’s current ozone processing capability.

The multidisciplinary project has led to a system with applications not only in textile materials but in a number of other materials that require disinfection or sanitisation with specific output control, an eco-friendly technology that could revolutionise the fashion, rental clothing and sanitisation industry with benefits in productivity as well as sustainability – potentially reducing landfill waste and lowering carbon footprint.

Project: ‘Udumathin Ioa’ (Eye in the Sky)

Melissa Schiele, Loughborough University, Outrigger Consultancy Ltd, The Ritz-Carlton Maldives, Fari Islands, Oceans Unmanned, Wolf Fish Ltd, Maldives National University, Marine Research and Higher Education Centre (MaRHE) part of University di Milano Bicocca, The Ocean Futures Society Jean-Michel Cousteau Ambassadors of the Environment Programme

This project, headed up by Loughborough University PhD researcher Melissa Schiel, focuses on the use of drones to gather images of ocean and beach plastics, allowing for an improved understanding of plastic pollution in the Maldives.

Schiele, from the university’s Department of Mechanical, Electrical and Manufacturing Engineering, has undertaken previous work in Belize that explored the use of a novel fixed-wing UAV as an enforcement and monitoring tool in the Turneffe Marine Atoll.

There is currently no standardised technique to capture information on plastic aggregations and reposition rates around the Maldives, something that Schiele and her collaborators aimed to address with this innovative project.

The Maldives is home to the world’s seventh-largest coral reef system and more than 1,100 species of fish and 180 species of coral.

Thanks to drone technology donated by non-profit organisation Oceans Unmanned, and a machine learning algorithm developed by Dr Sol Milne, a former resident naturalist at the Ritz-Carlton, harm can be prevented to these species through detection of harmful plastics such as discarded fishing nets, which are a huge problem for the region.

The multidisciplinary project involves nine international stakeholders and has potential to transform progress in the fight against ocean plastic waste through innovative technology and strong international collaboration.

Project name: Automating Concrete Construction (ACORN)

University of Bath, University of Cambridge, University of Dundee

 This project, a collaboration from three UK universities, has a long-term vision to ‘dramatically improve whole life construction sector sustainability and productivity’ by ‘creating a culture that takes a fresh, holistic approach to the manufacture, assembly, reuse, and deconstruction of concrete buildings for a healthier and safer built environment’.

The production of cement accounts for about 8 per cent of global CO2 emissions, and if cement production were a country, it’d be the third largest global CO2 emitter.

Typical on-site formwork methods for concrete are wasteful of materials and have long prioritised ease of construction over sustainability.

ACORN’s approach builds on the team’s computational design expertise, developing innovative digital tools and techniques to optimise shape, layout, structure and façade of buildings during design, and extends this approach downstream in the building process to encompass fabrication.

The team believes that by moving construction of concrete buildings off-site to an automated, quality-controlled environment, and using robotics to create optimised, adaptable non-prismatic formwork, the construction industry can become both more sustainable and more productive.

In addition to focusing on using less material, the project innovates on the creation of integrated end-to-end digital processes to automate the design and manufacture of non-prismatic building elements. There is innovation in the software, hardware, fabrication process and resulting full-scale demonstration building, which showcased the innovative techniques developed by the team and requires only a quarter of the concrete compared to a traditional flat-slab for the same loading conditions.

Project: Sitski

Williams Advanced Engineering, GB Snowsport, BAE Systems, Coventry University

 Sitski is a collaborative project with the objective of developing a rig for the GB Snowsport Paralympic cross-country team.

- SitSki

It draws on the expertise of its partners through utilising sports science and performance analytics from Coventry University, product development and testing from WAE and manufacturing and testing from BAE Systems. Through this, the Sitski team was able to develop a bespoke solution for each athlete.

The rig was designed to cover ranging disabilities including above and below the knee amputation, to maximise each athlete’s full potential.

Over the course of two years, WAE developed four Sitskis to enable GB Snowsports athletes to compete in the 2021 Winter Season culminating in the Beijing Paralympics.

The final product featured a carbon fibre seat cabin and ‘fin’ connected to the skis, ad utilised numerous capabilities including sports science, industrial design, advanced materials, CAE, CFD and stress testing.

The team worked with the Williams Formula 1 team to mould the seat to accommodate athletes’ unique physiques. Aerodynamic testing ensured minimum air resistance and optimisation of airflow, reducing athlete fatigue through longer ‘glides’.

The team focused on light weighting to enhance athlete performance by using strain gauging to understand the forces being applied to the rig during a race.

Each user’s needs were at the core of the design process, and constant collaboration, with partners and with the athletes, ensured that the final solution was optimised for the very best results.

The project has had a hugely positive impact, with all athletes who took part recording improvements in their personal best results thanks to a solution tailored to their specific needs.