Engineering projects awarded £13.6m by EPSRC

Three engineering research projects have been awarded grants totalling £13.6m to help solve major problems facing the UK.

The research, funded by Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), will investigate re-using carbon, the fundamental design of major infrastructure constructs, and the way in which the complex behaviour of fluid flows are predicted.

Sheffield University’s Prof Ray Allen has received a £4.5m grant to look into new ways to capture CO2 efficiently and to study how it can be converted into a fuel.

Allen will lead a team made up of Sheffield, University College London, Queen’s University Belfast and Manchester University.

They will focus on a recently developed solvent that has been shown to be an efficient sorbent of CO2 and look at reducing the captured CO2 to a syngas. The team will also work to ensure its research outcomes are sustainable and economically viable.

A further £4.2m has been awarded to Prof David Wagg and his research team from the universities of Bristol, Cambridge, Sheffield, Southampton and Swansea. They aim to create new methods for designing complex structures such as bridges and aircraft, which often suffer from unwanted vibrations.

Wagg, from Bristol University’s department of mechanical engineering, said: ‘The complexity of modern designs has outstripped our ability to fully understand their dynamic behaviour.

‘All our understanding is based on linear dynamics and we find it really hard to anticipate nonlinear effects. We plan to advance our knowledge in this area to develop a new and radical era of design for structures such as wind turbines, bridges, building, spacecraft and aircraft.’

Imperial College London’s Prof Omar Matar is leading a team in a £4.9m project to design a new generation of modelling and simulation tools for fluid flow systems such as oil and gas transportation in pipelines.

Matar, professor of fluid dynamics at Imperial’s Department of Engineering, said: ‘We believe our work will result in a paradigm shift in the way we think about the prediction of complex multiphase flows — which are key to the design of virtually every processing and manufacturing technology.

‘Currently, there is an over-reliance on existing models, which are often used beyond their range of validity. We want to change that culture and ensure researchers in academia and industry rely more on fundamentals.

‘This approach will ultimately lead to more innovative and inventive products for us all, more reliable equipment design, with an associated reduction in emissions and our carbon footprint. This will be of tremendous benefit to the UK economy.’