Engineering news

A 'completely new' type of energy generation and more: 10 top stories of the week

Professional Engineering

Stock image rendering of carbon nanotubes under an electron microscope. The new MIT technique uses carbon nanotube particles submerged in a solvent to generate current (Credit: Shutterstock)
Stock image rendering of carbon nanotubes under an electron microscope. The new MIT technique uses carbon nanotube particles submerged in a solvent to generate current (Credit: Shutterstock)

MIT engineers create ‘completely new’ type of energy generation

Professional Engineering

Engineers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology say they have created a ‘completely new’ type of energy generation. The technique, which uses tiny carbon particles submerged in a solvent to generate current, could be used to drive chemical reactions or to power micro- or nanoscale robots.

Review launched into Hitachi train cracks

Rail Technology Magazine

A review by the Office of Rail and Road will aim to find the root cause of how cracks appeared in Hitachi Class 800 and Class 385 trains. The cracks caused huge disruption in May when their discovery caused cancellation of services and withdrawal of trains.

Researchers create incredibly thermally stable material

New Atlas

Researchers at the University of New South Wales in Australia have created a new ‘zero thermal expansion’ material, which could be one of the most thermally stable materials ever discovered. The material, made of scandium, aluminium, tungsten and oxygen, did not change volume between -269ºC and 1,126ºC.

Coventry project to explore wireless lorry charging

Professional Engineering

Buried charging infrastructure could wirelessly charge electric lorries – or even power them directly – to slash carbon emissions from freight transport, the partners behind a new project in Coventry have said. The project will assess the feasibility of dynamic wireless charging in the UK and the potential for a real-world demonstrator.

ESA confirms new Venus mission


The European Space Agency (ESA) has confirmed a new mission to Venus. The EnVision orbiter will use spectrometers to study the atmosphere and surface, and a ‘sounder’ to analyse underground layering.

Calls for urgent careers investment as pandemic damages link between educators and employers

Professional Engineering

The government should invest £40m in improving access to careers provision in schools and colleges in England, a group of engineering bodies has said, amid signs that the pandemic has damaged vital links between educators and employers. The IMechE and seven other organisations called on the government to help more young people understand the opportunities in Stem careers.

Project to test autonomous cars in Birmingham

The Engineer

Four Ford Mondeos fitted with autonomous technology will make driverless trips on roads around Birmingham during trials. The tests, part of Project Endeavour, will use Oxbotica software alongside lidar, radar and stereo cameras.

MacRobert award finalists announced

Professional Engineering

The Royal Academy of Engineering has announced three finalists for the 2021 MacRobert Award. The three finalists are Creo Medical for its miniaturised surgical tools with integrated microwave energy, DNANudge for genetic testing tools to enable healthier grocery shopping, and Pragmatic Semiconductor for its ultra-low-cost thin and flexible integrated chips.

Unmanned drone refuels fighter jet

Aerospace Manufacturing

An unmanned aircraft has refuelled a US Navy F/A-18 Super Hornet fighter jet in mid-air. The test flight, carried out by a Boeing MQ-25 T1 drone, was the first air-to-air refuelling using a drone.

’Vegan spider silk’ could replace single-use plastics

Professional Engineering

A new plant-based material created by researchers mimicking the properties of spider silk could be a sustainable alternative to single-use plastics. The researchers, from the University of Cambridge, said the compostable polymer film is as strong as many common plastics and could be used in a variety of household products.

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