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Cutting-edge electric plane damaged in fire and phones get the sweats: 10 top stories of the week

Professional Engineering

An infrared image shows a heat sink coated with MIL-101(Cr) is cooler than one without (Credit: Chenxi Wang)
An infrared image shows a heat sink coated with MIL-101(Cr) is cooler than one without (Credit: Chenxi Wang)

’Significant challenges’ for HS2 after risks misjudged


”Significant challenges” remain to the completion of HS2 while delivering value for the public, according to a National Audit Office report. After a leaked independent report forecast potential costs of £106bn for the high-speed rail project – originally costed at £56bn in 2015 – the spending watchdog said the government had underestimated the job and failed to manage the risk involved.

Electric plane prototype damaged but 'intact' after fire

Professional Engineering

A fire has damaged a prototype of a cutting-edge electric aircraft. The incident, which could be a blow to the nascent electric flight industry, happened during ground testing of an aeroplane believed to be the Eviation Alice, a nine-seater all-electric craft aimed at the regional market. An Eviation statement said a “ground-based battery system” is believed to have caused the fire, and the company has launched a full investigation into the causes.

Researchers surprised by paper structure that supports 14,000 times its own weight

Professional Engineering

A lightweight geometric structure made of folded paper can support objects that are 14,000 times as heavy, surprising even its own creators. Researchers said the strength of the system, which does not require adhesives or fasteners, was not anticipated “at all”. The structures were created by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania in collaboration with a researcher at the University of Cambridge.

Work begins on world’s biggest offshore windfarm project

The Engineer

Construction work has started on Dogger Bank, a giant windfarm project in the North Sea that could eventually provide about 5% of the UK’s electricity demand. Coastal preparation has begun in East Riding, where cable infrastructure and converter stations are being installed. The project from SSE Renewables and Equinor is intended to eventually reach 3.6GW capacity.

Funding doubled to £10m for car charger installation in 2021

Professional Engineering

Funding for new electric vehicle chargepoints on residential roads has doubled to £10m for 2021. The increase, announced by transport secretary Grant Shapps, could fund the installation of 3,600 chargepoints around the country. The government hopes to make charging at home and overnight easier for drivers without off-street parking.

3D-printed parts that kill dangerous bacteria could stop spread of MRSA

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3D-printed parts have killed dangerous bacteria, leading to the possibility of printed items that protect the lives of vulnerable patients in hospitals and care homes. Objects built using the technique could stop the spread of infections such as MRSA, said researchers from the University of Sheffield. A team from the department of mechanical engineering and the school of clinical dentistry built the parts, which combined 3D printing with a silver-based antibacterial compound.

Robotic gripper holds objects – without touching them

New Atlas

A robotic manipulator has used ultrasonic waves to pick up small objects without touching them, suspending them between two speaker arrays. The technology, from ETH Zürich, could be developed to handle fragile items or parts at risk of contamination from contact.

Shanghai researchers want to make your phone 'sweat'

Professional Engineering

A sweating phone sounds like a cause for concern, but a group of researchers hope that replicating the natural process could help devices stay cool under intense use. To mimic the process that mammals use to regulate body temperature, researchers from Shanghai Jiao Tong University in China developed a coating for electronics that releases water vapour to dissipate heat.

‘Glowing’ polymer could reveal hidden stress on bridges or aircraft

Professional Engineering

Researchers have created a ‘glowing’ polymer that shines brighter when stretched. Developed by a team at the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University in Japan, the stress-detecting "smart" material could be used to measure the performance of synthetic polymers and track the wear and tear on structures such as aircraft or bridges.

Wall-climbing robots use new trick to defy gravity

Professional Engineering

Suction devices that can reportedly grip on to a wide variety of textures could lead to a new generation of climbing robots and gripping robot arms. The units, developed by researchers at the American Institute of Physics, use water to overcome an issue faced by other suction-based robots and novel climbing devices. To build suction units that work on “rough surfaces, no matter how textured” the colleagues developed a ‘zero-pressure difference’ method. Their technique overcame leakage by using a high-speed rotating water ring between the surface and suction cup to maintain the vacuum.

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Content published by Professional Engineering does not necessarily represent the views of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.


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