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Low-flying support for delivery drones and manufacturing woes: 10 top stories of the week

Professional Engineering

(Credit: Shutterstock)
(Credit: Shutterstock)

Low-flying support for delivery drones

Professional Engineering

A new IMechE poll has found that only 23% of adults support drone deliveries. Highlighted in a report entitled Public Perceptions: Drones, the potentially surprising low level of support comes from concerns including package theft and accidents. Media coverage of incidents involving unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) also probably played a part, said IMechE head of engineering Dr Jenifer Baxter to Professional Engineering.

Manufacturing ‘between a rock and a hard place’

Professional Engineering

Manufacturing jobs fell at the quickest rate for more than seven years in November. Companies were “squeezed between a rock and a hard place” by uncertainty related to another Brexit delay and the 12 December general election according to analysts IHS Markit. Employment fell for the eighth straight month in November, with the pace of job losses the steepest since September 2012. Firms linked cuts to cost reductions, Brexit uncertainty, redundancies and natural wastage.

Hydrogel gets harder when heated

New Atlas

Most polymers get softer when heated, but a new one developed at Hokkaido University in Japan does the opposite. The ‘thermophile’ substance is soft and see-through at room temperature – but heat it up to 60ºC and it becomes 1,800 times harder. The material could be used for protecting drivers or absorbing heat on windows to keep buildings cool.

Last chance for Swansea tidal lagoon

Professional Engineering

The company behind plans for a groundbreaking new tidal lagoon power plant has launched a fundraiser to ensure the future of the project, which it hopes could lead a British energy revolution. Tidal Power plc hopes to raise £1.2m to commence initial works on the site of the Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon and take other important planning steps. The fundraiser lasts until 20 March 2020, and the company aims to use the money to meet planning conditions, start land-side material works and move forward an application for a marine licence.

UK battery capacity charging up

Energy Live News

Planning applications have been submitted for more than 10,500MW worth of battery storage projects this year, up from less than 6,900MW last year. A report from RenewableUK said the trend is expected to continue, with large projects of more than 50MW likely in future. Grid-scale storage is needed to make the most of renewable energy and ensure a reliable supply of electricity.

Fibres offer new treatment for aggressive brain cancer

Professional Engineering

A potential new treatment for an aggressive form of brain cancer adapts an industrial fabrication process for “sophisticated” drug release. Offering a possible alternative to less-targeted treatments, the new method delivers treatment direct to parts of the brain where tumours have been removed through drug-containing membranes. The new process uses coaxial electrospinning, combining two or more materials into a fine fibre.

Exo-skeletons for MS patients

The Engineer

Exo-skeletons will assist patients with multiple sclerosis in their exercise as part of a new study, The Engineer reported. Robotics could be a key technology for helping people with the condition, which damages nerves and makes movements difficult. By enabling greater movement, exo-skeletons could help patients get the exercise they need.

Adding copper creates ‘exceptional’ titanium alloy for 3D printing

Professional Engineering

Successful trials of titanium-copper alloys for 3D printing could kickstart a new range of high-performance alloys for biomedical, defence and aerospace engineering, researchers have claimed. The alloy printed with “exceptional properties” without any special process control or additional treatment, said a researcher, something that has not previously been possible.

Sunlight-activated composite absorbs dangerous exhaust fumes

The Engineer

A new composite of graphene and titanium dioxide, also known as titania, is reportedly 70% more effective at removing dangerous NOx from exhaust fumes than just titania. The composite is a material known as a photocatalyst, which works when exposed to sunlight. The material could be applied to cement to clean the air around buildings.

Light transmitted through wood-based optical fibre

Professional Engineering

Light has travelled through a wood-based optical fibre, offering the possibility of biodegradable Internet of Things sensors or simple moisture monitors. Researchers at VTT made the new fibre, which has a core of wood cellulose modified with ionic solvents developed at the Finnish research centre. Cellulose effectively absorbs and releases water, which can be measured by the change in the attenuation of light transmitted. It is also biodegradable, and the fibre can be disposed of with biowaste.

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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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