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Engineering news

UK space race heats up and renewable energy concerns: 10 top stories of the week

Professional Engineering

How a launch by UK rocket firm Skyrora could look (Credit: Skyrora)
How a launch by UK rocket firm Skyrora could look (Credit: Skyrora)

UK space race picks up pace

Professional Engineering

The UK space race heated up this week as rocket company Skyrora agreed a decade-long deal for multiple launches from the Shetland Island of Unst – including one next year. The announcement sets up a race with Orbex, another Scottish rocket company aiming for its first launch next year. Whichever project wins will be the first to launch a rocket from UK soil.

Renewable energy investment ‘needs to triple’


Global investment in renewable energy needs to triple for the world to have a realistic chance of hitting net zero emissions by 2050, according to a new report by the International Energy Agency. Despite increasing deployment of renewable energy plants, coal consumption also increased strongly this year.

Solar-powered aircraft hits new heights during 36 days of flight

Professional Engineering

An unmanned solar-powered aircraft has hit a record height of 76,100ft (23.2km) during test flights. The Airbus Zephyr S prototype set the world record for its class during 36 days of stratospheric flight over the summer, across two flights lasting about 18 days each.

’Low boom’ supersonic specialist to develop unmanned aircraft

Aerospace Manufacturing

Exosonic, an American firm developing a ‘low boom’ supersonic airliner and a concept for a supersonic Air Force One aircraft, will develop an unmanned demonstrator for the US Air Force. The vehicle will be used for pilot training.

5 sites shortlisted for UK’s future fusion energy plant

Professional Engineering

The future of nuclear energy in the UK could be determined at one of five sites, revealed in a shortlist of potential locations for the UK’s future fusion energy plant. The UK Atomic Energy Authority revealed the list of sites yesterday (14 October), one of which could be home to the Spherical Tokamak for Energy Production (Step) plant.

Zero-carbon fuels could power ferries

The Engineer

Strathclyde University and Caledonian Maritime Assets will carry out a joint study into the viability of zero-carbon fuels for ferries. The six-month project will explore the best solutions for reducing marine emissions.

Carbon capture projects accelerate


Worldwide carbon capture and storage (CCS) capacity has increased for the fourth year in a row, according to the Global CCS Institute. Growth in the last year was one-third higher than the previous year.

Protium to build 40MW green hydrogen project

Professional Engineering

Green hydrogen company Protium has announced plans for a large new production facility in Teesside. The project – the largest green hydrogen scheme in the area – includes plans for up to 40MW of electrolysis capability, developed in two phases, and hydrogen storage. Energy stored in the sustainably-generated hydrogen will be used to power local manufacturers and logistics firms.

Volvo reveals fossil fuel-free steel vehicle


Volvo has unveiled a load carrier vehicle, used in mining and quarrying, made using fossil fuel-free steel. The metal was produced in Sweden using fossil-free electricity and hydrogen.

Vehicles remain UK’s most valuable export despite pandemic

Professional Engineering

The automotive industry has urged the government to put the sector at the heart of future trade negotiations, after a new report showed vehicles are the UK’s single most valuable goods trade export. The call, by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), came as its report showed that vehicle export revenues reached £27bn in 2020 – more valuable to the UK than power-generating machinery and gold, even during a year when the Covid-19 pandemic disrupted trade and shut down markets around the world.

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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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