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Engineering Research and Consultancy

The SuRe Pile

SuRe pile is a hollow cast in situ concrete pile that promises significant reductions in concrete use for large diameter bored piles in addition to other valuable benefits relating to sustainability. The SuRe pile has been launched to industry and has created much interest among engineers and contractors as well as major property developers.

Unlike a conventional solid pile, it is reusable, reduces cost and construction time, enables inspection (and therefore quicker and safer redevelopment), reduces the carbon footprint and allows an additional range of uses. It reaches a maximum depth of approximately 60m, and it is rotary bored, instead of driven into the ground.

The concept was developed in the School of Engineering and has been fully tested by Balfour Beatty Ground Engineering at a Wembley construction site. It was built alongside a full-size solid pile of the same depth and outer diameter and both were loaded to 1000 tonnes - an industry-standard test. The SuRe Pile was found to be as strong and stable as the traditional design.

The team would be pleased to talk to organisations interested in collaborating to commercialise this patented technology.

Remote Real-Time Corrosion Sensors

An academic team from the School of Engineering have developed proof of concept sensors to dramatically improve the ability to spot early warning signs of corrosion in concrete. Water or vapour borne corrosion of reinforced concrete structures, often occurring through chloride/sulphate ingress or 'freeze-thaw' damage, as well as through more corrosive chemical ingress, represents a major problem in thExe built environment. The sensors have demonstrated that they are capable of measuring the key parameters necessary for real time corrosion monitoring, unlike currently available systems which are reactive.

Traditional optical corrosion sensors have only a limited lifetime, usually of several weeks, because of the corrosive alkaline levels within concrete. City's new sensors are expected to last for several years even where pH levels are higher than 12. For comparison, domestic bleach has a pH value of between 12 and 13.

The team would be pleased to talk to organisations interested in collaborating to commercialise this patented technology.

Drug Sensor Platform

An academic team from the School of Engineering is creating a prototype multi-drug sensing device with real-time capability, which can find illegal substances in hard-to-reach areas such as vehicles and containers that are crossing borders.

Today, sniffer dogs are used in such situations, but they have a high cost of upkeep, can get tired and confused, and cannot act as evidence in court. As such, drug detection technology has been sought after for many years, but it is still not efficient, accurate or sensitive enough for widespread deployment.

The proposed detection system is molecular based and designed as a 'lock and key' system, so that each sensor can selectively bind to the molecule of interest. The technology tested to date is a highly sensitive and selective optical fibre-based sensor, using the molecularly imprinting polymer (MIP) technique, coupled with fluorescence signalling, for cocaine detection. This is unlike any other detection system currently available on the market and this core attribute helps to eliminate the false alarms and cross-sensitivity to related compounds to levels below those available from other technologies available.

The team is currently collaborating with industry partners but would be pleased to talk to any further organisations interested in collaborating with regards to this patented technology.

Extreme Wave modelling Platform - QALE-FEM

This is software which simulates the effect of '3D ocean waves' (known as 'Wave loading') on sea bed mounted structures, such as oil rigs or floating structures. Then subsequently analyses the results much faster than the industry standard of 20hrs.

Developed by academics from the School of Engineering this innovative software programme is based on a fully non-linear wave-current theory - the QALE FEM method, to simulate wave and current kinematics under extreme conditions. The method addresses exceptional circumstances, such as the 100 year wave, in which simplified theories (stream functions, Stokes 5th Order, or Airy linear theory) fail to produce accurate results.

The first phase of the project is delivering a software tool to aid the design of marine structures composed of slender members (beams, jack-ups, jacket platforms), for the Oil & Gas and Renewable Energy sectors. The application will subsequently be expanded to address various types of floating structures (platforms, FPSO, ships).

The team is working with a wide range of industrial partners but welcomes discussions with further integrators or end users.

Screw Compressor Design Software

The software is called Scorpath (Screw Compressor Optimal Rotor Profiles and Thermodynamics) and is a design tool package which models and calculates design parameters for screw compressors and expanders It was developed by an academic team from City's leading Compressor Centre based within the School of Engineering, which has an international reputation for excellence in screw compressor and expander technology. More than sixty organisations in 31 countries have used its services such as complete design and development programmes on compressors and their associated equipment, and development and training of engineers working in this field.

Scorpath software can be used to carry out full performance estimates on new designs of screw compressors and any other types of positive displacement machine. Product evaluation can therefore be completed before proceeding to manufacture and testing.

The team always welcomes contact from interested parties.

Flywheel Technology

The objective of this technology, originating from the School of Engineering, is to provide a very low cost flywheel rotor construction to enhance the commercial attractiveness of flywheel technology. The technology is a novel rotor design allowing the development of cheaper, safer, cleaner and more efficient energy storage applications than existing steel or composite rotors. There are several advantages over existing designs in terms of stress tolerance, safety, maximum speed, energy and production cost.

The new design significantly reduces the stress concentration on the rotor, by a factor of approximately two, and thus augments the energy that can be stored for a given size of disc and increases breaking-point velocities. At the same time, the layered structure and higher stress tolerances significantly reduce the risk of fragmentation of the rotor, an important danger in the failure of traditional metallic discs. This is because in this design a crack will only affect a single layer rather than the whole piece, additionally enabling the rotor to be operated at higher speeds.

One potential application for this patented technology is in developing countries where the simplicity of fabrication, lower costs and ability to easily maintain the flywheel would be of benefit for replacing conventional chemical batteries for energy storage.

The team would be pleased to talk to organisations interested in collaborating to commercialise this technology.

Optical Profilometer

This technology, developed by an academic team from the School of Engineering, is a 3D vibration resistant optical profilometer with nanometer resolution. This new profilometer can be used to measure surface profiles (and associated parameters such as roughness, etc.) with nanometer vertical resolution and submicron lateral resolution. While existing white-light profilometers in the market require heavy and bulky vibration isolation tables because of their vibration sensitivity, this instrument is robust to environmental vibrations and therefore can be developed as a portable device. The unique feature of vibration resistance will enable it to be used in areas that currently available white-light profilometers fail, such as on a production line to do in-line quality control and inspection.

The team would be pleased to talk to organisations interested in collaborating to commercialise this technology.

The Theta Beam

The Theta beam, developed by a team from the School of Engineering, is a steel beam with a novel elliptical web-opening design for architectural and engineering long-span solutions that require higher strength and quality conditions than those offered by existing perforated beams.

Existing castellated and cellular beams suffer from stress concentrations that affect their tolerance to failure capacity and the span length for construction solutions. At the same time, the cutting process has waste and the welding area is wider, affecting integrity and production costs.

The novel elliptical design of the Theta beam combining curve and straight lines provides several advantages over existing designs in terms of load capacity, beam weight, production cost and waste. It has greater tolerance to failure, either by Vierendeel effects (point load at mid-span) or web-post buckling (failure of the steel part between two adjacent web openings), and its design permits an easier welding process.

The team would be pleased to talk to organisations interested in collaborating to commercialise this patented technology.

Instrumented Pantographs

This technology, developed in the School of Engineering, is an early warning system to continuously monitor the condition of the overhead wire of electric trains. The team is building a prototype that identifies emerging overhead wire defects before they escalate and cause expensive system failure. The train pantograph, embedded with City's novel sensors, will measure the critical strain and temperature parameters resulting from direct contact between the pantograph's current collector and overhead wires when running under overhead power lines.

City's patented innovation embeds the pantograph itself with a suite of novel sensors, based on advanced Fibre Bragg Grating technology. Techniques to date, which compete in this sector, have relied upon discreet and static monitoring approaches, located along side the railway line. The performance from these systems has been inadequate and hence hindered their market uptake.

The team is working with industry leading partners, but welcomes additional interest.