Innovation news in brief: Formula 1; retail technology; materials; Sir John Cornforth.

F1 technology is being used to develop more eco-friendly cars

F1 technology to design greener cars

Formula 1 (F1) technology could soon make family cars lighter, improve fuel efficiency and help plug-in vehicles go further  after an innovative research project won a share of a £38.2 million government prize.

The project is one of more than 130 car manufacturers, technology companies and research centres across the country to have won a share of the money, announced in the March Budget, which will create hi-tech jobs and help Britain become a global leader in exporting state of the art, emission-cutting technology.

A consortium including Jaguar Land Rover and Nissan has received £1.7 million for ‘light weighting’ technology – applying the science behind F1 cars and space satellites to make passenger cars weigh less and be more fuel efficient. The results could reduce the weight of steel components in vehicles such as the Nissan Leaf by more than half, potentially extending the distance a plug-in car can drive by up to 25%.

Transport minister Andrew Jones said: “Our £38 million investment will help Britain become a world leader in this exciting and valuable technology sector, creating skilled jobs of the future as part of our long-term economic plan. It will also mean lower running costs for motorists and less fuel consumption, which is good for the environment and our economy."

A new addition

New intelligent cash drawer technology is set to help reduce retail fraud and streamline cash counting – at a fraction of the price of existing systems. The new Smart Drawer product from UK company Smart Drawer are advanced algorithms created by product design and development firm Cambridge Consultants, which transform the way the device operates compared with similar products.

“The world-class algorithm and sensing expertise of Cambridge Consultants has helped make our vision of a state-of-the-art, low-cost, counting cash drawer a reality,” said Peter Charij, director of Smart Drawer. “We now have a product that offers retailers high counting accuracy, a small size and a fast return on investment. And, with our integrated software LiveStore, we can offer a complete end-to-end solution with a large number of features wrapped in a secure software package.”

Trio of UK universities testing technologies to develop self-healing concrete

Self-healing concrete technologies are currently being developed by a team of researchers from the School of Engineering at the University of Cardiff, in Wales. Through a project called Materials for Life (M4L), the researchers are conducting the first major trial of these materials in the UK.

The team, which also includes scientists from the University of Bath and the University of Cambridge, in the UK, will evaluate the viability of three types of self-healing concrete: one with shape-memory polymers activated by electrical current, one with healing agents made from organic and inorganic compounds, and one with capsules containing bacteria and healing agents. M4L’s goal is autonomous infrastructure—roads, tunnels, bridges, and buildings—that can repair themselves.

CDE offers face-to-face meetings

The Centre for Defence Enterprise is offering researchers the opportunity to discuss their innovative ideas in one-to-one meetings.

CDE is part of the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) and funds innovative proof-of-concept research that could lead to a cost-effective capability advantage for UK armed forces and national security. This is through the enduring competition or specific themed competitions.

Researchers should consider the following before booking:

  • What is your research idea?
  • What do you think is the military benefit? Will it save time/costs, improve capability/performance/reliability? Why should MOD invest in this work?
  • What will your approach be? How will you structure your research?
  • What will you deliver? What evidence will you produce?
  • What will the impact of your research be? How will you demonstrate progress towards the claimed benefit?

Register for a meeting slot here

Nobel Prize-winning chemist honoured at Kent Science Park

Kent Science Park and Sittingbourne Town Library will today become home to two new blue plaques celebrating the life and chemistry research of Nobel Prize-winning scientist Sir John Cornforth.

The Chemical Landmark Scheme is a Royal Society of Chemistry initiative, recognising sites where the chemical sciences have made a significant contribution to health, wealth, or quality of life. The blue plaques are publicly visible, giving everyone an insight into chemistry's relevance to our lives.

Cornforth made many significant contributions to science and to society. During World War Two, he was part of the group that worked on stabilising and purifying the drug penicillin, and in 1975 he was joint winner of the Nobel Prize in chemistry for his research on the stereochemistry of enzyme-catalysed reactions.