David Cameron ended the recent Tory conference in the UK with a blunt warning about tough times ahead.
With the International Monetary Fund having downgraded its forecast for UK economic growth, the Prime Minister issued a sombre analysis of the state of the economy. That pattern is being reflected around the world with the mining boom in Australia seemingly nearing its end and Chinese investment and productivity on the decline.
Fortunately, this has not dampened the innovative and entrepreneurial spirit of the world’s leading engineering and technology companies, many of which are being celebrated in the 2012 Innovation Awards organised by the Institution of Engineering and Tehcnology (IET) in London.
The 2012 IET Innovation Awards have attracted entries from all over the world, demonstrating the imagination of engineers worldwide as they tackle their own local economic and social challenges. A total of 70 entries have been shortlisted in a variety of categories.
The awards, now in their eighth year, are judged by a panel of more than 80 engineering experts and recognise the depth and breadth of innovative work being carried out across all areas of engineering and technology at all stages of development.
One of the finalists, Diverse Energy Ltd, is bringing mobile phone coverage to rural areas with a green, off-grid energy solution known as the PowerCube.
The PowerCube is geared toward mobile network operators and original equipment manufacturers seeking to reduce the costs and CO2 emissions associated with power generation for off-grid telecoms towers.
It is a self contained, turnkey 24/7 baseload power supply solution that incorporates a unique patent-protected fuel cell and ammonia energy technology. Compared to diesel gensets, the PowerCube offers an 80 per cent reduction in CO2 emissions and a 25 per cent reduction in total cost of ownership with a two-year ROI.
Meanwhile, Qualcomm is seeking to exploit the potential of the growing green transport market with wireless charging for electric vehicles. Plug-in charging is far from simple; it is cumbersome and brings potential health, safety and reliability issues, especially at street level. Public charging equipment is open to damage from the environment and vandalism, and is visually unappealing.
The Qualcomm wireless solution is simple and convenient, and the company claims it could lead to a fundamental shift in charging behaviour. Drivers will charge their electric vehicles for only a short while, charge them often and potentially use dynamic charging to complement local stationary charging, which will reduce range anxiety. This means that batteries could be smaller, resulting in a reduction in electric vehicle cost and vehicle weight.
“Engineering continues to innovate and introduce new ideas that contribute to, and improve, our daily lives,” says IET director of knowledge Tim Hamer. “The shortlisted entries in this year’s Innovation Awards highlight the way in which the engineering and technology industries strive for improvements in areas of software, design and technology. These companies are helping to ensure engineering flourishes as a profession.”
The winners will be announced at an Awards Ceremony in November.