Technology that could reduce the environmental impact of oil drilling and a scientific technique that can be used to help map out oil deposits, improve the accuracy of carbon dating and even detect the use of illegal steroids in athletes have scooped two national awards.
The research projects led by academics in the Faculty of Engineering at The University of Nottingham picked up the accolades at The Engineer Technology and Innovation Awards 2008.
Now in their second year, the awards recognise and reward excellence in collaboration between the UK's universities and some of its most dynamic companies.
Professor Sam Kingman and his colleague Dr John Robinson led the research which won the Environmental Technology Award. The innovative work uses microwave energy to selectively heat and evaporate sea water to enable more efficient removal of oil from waste rock produced as a by-product of oil drilling.
The research, carried out in collaboration with colleagues at the universities of Greenwich and Stellenbosch in South Africa, is based on selective heating, an analogy of the 'jam doughnut' principle in which the jam in a doughnut will heat up more quickly than the dough when heated in a microwave. Similarly, the water in the waste produced by drilling will heat up more quickly and evaporate, lifting oil droplets into the steam and be carried away.
Heat is a traditional treatment method for drilling wastes, usually by heating the bulk of the waste in a furnace or oven but the new microwave technique is far more efficient, using around six to seven times less energy.
Professor Colin Snape's work on the scientific process of hydrogen pyrolysis, in collaboration with Engineering Quality Systems and reactor engineering specialist Strata Technology, won this year's Business Support of Universities Award.
Hydrogen pyrolysis also known as HyPy was a method originally used to liquefy large quantities of coal. I
|Contact: Emma Thorne|
University of Nottingham