Research from UWE to be presented to MPs and ministers at Westminster

Issue date: 03 March 2015

Two UWE Bristol researchers have had projects selected for presentation to MPs and ministers at SET for Britain 2015.

Iwona Gajda and Tareq Assaf, both from the Bristol Robotics Laboratory (BRL), a major research collaboration between UWE Bristol and the University of Bristol, will present posters outlining their projects on 9 March at SET for Britain 2015.

PhD student Iwona is supervised by Professor Ioannis Ieropoulos, Professor John Greenman and Professor Chris Melhuish from the Bristol BioEnergy Centre in BRL. Her abstract is entitled 'Microbial fuel cell to provide electricity, extract water and clean waste.'

It outlines her work on developing the cathodic part of the microbial fuel cell (MFC) system, in order to gain a better understanding of the role of simultaneous electricity and water extraction from waste water. Almost any type of organic waste material can be used to produce electricity, resulting in end-products of purified water and electricity.

The system would use simple and cheap materials such as charcoal and ceramics to construct MFCs that harvest electricity, purify water and fix carbon dioxide. In the future, the system could be scaled up to enable the electricity generated to power the water purification process in domestic and industrial environments. The additional benefit is that the simultaneous extraction of water and chemicals could be used to capture carbon dioxide from air, becoming a real carbon negative technology.

Iwona said, “SET for BRITAIN is held as a prelude to National Science and Engineering Week and I am very happy to represent Bristol BioEnergy Centre, Bristol Robotics Laboratory and UWE, especially as Bristol is the European Green Capital in 2015.

“I am very excited to be presenting my work at such a prestigious venue as the Palace of Westminster. I hope that our research can influence some of the decisions that will be made in the near future on reducing the consumption of energy in wastewater treatment applications.”

Tareq Assaf is a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow supervised by Dr. Martin Pearson, Professor Jonathan Rossiter and Professor Tony Pipe at BRL. His abstract is entitled the BELLA Project.

The BELLA project - Bio-inspired Control of Electro-Active Polymers for Next Generation Soft Robots - is a collaboration between Bristol Robotics Laboratory and Sheffield University. It is an EPSRC-funded study that aims to integrate soft robotics into a robotic platform by simultaneously addressing the problems of actuation and control of soft-smart materials (artificial muscle – Electro Active Polymers). The platform consists of an array of twenty tactile whiskers actuated by artificial muscles and controlled by the adaptive control strategy inspired by a functional model of the cerebellum, which is a structure of the mammalian brain.

The overall aim of SET for Britain is to encourage, support and promote Britain's early-stage and early-career research scientists, engineers, technologists and mathematicians.

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