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Cranfield University news

The latest study and research news from Cranfield University

July 2012

March 2012

January 2012

November 2011

October 2011

May 2011


Cranfield welcomes leading figures from world of motorsport

The first week of July saw leading figures such as Sir Jackie Stewart, Nick Fry, Steve Parrish and Ciaron Pilbeam join the inaugural History of Motorsport Technology Conference at Cranfield University.

Guest of honour at the evening event was three times F1 World Champion, Sir Jackie Stewart OBE who spoke passionately about the motorsport sector, Cranfield’s contribution to the sector’s developments and the importance of Cranfield’s MSc Motorsport Engineering and Management’s graduates to the future of motorsport; Sir Jackie stressing the need for young engineers to be effective communicators, selling themselves and their ideas.

Clive Temple, Cranfield Director of the Motorsport said after the event: ‘Feedback has shown that there is an appetite for events of this nature. A key aspect of motorsport is safety. As Brian O’Rourke of Williams Grand Prix Engineering demonstrated in his presentation we have come a long way where materials and their application to motorsport are concerned. Cranfield has played a crucial part in this as well as in many other aspects of high performance engineering and technologies associated with motorsport, Cranfield has a vital role to play in its future.’

The finale to the conference was a debate on the Motorsport Technology Road map led by Chris Aylett, CEO of the Motorsport Industry Association.

Visit the conference website for more information.

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Cranfield University warms up for first Summer School 2012

Cranfield University, the UK’s only wholly postgraduate university specialising in science, technology, engineering and management, is preparing for its first Summer School focusing on its expertise in environment and water.

The Summer School runs from 11–22 June 2012 and will cover land, water, health, energy and planning. The sponsor is Dr Tom Stephenson FREng, Lorch Professor of Water Sciences, AEESP member and Head of Cranfield’s School of Applied Sciences. Dr Stephenson said: ‘The students will benefit from Cranfield’s internationally recognised scholars who have many years of experience in their fields, bridging the gap between academia, the environment and the economy.’

The programme comprises a combination of lectures, practicals and field trips, culminating in a course forum for presentation and debate of the issues on ‘the living land’, profit from waste, water recycling, wind turbine location and health and environmental impact.

The course has been developed for graduates and final year undergraduate students from UK/EU and international universities and colleges, providing undergraduates with cutting edge research-led teaching in their chosen area of study, insight into studying in the UK, and a route into postgraduate studies as they accumulate credits which may count towards their continued studies.

Further details are available on the Cranfield University website

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New water research project TRUST starts work

The European research project Transitions to the Urban Water Services of Tomorrow (TRUST), will develop tools, technologies, management options and guidelines to enable water utilities to face the challenges of the future, such as climate change, population growth and migration, increasing urbanisation and ageing infrastructure.

In order to achieve those goals, 30 partners in 11 European countries will develop models and methods over the course of four years that will explain and explore the impact of different measures under real conditions. The project will focus on the sustainability of the water services and how it may be improved with tools such as water demand management, alternative water sources, waste water and stormwater management and water-energy nexus.

The results will be implemented and tested in nine participating pilot cities or regions, grouped in green cities, water scarcity regions and urban/peri-urban metropolitan areas. As a result there will be a course of action for more sustainable and green urban water cycle systems.

TRUST is an integrated project, funded by the European Commission.

Researchers from the Cranfield Water Science Institute are contributing to the project. Cranfield University is a wholly postgraduate institution with a worldwide reputation for excellence and expertise in aerospace, automotive, defence, engineering, environment and water, health, management and manufacturing.

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Re-writing ‘the book on risk’ – Defra launches new guidelines on environmental risk with Cranfield University

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and its agencies are responsible for managing an extremely diverse range of environmental risks – from flooding to poor water quality, from pesticides to biodiversity loss, and from animal diseases to climate change.

To aid the management of such a diverse risk portfolio, Defra has partnered with Cranfield University’s Risk Centre to update government guidelines on environmental risk assessment and management.

Edgar Black (Defra’s Risk Coordinator), who championed the development of the new guidelines alongside Professor Bob Watson (Defra’s Chief Scientific Advisor), said: ‘Understanding how to assess and manage environmental risk is central to what Defra does – protecting the environment and developing a sustainable green economy that is resilient to climate change.

‘We need to approach these risks in a structured, transparent and well-evidenced way. These updated guidelines should help anyone involved in assessing and managing environmental risks – not just in central government, but across industry and in the environmental consultancies – to do just that.

‘The guidelines will ensure our methods are in line with the latest good practice.’

Professor Simon Pollard at Cranfield University noted: ‘Cranfield has a long-standing relationship with Defra. We have coordinated knowledge from across Cranfield’s multidisciplinary activities on risk and from across government and industry, to provide a document that is rich with useful guidance, the latest risk science, and helpful case studies to show how the theory works in practice.’

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New Centre for Environmental Risks and Futures (CERF) at Cranfield University

Our environment is changing – global warming, population growth and lifestyle changes will all impact the future of the environment. In a bid to better understand and anticipate plausible futures and associated environmental impacts, Defra and ten partners from across UK government have invested £1.8m in a new Centre for Environmental Risks and Futures (CERF) at Cranfield University.

The Centre builds on expertise acquired from the previous ‘Risk Centre’, adding new capacities in horizon scanning and futures, systems modelling and environmental management.

Dr Miles Parker, Deputy Chief Scientific Adviser at Defra said: ‘Defra has been investing in horizon scanning and futures research for almost a decade, but there is still more that we can learn. The Centre will be pivotal in applying risk assessment techniques so that we can understand what the biggest concerns might be in the future, and manage them preventatively. The research will be critical in ensuring sustainable development in the UK.’

Fiona Lickorish, Principle Research Fellow at Cranfield and leader of the futures work added: ‘Horizon scanning and futures research really aims to get people thinking about what might happen in the future. At Cranfield, we have a dedicated work programme to systematically examine the future outlook from the present to 50 years or more, and identify unexpected issues and opportunities at the margins of our current thinking.’

CERF is led by Prof Simon Pollard and Dr Mick Whelan and will further the existing relationship between Cranfield University and Defra. The new work will be delivered in partnership with Defra, Scottish and Welsh Governments, Department for Energy and Climate Change, Department for Transport, Natural England, Forestry Commission, Environment Agency, Scottish Environment Protection Agency, Marine Management Organisation, Food Standards Agency and the Natural Environment Research Council to deliver insights that will help to shape and future-proof policy and practice.

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Foiling the fakers: Cranfield University and Bonhams pioneer authenticity project

Cranfield and Bonhams have inaugurated a joint forensic science research project to bring authentication techniques into the new millennium.

The new Cranfield/Bonhams collaboration combines major advances in the ability to identify ever-smaller proportions of trace elements, with essentially non-invasive sampling, associated with identifying a coherent range of authentic objects to provide the core data.

Colin Sheaf, Chairman of Bonhams AsiaThis will be particularly useful in the field of Chinese art which has become one of the hottest sectors of the global art market in recent years, and nowhere more so than in the demand for fine antique porcelain. While prices for the finest Imperial porcelain have soared, so have the ambitions of highly accomplished fakers, seeking to infiltrate spectacular new fakes into a market feverish for top quality material.

Technology exists to distinguish scientifically the genuine treasures from the fakes, but the technology normally used is over 40 years old, invasive, and no longer entirely trustworthy.

Forensic science often manages to identify small differences in very rare elements in an object. These ‘trace elements’ can often identify an object’s place, and sometimes date, of origin if a good database already exists for similar objects. ‘Trace element analysis’ is regularly used in many kinds of detective work, from establishing the original source of premium organic foods, to researching ‘scene of crime’ evidence.

It has never been practical in the past to use it systematically in the art market, because obtaining samples has often been unacceptably destructive, and databases are neither detailed nor specific enough. The Cranfield/Bonhams project aims to change that.

‘This is the most exciting art-authentication project I have ever seen’, commented Colin Sheaf, Chairman of Bonham’s Asia, and the global auctioneer’s senior Chinese art specialist. ‘For decades we have sought a forensic technology which will easily and reliably address the authenticity problems generated by 30 years of relentless faking of expensive Chinese ceramics.

‘Cranfield’s team will now provide the specialist technology and experienced forensic scientists to carry out the analysis, and Bonham’s will define the practical issues and provide access to the core data material. We will work together to establish the methodology that will give us all confidence to make robust deductions from tiny quantities of core sample.

‘This project combines cutting-edge Western technology with China’s finest Imperial art in a unique and unprecedented collaboration. It will be of immense benefit to both participants, and to the wider academic and commercial art market. It will add greatly to the current expertise that we already bring to bear on analysis of an object to establish its provenance.’

Dr Andrew Shortland, Reader in Forensic Archaeomaterials and Director of the Centre for Archaeological and Forensic Analysis at Cranfield University said: ‘Cranfield has made significant investments in new laboratories and staff to extend our forensic analytical abilities. The analysis of a wide range of art and historical objects is one of the most exciting growth areas for us. It is a pleasure to work with the experts from Bonhams on this project, and I look forward to developing robust scientific techniques to help them in their identification of copies and fakes.’

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