We are a dynamic, multidisciplinary research Institute focused on promoting excellence across our main research themes: Biomedical Engineering, Energy Harvesting and Conversion, Multiphase Flow and Digital Engineering. Much of our work involves strong industrial links across a range of sectors and through our expertise, skills and experience we work together with industry to identify new areas of interest.
A highly collaborative environment
We offer a stimulating environment for study and research, and a lively community of over 25 academics and around 75 postgraduates and research staff. We have extensive laboratory and workshop facilities and our staff are actively engaged in a range of high-profile research initiatives, many of which involve collaboration with the Centre for Innovative Manufacturing in Continuous Manufacturing and Crystallisation, the Centre for Innovation in Carbon Capture and Storage (CICCS), the internationally leading Heriot-Watt Innovative Manufacturing Research Centre, the James Watt Institute for High Value Manufacturing and our highly successful Edinburgh Research Partnership in engineering and mathematics with the University of Edinburgh.
Heriot-Watt University is the leader amongst UK universities in promoting energy activities through its ‘Energy Academy’, a virtual centre which connects all energy related research across the University. It also founded the Scottish Institute of Solar Energy Research (SISER), a pan University alliance of Solar Energy Research, which works in concert with Scottish research pools.
Our staff involved in the biomedical engineering research theme also actively work on collaborative projects with physicists and clinicians from medical research institutes and NHS Scotland including the Queen's Medical Research Institute at University of Edinburgh, Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh and Western General Hospital. Typical recently funded projects include mechanical palpation for cancer diagnosis, the relationship between structure and tissue properties in bone and the printing of biological structures.
This research theme focuses on highly interdisciplinary and cutting-edge research at the interface between mechanical engineering, material science and bioengineering. We bring together our expertise in micromechanics, tissue engineering, computational mechanics, micro/nano manufacturing, thermo-fluid mechanics and digital design and manufacture to address the challenges in biomedical engineering including cancer diagnostics, tissue mechanics, tissue engineering and characterisation.
Much of our research is funded by EPSRC, in collaboration with physicists and clinicians both nationally and internationally. Examples of our completed or ongoing projects include:
• E-finger: an in vivo tactile diagnostic device with microscale resolution
• A novel diagnostic tool: from structural health monitoring to tissue quality prediction
• Identifying problem sensitivity in soldering procedures using haptics through knowledge capture and pyscho-physiological analysis
Computational and Digital Engineering (CADE)
Our new CADE theme aims to create an internationally leading team which has a reputation for fundamental and applied research in computational and interactive digital engineering solutions, building on the strengths and expertise of our internationally recognised academic staff. Our vision is to develop a theme which represents, amalgamates and synergises the research strengths and expertise of a wide range of academics within IMPEE, particularly in the domains of modelling, computational physics, analysis, human factors, digital engineering, visualisation and robotics, providing better opportunities for internal and external cross disciplinary collaborations across the product life cycle.
Very much a core key skill set implicit within IMPEE it is central to many of our research activities within chemical engineering, design and manufacture, materials and engineering science as well as across our other new themes in Energy Harvesting and Conversion, Multiphase Flow and Biomedical Engineering.
The theme’s funding comes from a variety of sources, EPSRC, industrial, EU, KTP and TSB with a wide range of academic and industrial partners involved in many of our fundamental and applied research projects. Typical companies include: Selex Galileo, BAE Systems Marine, Rolls Royce, FMC and Progress Rail to name but a few.
The diverse nature of Theme contributes to a heterogeneous mix of resources, extending access to advanced research equipment and a range of specialised and bespoke software on high performance computing (HPC) platforms. Some of the CADE theme facilities include: an HPC cluster (CPUs and GPUs); a range of rapid prototyping machines; an Advanced Manufacturing Unit comprising a variety of CNC machine tools; a virtual reality (VR) lab with state-of-the-art trackers, 3d displays, haptic devices; biometric analysis equipment including EEG, ECG, EMG; the Renishaw Metrology laboratory with a wide range of coordinate measuring machines and scanning equipment; a wave energy rig, finite element analysis and computational fluid dynamics software; manufacturing system simulation software, CAD/CAM equipment; a nano-micro manufacturing including a focussed ion beam (FIB) machine; and a robotics laboratory.
Energy Harvesting and Conversion
The approach of theme is the integration of energy micro-technologies into macro-systems. This includes innovations in smart materials, smart devices with the exploitation of their applications in smart vehicles, smart buildings, smart cities, smart grids up to a complete smart infrastructure.
We develop the science and engineering of extracting, converting and conserving energy from novel sources in novel ways. Sources of energy include more tradition renewable from solar, and wind to more exotic such as bacteria and biomass, including also newer and exotic thermoelectric conversion process. Storage of energy through electrochemical and solar thermal routes and combining the energy efficiency schemes are also explored through front line research efforts.
We are a multi-disciplinary theme with expertise in the following:
• Materials, Surface Analysis and Modification
• CFD, coatings, sprays, thin films
• CO2 conversion / Solar fuels
• Thermoelectric Materials
• Heat Recovery, thermoelectric
• Photovoltaics (Thin film and Excitonic solar cells)
• Vibration, reliability
• Electrical Integration/Reliability
• Sustainable Systems Integration
• Grid Modelling with Electric Vehicles
• Visualisation, modelling
We have strong industrial links with some of the top companies in the UK such as NSG-Pilkington, G-24i, Solar Press, Scientific Vacuum Systems Ltd, Johnson Matthey, DuPont Teijin Films, Ove-Arup, Grid Post Limited, Gas Sensing Solutions; Solaronix SA and Flisom in Switzerland; BHEL, Moserbaer in India, etc. Industrial collaborative research projects which have recently started include lightning protection on high voltage transmission lines with SSE.
We have links with other academic institution, worldwide: Universität der Bundeswehr München, Bremer Institut für Produktion und Logistik, University of Rennes1, Technical University of Varna, Aalborg University;, EPFL at Lausanne, Switzerland, EMPA at Zurich Switzerland, Tsinghua University at Hsinchu and National University of Taiwan, Taipei; Tokyo University of Science and Hyogo University, Japan; NUS Singapore; NCL Pune, NPL New Delhi, IICT Hyderabad, IIT Delhi and Kanpur, India and various institutions in India, Korea and Malaysia.…
Multi-Phase Flow Theme
The Multi-Phase Flow Research Theme brings together a range of interests in numerical and experimental modelling of fluid and thermal processes that underpin many of the key challenges of science and engineering. We are particularly interested in applying our knowledge of complex mixtures of liquids, solids and gases to processes that deliver sustainable production of materials and energy. Our research into crystallisation, chemical looping, CO2 capture typifies the application of this research where we are developing techniques to manufacture novel chemical products, to enhance combustion of fuel and efficient separation of CO2. New modelling techniques for fluids are developed and applied to a range of challenging problems.
Laboratory scale facilities are supported by a range of instrumentation, both for model validation and detailed monitoring of experimental conditions. Larger scale experimental facilities provide our research team with opportunities to work with industry, examples of which include a large scale kettle reboiler, a unique tilting packed column absorber, oil and gas separator, continuous reactors, fluidised bed reactors. The large-scale kettle reboiler and other thermal units allow us to study boiling, condensation at scales which directly apply to systems found in the nuclear and power industry. Our COBRA laboratory gives researchers the opportunity to run continuous processing, manufacturing solid and liquid based products under laboratory conditions. One of our larger experimental units is a tilting gas-liquid contacting column used to study the performance of packed column absorbers on floating oil and gas processing platforms; currently used for Floating Liquefied Natural Gas plants.
Our research work is supported by a mixture of UK regional and national research council funding and from industry. Industrial funding comes from companies with research centres spread across the world. Some examples of major awards are included below:
• EPSRC National Centre for Crystallisation and Continuous Manufacturing, supported by industrial funding from major pharmaceutical companies.
• EPSRC CO2 injection and storage - Short and long-term behaviour at different spatial scales
• EPSRC Cell-by-Cell: On Demand Assembly and Control of Microbial Communities for the Water Industry.
• Industrial funding from National Nuclear Laboratory (NNL) supported by Sellafield Sites Ltd.
• FP7 Cooperation Work Programme, CCS – Sub-seabed CO2 Storage: ‘Impact on Marine Ecosystems.
• Scottish Funding Council Horizon Funding – Novel protein extraction processes.
• Impact of Sea Motion on FPSO absorption processes – supported by a number of international oil & gas companies.