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26 minutes | Sep 16, 2021
#125 Artificial Intelligence in Project Planning
New software using AI is enabling planners to identify options for engineering projects that are beyond the realms of human imagination. Traditionally, solutions are studied individually at great time and cost but budgets and timelines are more constrained than ever before. At the same time planners are being asked to incorporate more factors into identifying the best solutions from emissions profiles to social value. One thing we do have more of today though is data and in this episode we hear that AI can help the industry to use it more effectively in the very early stages of projects to explore more and create better solutions. Guests Sharon Darcy, Director, Sustainability First Chris Harman, Technical Director, Atkins Harry Hunter, Associate Director Digital Transformation, Atkins Grzegorz Marecki, CEO and Founder, Continuum Industries Partner Atkins, part of the SNC-Lavalin Group, is one of the world’s most respected design, engineering and project management consultancies. Employing over 18,000 people across the UK, North America, Middle East and Africa, Asia Pacific and Europe, Atkins utilities the latest technology to deliver major capital projects, and provide expert consultancy for clients across the energy, transportation and infrastructure sectors.
38 minutes | Sep 9, 2021
#124 Mussels: How to Save the Seas
Intensive farming leads to nutrients seeping into the groundwater and into rivers. These enriched waterways deliver immense quantities of nutrients to coastal seas and cause algae to bloom, overwhelming the ecosystem. Fortunately, blue mussels can feed on these algae and also provide a sustainable food source both for humans and for the agriculture and aquaculture industries. Carefully located mussel farms can solve two problems at once and perhaps save our seas. © Main image courtesy of Montgomery Guests Harald Sveier, Risk and Insurance Manager, Leroy Seafoods Katherine Richardson, Professor of Biological Oceanography, University of Copenhagen Maren Moltke Lyngsgaard, Marine Consultant, WSP Partner The partner for this episode is WSP. As one of the world’s leading engineering professional services consultancies, WSP brings clarity and vision to complex challenges. Our team of global technical specialists and strategic advisers ensure innovative solutions solve complex problems for our clients and the communities we serve, meeting both the needs of today and addressing the challenges of the future. Resources To buy a copy of the Danish language cookbook mentioned in this episode, click here For a database of the carbon cost of various foods in Denmark, click here Maren is features on page 17 of WSP’s 2020 environmental, social and governance report, click here
33 minutes | Sep 2, 2021
#123 Engineering Plants: Intelligent Growth Solutions
The world is on the brink of a climate related disaster. The solution requires a combination of engineering disciplines that do not come together very often. But they must, because the challenge is so enormous that the future of the human race quite literally depends on it. Wheat, rice, sweetcorn, and soybean currently provide two thirds of human caloric intake worldwide. But the world is changing. In the face of rising global temperatures, crop yields are expected to fall… with each additional degree of warming, wheat production alone will fall by 6%, rice by 3.2%, soybean by 3.1% and sweetcorn by 7.4%. In this episode we are talking about a new kind of farming. It combines a range of engineering and scientific disciplines. Mechanical engineering, robotics, software engineering, thermodynamics, lighting, microbiology, and hydroponics. It also takes advantage of the latest agricultural science. It is called vertical farming, or controlled environment farming, and it has the potential to revolutionise the agricultural sector. Guests Dave Scott, Chief Technology Officer and Co-Founder, Intelligent Growth Solutions Derek Stewart, Director of the Advanced Plant Growth Centre, James Hutton Institute Elliott Erskine, Microbiologist and Knowledge Transfer, Intelligent Growth Solutions Fara Kahir, Senior Software Developer, Intelligent Growth Solutions Partner Intelligent Growth Solutions is where agriculture and engineering combine. Founded in 2013, IGS brought together decades of farming and engineering experience to create an agritech business with a vision to revolutionise the indoor growing market. Resources Paper: Temperature increase reduces global yields of major crops in four independent estimates Paper: Wheat yield potential in controlled-environment vertical farms The IPCC report on climate change can be read here
19 minutes | Aug 26, 2021
#122 Decarbonisation: Growing Roads on Trees
In this episode we look at how a new plant-based bitumen will be incorporated into asphalt mixtures currently being developed. The hope is that this will allow clients to build roads that act as carbon sinks. The reduction in carbon by using products like this could play a significant role in helping the UK achieve net zero. The engineers think it might be possible store up to a million tonnes of this renewable biogenic material within the Highways England strategic road network. A single UK household uses up to 20 tonnes of carbon a year. So using biogenic asphalt in the English road network could save as much carbon as us used by 50,000 homes in one year. Guests Bob Allen, Head of Research and Technical Services, Aggregate Industries Rachel Morgan, Key Account Manager, Shell Bitumen Richard Taylor, Global Technology Development Manager, Shell Bitumen Resources Novel uses of vegetable oil in asphalt mixtures, Dr Helen Bailey, University of East London, 2010, can be read here PAS 2060 – Carbon Neutrality, can be found here EN 15804:A2 Sustainability of construction works – Environmental product declarations – Core rules for the product category of construction products, can be read here asPECT – the Asphalt Pavement Embedded Carbon Tool, can be found here Partner With over 100 years’ experience, Shell Bitumen is the world’s leading supplier of bitumen. Their wide range of innovative bitumen products is designed to help meet the challenges of road, roofing and airport sectors, alongside specialty and industrial applications.
26 minutes | Aug 19, 2021
#121 Batteries: The Lithium-Silicon Age
After a decade of growth, there were 10 million electric cars on the world’s roads by the end of 2020. This growth trend is set to continue, with at least 145 million on the roads by 2030. The performance of batteries in this electrified future will be critical. In this episode we are looking at a start-up that is hoping to revolutionise the materials we use to build batteries, just in time for the coming boom in demand. Guest Rick Costantino, Chief Technology Officer, Group14 Technologies Resources The International Energy Agency’s Electric Vehicles Outlook can be found here.
26 minutes | Aug 12, 2021
#120 Recycled Plastic: The Canadian Potential
In 2019, Justin Trudeau declared war on plastic waste. And single-use plastics were listed as a toxic material in Canada in May of this year. Before long, Canadian companies will have to find a use for the immense quantity of material they generate. Yet the North American reprocessing industry is still young. Meanwhile, on the other side of the Atlantic, a mature reprocessing industry in the UK waits on government legislation to encourage project owners to embrace more sustainable practices. A family company that supplies recycled polymer troughing to the railway industry straddles both of these markets and wonders what each could learn from the other. Guests Allan Sandilands, Circular Economy Lead, Resource Futures Stewart Wellens, CEO, Trojan Services Thomas Bye, Operations Manager, TroTrof Composites Resources https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/introduction-of-plastic-packaging-tax/plastic-packaging-tax #104 Solving Rail’s Hidden Hazard Partner Trojan Services creates cable protection management systems for large infrastructure. Current industry users range across multiple sectors in the UK and Canada. Trojan aims to considerably reduce the CO2 footprint of every project they supply for with a more cost-effective solution that can utilise the UK’s plastic waste. They intercept large volumes of selected plastics destined for landfill.
27 minutes | Aug 5, 2021
#119 The Grange: Saving Time, Saving Lives
As COVID-19 rampaged across the UK in 2020, society shut down and hospitals reached breaking point. For engineers building The Grange University Hospital in Cwmbran, South Wales their work took on a greater meaning. They had to make sure that this 450 bed critical care facility was completed ahead of time. Their actions didn’t just save lives. They saved money because without it Wales might have needed a temporary Nightingale Hospital. Accelerating construction was only possible thanks to the advanced design for manufacture and assembly (DfMA) approach undertaken by the contractor Laing O’Rourke supported by a team of designers including WSP. Guests David Leverton, Project Technical Leader, Laing O’Rourke Stuart Renshaw, Technical Director, WSP Partner: WSP As one of the world’s leading engineering professional services consultancies, WSP brings clarity and vision to complex challenges. Their team of technical specialists and strategic advisers across the UK is part of a talented global family of expertise. Together, they ensure innovative solutions solve complex problems for our clients and the communities we serve, meeting both the needs of today and addressing the challenges of the future. Image credit: BIM model created using designs from WSP Structures, BDP Architecture & Landscape, AECOM MEP and CHT MEP Contractor.png
32 minutes | Jul 29, 2021
#118 Gateway: The Lunar Space Station
The last time a person walked on the moon was 14 December 1972. Almost 50 years ago. Since then, human operations have been confined to Earth orbit. But during that time, technology has not stood still. Now we are ready to take the next step. This episode we are talking to NASA about the Lunar Gateway, a small space station that will orbit the moon and act as a hub, supporting operations on the surface and in lunar space… it will facilitate communication with Earth, allow for scientific experiments in deep space, and act as a staging area for supply missions. Guests Dina Contella, Manager for Mission Integration and Utilisation – Gateway Program, NASA Sean Fuller, International Partner Manager – Gateway Program, NASA Resources https://www.nasa.gov/sites/default/files/atoms/files/artemis_plan-20200921.pdf https://www.nasa.gov/specials/artemis-accords/img/Artemis-Accords-signed-13Oct2020.pdf Sponsor Support for this episode came from Groundforce. Groundforce offers offer total solutions to the construction industry dealing in shoring equipment, piling equipment, air pressure testing, trenchless technology, temporary bridges, and EUSR accredited excavation training.
21 minutes | Jul 22, 2021
#117 How Sails Could Save Shipping
The first boats that harnessed the wind to skip over the waves may have been built 8,000 years ago. Several hundred years later, the earliest seaborne trading networks began to form in the Aegean and the Persian Gulf. Modern cargo shipping relies on ‘bunker fuel’ a thick, black sludge made from the dregs of the refining process. It is also loaded with sulphur, which produces gases and particles hazardous to human and animal health. But the difficulty of settling on a single renewable fuel, combined with conservative decarbonisation targets, means shipping is making limited progress in the quest to go green. Enter Smart Green Shipping, a start-up that wants to retrofit cargo ships with sails to reduce fuel consumption, and lower carbon emissions sooner rather than later. Guest Diane Gilpin, CEO, Smart Green Shipping Resources For more information on Smart Green Shipping, click here For an animation showing FastRigs deploying, click here For the results of the computer simulation, click here For the UK Government’s Maritime 2050 strategy, click here For the Fourth International Maritime Organisation Greenhouse Gas Study, click here
30 minutes | Jul 15, 2021
#116 Climate Change: Islands on the Frontline
Island states are at the forefront of climate change. Rising sea levels mean more coastal erosion, overtopping of defences and salinification of land. More frequent and devastating severe weather events are disrupting everyday life and acidification of the ocean is impacting on fishing. It is happening now, not in decades to come. From atolls in the Pacific Ocean to the coast of Northern Ireland we find out how technology such as Lidar – light detection and ranging, is helping island nations to become more resilient and adapt to the effects of climate change. We learn that data is critical in order to be able to accurately map and predict the impacts of rising global temperatures and protect traditions of the past for generations to come. Guests Dr Joanne Hanna, Senior Scientific Officer, Marine & Fisheries, DAERA Wini Nainoca, Environmental Specialist, UNDP Pacific Office Paul Seaton, Regional Director Strategic Sales and Marketing, Fugro Arthur Webb, Chief Technical Advisor and a Coastal Adaption Strategist, UNDP Pacific Office Resources Planet Beyond: Saving the South Pacific UNDP Pacific Office Blog: Wini Nianoca Partner This episode is made in partnership with Fugro. Fugro is the world’s leading geodata specialist, collecting and analysing comprehensive information about the Earth and the structures built upon it. Through integrated data acquisition, analysis and advice, Fugro unlocks insights from geodata to help clients design, build and operate their assets in a safe, sustainable and efficient manner.
21 minutes | Jul 8, 2021
#115 The Circular Road
In this episode we explain how one of the world’s biggest problems – plastic waste can be reused in state of the art, energy-efficient road-building products. Working with Cumbria County Council within an initiative called Adept Live Labs Shell will be publicly sharing the knowledge they are gaining in these lab trials, with the overall...
27 minutes | Jul 1, 2021
#114 Engineering with Dogs
Ecologists on infrastructure projects have some new team members: Conservation dogs. Their superior olfactory systems mean that they can sniff out a plethora of protected species from great crested newts and water voles, to bats and birds. Critically these canine detectives can do this more quickly, accurately and safely than humans. Thanks to pioneering work...
28 minutes | Jun 24, 2021
#113 Food Waste: Making a Net Zero Jet Fuel
Every year 1.3 billion tonnes of food are wasted. The waste occurs all through the supply chain, from the farm itself, all the way to the household. It represents enough calories to potentially feed every undernourished person on the planet, and there is an environmental cost to this. About 6% of all human greenhouse gas...
32 minutes | Jun 17, 2021
#112 Hagerbach: The Bat Cave of Tunnelling
Every good superhero universe has its origins story. Hagerbach’s begins with Rudolf Amberg, looking to innovate and find new efficiency savings for his iron mine. So began a 50-year journey from testing equipment and explosives, to fire and tunnel safety simulations, and ever more creative uses for underground space. Ultimately the mining industry in Switzerland...
35 minutes | Jun 10, 2021
#111 Machine Learning: Construction’s Future
When people think of digital tools to help with engineering problems, they usually think of a 3D model or a computerised image, representing something that exists in the real world. Machine learning is not that. What it does is completely alien to your way of thinking. It operates in such a way that is totally...
23 minutes | Jun 3, 2021
#110 London: Boosting Biodiversity
London is the world’s first national park city, with about 50% green coverage of its surface area. This is a legacy of the public and Royal parks, Victorian tree planting, and is something Londoners enjoy on a daily basis. Behind the scenes, major organisations and stakeholders are working to raise the profile of environmental sustainability. ...
22 minutes | May 27, 2021
#109 Spiders Versus Plastic
For millions of years spiders have been spinning naturally occurring proteins into an incredibly strong and durable silk. By studying the anatomy of these arachnids, scientists in the UK have cracked the code to reassembling natural proteins creating a new alternative to plastic. Pioneering research company Xampla says that its supramolecular engineered protein is fully...
41 minutes | May 20, 2021
#108 Antarctica: Building Rothera Wharf
Since the end of the Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration, humanity has focused its activities in the southern continent on science and research. To do this effectively, logistics are critical. To prepare for the arrival of its new ship, the RRS Sir David Attenborough, the wharf at Rothera Research Station needed to be replaced. The...
26 minutes | May 13, 2021
#107 Africa: Connecting a Continent
Preparation is currently underway for installation of one of the world’s longest fibre optic communications cables. Survey vessels are circumnavigating the entire coast of Africa determining the best locations for laying the cable on the seabed and bringing it onshore. At around 36,000km long it will provide connectivity to countries throughout the continent and form...
35 minutes | May 6, 2021
#106 A Beginner’s Guide to Social Value
Why do we build? Why develop society? And who reaps the benefit? In this episode we look at the new interest the construction industry is taking in quantifying and appreciating social value. That difficult-to-define idea that has also enjoyed the recent attention of central government, with legislation mandating that projects and tenders take it into...
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