Skip to main content

Issue 78

March 2019

Download PDF version
A field of wheat with a factory in the background containing silos and smoke coming out of a chimney.
  • Chemical
  • Issue 78

Biofuels’ journey to the mainstream

Liquid biofuels today make up about 8% of road and non-road fuel supplies in the UK. The government plans to reach nearly 10% by 2020 in order to reduce CO₂ emissions. It has also laid out targets to incentivise innovation and the production of ‘development fuels’.

  • Energy
  • Issue 78

A new contender for energy storage

Energy storage has long been a challenge for those in the renewable energy field – what happens to unused energy generated by solar or wind power for example? Highview Power is trying to solve this problem and a new system of storing it as liquid air could provide answers.

Spinach crops tightly packed under lights at an indoor farming facility.
  • Food & agriculture
  • Issue 78

Vertical farming for future growth

More of us live in cities than ever before and the global population is estimated to reach 11.2 billion by 2100, creating mounting challenges for agriculture. Growth Solutions grow produce under lights in vertically stacked towers to help meet growing demand for food.

Quick read

An illustration of cellular 5G connecting cell towers to cities, phones laptops, shopping carts and trucks.
  • Electricals & electronics
  • How does that work?
  • Issue 78


The next generation of cellular technology, 5G, is said to have ‘beamforming antennas’. What are these, how will they be used in mass-market cellular systems and why do they help increase both cell range and capacity?

Quick read

Dr Anh Tran crouching down with a mask and gloves on, with chemical bottles in front of her on the ground, being watched by local people in Cambodia.
  • Environment & sustainability
  • How I got here
  • Issue 78

Q&A: Dr Anh Tran

Dr Anh Tran is a humanitarian engineering researcher and lecturer at Coventry University. Her research focuses on energy, water, food, and computer technologies with resource-limited communities.

Quick read

  • Food & agriculture
  • Innovation Watch
  • Issue 78

Robots in the field

Engineers began developing a robot designed to autonomously pick and sort strawberries. Three designs later, the first group of 24 robots is reaching UK fields this summer to navigate the crops and select ripe fruit, before picking, inspecting and packing the strawberries.

A digital illustration of people walking into a room and using Li-Fi from LED lights above them.
  • Issue 78

Communication at the speed of light

Data transmitted through LED light sources could transform online connectivity, while potentially underpinning the rapidly expanding Internet of Things. Neil Cumins spoke to Professor Harald Haas, Professor of Mobile Communications at the University of Edinburgh and Co-Founder and Chief Scientific Officer of pureLiFi, about the future of data transfer using this technique.

An aerial view of an engineer writing in an A5 notebook, with a laptop and paper highlighted on the desk in front of them.
  • Design & manufacturing
  • Opinion
  • Issue 78

Is engineering productive?

Professor Will Stewart FREng argues that engineers also have a part to play in promoting engineering’s role in greater productivity, as the way in which productivity is measured in the UK does not account for advances in engineering and what these have added to GDP.

A headshot of Susan Gray CB OBE FREng.
  • Profiles
  • Issue 78

A role model for the next generation

Air Marshal Susan Gray CB OBE FREng has taken on many roles in the Royal Air Force (RAF), including responsibility for procurement, supporting the RAF’s response to emergency relief, raising the profile of engineering among young women and preparing the headquarters for the future.

A red Model 3 Tesla driving on a road with a city in the background.
  • Electricals & electronics
  • Issue 78

The right climate for efficient semiconductors

Electrical energy is wasted in countless electrical circuits that increase or decrease voltages. A new generation of devices made from silicon carbide and gallium nitride, semiconductor materials with wider bandgaps, is reducing these losses and decreasing the carbon footprint of many electrical and electronic devices.