'Subsurface-flow constructed wetlands have become a very popular cost effective and green technology for treatment of waste water throughout Europe and the rest of the world. Original predictions over the longevity of constructed wetlands were approximately 50 -100 years (Conley et al 1991). However, it has become disappointingly apparent that these systems are clogging and have on average a lifetime of less than 10 years (Griffin et al 2008). Currently when a wetland becomes clogged, the whole site has to be refurbished and the reeds regrown, which takes several years and has significant economic consequences for the operators.
Our project ARBI aims to develop and trial an Autonomous Reed Bed Installation containing a magnetic resonance probe, can be deployed in several locations within a wetland to give measurements at different depths. By measuring the relaxation times of MR, sufficient information can be obtained to determine the clog state of the gravel bed of a wetland. This would enable the operators to isolate those areas of the bed where the problem resides and make a partial intervention, without the need to remove and re-plant the whole reed bed. When the system is developed, we will have potential for application in other water treatment systems based on subsurface flows like: slow rate sand filters, and river bank filtration.
The project will have major benefits for those organisations who would like to install reedbeds but have resisted doing because of concerns over performance and maintenance costs. These will increase the potential size of the market for reedbed installers and benefit the SMEs in the consortium who currently are operating in a constrained market which has not achieved its true potential.'
'Unexpected failure in an industrial production chain does not only involve the costs of failed parts replacement and the associated man-hour labour, but downtime costs have also have to be considered. To keep a machine functioning well it is a must to have good predictive maintenance, as it helps to reduce operating risk, avoids plant failures, provides reliable equipment, reduces operating costs, eliminates defects in operating plant and maximises production. Acoustic Emission (AE) is a phenomenon of transient elastic wave generation in materials under stress. When the material is subjected to stress at a certain level, a rapid release of strain energy takes place in the form of elastic wave which can be detected by transducers placed on it. Plastic deformation and growth of cracks are among the main sources of AE in metals. Though AE can came form any system under movement, the main source is doubtlessly from rotating machinery. Sources of AE in rotating machinery include impacting, cyclic fatigue cracks, friction, turbulence, material loss, cavitation, leakage, etc. In most cases the SMEs machine owner would be satisfied with a simple affordable device that is able to warn them from critical equipment failure.
Recent developments in sensing technology, microprocessors, and miniaturised radio transceivers has enabled a new generation of Wireless Sensors Networks. The future of these sensors is to have an ubiquitous sensing nodes that will autonomously report on operating conditions, and that this data will be used to facilitate structural health monitoring, embedded test & evaluation, and condition based maintenance of critical industrial rotating machinery without the use of expensive cabling. In addition, in order to provide sensing networks which are truly autonomous, chemical batteries must be eliminated from the sensor and some kind of energy harvesting has to be foreseen. Piezoelectric materials have demonstrated their ability to convert vibration energy from vibrating machinery and rotating structures into electrical energy for powering a wireless sensing node. Hence, an acoustic emission self-powered wireless sensor is one of the main objectives to be achieved in this project. The sensor will measure using frequency as opposed to time which is an advancement from the state of the art.'
'Rice is the main crop in wet areas such as river deltas and is an essential tool in Europe in managing protected ecosystems. Irrigation water is a key factor in the production of rice and water quality has a major impact on crop yield as a result of tolerance of rice to factors such as dissolved salts. Rice is more water consuming than many other crops: in continuous flooding cultivation it takes about 6 times the water required by wheat. Due to increased water use in coastal areas, the sea intrudes the water table and seawater floods nearby fields during storms in the Mediterranean area. The result is increased water salinity, which reduces yield in rice crops and increases soil salinity. Nowadays, water condition is for the most part assessed by visual inspection of the crops and, when excess water salinity is suspected, fields are irrigated by flooding them. In areas where water salinity is endemic, rice paddies are continuously irrigated with river water to reduce water salinity. This is a remedial solution that requires enormous volumes of water and considerable energy to pump water.
Water salinity can be accurately determined by measuring its electrical conductivity (EC). Measuring EC at the water inlet and outlet of each paddy field can help in monitoring the “washing” effect of irrigation. Moreover, measuring EC at points far from water inlets and outlets can help in assessing water salinity in a given paddy field and at different depths in drainage channels can help in managing water salinity in larger areas. This project will develop a wireless sensor network comprised of low-cost EC measurement nodes and an autonomous power supply based on energy harvesting, that will be capable of transmitting readings in real-time to a central server. This data will enable cultivators to effectively manage and protect of their paddy fields and greatly reduce flood water consumption.'
'Dry fermented sausage production comprises an important segment of the European meat industry and market. However, the European meat processing industry is extremely fragmented and characterised by businesses of very small size. Small and medium enterprises play an important role in the food sector, both in economical and social terms. The traditional and farm workshops are often based in rural area where the density of inhabitants is low and, for this reason, the diversification of the production has direct implications for employment and the maintenance of these traditional enterprises has a great economic impact.
The sensory characteristics of food products are essential for consumers and the challenge for consortium SME sausage producers lies in increasing production while minimizing product variability, maintaining flavour and desired texture and assuring product safety. Fermentation and maturation play a pivotal role in the final sausages quality. Maturation requires the precise control of two critical parameters – relative humidity and temperature – that are crucial for the product’s final sensory characteristics and safety. The main objective of this project is to design and develop: (i) an analytical system that could be incorporated in ripening/drying chambers to provide information on the evolution of the relative water content and distribution in representative sausage samples along the chamber, as well as a local indication of the temperature and relative humidity values near those samples. (ii) A drying chamber control system which uses the information from the multi-sensor system to readapt the environmental conditions in the chamber for a correct drying process.
The proposed DryCheck project will give SMEs a practical tool with which improve the production of quality sausage with a user-friendly albeit advanced technology product at an affordable cost.'
'This project is an innovative collaboration between three high-tech SMEs with global aspirations and arguably three of the best RTD performers in Europe. The project itself and the outcomes resulting from the work will have a unifying theme of innovation, flexibility, collaboration, and of delivering whole product solutions as a norm. In technology markets the goal is market share via whole product solutions. At the start of the development life cycle the whole product barely exists. At best there will be a core product surrounded by an envelope of custom services required to make the application work. In this early market visionaries commit to an incomplete product and use it as a foundation for fielding an application breakthrough. However, the challenge of driving out the service component and of providing a fully integrated commoditised product, where significant revenue can fund the building of valuable market share is beyond the reach of most SMEs. In fact innovation by SMEs is often characterized by products with a low R&D intensity and a limited view of markets, and very few companies ever establish products of international scale. The RAISME project will enable high-tech SMEs with niche skills to rapidly build and scale innovative ICT applications through the collaborative use of advanced “mashup” technology and cloud computing. The RAISME SMEs will be at the vanguard of a new business paradigm where the end-user becomes part of the product development lifecycle, thus accelerating it, and where importing innovations from the internet allows exploiting knowledge faster and productivity increases. The RTD performers who have developed state-of-the-art visualisation, optimisation and integration tools will boot-strap a series of niche applications brought to the project by the SMEs to properly exploit knowledge services. Additionally the anticipated project outcomes will help mobilise communities of high-performing SMEs compete in worldwide markets.'