UWE students take robotics to Westminster

Two UWE Bristol researchers will present their projects to MPs and ministers at SET for BRITAIN 2015

Posted by Emily Hutton

Iwona Gajda and Tareq Assaf, both from the Bristol Robotics Laboratory – a major research collaboration between UWE Bristol and the University of Bristol – have been selected to present posters outlining their projects at the Palace of Westminster, on 9 March at SET for BRITAIN 2015.

PhD student Iwona Gajda is supervised by Professors who work in the Bristol BioEnergy Centre, within the Bristol Robotics Laboratory. Her abstract is entitled: ‘Microbial fuel cell to provide electricity, extract water and clean waste.’

It outlines her work on developing the cathodic part of the microbial fuel cell (MFC) system, to gain a better understanding of the role of simultaneous electricity and water extraction from waste water. The project is based on the concept that almost any type of organic waste material can be used to produce electricity, resulting in end-products of purified water and electricity.

The system would use simple and cheap materials such as charcoal and ceramics, to construct MFCs that harvest electricity, purify water and fix carbon dioxide. In the future, the system could be scaled up, enabling the electricity generated to power the water purification process in both domestic and industrial environments. The additional benefit is that the simultaneous extraction of water and chemicals could be used to capture carbon dioxide from air, becoming a real carbon negative technology.

Iwona said: “SET for BRITAIN is held as a prelude to National Science and Engineering Week, and I am very happy to represent Bristol BioEnergy Centre, Bristol Robotics Laboratory and UWE at this event, especially as Bristol is the European Green Capital in 2015.

“I hope that our research can influence some of the decisions that will be made in the near future on reducing the consumption of energy in waste water treatment applications.”

Tareq Assaf is a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow supervised by Dr. Martin Pearson, Professor Jonathan Rossiter and Professor Tony Pipe at Bristol Robotics Laboratory. His abstract is entitled ‘The BELLA Project’.

‘The BELLA project’ – Bio-inspired Control of Electro-Active Polymers for Next Generation Soft Robots – is a collaboration between Bristol Robotics Laboratory and Sheffield University. It is an Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) funded study, that aims to integrate soft robotics into a robotic platform, by simultaneously addressing the problems of actuation and control of soft-smart materials (artificial muscle – Electro Active Polymers). The platform consists of an array of twenty tactile whiskers, actuated by artificial muscles and controlled by the adaptive control strategy inspired by a functional model of the cerebellum – a structure of the mammalian brain.

The overall aim of SET for BRITAIN is to encourage, support and promote Britain’s early-stage and early-career research scientists, engineers, technologists and mathematicians.

For more information visit: www.setforbritain.org.uk/2015event.asp