Welcome to our roundup of the news that's grabbed our attention from across our specialist industries over the last month!
Capacity of lithium batteries could double thanks to research find.
A shock research finding could double the capacity of lithium batteries. It’s long been supposed that the performance of lithium-ion batteries degrades over time because of the growth of the solid electrolyte interphase layer between lithium anodes and electrolytes. But research by a University of California San Diego-led team suggests otherwise. The team believes the failures stem from lithium metal deposits breaking off the anode during discharging, becoming trapped so the battery can’t access them.
With lithium metal batteries long held up as the holy grail of charging technology, the discovery could ultimately help take rechargeable lithium metal batteries to the next level.
F1 shows it’s serious about making racing more competitive with new footage of 2021 specification.
After a massive amount of research using Computational Fluid Dynamics, F1 and the FIA are a step closer to the iteration of the car we may see at Grands Prix in 2021. In fact, they’ve released footage of a 50% scale model being tested in the Sauber wind tunnel, an event that happened under conditions of strictest secrecy last month.
While race teams use wind tunnels to focus on testing the impact of forces on their cars, F1 is more interested in what happens in the car’s wake - the turbulent air behind it - so they can minimise the losses to any chasing vehicle.
Naturally this emphasis on wake reduction has a specific end: to promote overtaking and make races closer and more exciting. At this stage it looks like the new F1 standards for 2021 could reduce wake turbulence from about 50% to 10% or even less. What this does to level the playing field could be down to how individual constructors respond, but it all looks pretty exciting to us!
Manufacturing & Technologies
HS2 under review
The Transport Secretary has announced that an independent government review will consider whether and how HS2 - one of the UK’s biggest engineering projects - will proceed. Led by Douglas Oakervee and supported by Lord Berkeley and experts from a range of perspectives, the panel will deliver its report to the government by autumn, with the report informing the government’s decisions on the next steps for the project.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said, “The Prime Minister has been clear that transport infrastructure has the potential to drive economic growth, redistribute opportunity and support towns and cities across the UK, but that investments must be subject to continuous assessment of their costs and benefits. That’s why we are undertaking this independent and rigorous review of HS2.”
The project will cost about £10 billion per year over the next three years. It is thought it will generate £90 billion in GDP growth per year across the country, with 9,000 jobs already linked to the scheme, likely to peak at 30,000.
UK tech firms overtake US for foreign investment per capita.
UK’s rapidly-growing tech sector secured a record £5.5 billion in foreign investment in the first seven months of 2019, according to research by Tech Nation and Dealroom for the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport. £3.1 billion of this stems from the US and Asia, the source of major investment in tech unicorns (private companies valued at over $1 billion) including Ovo Energy and Deliveroo.
Deliveroo founder and CEO Will Shu, commenting on the figures, said: “The UK is a fantastic place to start and grow a tech company, attract talent and…turn great ideas into products and services that consumers know and love. These figures underline the real potential that the UK tech sector has.”
Executives & Leaders
Managers and Executives bemoan lack of training for leaders in manufacturing sector.
Here’s an interesting paradox: the higher up the career ladder you get, the less likely you are to get training. That’s the picture painted by a new survey – albeit one from a leadership coaching firm. They make an important point: while a majority of 1000 senior respondents agreed their companies offer “generally very thorough” training for younger employees and apprentices, a significant number in manufacturing and utilities felt that “the older you are, the less the organisation wants to spend on training you.”
It’s a timely reminder for employers not to forget that at times of transformation and disruption, leaders need training and mentoring at least as much as any other employee.
Report suggests degree apprenticeships could enjoy a net gain of £100K compared to full-time university students.
A report from In-Comm Training claims school leavers could gain £100K if they pursue degree apprenticeships, thanks to the monetary value of earning while you learn and the savings made on tuition fees.
Individuals surveyed in the study cited “earning while you learn” as just one of several benefits of apprenticeships as a whole, with others including defined progression routes and the ability to immediately apply learning in a real-world environment. In total, 90% of those surveyed recommended degree apprenticeships as an alternative to university.
From no GCSEs to chartered engineer
We were inspired by this story from Gemma Christian, who left school with no GCSEs and is now a chartered engineer. It wasn’t until she joined an engineering firm as an administrator that she discovered an interest in the industry, enrolled at Newbury for a BTEC in Engineering and studied a BEng (Hons) in aerospace systems engineering at UWE, Bristol.
Later studying a Masters at Cranfield, she garnered an impressive awards tally before working her way through roles at Airbus and GE Aviation. She is now a technical director at Alvant. What a fantastic example to anyone who thinks their early education must define them for life – regardless of their chosen field.