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Award for Accutronics and Aston University

Thu, 08/23/2012 - 18:02 -- Ruth Williams

Battery manufacturers Accutronics, based in Birmingham UK, have been awarded a Knowledge Transfer Partnership award for a joint project with Birmingham’s Aston University Business School.

Accutronics, who design, develop and manufacturer nickel metal hydride and lithium-ion batteries, joined with Aston for the two-year project to demonstrate how academic advancements could be used as a practical business tool.

Prabhjit Singh Chugh of Aston University spent time at Accutronics on the team where he was able to develop a new approach to managing operational improvements in a very customer driven way.  Martin May of Aston University described Prabhjit’s role as to “present a project in partnership with the host business to attract government funding.  The university provides some supervision and mentorship, as, of course, does Accutronics.”

The KTP project aims to build and strengthen relationships between academic establishments, businesses and the community.

Gareth Hancox, KTP project supervisor said: “This project was aimed at developing and implementing an operational strategy, which, together with all necessary processes and facilities would assist to support and grow the increasingly complex product range within Accutronics.”  He hopes it will continue to improve Accutronics reputation and enable the company to meet the challenges of performance requirements.

Key achievements in the first year of the project have included the definition of operations performance targets for existing and new markets and the identification of over one hundred improvement actions in the business process.

H-Train of tomorrow, today

Thu, 08/23/2012 - 18:02 -- Ruth Williams

A hydrogen-powered hybrid train has been designed and built by students at the University of Birmingham, UK.  The prototype narrow gauge locomotive, running on a 5 000-litre hydrogen fuel cell combined with lead-acid batteries, is the first of its kind operating in the UK.

Dr Stuart Hillmansen, from the University of Birmingham's School of Electronic, Electrical and Computer Engineering, said: "Our hydrogen-powered locomotive is a clean and efficient example of how hydrogen power could work for future trains on non-electrified routes.  We hope that our efforts will encourage the rail industry to take a closer look at this exciting technology."

The fuel cell is used both to power the permanent magnet electric motors and to charge the batteries, helping to meet the peak power demands during acceleration.

The advanced cell, which has already been successfully deployed by the university on a canal barge, exceeded expectations when the locomotive was tested on Leicestershire's Stapleford Miniature Railway.

Hydrogen transport also hit the headlines recently during the London 2012 Olympics.  A fleet of five black cabs, powered by hydrogen, shuttled people around the city demonstrating the potential of H-cells as an alternative fuel source.

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