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UK consortium investigates nanotechnology potential in energy applications

Nanotechnology Knowledge Transfer Network (NanoKTN) : 12 September, 2012  (Special Report)
The Nanotechnology Knowledge Transfer Network announces that one of its members, Alstom Grid, is leading a UK consortium to develop a collaborative research project worth £800,000 funded 47% by the Technology Strategy Board’s Materials for Energy call.

Alstom Grid’s UK Research & Technology Centre Managing Director, Fabrice Perrot believes the NanoKTN’s events and highly knowledgeable staff provided the company with contacts in the diverse field of nanotechnology and information about the potential for nanotechnology in materials and other application areas. Perrot also believes the NanoKTN events have provided a valuable platform to raise business profile and connect with target audiences.

Alstom Grid is a global leader in power generation, transmission and rail infrastructure and sets the benchmark for innovative and environmentally conscious technologies. Transmission System Operators (TSOs) are increasingly looking towards high voltage direct current (HVDC) to effectively connect the growing level of offshore renewable energy sources. A key technological challenge is that HVDC schemes require improved electrical insulation materials for some of its critical constituents to prevent electrical breakdown. The ‘NanocompEIM’ project aims to develop a new generation of nanodielectrics and hence overcome some of these obstacles.

The NanocompEIM consortium is made of a core of three main research providers who founded the project, ALSTOM Grid, GnoSys Global's Prof. Gary Stevens who is also leading the overall technical management of the project and Southampton University's Prof. Alun Vaughan a leading UK university in this field. In addition the consortium also includes MEKUFA UK Ltd, an insulator manufacturer servicing the electricity industry and the three UK TSOs, National Grid, Scottish Power and Scottish & Southern, who are also supporting the project and closely involved in its deployment phase.

ALSTOM Grid has worked with the NanoKTN closely for a number of years, attending its events as a delegate and speaker, most recently delivering the keynote at the NanoKTN’s flagship annual engineering event, HiPerNano, which was sponsored by the IET. Fabrice Perrot believes working with the NanoKTN provided the company with background information, contacts in the field of nanotechnologies, and an awareness of activities in diverse industry sectors, which helped endorse the strategic direction.

“Working with the NanoKTN has enabled us as a company to go from strength to strength. Presenting at events has given us a high level of exposure and raised our profile and the support from the NanoKTN’s highly trained staff has been impeccable,” explains Perrot.

Perrot continues; “The NanoKTN events have been integral to raising our awareness of what other companies and academics are doing and have provided us with opportunities to showcase our technology in a forum with likeminded people where business can be done”

The NanoKTN’s primary aim is to encourage collaboration and knowledge transfer between key players in industry, as well as start-ups and SMEs. One of the key methods to ensure networking between key market players is to facilitate interactions through events. By doing this, the NanoKTN supports the UK supply chain and creates economic wealth for UK industry.  

“A key challenge for engineering industries is understanding the potential of nanotechnology and how it can impact upon business – whether for developing new or improving existing products. ALSTOM have attended our HiPerNano events and learnt first hand from different industries as they seek to solve challenges using the diverse toolkit that nanotechnology offers, and I am especially pleased that they have received funding to tackle an engineering challenge, which if nanotechnology provides the solution, presents a huge global market opportunity for the UK.” 

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