The story of invention: event to showcase University of Nottingham research

13 Jul 2010 16:43:59.197

Groundbreaking inventions born from the intellectual endeavour of researchers at The University of Nottingham will be in the spotlight at a showcase event being held later this week.

The Nottingham Innovation Expo 2010 event, being held in the Sir Colin Campbell Building on Jubilee Campus on Thursday July 8 from 1pm, will celebrate academic enterprise and showcase cutting-edge technologies arising from the University’s world-changing research.

Among the highlights of the exhibition will be innovations in sustainability which are currently being viewed by millions of visitors to the Shanghai Expo 2010, which focuses on the theme Better City, Better Life.

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It will also incorporate working prototypes of some of the latest University inventions on display in the University of Nottingham Technology Demonstrator exhibit, which has been developed in association with the Design Council under its Innovate for Universities programme and is used to present technologies to potential licensees, investors, funders and members of the public.

The event, which is expected to attract around 200 visitors, will be hosted by Professor Chris Rudd, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Knowledge Transfer, who will also announce the winners of the University’s Enterprise Fellowship Business Plan Competition. The fellowships will recognise innovators of the future by supporting two early career researchers to further develop technologies arising from promising research.

Professor Rudd said: “We are extremely proud of the world-changing research that we do here at The University of Nottingham and I am delighted to host this event, which will form a shop window for some of our most innovative technologies.

“The Expo will present the stories behind the development of so many of the sustainable economic, environmental and cultural impacts arising from the pioneering pursuits of our talented research professionals.”

The Nottingham Innovation Expo 2010 will feature more than 50 exhibits, including:

• Industrial microwave processing — microwave energy can be used to dramatically enhance energy efficiency, product quality or even enable new operations that have simply not been possible with traditional technologies.  Engineers at Nottingham have overcome significant hurdles to the industrial application of microwaves and have filed 12 patents covering their scientific breakthroughs. These inventions have now been applied to a large number of fields including minerals extraction, materials processing, decontamination of waste and chemical synthesis. Several of the new processes arising from their work are on display at the Expo including application of microwaves to treat contaminated oil drill cuttings, expand vermiculite (as widely used in horticulture and fire safety engineering) and treat contaminated land.



• Yeast strain test kits — Professor Katherine Smart at the University has developed a new analytical test that will provide the brewing industry with a step-change enhancement in quality assurance. Brewers of ales and lagers have developed proprietary yeast strains that provide specific flavours, aromas and mouth-feel. It is critical that brewers assure the identity and quality of the yeast supplied to fermenters. Current validation tests are slow, expensive and inaccurate. Modern brewers produce around 300,000 litres per production run and incur large costs for failed batches. The new test system relies on established PCR technology, already utilised in the brewing industry. Self contained test kits will accurately: Confirm the yeast strain is correct, confirm that there is no contamination from wild yeast and other microbes when recycling yeast strains and confirm the genetic stability of the yeast strains.

• Heartlight — Faced with the challenge of developing sensor technology that could be implemented on mine workers that must operate in hot, confined and dangerous environments Nottingham engineers developed a uniquely optimised light based sensor that could be fitted within a standard safety helmet. The same technology is now being used to improve the prospects of new born babies requiring resuscitation at birth. Ten per cent of all newborns require some resuscitation at birth. Current standard protocol requires the attending clinician to use a stethoscope to intermittently measure heart rate during resuscitation efforts. This results in effort being stopped for a short while whilst progress is monitored, which is not ideal. This, combined with the small size of the patient in comparison to the clinician’s hands and stethoscope, provide a unique opportunity for a new application of the sensor technology which has been named Heartlight. Placement of the sensor under the rim of the woolly hat placed onto babies as a heat management method frees up doctors hands for resuscitation whilst providing a constant commentary on heart rate.

The Nottingham Innovation Expo 2010 is a free event and is open to anyone interested in finding out more about the groundbreaking research being conducted at The University of Nottingham.


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Notes to editors: The University of Nottingham is ranked in the UK's Top 10 and the World's Top 100 universities by the Shanghai Jiao Tong (SJTU) and the Times Higher Education-QS World University Rankings.

More than 90 per cent of research at The University of Nottingham is of international quality, according to RAE 2008, with almost 60 per cent of all research defined as ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’. Research Fortnight analysis of RAE 2008 ranks the University 7th in the UK by research power. In 27 subject areas, the University features in the UK Top Ten, with 14 of those in the Top Five.



The University provides innovative and top quality teaching, undertakes world-changing research, and attracts talented staff and students from 150 nations. Described by The Times as Britain's “only truly global university”, it has invested continuously in award-winning campuses in the United Kingdom, China and Malaysia. Twice since 2003 its research and teaching academics have won Nobel Prizes. The University has won the Queen's Award for Enterprise in both 2006 (International Trade) and 2007 (Innovation — School of Pharmacy), and was named ‘Entrepreneurial University of the Year’ at the Times Higher Education Awards 2008.

 Nottingham was designated as a Science City in 2005 in recognition of its rich scientific heritage, industrial base and role as a leading research centre. Nottingham has since embarked on a wide range of business, property, knowledge transfer and educational initiatives ( in order to build on its growing reputation as an international centre of scientific excellence. The University of Nottingham is a partner in Nottingham: the Science City

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More information is available from Dr Susan Huxtable on +44 (0)115 846 6388,

Emma Thorne Emma Thorne - Media Relations Manager

Email: Phone: +44 (0)115 951 5793 Location: University Park

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