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20 July 2012
China delegation tackles land, sea, air transport challenges

More than 30 engineering experts from The University of Nottingham have been in China for meetings with companies and research establishments to discuss applying their expertise to aerospace, marine engineering, transport logistics, renewable energy and coastal engineering.

Container ship

One group, from Nottingham’s world leading Institute for Aerospace Technology, has visited firms in Beijing and Xian to learn more about the technology requirements of Chinese aerospace companies. A meeting was also due to take place with the world’s largest manufacturer of electric locomotives.

Experts from the University’s China and UK campuses gathered at The University of Nottingham Ningbo China for the International Marine Technologies Workshop. Other delegates at the event included shipbuilders and marine industry innovators from China, Denmark and Norway, and specialist British and Chinese engineering companies.

Vast potential to contribute

Professor Chris Rudd, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Business Engagement and Knowledge Transfer and a Professor of Mechanical Engineering, leading the delegation said: “On land, via sea and in the air China is investing in energy-efficient technologies and in its transport and logistics infrastructure.

“Tackling the challenges of rapid urbanization, economic development and increased mobility head-on, the nation is investing in engineering solutions. In these areas world-class research at The University of Nottingham can help.

“UK R&D expertise has vast potential to contribute to global aerospace and shipping developments. High levels of air passenger growth are anticipated for the Asia Pacific region, so assisting emerging air-travel markets in China and India will help develop global civil aerospace. China has 26 ‘mega-ports’ each handling over 100 million tons of cargo a year — 11 in the Yangtze River Delta.

“Nottingham’s engineers are highly skilled in areas contributing to improved fuel efficiency and the environmental performance of aircraft. This will help reduce carbon emissions and ensure sustainable mobility of people. Our Business School colleagues are training Chinese industry leaders to meet the strategic and operational challenges that attend this growth trajectory.”

Marine economy growth and environmental protection

Ningbo-Zhoushan Port is the world’s largest combined port. Last year it handled 630 million tons of cargo, and Zhejiang province is one of only three special areas in China targeted as national demonstration sites for the marine economy attracting massive investment.

This International Marine Technologies Workshop event aims to enhance multinational academic collaborations and business engagements related to the marine economy. It focuses on the future of China’s marine economy looking at advanced marine equipment design and manufacture, renewable energy, port logistics, and environmental protection and coastal engineering.

“For this first International Marine Technologies Workshop we have assembled leading researchers, government officials, and executive managers from local and international companies,” says Professor Nabil Gindy, Vice-Provost (Research) at The University of Nottingham Ningbo China.

“In addition to the marine equipment design and manufacture and the coastal engineering required to build and extend Ningbo-Zhoushan Port and other marine developments, this conference is looking at radical innovations in off-shore wind-turbine design and subsidiary technologies required to facilitate major investments in renewable energy.”

Optimal logistics

This event extends beyond technology. It will help delegates understand local government policy and support frameworks for business development through interaction with Ningbo Municipal Government leaders, and it will encourage new business links with successful local industrialists in the marine sector, while gaining access to cutting-edge marine research from leading researchers.

Research on logistics legislation is showing how Ningbo Port’s development can be affected by domestic and international logistics regulations. Merging Ningbo and Zhoushan’s ports has reduced waste, boosting efficiency. The event explores options for intelligent dock and transport optimisation and scheduling systems, and a logistics management system that uses China’s GNSS network.

Environmental protection and disaster warning systems

Delegates will work together on the sustainable exploitation of marine resources, analysing ecological services systems, biological traits and development of decision-support tools. This will incorporate both detection and remediation technologies to tackle marine oil pollution.

Potential for research collaboration includes: studying the impact of oil pollution on ecosystem using biological traits analysis; holistic evaluation of marine oil pollution at Ningbo Harbour’s offshore area; modelling oil pollution dispersion in the sea using a phenomenological approach; novel nano-adsorbent developments for tackling oil pollution; developing a biological treatment method using bacteria; and developing a bioreactor for oil waste biodegradation.

Another aim of this event is to collaborate to transfer world-leading knowledge that creates a marine disaster warning system more accurate than current systems using China’s GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite System) network.

The Nottingham academics intend to develop from these visits both commercial contracts managed through the University’s Asia Business Centre, part of Business Engagement and Innovation Services, and also new research collaborations involving academics at UK campuses and at Ningbo, China.

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