New Energy Conversion Laboratory Opens at Heriot-Watt University

Professor Alan Miller, Dr Pachauri, Professor Steve Chapman and Professor Hari Upadhaya

Professor Alan Miller, Dr Pachauri, Professor Steve Chapman and Professor Hari Upadhaya

In a short ceremony on Tuesday on the 26th of February Dr Rajendra Pachauri, Chair of the Nobel Peace Prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and director general of TERI (The Energy Resources Institute), opened the new labs.

In the Energy Conversion Lab researchers are developing low cost, environmentally friendly solar cell technology, which has a low upfront capital investment requirement, and is therefore suitable for countries around the world. The PV sector that looks set for double digit growth in the coming years with this low cost technology now having great commercial potential.

Professor Hari Upadhyaya, who recently joined Heriot-Watt University, leads the team on energy engineering at the University’s School of Engineering and Physical Sciences and has over 20 years’ experience in thin film PV, establishing low cost (non-vacuum) and conventional (vacuum based) thin-film materials.

Following the Lab opening, Dr Pachauri, was then taken on a tour of the University including learning more about Carbon Capture technologies from Professor Mercedes Maroto-Valer and was shown the new high speed rail testing rig by Professor Peter Woodward.

Professor Mercedes Maroto-Valer and Dr Pachauri

Professor Mercedes Maroto-Valer and Dr Pachauri

Professor Peter Woodward explains to Dr Pachauri the work Heriot-Watt is doing in high speed rail

Professor Peter Woodward explains to Dr Pachauri the work Heriot-Watt is doing in high speed rail

The Principal Professor Steve Chapman and Professor Alan Miller, Deputy Principal Research and Knowledge Transfer joined Dr Pachauri on the tour of the facilities with the Principal commenting “I am very impressed with the cutting-edge research Heriot-Watt is doing in solar cell technology, carbon capture and storage, as well as high speed rail. Working with industry on key projects such as these is vital to Heriot-Watt University as we continue to develop commercially viable solutions to global challenges through expanding our research intensification.”

Industry Day Speaker – Professor Phil Banfill

Professor Phil Banfill, Professor of Construction Materials at the School of the Built Environment at Heriot Watt University, will discuss ‘Homes fit for Zero: Dwellings in a zero carbon climate change future’ at Industry Day 2013. 

Prof. Phil Banfill


Phil Banfill is a materials scientist, with over 30 years experience of research and education in a university environment. He was appointed Professor of Construction Materials at Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, in 1995 and has published two books and over 160 papers. Most of his research is concerned with materials and energy utilisation in buildings. He currently leads the Urban Energy Research Group which has interests in:-

  • Climate change, sustainability, CO2 reduction, life cycle assessment
  • Existing building stock – refurbishment, modelling, assessment
  • Historic, traditionally constructed, and “hard to treat” buildings
  • Low and zero carbon technologies, and system integration
  • Energy consumption and performance monitoring
  • Human factors – users, policymakers, investors, fuel poverty.

Prof. Banfill will speak during Parallel Session 3: ‘Energy Consumption & Usage in Homes of the Future’. 

Industry Day Speaker – Professor Hari Upadhyaya

Professor Hari Upadhyaya of the School of Engineering & Physical Sciences at Heriot Watt University, will speak on ‘Building Integrated Photovoltaics: New Trends & Challenges’ at Industry Day 2013.

Hari Upadhyaya

Hari Upadhyaya

Prof. Upadhyaya is the Deputy Director of Institute of Manufacturing Process and Energy Engineering within the School of Engineering and Physical Sciences at Heriot Watt University, where he leads Energy Engineering activities. Prof. Upadhyaya was leading the Thin Film and Excitonic PV group at Centre for Renewable Energy Systems Technology (CREST), at Loughborough University, UK before joining at Heriot Watt. With his past experience in thin film PV for over 20 years, he had established the low cost (non-vacuum) and conventional (vacuum based) thin-film materials and photovoltaic device processing research and characterisation facilities at new PV laboratory facilities at Heriot Watt. His research involves activities on Transparent Conducting Oxides (TCOs), Dye Solar Cell (DSC), hybrid solar cells, CdTe and CIGS thin film solar cell technologies. His research interests also include the electrochemical storage technologies,  rechargeable batteries and super-capacitors, where he was involved in pursuing research projects on Na- rechargeable batteries and ion/electron  conducting polymer based super-capacitors in India.

Prof. Upadhyaya came to UK from India through Royal Society Fellowship to work at Imperial College, where he established himself quickly as an expert in Dye-sensitised Solar Cells on flexible substrates. In collaboration with Prof. Michael Gratzel, the inventor of the DSC technology (EPFL, Switzerland) and Prof. Ayodhya Tiwari (EMPA, Switzerland) he had established over ~15% efficient record Dye/CIGS Tandem Solar Cells, which is highest for thin film based tandem solar cells. He is involved in managing several Technology Strategy Board (TSB) and Engineering and Physical Science Research Council (EPSRC) such as Excitonic Supergen consortium involving top Universities in UK, and recent EPSRC-DST funded project between India and UK worth £5 Million as coordinator from UK. Prof. Upadhyaya has established strong links with industries in the UK and abroad.

Professor Upadhyaya will speak during Parallel Session 3 – ‘Energy Consumption & Usage in the Homes of the Future’. 

Industry Day Speaker – Jeremy Leggett

Jeremy Leggett, Executive Chairman of Solarcentury, will discuss ‘Latest dispatches from the front lines of the solar revolution’ at Industry Day 2013.

Jeremy Leggett

Jeremy Leggett


Social entrepreneur Jeremy Leggett, author of The Carbon War and Half Gone, is founder and chairman of Solarcentury, one the UK’s fastest growing renewable energy companies, and founder and Chairman of SolarAid, an African solar lighting charity set up with some of Solarcentury’s profits, whose for-profit social venture SunnyMoney is Africa’s top-selling retailer of solar lanterns.  Described by the Observer as “Britain’s most respected green energy boss,” he was the first Hillary Laureate for International Leadership on Climate Change, a CNN Principal Voice, and Entrepreneur of the Year at the New Energy Awards. He writes and blogs on occasion for the Guardian and the Financial Times, lectures on short courses in business and society at the universities of Cambridge and St Gallen, and is an Associate Fellow at Oxford University’s Environmental Change Institute.

Mr Leggett will speak during Parallel Session 3 – ‘Energy Consumption & Usage in the Homes of the Future’.

Industry Day Speaker – Andy Ford

Andy Ford, Technical Director for Buildings & Infrastructure at Mott McDonald Fulcrum will discuss ‘Future Cities – Existing Buildings: Addressing the Conundrum’ at Industry Day 2013.

Andy Ford

Andy Ford

Andy Ford, Technical Director for Mott MacDonald, has worked extensively on innovative buildings throughout his career and contributed to many award winning designs, his speciality lies within creative and sustainable low energy design solutions.

He is the Immediate Past President of CIBSE, Chair of the UK Green Building Council (UK-GBC) policy committee and is currently a member of the National Platform for Construction focusing on the direction of research and innovation in the industry. Andy’s work has taken a more specific focus in recent years into how the industry can respond to the challenge of climate change through thermal storage on a city scale.

Andy is responsible for the design of a number of ground breaking buildings with early work on low energy buildings at the University of East Anglia campus; including the Elizabeth Fry Building, notably still one of the lowest energy non-domestic buildings in the UK nearly 20 years since it opened.

His work in the field has been recognised when he was awarded the IMechE Construction Division Prize in 2009, for “significant contribution made in the execution, promotion and advancement of mechanical engineering applied in the building services and construction field”. In 2012 he received an honorary PhD from Heriot Watt University for his contribution to sustainable design.

Andy Ford will speak during Parallel Session 3 – ‘Energy Conservation & Usage in the Homes of the Future’.

Industry Day Speaker – Professor John McCarter

Professor John McCarter, School of the Built Environment, Heriot Watt University, will speak on ‘A performance based strategy for ensuring sustainable concrete infrastructure’ at Industry Day 2013.

Prof. John McCarter

Prof. John McCarter

Professor McCarter’s research has focused  in the main, on cementitious materials, particularly in the development of monitoring and characterisation techniques of this group of materials at both the micro- and macro- scale. His research activity also embraces the study of low-energy and low-carbon cementitious systems such as alkali-activated materials and geopolymers. Multi-functional and nano-engineered cementitious composites also represent a new direction in his research. He is a member of the international RILEM Technical Committee: Performance-based Specifications and Control of Concrete Durability. 

Professor McCarter will be speaking during Parallel Session 2 – ‘Materials & Design Technology’.


Printed human organs for testing and transplantation

This story has got been generating lots of media interest from around the world this week.

A specialised 3D printing process, using human stem cells, could pave the way to purpose-built replacement organs for patients, eliminating the need for organ donation, immune suppression and the problem of transplant rejection.

The process, developed at Heriot-Watt University, in partnership with Roslin Cellab, takes advantage of the fact that stem cells can now be grown in laboratory conditions from established cell lines, could also speed up and improve the process of drug testing by growing three-dimensional human tissues and structures for pharmaceuticals to be tested on.

3D printing with embryonic stem cells

3D printing with embryonic stem cells

New valve-based technique

A range of human stem cell cultures can now be grown, generation after generation, in laboratory conditions. Those cultures developed from cells from areas like bone marrow or skin are hardier but less flexible than those developed from embryonic material. While 3D printing of the tougher cell cultures has been achieved before, the new valve-based technique developed by Dr Will Shu and his colleagues at Heriot-Watt’s Biomedical Microengineering group are the first to print the more delicate embryonic cell cultures, which have an ability to replicate indefinitely and differentiate into almost any cell type in the human body.

Dr Shu said, “To the best of our knowledge, this is the first time that these cells have been 3D printed. The technique will allow us to create more accurate human tissue models which are essential to in vitro drug development and toxicity-testing. Since the majority of drug discovery is targeting human disease, it makes sense to use human tissues.

Dr Will Shu LecturerSchool of Engineering & Physical Sciences; BioChemistry,BioPhysics & BioEngineering

Dr Will Shu Lecturer
School of Engineering & Physical Sciences; BioChemistry,BioPhysics & BioEngineering

Dr Shu’s team are working with Roslin Cellab, a leading stem cell technology company. The company has a good track record of applying new technologies to human stem cell systems and will take the lead in developing 3D stem cell printing for commercial uses. Initially this will be in the areas of novel drug-testing products but in the longer term there is the goal of growing purpose-built replacement organs.

“In the longer term, we envisage the technology being further developed to create viable 3D organs for medical implantation from a patient’s own cells, eliminating the need for organ donation, immune suppression and the problem of transplant rejection.”

Other links

Industry Day Speaker – Dr Guy Walker

Dr Guy Walker, Lecturer in the School of the Built Environment, will discuss ‘Roadworks ahead: How human factors are being used to design faster, safer traffic management” at the Industry Day, 2013.

Dr Guy Walker

Dr Guy Walker is a lecturer in Infrastructure and Transports in Heriot Watt’s School of the Built Environment. He specialises in transportation engineering on the undergraduate Civil Engineering courses, and Human Factors Engineering on the Safety & Risk post-graduate programmes.

Starting out as a Research Fellow, Dr Walker has worked with Brunel University, where he and his colleagues were awarded the Ergonomics Society’s President’s Medal  for the impact and practical application of their human factors research. From there he became a Senior Research Fellow at the University of Southampton before joining Heriot Watt in 2009.

Dr Walker is also the author/co-author of a number of highly regarded publications, including over 70 journal articles and 10 books, including a major text on Human Factor methods. His current areas of research include:-

  • Human Factors Methods – Referring to the role of humans in systems, in areas such as transportation, the energy sector and the built environment.
  • Intelligent Transport Systems – Using Human Factors research to resolve problems resistant to conventional Technological  interventions.
  • Extending Human Factors – Improving the current ‘state of the art’ in response to the challenges of the information age, using sociotechnical systems theory and complexity science in order to understand modern Human Factors problems.

Dr Walker is also member of the Edinburgh Research Partnership in Engineering & Mathematics, a consortium ‘dedicated to world-class research, innovation and education in engineering and mathematical science’.

Dr Walker will be speaking during Parallel Session 4 – ‘Networks & Infrastructure’

To book your place at Industry Day 2013, please click here.

Dr Adebayo Adeloye to talk on reservoir management at Industry Day 26th February 2013

Dr Adebayo Adeloye will be speaking at our Industry Day event in the Meeting the Hydro-nation Challenge Session on the “Enhancing the effectiveness of heuristic rule curves for water supply reservoir operation”.

Heriot-Watt’s Annual Industry Day takes place on the 26th February 2012. To register please click on

Dr Adebayo Adeloye

Dr Adebayo Adeloye is a Senior Lecturer in the School of the Built Environment, at Heriot-Watt University.

At this session delegates can get a better understanding of reservoir management and the importance of enhanced control curves in guiding the operation of water supply reservoirs. His speech will explore water reservoir storage-yield-performance functions and its development, as well as evaluation of new performance criteria for water resources systems.

His other areas of research interest include:

  • Rainfall-runoff modeling.
  • Investigation of scale (temporal and spatial) effects on water resources systems characteristics and performance
  • Development of data-limited generalised water resources planning/assessment tools
  • Climate change impacts assessment on water resources and quantification of the uncertainty
  • Development of adaptation strategies for coping with water resources assessment
  • Development of more robust control curves for more effective operation of water resources systems
  • Application of machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) paradigms to water resources and water quality problems
  • Development of software sensors for measuring water quality variables such as the BOD5  in raw and wastewater treatment effluent streams
  • Development of AI-based models for the operation, control and fault detection of  wastewater treatment plants
  • Development of AI-based models for evaporation and evapotranspiration and application in irrigation water scheduling and application
  • Integrated water resources management and development of participatory approaches to water resources planning and management
  • Mathematical modeling and optimisation of groundwater resources, with emphasis on arid and semi-arid conditions.
  • Optimisation of irrigation water application
  • Economic value of river flow and other data and application in the design of data collection networks
  • Statistical analysis of floods and low flows

Digital tools for Design, Manufacture and Knowledge Capture – Professor Jim Ritchie to talk at Industry Day 26th February 2013

Jim Ritchie will be speaking at our Industry Day event on the “Sustainable Development: Infrastructure Challenges and Solutions” in session on Materials and Design technology.

Heriot-Watt’s Annual Industry Day takes place on the 26th February 2012. To register please click on

Professor Jim Ritchie is the Head of Institute (Institute of Mechanical, Process and Energy Engineering) at Heriot-Watt University.

Jim Ritchie Head of Institute of Mechanical, Process and Energy Engineering

Jim Ritchie Head of Institute of Mechanical, Process and Energy Engineering

His research outputs have included digital tools for design and manufacture, including VR applications and logistics. The work exploits advanced digital techniques for improving the effectiveness of product engineering, for example in the use of knowledge engineering for product knowledge and information capture and reuse and the application of digital tools to design, manufacturing process simulation and planning.

He is a Chartered Engineer with substantial industrial and engineering management experience in both design and manufacture. He has also been involved extensively in TEMPUS, EU, EPSRC and KTP projects.

Other areas of research involvement have included capability maturity modelling of the engineering design process, quality methods in the food industry, laser cutting, austenitic manganese steel machining, transport management and rapid prototyping.

He has over 140 journal and conference publications, has presented the results of the IMRC’s work at a many international institutions and conferences and is regularly invited onto Scientific Committees associated with virtual reality applications in engineering.

His current areas of research interest include:
• Design/manufacture
• Virtual manufacturing
• Digital engineering
• Engineering knowledge capture
• Serious games for engineering.

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