Every year, the Royal Academy of Engineering MacRobert Award is presented to the engineers behind the UK’s most exciting engineering innovation.
Selected by a judging panel of esteemed engineering experts, the 2022 MacRobert Award winner was:
- Quanta Dialysis Technologies for creating a compact and portable dialysis machine, allowing more flexible and accessible care for patients with renal failure.
Quanta Dialysis Technologies won the 2022 MacRobert Award for creating the SC+, a compact and portable dialysis machine allowing more flexible and accessible care for patients with renal failure.
Originally developed to reconstitute orange juice from concentrate, Quanta’s innovative disposable fluid cartridge system was repurposed for use in a compact haemodialysis machine. Simpler to operate, yet as powerful as traditional dialysis machines, Quanta’s SC+ haemodialysis system was designed to bring dialysis directly to the patient. The innovation allows more patients to treat themselves at home, rather than spending hours a week at healthcare facilities.
Each single-use cartridge incorporates a series of pneumatic membrane pumps, rather than the piston-driven pumps found in traditional dialysis machines. This results in more accurate, consistent flow rates and enhanced distribution within the dialyser itself, which acts as an artificial kidney, while also minimising cross contamination and bio-burden between treatments.
The SC+ marks a major advance in dialysis technology, which has seen little innovation in decades, and is already used by several NHS trusts. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Quanta provided its entire stock of dialysis machines to the NHS to help relieve some of the pressure in hospitals and ICUs. The innovation is already CE-marked and FDA-cleared and stands to be a global leader in the industry, which is projected to exceed $12bn in the US alone.
The MacRobert Award winning team from Quanta Dialysis Technologies includes:
- John Milad, CEO
- Professor Clive Buckberry FREng, Chief Engineer and Technology Officer
- Keith Heyes, Systems Engineering Director & Original Inventor
- Mark Wallace, Lead Innovations Engineer
- David Spurling, Lead Architect (Mechanical Engineering)
- Maddy Warren, Strategic Dialysis Advisor and Community Engagement Consultant
The 2022 MacRobert Award finalists are:
- Intelligent Growth Solutions for helping to de-risk an agriculture sector that’s facing an ageing farming population and an uncertain, volatile future.
- Oxford Instruments for developing the Symmetry detector that integrates with scanning electron microscopes and dramatically increases the speed, sensitivity and resolution of analysis that is possible.
Intelligent Growth Solutions are a 2022 MacRobert Award finalist for helping to de-risk an agriculture sector that’s facing an ageing farming population and an uncertain, volatile future.
Intelligent Growth Solutions’ vertical farming technology blends engineering, crop science and agronomy expertise to manage all environmental inputs for optimal growth, flavour and longevity. The system houses ‘towers’ of crops within an enclosed structure that controls all aspects of the growing environment – light, humidity, irrigation, nutrition and CO2 levels. The machine also ensures no water wastage at any point in the cycle as the only water that leaves the tower is contained within the plants themselves.
Intelligent Growth Solutions’ offering differentiates itself from the competition by the level of automation within the controlled environments of its growth towers. Farmers can remotely monitor their crops using a web-based app which automatically delivers the perfect conditions for each crop according to ‘recipes’ built into the software. Data is captured and analysed continually to provide a wealth of information for future crop growth, helping to increase productivity, yield and crop quality. By only delivering the spectrum of light the crop needs at any given stage in its growth, energy consumption is also lower than in other forms of vertical farming.
The level of control provided by this innovation supports the farmers of today and tomorrow by de-risking the early stages of crop cultivation. It also provides a means of diversification through the indoor production of high-density, high-value crops. The technology is capable of growing a wide range of crops from leafy greens and herbs through to fruits, roots and brassicas. It also has the potential to support reforestation through germination and early growth of tree saplings.
The MacRobert Award finalist team from Intelligent Growth Solutions includes:
- Sir Henry Akroyd, Co-founder
- Dave Scott, Co-founder and CTO
- Andrew Cumming, Lead Software Developer
- Niall Skinner, Head of Systems Design
- Andris Sprukts, R&D Technician
Oxford Instruments are a 2022 MacRobert Award finalist for developing the Symmetry detector that integrates with scanning electron microscopes. The detector dramatically increases the speed, sensitivity and resolution of analysis that is possible.
Symmetry enables a deeper understanding of a material’s structure down to the nanoscale-level using electron backscatter diffraction. This allows in-depth analysis of minuscule weaknesses or flaws in the crystalline structure to be identified and addressed. Previously, analysing a large sample to understand the nature of its grains and grain boundaries was a painstaking process that could take hours. With Symmetry, analysis can now be carried out in a matter of minutes.
This step-change was made possible by combining a fibreoptic lens with a CMOS sensor to create the only instrument which provides high resolution images at speed with high sensitivity. Before Symmetry, research laboratories always had to compromise on one or the other of these attributes. This opens up vast industrial and scientific opportunities – from developing far more robust and long-lasting batteries and semiconductors, to developing stronger aircraft turbine blades. It has even been used to analyse meteorites to better understand how extra-terrestrial rock was formed. Symmetry is turning what was a niche technology predominantly used in research labs into a more widely accessible process with applications across a variety of sectors and industries.
The MacRobert Award finalist team from Oxford Instruments includes:
- Iain Anderson, Product Marketing Director
- Dr Angus Bewick, Associate Fellow
- Dr Jenny Goulden, Head of Segment Sales – Physical Sciences
- Chris Hayes, Principal Electronics Engineer
- Lars Freising, Software Engineering Manager
- Jon Davies, Manufacturing Engineering Manager
- Marco Bertoncin, Principal Systems Software Engineer
- Charles Bushell, Senior Mechanical Design Engineer