Artemis Intelligent Power wins 2015 MacRobert Award
17 July 2015
The Duke of Edinburgh has presented the UK’s longest running and most prestigious prize for engineering innovation to a team from Artemis Intelligent Power.
Managing director Dr Niall Caldwell, operations director Pierre Joly, chairman Dr Win Rampen, non-executive director Professor Stephen Salter and chief engineer Dr Uwe Stein were announced as the winners of the 2015 Royal Academy of Engineering MacRobert Award at the Academy’s annual Awards Dinner at the Landmark Hotel in London.
Known for spotting the ‘next big thing’ in the technology sector, the MacRobert Award identifies outstanding innovation with proven commercial success and tangible social benefit. As well as gaining from the prestige of the award, the winners receive a gold medal and a £50,000 prize.
Edinburgh-based Artemis has pioneered a new Digital Displacement power system, with digitally controlled hydraulics, that that has the potential to transform the viability of offshore wind power and low carbon transportation. As well as dramatically improving power capacity, the smart, modular system has been designed to overcome the significant reliability issues associated with existing turbines. Artemis is already delivering world-leading systems, significantly improving turbine efficiency and, with it, the prospects for future exploitation of wind power.
Artemis is also applying the same technology to reduce the fuel consumption of commuter trains and buses. A regenerative braking energy storage system based on Digital Displacement can be retrofitted to existing diesel commuter trains, and recent trials with Ricardo and Bombardier have shown that it can reduce fuel consumption by some 10 percent. The system also generates less noise and cuts exhaust emissions within stations.
Hybrid buses are also becoming more viable thanks to Digital Displacement. Together with Lothian Buses and Alexander Dennis, Artemis has successfully demonstrated fuel savings of up to 27 percent on urban buses. Crucially, the new system provides bus operators with a 2-3 year payback without subsidies, making it globally affordable.
Mainstream electric hybrid technology requires many expensive materials and processes, which can add 50 percent to the initial cost and means higher maintenance costs. This means that, despite saving fuel, hybrid buses have previously not made business sense without government subsidies. The Artemis system is made of common materials using regular processes, which significantly reduces the cost and means the systems can be maintained by existing staff.
Artemis was up against MacRobert Award finalists Cambridge-based Endomag, which was selected as a finalist for its breast cancer diagnostic tool that avoids the use of radioactive tracers in determining the spread of cancer through the lymphatic system; and Blackpool-based Victrex, for the development of advanced polymers in ultra thin sheets for use in smartphone and tablet speakers.
The judging panel, representing the cream of modern British engineers and entrepreneurs from a range of disciplines, selected Artemis for its potential to help solve one of the most significant global challenges while demonstrating technical engineering excellence; its success is a story of both talent and determination, with unrelenting commitment to achieve the goal of making power systems significantly better.
Dame Sue Ion, chair of the MacRobert Award judging panel, said, “The Artemis story is truly compelling. The company has achieved a technical advance of global importance, making significant power delivery from offshore wind considerably more credible and realisable, and facilitating the global goal of reducing CO2 emissions. This is not simply evolutionary improvement but a complete step change, and one that took years of commitment to achieve.
“The Artemis Digital Displacement system is both an incredible piece of invention, and a brilliant example of detailed engineering design. It represents excellence in multiple facets of engineering, from control system technology to software and elegant mechanical design.
“The multidisciplinary engineering team within Artemis has produced a unique, world-beating product and is realising significant commercial success as a result. As a UK SME, Artemis represents the very best of modern UK engineering with global significance, which the Academy continues to champion through its Engineering for Growth campaign.”
Dr Gordon Masterton OBE, a judging panel member and former vice president of Jacobs Engineering, said, "The Artemis system is a massive leap forward for hydraulically powered systems. The team has done for hydraulic engines what James Watt did for steam engines; they have totally transformed the efficiency and range of potential applications. "The largest floating wind turbine in the world is to be powered with a Digital Displacement transmission, and I strongly believe there are many other exciting applications for this stunning engineering breakthrough."
Last year’s MacRobert Award winner, SME Cobalt Light Systems, won for the innovation behind an airport security liquid scanner that can now be found in over 65 airports throughout Europe. The same technology is also being used to detect counterfeit goods, and Cobalt is developing medical-grade systems that provide on-the-spot diagnosis of breast cancer and bone diseases such as osteoporosis.