Additive manufacturing offers new opportunities for designing high performance composite structures. However, sophisticated numerical approaches are required to tackle the complex task of designing structures which take full advantage of additive manufacturing capabilities. The proposed research project aims to apply topology optimization, a numerical approach capable of determining the best shape of a structure, to develop a design process producing optimal composite sandwich structures which include a 3D printed core.
Solid-state nanopores—small holes in thin membranes comparable in size to individual molecules—are promising candidates as sensors with which to revolutionize DNA sequencing, personalized medicine, point-of-care diagnostics, and next-generation information storage methods. A method by which these nanopores can be fabricated on an industrial scale was recently invented, but challenges remain, particularly in quality-controlling source materials with which to make them and in analyzing and interpreting the signals generated.
Hydroponics is a farming method that does not require soil, but rather utilizes a porous medium to hold plants so that waste of irrigation solution is minimized. This type of farming is considered more expensive than traditional open-field agriculture. However, it has been found to function well in enclosed spaces with a controlled environment, especially in cold climates where open-field agriculture is challenging.
The conventional utility pole design methodologies used a decade or so ago produced poles that would be considered “safe” but in most cases they were not cost-effective solutions. This is because the resulting poles were usually over-designed, mainly due to several simplifying assumptions and incorporation of various rules-of-thumbs in the design procedures. Such design practices were, however, challenged by various regulators and legal/public agencies.
In disaster scenarios involving airborne contaminants, where the dispersal of toxic agents can impact human lives, first responders require fast and accurate dispersal trajectory information. Existing methods that detect the local presence of an agent do not provide insight towards dispersal trajectory, and long range spread is either simulated with sparse reference data or measured long after the dispersion is complete. The lightweight and porous form of the milkweed seed offers natural inspiration for a novel sensor platform.
Thermo-photovoltaic (TPV) systems are optical heat engines that convert radiant heat to electricity using a photovoltaic cell. TPV is a highly promising technology that can potentially be used to generate electric power from any high-temperature heat source including concentrated solar radiation, industrial waste heat, heat from radioisotope decay, and fuel combustion systems. However, the performance of TPV systems needs to be improved to achieve widespread commercialization.
The world’s electricity grids need affordable batteries to store large amounts of energy and allow for increased renewable power sources like wind and solar. Instead of building new batteries from scratch, millions of used batteries from retired electric vehicles can be given a second life on the electricity grids for a lower price and a smaller environmental footprint. This research project will develop a new computer program that can manage large groups of second-life batteries so they work effectively together as a team and even outperform more expensive batteries.
This research seeks to find a method of predicting how much heating is required to maintain comfort in homes. By collecting information such as outside weather conditions and inside temperatures along with thermostat ontime, a method of predicting the needed heat for the home will be determined. Research involves installing devices in homes that record this information which will then reported to the researcher to create a mathematical representation of how unique home heating systems respond to outside conditions.
The excessive burning of fossil fuels into our atmosphere is causing our climate to change rapidly. This change in climate will have detrimental effects on home security, crop yield, energy security, and water scarcity. Many geopolitical and social pressures are present to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. As of now over 70% of electricity in Nova Scotia is being generated by fossil fuels, more specifically over 50% of all electricity in Nova Scotia is coming from coal fire power-plants, one of the heaviest GHG emitting sources of energy.
This project is motivated by the demands for automation of industrial structure inspection. An autonomous re-configurable robot system is proposed to facilitate the inspection of structures with confined spaces, like airframes or ship hulls. The robot will be able to realize various types of legged locomotion by means of configuration changes. The general objective of this project is to develop a legged robot system that is fully autonomous and adaptable to the structures under operation.