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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/D076900/1
Title: Wireless Sensor Networks for Industrial Processes
Principal Investigator: York, Professor T
Other Investigators:
Webb, Professor C Green, Mr PR Green, Dr PN
Sloan, Professor R Gibson, Professor A
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Health and Safety Executive Satake Corporation UK Division
Department: Electrical and Electronic Engineering
Organisation: University of Manchester, The
Scheme: Standard Research
Starts: 01 December 2006 Ends: 31 May 2010 Value (£): 775,090
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Instrumentation Eng. & Dev. Mobile Computing
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
No relevance to Underpinning Sectors
Related Grants:
Panel History:  
Summary on Grant Application Form
What are we trying to do ?Wireless Sensor Networks (WSN) comprise collections of sensor modules that communicate measurements taken in their vicinity to a host processor. The present proposal seeks to invigorate efforts in the UK towards the application of WSN to industrial processes. This is to be realised through :Technical objective : realise a demonstrator targeted at storage and granular flow in hoppers.Outreach objective : establish a UK Network in WSN for Industrial Processes. The demonstrator will deliver small sensor units that can be tossed into a hopper to interrogate the contents using on-board sensors. Measurements are targeted, in the first instance, at temperature and surface moisture. Radio communication techniques at microwave frequencies will be used to determine position and to communicate data back to the host computer. An on-line picture of the environment in the hopper will be deduced from the collective data.Why?Ultimately, the investigators are enthusiastic to use the project to champion this important and exciting technology for industrial processes and to establish a leading presence for the benefit of UK Plc.More specifically, WSN have the potential to overcome some of the present limitations for process imaging, in particular : Limited measurement capability; Process compliance; Portability; Spatial resolution of techniques such as electrical tomography; cost. By addressing these issues the use of WSN will fuel opportunities for increased plant agility, reduced raw materials uptake, reduced energy usage, reduced environmental impact, reduced waste generation and reduced occupational exposure via improved knowledge of the process.What are the challenges ?Applying WSN to industrial processes suggests demanding long-term challenges : Communication in a hostile environment: Ad Hoc networking; Powerful computing platforms; Process imaging; Sensing; Miniaturisation; Compliance; Micro-Electromechanical Systems; Power Harvesting. The present proposal will make significant progress with many of these areas.How are we trying to do it ?Technical objective : Demonstrator on Storage and Granular Flow in Hoppers We aim to develop a demonstrator for on-site mapping of flow patterns within storage hoppers. This is well-suited to address many of the generic long-term WSN research challenges identified above whilst also delivering a specific diagnostic tool for flow monitoring, safety investigation and process plant design in a relatively short time-scale. The objectives are described in the relevant section of this form.Outreach objective : To establish a UK Network in WSN for Industrial ProcessesWho are we ?The proposal is submitted by 6 academic investigators from the University of Manchester. Five of the team are from two research groups in the School of Electrical & Electronic Engineering : Microwave and Communication Systems and Sensing, Imaging and Signal Processing . They provide skills in all of the key technical areas that are necessary to deliver the wireless sensor network, principally : RF Communications; Embedded Systems; Sensing; Process Imaging; Electronic Systems. The 6th member, Professor Colin Webb, heads the Satake Centre for Grain Process Engineering in the School of Chemical Engineering and Analytical Science and will provide invaluable guidance and expertise on the demonstrator application. The constitution of the team has been strongly influenced by expertise and enthusiasm.3 research assistants will be employed to deliver the demonstrator. In addition 2 research students will explore the areas of Process Imaging and Granular Flow in Hoppers . 4 support staff will contribute about 3 years of effort to the project.We will collaborate with the Health & Safety Laboratory and Satake Corporation and are progressing other emerging opportunities.
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Organisation Website: http://www.man.ac.uk