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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/R020035/1
Title: GRAM - Gravity for Rivers, Agriculture and Mines
Principal Investigator: Metje, Professor N
Other Investigators:
Holynski, Dr M
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Department: Civil Engineering
Organisation: University of Birmingham
Scheme: Technology Programme
Starts: 01 December 2017 Ends: 31 January 2019 Value (£): 157,369
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Related Grants:
Panel History:  
Summary on Grant Application Form
The coming gravity sensors based on Quantum Technologies (QT) have the potential to disrupt existing surveying practices through dramatically improved measurement sensitivities. GRAM is a collaboration between e2v, RSK, the Canal & River Trust, the Coal Authority, Cranfield University and the University of Birmingham (UoB) to establish the Quantum Technology (QT) gravity sensor market opportunities against assessment of current geophysical technologies to determine soil compaction for precision agriculture, detection of water levels in disused mines and mineshafts and canal & river embankment leak detection. GRAM will baseline the capabilities of existing sensor technologies in the sectors identified, provide technical specification and performance requirements to the manufacturers of prototype and commercial QT gravity sensors and establish a market pull from the end users of the information generated by the sensors. Moreover, it will provide a market sizing and market penetration assessment to determine the size of the potential markets, analyse the competitors and determine the cost brackets for each of the three applications together with expected survey methodologies.

Currently, geophysical sensors are commercially used in the three application areas, but they suffer either from localised in-situ installation (e.g. Earth Resistivity Tomography probes), thus not being able to cover large areas, depth penetration and resolution (e.g. Ground Penetrating Radar, Scintrex microgravity instrument) or contain a radioactive source (nuclear density gauges). This limits proactive asset management (earthworks), safe developments of brownfield sites and large infrastructure projects such as HS2 due to unforeseen ground conditions (mines/mineshafts) and increased food production due to poor soil health (precision agriculture). QT gravity sensors have the potential to provide information on water flow, water levels and soil compaction. GRAM will open up these new markets by: 1) Establishing the market potential for QT gravity sensors for leakages through earthworks, water level detection in mines/mineshafts and determination of soil compaction by benchmarking it against the most advanced state-of-the-art geophysical instrumentation currently used in these sectors; 2) Develop novel forward modelling and inversion techniques post-processing techniques to identify the signal of interest and demonstrate the potential of QT sensors; 3) Undertake field trials to demonstrate the real-world capabilities and limitations of existing sensors to identify the operational space for QT sensors; 4) Assess the market of QT gravity instruments in these applications and 5) Develop sensor specifications for the three applications.

GRAM will accelerate the commercialisation of QT gravity instruments in two ways: 1) ensuring that the sensor development and system engineering efforts produces instruments that are fit for purpose by providing sensor configuration and performance parameters with particular focus on time-lapse assessment and 2) increasing the marketplace for the sensors by engagement with a new client base not yet familiar with QT sensors, excellent dissemination activities, and practical field demonstrations.

Key Findings
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Organisation Website: http://www.bham.ac.uk