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The Hong Kong Polytechnic University

Catalyst for green biodiesel production from unrefined feedstock

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 25 January, 2017, 3:15pm
UPDATED : Friday, 27 January, 2017, 10:21am

[Sponsored Article] Biofuel is a natural and renewable diesel engine fuel derived from biological materials, such as plant oils and animal fats. However, the purification of traditional liquid biodiesel catalyst generates a huge amount of wastewater. PolyU researchers have thus adopted precise surface chemistry engineering to develop a new class of solid catalyst for use in biodiesel production.

This new Catalyst for Green Biodiesel can be synthesized in one step from low-grade unrefined feedstock such as waste cooking oil, with no aqueous treatment steps required. Ethanol or propanol extracted from plants can also be used to replace methanol in the synthesis to avoid the usual intense reliance on petroleum. With high catalytic activity, the catalyst can operate at significantly lower temperatures and pressures than existing solid biodiesel catalysts, and be reused more than 30 times. It is most certainly a clean, energy-saving and cost-effective innovation.

Grand Prize and Gold Medal with the Congratulations of Jury
i.Dummy: Robotic Mannequin for Fashion Design and Fitting

The apparel industry relies heavily on mannequins for apparel design, fitting, alteration and size gradation, but traditional mannequins of different sizes take up much work and storage space. With this limitation in mind, PolyU researchers developed an intelligent robotic female torso dubbed "i.Dummy" that can change almost immediately to adapt to almost any body type, of any size or ethnic background.

At the heart of i.Dummy is a massive database of body sizes collected from populations worldwide, developed by a research team featuring experts in anthropometry and mechatronics.

The mannequin can vary its width, thickness and length simultaneously and automatically through a user-friendly graphical user interface on a computer or smartphone via Bluetooth. Users can also save the configuration and reload it when needed. With its ability to assume any body shape in just a few seconds, i.Dummy accelerates the process of apparel design and development, enhancing the competitiveness of the garment industry.

Special Merit Award and Gold Medal with the Congratulations of Jury
IoT-based Advanced Automobile Parking Navigation System

Parking security and navigation are the primary concerns of most car owners in Hong Kong. Incorporating smart devices, software modules and middleware, the IoT-based Advanced Automobile Parking Navigation System is able to detect suspected car theft and make parking hassle-free.

Integrating various emerging technologies including an IoT-based cloud service, a wireless sensor and actuator network, middleware and near-field communication (NFC), this platform is operated through a single mobile app. The app alerts users of the air quality in parking areas and whether anyone is wandering around a specified area at a specific time. It also helps drivers to identify nearby car parks and preferred parking spaces, and to search for parking bays when they are returning to their cars. Other features include notifications of the latest promotional deals and the ability to settle parking-related payments in real time.

The platform and app not only help to ease traffic congestion and reduce pollution, but also give drivers a whole new parking experience.

Special Merit Award and Gold Medal
Posture Correction Girdle for Adolescents with Early Scoliosis

Adolescent idiopathic scoliosis gradually leads to three-dimensional deformity of the spine in youths. Patients with spinal curvatures of more than 41 degrees have to be treated with surgery, and those with curvatures of 25 to 40 degrees have to wear braces to control curve progression. As braces need to be worn for long periods and may cause skin irritations and other forms of discomfort, compliance is often low, affecting the success rate of the treatment.

In view of this, PolyU has developed the Posture Correction Girdle, made of light and highly breathable fabrics, to correct the posture of adolescences with early scoliosis. Using medical-grade elastic straps and 3D woven textiles, the girdle provides comfortable support for the spine. Equipped with sensors connected to a mobile app, the girdle allows the easy tracking and monitoring of patients’ posture, with associated alerts.

Special Merit Award and Gold Medal
Rehabilitation Sleeve – An FES-robotic Hybrid System

Partial paralysis of the upper limb is common after stroke, and therapeutic intervention is crucial in improving the recovery of elbow, wrist, hand and finger function. PolyU has thus developed a wearable Functional Electrical Stimulation (FES) robotic system for interactive yet comfortable arm rehabilitation among post-stroke patients.

Comprising modular apparel and a bracing system, the Rehab Sleeve facilitates elbow and wrist joint movement through electrical motors. It enhances neuroplasticity and recovery by inducing additional muscular practice in the upper limbs through electrical stimulation.

Preliminary results have shown that electrical stimulation training can accelerate the recovery of patients’ arm functioning by 30-40% more than conventional training.

Special Merit Award and Silver Medal
O-blanket: Phototherapy Device for Neonatal Jaundice

PolyU and Hong Kong Research Institute of Textiles and Apparel have jointly developed an innovative phototherapy device for neonatal jaundice, called the "O-blanket", which consists of a light-emitting fabric covered by a wrapper made of top, reflective and back fabrics.

Woven from side-emitting polymer optical fibres and textile yarns, the fabric provides an irradiance area of over 830 cm2 and an irradiance intensity of over 30.0 μW/cm2/nm in 440-460 nm wavelengths, thus meeting the requirements set by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Not only has the device passed critical tests related to safety, in-vitro cytotoxicity and irritation and skin sensitization, but the light-emitting fabric used can retain its emission performance even after it has been disinfected with bleach for 140 hours.

Silver Medal
Adaptive Hydrotherapy Wetsuit

This user-operated Adaptive Hydrotherapy Wetsuit is tailored for people with limited mobility, especially paraplegic patients and the elderly. With its self-operating features including an adjustable strap with buckles, movable foam panels, sliding bar and detachable foam for limbs, the wetsuit can be operated easily by patients or with help from only a physiotherapist during hydrotherapy. Serving as body-wear collar, cuffs, gloves and rings all at once, this all-in-one wetsuit thus increases patients' sense of independence.

Silver Medal
Durable, Washable and High Performance Conductive Textiles

PolyU and the Hong Kong Research Institute of Textiles and Apparel have developed a novel electrically-conductive textile technology whereby the textile surface is modified with a negatively charged polyelectrolyte poly (methacrylic acid sodium salt) or poly (acrylic acid sodium salt) by in-situ free radical polymerization, and then treated with electroless metal deposition. Conductive textiles fabricated using this process exhibit robust mechanical and electrical stability under repeated cycles of rubbing, stretching and washing. They can also be integrated into wearable electronics to replace the conventional rigid conductive electrodes and wires.

Silver Medal
Intelligent Condition-based Key Machinery Asset Maintenance Management Platform

To improve product quality and production output, optimize manufacturing scheduling and reduce the probability of sudden asset breakdowns, PolyU has partnered with the Hong Kong Research Institute of Textiles and Apparel to develop an effective machinery asset maintenance management platform for textile enterprises. Employing artificial intelligence and smart sensor technologies, the platform helps users to obtain real-time data on asset condition from different types of sensors. Based on the captured and processed data, current and/or predicted future states of an asset can be monitored, and recommendations can be made for maintenance and operational decisions.