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Based at Thornton Science Park, the new Faculty of Science and Engineering is located in a major research and innovation hub for the North West which is only a 20-minute bus trip from the main Chester Campus. The Faculty offers degrees in engineering and science disciplines using a strongly interdisciplinary teaching philosophy.

### Recent Submissions

• #### Evolutionary Robot Swarm Cooperative Retrieval

(Springer, 2018-07-07)
In nature bees and leaf-cutter ants communicate to improve cooperation during food retrieval. This research aims to model communication in a swarm of auton-omous robots. When food is identified robot communication is emitted within a limited range. Other robots within the range receive the communication and learn of the location and size of the food source. The simulation revealed that commu-nication improved the rate of cooperative food retrieval tasks. However a counter-productive chain reaction can occur when robots repeat communications from other robots causing cooperation errors. This can lead to a large number of robots travelling towards the same food source at the same time. The food becomes de-pleted, before some robots have arrived. Several robots continue to communicate food presence, before arriving at the food source to find it gone. Nature-inspired communication can enhance swarm behaviour without requiring a central control-ler and may be useful in autonomous drones or vehicles.
• #### 3D printed graphene based energy storage devices

(Springer Nature, 2017-03-03)
3D printing technology provides a unique platform for rapid prototyping of numerous applications due to its ability to produce low cost 3D printed platforms. Herein, a graphene-based polylactic acid filament (graphene/PLA) has been 3D printed to fabricate a range of 3D disc electrode (3DE) configurations using a conventional RepRap fused deposition moulding (FDM) 3D printer, which requires no further modification/ex-situ curing step. To provide proof-of-concept, these 3D printed electrode architectures are characterised both electrochemically and physicochemically and are advantageously applied as freestanding anodes within Li-ion batteries and as solid-state supercapacitors. These freestanding anodes neglect the requirement for a current collector, thus offering a simplistic and cheaper alternative to traditional Li-ion based setups. Additionally, the ability of these devices’ to electrochemically produce hydrogen via the hydrogen evolution reaction (HER) as an alternative to currently utilised platinum based electrodes (with in electrolysers) is also performed. The 3DE demonstrates an unexpectedly high catalytic activity towards the HER (−0.46 V vs. SCE) upon the 1000th cycle, such potential is the closest observed to the desired value of platinum at (−0.25 V vs. SCE). We subsequently suggest that 3D printing of graphene-based conductive filaments allows for the simple fabrication of energy storage devices with bespoke and conceptual designs to be realised.
• #### Perovskite Srx(Bi1-xNa0.97-xLi0.03)0.5TiO3 ceramics with polar nano regions for high power energy storage

(Elsevier, 2018-06-06)
Dielectric capacitors are very attractive for high power energy storage. However, the low energy density of these capacitors, which is mainly limited by the dielectric materials, is still the bottleneck for their applications. In this work, lead-free single-phase perovskite Srx(Bi1-xNa0.97-xLi0.03)0.5TiO3 (x=0.30 and 0.38) bulk ceramics, prepared using solid-state reaction method, were carefully studied for the dielectric capacitor application. Polar nano regions (PNRs) were created in this material using co-substitution at A-site to enable relaxor behaviour with low remnant polarization (Pr) and high maximum polarization (Pmax). Moreover, Pmax was further increased due to reversible electric field induced phase transitions. Comprehensive structural and electrical studies were performed to confirm the PNRs and the reversible phase transitions. And finally a high energy density (1.70 J/cm3) with an excellent efficiency (87.2%) was achieved using the contribution of PNRs and field-induced transitions in this material, making it among the best performing lead-free dielectric ceramic bulk material for high energy storage.
• #### Pencil it in: Exploring the Feasibility of Hand-Drawn Pencil Electrochemical Sensors and their Direct Comparison to Screen-Printed Electrodes

(MDPI, 2016-08-29)
We explore the fabrication, physicochemical characterisation (SEM, Raman, EDX and XPS) and electrochemical application of hand-drawn pencil electrodes (PDEs) upon an ultra-flexible polyester substrate; investigating the number of draws (used for their fabrication), the pencil grade utilised (HB to 9B) and the electrochemical properties of an array of batches (i.e, pencil boxes). Electrochemical characterisation of the PDEs, using different batches of HB grade pencils, is undertaken using several inner- and outer-sphere redox probes and is critically compared to screen-printed electrodes (SPEs). Proof-of-concept is demonstrated for the electrochemical sensing of dopamine and acetaminophen using PDEs, which are found to exhibit competitive limits of detection (3σ) upon comparison to SPEs. Nonetheless, it is important to note that a clear lack of reproducibility was demonstrated when utilising these PDEs fabricated using the HB pencils from different batches. We also explore the suitability and feasibility of a pencil-drawn reference electrode compared to screen-printed alternatives, to see if one can draw the entire sensing platform. This article reports a critical assessment of these PDEs against that of its screen-printed competitors, questioning the overall feasibility of PDEs’ implementation as a sensing platform
• #### Controller Design Methodology for Sustainable Local Energy Systems

(University of Chester, 2018-11-15)
Commercial Buildings and complexes are no longer just national heat and power network energy loads, but they are becoming part of a smarter grid by including their own dedicated local heat and power generation. They do this by utilising both heat and power networks/micro-grids. A building integrated approach of Combined Heat and Power (CHP) generation with photovoltaic power generation (PV) abbreviated as CHPV is emerging as a complementary energy supply solution to conventional (i.e. national grid based) gas and electricity grid supplies in the design of sustainable commercial buildings and communities. The merits for the building user/owner of this approach are: to reduce life time energy running costs; reduce carbon emissions to contribute to UK’s 2020/2030 climate change targets; and provide a more flexible and controllable local energy system to act as a dynamic supply and/or load to the central grid infrastructure. The energy efficiency and carbon dioxide (CO2) reductions achievable by CHP systems are well documented. The merits claimed by these solutions are predicated on the ability of these systems being able to satisfy: perfect matching of heat and power supply and demand; ability at all times to maintain high quality power supply; and to be able to operate with these constraints in a highly dynamic and unpredictable heat and power demand situation. Any circumstance resulting in failure to guarantee power quality or matching of supply and demand will result in a degradation of the achievable energy efficiency and CO2 reduction. CHP based local energy systems cannot rely on large scale diversity of demand to create a relatively easy approach to supply and demand matching (i.e. as in the case of large centralised power grid infrastructures). The diversity of demand in a local energy system is both much greater than the centralised system and is also specific to the local system. It is therefore essential that these systems have robust and high performance control systems to ensure supply and demand matching and high power quality can be achieved at all times. Ideally this same control system should be able to make best use of local energy system energy storage to enable it to be used as a flexible, highly responsive energy supply and/or demand for the centralised infrastructure. In this thesis, a comprehensive literature survey has identified that there is no scientific and rigorous method to assess the controllability or the design of control systems for these local energy systems. Thus, the main challenge of the work described in this thesis is that of a controller design method and modelling approach for CHP based local energy systems. Specifically, the main research challenge for the controller design and modelling methodology was to provide an accurate and stable system performance to deliver a reliable tracking of power drawn/supplied to the centralised infrastructure whilst tracking the require thermal comfort in the local energy systems buildings. In the thesis, the CHPV system has been used as a case study. A CHPV based solution provides all the benefits of CHP combined with the near zero carbon building/local network integrated PV power generation. CHPV needs to be designed to provide energy for the local buildings’ heating, dynamic ventilating system and air-conditioning (HVAC) facilities as well as all electrical power demands. The thesis also presents in addition to the controller design and modelling methodology a novel CHPV system design topology for robust, reliable and high-performance control of building temperatures and energy supply from the local energy system. The advanced control system solution aims to achieve desired building temperatures using thermostatic control whilst simultaneously tracking a specified national grid power demand profile. The theory is innovative as it provides a stability criterion as well as guarantees to track a specified dynamic grid connection demand profile. This research also presents: design a dynamic MATLAB simulation model for a 5-building zone commercial building to show the efficacy of the novel control strategy in terms of: delivering accurate thermal comfort and power supply; reducing the amount of CO2 emissions by the entire energy system; reducing running costs verses national rid/conventional approaches. The model was developed by inspecting the functional needs of 3 local energy system case studies which are also described in the thesis. The CHPV system is combined with supplementary gas boiler for additional heating to guarantee simultaneous tracking of all the zones thermal comfort requirements whilst simultaneously tracking a specified national grid power demand using a Photovoltaics array to supply the system with renewable energy to reduce amount of CO2 emission. The local energy system in this research can operate in any of three modes (Exporting, Importing, Island). The emphasise of the thesis modelling method has been verified to be applicable to a wide range of case studies described in the thesis chapter 3. This modelling framework is the platform for creating a generic controlled design methodology that can be applied to all these case studies and beyond, including Local Energy System (LES) in hotter climates that require a cooling network using absorption chillers. In the thesis in chapter 4 this controller design methodology using the modelling framework is applied to just one case study of Copperas Hill. Local energy systems face two types of challenges: technical and nontechnical (such as energy economics and legislation). This thesis concentrates solely on the main technical challenges of a local energy system that has been identified as a gap in knowledge in the literature survey. The gap identified is the need for a controller design methodology to allow high performance and safe integration of the local energy system with the national grid infrastructure and locally installed renewables. This integration requires the system to be able to operate at high performance and safely in all different modes of operation and manage effectively the multi-vector energy supply system (e.g. simultaneous supply of heat and power from a single system).
• #### In-depth synthetic, physicochemical and in vitro biological investigation of a new ternary V(IV) antioxidant material based on curcumin.

(Elsevier, 2018-11-06)
Curcumin is a natural product with a broad spectrum of beneficial properties relating to pharmaceutical applications, extending from traditional remedies to modern cosmetics. The biological activity of such pigments, however, is limited by their solubility and bioavailability, thereby necessitating new ways of achieving optimal tissue cellular response and efficacy as drugs. Metal ion complexation provides a significant route toward improvement of curcumin stability and biological activity, with vanadium being a representative such metal ion, amply encountered in biological systems and exhibiting exogenous bioactivity through potential pharmaceuticals. Driven by the need to optimally increase curcumin bioavailability and bioactivity through complexation, synthetic efforts were launched to seek out stable species, ultimately leading to the synthesis and isolation of a new ternary V(IV)-curcumin-(2,2’-bipyridine) complex. Physicochemical characterization (elemental analysis, FT-IR, Thermogravimetry (TGA), UV-Visible, NMR, ESI-MS, Fluorescence, X-rays) portrayed the solid-state and solution properties of the ternary complex. Pulsed-EPR spectroscopy, in frozen solutions, suggested the presence of two species, cis- and trans-conformers. Density Functional Theory (DFT) calculations revealed the salient features and energetics of the two conformers, thereby complementing EPR spectroscopy. The well-described profile of the vanadium species led to its in vitro biological investigation involving toxicity, cell metabolism inhibition in S. cerevisiae cultures, Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS)-suppressing capacity, lipid peroxidation, and plasmid DNA degradation. A multitude of bio-assays and methodologies, in comparison to free curcumin, showed that it exhibits its antioxidant potential in a concentration-dependent fashion, thereby formulating a bioreactivity profile supporting development of new efficient vanado-pharmaceuticals, targeting (extra)intra-cellular processes under (patho)physiological conditions.
• #### Evaluating current practice and proposing a system to enhance knowledge assets within a small software development unit

(IEEE, 2018-06-25)
Knowledge management and knowledge transfer within organisations challenge continuity and resilience in the face of changing environments. While issues are principally addressed within large organisations, there is scope to evaluate how knowledge assets are managed within small and medium enterprises and to consider how the process might be enhanced. The research reported here aimed to evaluate practice within an evolving software development unit to understand how knowledge has been acquired and utilised to further organisational development. In-depth interviews were carried out with members of the unit to elicit an understanding of individual and collective learning. Qualitative analysis of the data revealed key changes in thinking and practice as well as insight into the development of individuals' contextual knowledge and tacit understanding. This analysis led to the proposal of a bespoke, lightweight web-based system to support knowledge capture and organisational learning. This work is still in progress but it is anticipated that the results will provide a potentially novel and beneficial method for enhancing knowledge assets in small enterprises and consolidating valuable, and potentially scarce, expertise.
• #### Theoretical and numerical analysis of unsteady fractional viscoelastic flows in simple geometries.

(Elsevier, 2018-07-12)
In this work we discuss the connection between classical and fractional viscoelastic Maxwell models, presenting the basic theory supporting these constitutive equations, and establishing some background on the admissibility of the fractional Maxwell model. We then develop a numerical method for the solution of two coupled fractional differential equations (one for the velocity and the other for the stress), that appear in the pure tangential annular ow of fractional viscoelastic fluids. The numerical method is based on finite differences, with the approximation of fractional derivatives of the velocity and stress being inspired by the method proposed by Sun and Wu for the fractional diffusion-wave equation [ Z.Z. Sun, X. Wu, A fully discrete difference scheme for a diffusion-wave system, Applied Numerical Mathematics 56 (2006) 193-209]. We prove solvability, study numerical convergence of the method, and also discuss the applicability of this method for simulating the rheological response of complex fluids in a real concentric cylinder rheometer. By imposing a torsional step-strain, we observe the different rates of stress relaxation obtained with different values of \alpha and \beta (the fractional order exponents that regulate the viscoelastic response of the complex fluids).
• #### Magnetron Sputter-Coated Nanoparticle MoS2 Supported on Nanocarbon: A Highly Efficient Electrocatalyst toward the Hydrogen Evolution Reaction

(American Chemical Society, 2018-07-03)
The design and fabrication of inexpensive highly efficient electrocatalysts for the production of hydrogen via the hydrogen evolution reaction (HER) underpin a plethora of emerging clean energy technologies. Herein, we report the fabrication of highly efficient electrocatalysts for the HER based on magnetron-sputtered MoS2 onto a nanocarbon support, termed MoS2/C. Magnetron sputtering time is explored as a function of its physiochemical composition and HER performance; increased sputtering times give rise to materials with differing compositions, i.e., Mo4+ to Mo6+ and associated S anions (sulfide, elemental, and sulfate), and improved HER outputs. An optimized sputtering time of 45 min was used to fabricate the MoS2/C material. This gave rise to an optimal HER performance with regard to its HER onset potential, achievable current, and Tafel value, which were −0.44 (vs saturated calomel electrode (SCE)), −1.45 mV s−1, and 43 mV dec−1, respectively, which has the highest composition of Mo4+ and sulfide (MoS2). Electrochemical testing toward the HER via drop casting MoS2/C upon screen-printed electrodes (SPEs) to electrically wire the nanomaterial is found to be mass coverage dependent, where the current density increases up to a critical mass (ca. 50 μg cm−2), after which a plateau is observed. To allow for a translation of the bespoke fabricated MoS2/C from laboratory to new industrial applications, MoS2/C was incorporated into the bulk ink utilized in the fabrication of SPEs (denoted as MoS2/C-SPE), thus allowing for improved electrical wiring to the MoS2/C and resulting in the production of scalable and reproducible electrocatalytic platforms. The MoS2/C-SPEs displayed far greater HER catalysis with a 450 mV reduction in the HER onset potential and a 1.70 mA cm−2 increase in the achievable current density (recorded at −0.75 V (vs SCE)), compared to a bare/unmodified graphitic SPE. The approach of using magnetron sputtering to modify carbon with MoS2 facilitates the production of mass-producible, stable, and effective electrode materials for possible use in electrolyzers, which are cost competitive to Pt and mitigate the need to use time-consuming and low-yield exfoliation techniques typically used to fabricate pristine MoS2.
• #### Mathematical models of DNA methylation dynamics: Implications for health and ageing

(Elsevier, 2018)
DNA methylation status is a key epigenetic process which has been intimately associated with gene regulation. In recent years growing evidence has associated DNA methylation status with a variety of diseases including cancer, Alzheimers disease and cardiovascular disease. Moreover, changes to DNA methylation have also recently been implicated in the ageing process. The factors which underpin DNA methylation are complex, and remain to be fully elucidated. Over the years mathematical modelling has helped to shed light on the dynamics of this important molecular system. Although the existing models have contributed significantly to our overall understanding of DNA methylation, they fall-short of fully capturing the dynamics of this process. In this paper we develop a linear and nonlinear model which captures more fully the dynamics of the key intracellular events which characterise DNA methylation. In particular the outcomes of our linear model result in gene promoter specific methylation levels which are more biologically plausible than those revealed by previous mathematical models. In addition, our non-linear model predicts DNA methylation promoter bistability which is commonly observed experimentally. The findings from our models have implications for our current understanding of how changes to the dynamics which underpin DNA methylation affect ageing and health.
• #### Evolution of Neural Networks for Physically Simulated Evolved Virtual Quadruped Creatures

(Springer-Verlag, 2018-07-07)
This work develops evolved virtual creatures (EVCs) using neuroevolution as the controller for movement and decisions within a 3D physics simulated environ-ment. Previous work on EVCs has displayed various behaviour such as following a light source. This work is focused on complexifying the range of behaviours available to EVCs. This work uses neuroevolution for learning specific actions combined with other controllers for making higher level decisions about which action to take in a given scenario. Results include analysis of performance of the EVCs in simulated physics environment. Various controllers are compared including a hard coded benchmark, a fixed topology feed forward artificial neural network and an evolving ANN subjected to neuroevolution by applying mutations in both topology and weights. The findings showed that both fixed topology ANNs and neuroevolution did successfully control the evolved virtual creatures in the distance travelling task.
• #### A high-order scheme to approximate the Caputo fractional derivative and its application to solve the fractional diffusion wave equation

(Elsevier, 2018-10-05)
A new high-order finite difference scheme to approximate the Caputo fractional derivative $\frac{1}{2} \big ( \, _{0}^{C}D^{\alpha}_{t}f(t_{k})+ \, _{0}^{C}D^{\alpha}_{t}f(t_{k-1}) \big ), k=1, 2, \dots, N,$ with the convergence order $O(\Delta t^{4-\alpha}), \, \alpha\in(1,2)$ is obtained when $f^{\prime \prime \prime} (t_{0})=0$, where $\Delta t$ denotes the time step size. Based on this scheme we introduce a finite difference method for solving fractional diffusion wave equation with the convergence order $O(\Delta t^{4-\alpha} + h^2)$, where $h$ denotes the space step size. Numerical examples are given to show that the numerical results are consistent with the theoretical results.
• #### Interface Cohesive Elements to Model Matrix Crack Evolution in Composite Laminates

(Springer, 2013-10-02)
In this paper, the transverse matrix (resin) cracking developed in multidirectional composite laminates loaded in tension was numerically investigated by a finite element (FE) model implemented in the commercially available software Abaqus/Explicit 6.10. A theoretical solution using the equivalent constraint model (ECM) of the damaged laminate developed by Soutis et al. was employed to describe matrix cracking evolution and compared to the proposed numerical approach. In the numerical model, interface cohesive elements were inserted between neighbouring finite elements that run parallel to fibre orientation in each lamina to simulate matrix cracking with the assumption of equally spaced cracks (based on experimental measurements and observations). The stress based traction-separation law was introduced to simulate initiation of matrix cracking and propagation under mixed-mode loading. The numerically predicted crack density was found to depend on the mesh size of the model and the material fracture parameters defined for the cohesive elements. Numerical predictions of matrix crack density as a function of applied stress are in a good agreement to experimentally measured and theoretically (ECM) obtained values, but some further refinement will be required in near future work.
• #### Swarm Communication by Evolutionary Algorithms

(IEEE, 2018-05-27)
This research has applied evolutionary algorithms to evolve swarm communication. Controllers were evolved for colonies of artificial simulated ants during a food foriaging task which communicate using pheromone. Neuroevolution enables both weights and the topology of the artificial neural networks to be optimized for food foriaging. The developed model results in evolution of ants which communicate using pheromone trails. The ants successfully collect and return food to the nest. The controller has evolved to adjust the strength of pheromone which provides a signal to guide the direction of other ants in the colony by hill climbing strategy. A single ANN controller for ant direction successfully evolved which exhibits many separate skills including food search, pheromone following, food collection and retrieval to the nest.
• #### Multi-Agent Reinforcement Learning for Swarm Retrieval with Evolving Neural Network

(Springer-Verlag,, 2018-07-07)
This research investigates methods for evolving swarm communica-tion in a sim-ulated colony of ants using pheromone when foriaging for food. This research implemented neuroevolution and obtained the capability to learn phero-mone communication autonomously. Building on previous literature on phero-mone communication, this research applies evolution to adjust the topology and weights of an artificial neural network (ANN) which controls the ant behaviour. Compar-ison of performance is made between a hard-coded benchmark algorithm (BM1), a fixed topology ANN and neuroevolution of the ANN topology and weights. The resulting neuroevolution produced a neural network which was suc-cessfully evolved to achieve the task objective, to collect food and return it to a location.
• #### A Posteriori Analysis for Space-Time, discontinuous in time Galerkin approximations for parabolic equations in a variable domain

(ECP sciences, 2018)
This paper presents an a posteriori error analysis for the discontinuous in time space-time scheme proposed by Jamet for the heat equation in multi-dimensional, non-cylindrical domains [25]. Using a Cl ement-type interpolant, we prove abstract a posteriori error bounds for the numerical error. Furthermore, in the case of two-dimensional spatial domains we transform the problem into an equivalent one, of parabolic type, with space-time dependent coe cients but posed on a cylindrical domain. We formulate a discontinuous in time space{time scheme and prove a posteriori error bounds of optimal order. The a priori estimates of [19] for general parabolic initial and boundary value problems are used in the derivation of the upper bound. Our lower bound coincides with that of Picasso [36], proposed for adaptive, Runge-Kutta finite element methods for linear parabolic problems. Our theoretical results are verified by numerical experiments.
• #### Insights into HOx and ROx chemistry in the boreal forest via measurement of peroxyacetic acid, peroxyacetic nitric anhydride (PAN) and hydrogen peroxide

(European Geosciences Union, 2018-09-21)