• An Analytical and Numerical Study of Magnetic Spring Suspension with Energy Recovery Capabilities

      Jia, Yu; Li, Shasha; Shi, Yu; University of Chester; China National Intellectual Property Administration (MDPI, 2018-11-12)
      As the automotive paradigm shifts towards electric, limited range remains a key challenge. Increasing the battery size adds weight, which yields diminishing returns in range per kilowatt-hour. Therefore, energy recovery systems, such as regenerative braking and photovoltaic cells, are desirable to recharge the onboard batteries in between hub charge cycles. While some reports of regenerative suspension do exist, they all harvest energy in a parasitic manner, and the predicted power output is extremely low, since the majority of the energy is still dissipated to the environment by the suspension. This paper proposes a fundamental suspension redesign using a magnetically-levitated spring mechanism and aims to increase the recoverable energy significantly by directly coupling an electromagnetic transducer as the main damper. Furthermore, the highly nonlinear magnetic restoring force can also potentially enhance rider comfort. Analytical and numerical models have been constructed. Road roughness data from an Australian road were used to numerically simulate a representative environment response. Simulation suggests that 10’s of kW to >100 kW can theoretically be generated by a medium-sized car travelling on a typical paved road (about 2–3 orders of magnitude higher than literature reports on parasitic regenerative suspension schemes), while still maintaining well below the discomfort threshold for passengers (<0.315 m/s2 on average).
    • Cholesterol Homeostasis: An In Silico Investigation into How Aging Disrupts Its Key Hepatic Regulatory Mechanisms

      Morgan, Amy; Mc Auley, Mark; University of Chester
      The dysregulation of intracellular cholesterol homeostasis is associated with several age-related diseases, most notably cardiovascular disease (CVD). Research in this area has benefitted from using computational modelling to study the inherent complexity associated with the regulation of this system. In addition to facilitating hypothesis exploration, the utility of modelling lies in its ability to represent an array of rate limiting enzymatic reactions, together with multiple feedback loops, which collectively define the dynamics of cholesterol homeostasis. However, to date no model has specifically investigated the effects aging has on this system. This work addresses this shortcoming by explicitly focusing on the impact of aging on hepatic intracellular cholesterol homeostasis. The model was used to investigate the experimental findings that reactive oxygen species induce the total activation of 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl-coenzyme A (HMG-CoA) reductase (HMGCR). Moreover, the model explored the impact of an age-related decrease in hepatic acetyl-CoA acetyltransferase 2 (ACAT2). The model suggested that an increase in the activity of HMGCR does not have as significant an impact on cholesterol homeostasis as a decrease in hepatic ACAT2 activity. According to the model, a decrease in the activity of hepatic ACAT2 raises free cholesterol (FC) and decreases low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) levels. Increased acetyl CoA synthesis resulted in a reduction in the number of hepatic low-density lipoprotein receptors, and increased LDL-C, FC, and cholesterol esters. The rise in LDL-C was restricted by elevated hepatic FC accumulation. Taken together these findings have important implications for healthspan. This is because emerging clinical data suggest hepatic FC accumulation is relevant to the pathogenesis of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), which is associated with an increased risk of CVD. These pathophysiological changes could, in part, help to explain the phenomenon of increased mortality associated with low levels of LDL-C which have been observed in certain studies involving the oldest old (≥ 85 years).
    • Design, Synthesis and Evaluation of New Bioactive Oxadiazole Derivatives as Anticancer Agents Targeting Bcl-2

      Hamdy, Rania; Elseginy, Samia; Ziedan, Noha; El-Sadek, Mohamed; Lashin, El-Said; Jones, Arwyn T; Westwell, Andrew D; University of Chester; Cardiff University; Zagazig University; Bristol University; University of Sharjah
      A series of 2-(1H-indol-3-yl)-5-substituted-1,3,4-oxadiazoles, 4a–m, were designed, synthesized and tested in vitro as potential pro-apoptotic Bcl-2 inhibitory anticancer agents based on our previously reported hit compounds. Synthesis of the target 1,3,4-oxadiazoles was readily accomplished through a cyclization reaction of indole carboxylic acid hydrazide 2 with substituted carboxylic acid derivatives 3a–m in the presence of phosphorus oxychloride. New compounds 4a–m showed a range of IC50 values concentrated in the low micromolar range selectively in Bcl-2 positive human cancer cell lines. The most potent candidate 4-trifluoromethyl substituted analogue 4j showed selective IC50 values of 0.52–0.88 μM against Bcl-2 expressing cell lines with no inhibitory effects in the Bcl-2 negative cell line. Moreover, 4j showed binding that was two-fold more potent than the positive control gossypol in the Bcl-2 ELISA binding affinity assay. Molecular modeling studies helped to further rationalize anti-apoptotic Bcl-2 binding and identified compound 4j as a candidate with drug-like properties for further investigation as a selective Bcl-2 inhibitory anticancer agent.
    • Effect of Temperature on Electromagnetic Performance of Active Phased Array Antenna

      Wang, Yan; Wang, Congsi; Lian, Peiyuan; Xue, Sone; Liu, Jing; Gao, Wei; Shi, Yu; Wang, Zhihai; Yu, Kunpeng; Peng, Xuelin; et al.
      Active phased array antennas (APAAs) can suffer from the effects of harsh thermal environments, which are caused by the large quantity of power generated by densely packed T/R modules and external thermal impacts. The situation may be worse in the case of limited room and severe thermal loads, due to heat radiation and a low temperature sink. The temperature field of the antenna can be changed. Since large numbers of temperature-sensitive electronic components exist in T/R modules, excitation current output can be significantly affected and the electromagnetic performance of APAAs can be seriously degraded. However, due to a lack of quantitative analysis, it is difficult to directly estimate the effect of temperature on the electromagnetic performance of APAAs. Therefore, this study investigated the electromagnetic performance of APAAs as affected by two key factors—the uniformly distributed temperature field and the temperature gradient field—based on different antenna shapes and sizes, to provide theoretical guidance for their thermal design.
    • Fibre laser treatment of beta TNZT titanium alloys for load-bearing implant applications: Effects of surface physical and chemical features on mesenchymal stem cell response and Staphylococcus aureus bacterial attachment

      Donaghy, Clare L.; McFadden, Ryan; Smith, Graham C.; Kelaini, Sophia; Carson, Louise; Malinov, Savko; Margariti, Andriana; Chan, Chi-Wai; Queens University Belfast; University of Chester (MDPI, 2019-03-12)
      A mismatch in bone and implant elastic modulus can lead to aseptic loosening and ultimately implant failure. Selective elemental composition of titanium (Ti) alloys coupled with surface treatment can be used to improve osseointegration and reduce bacterial adhesion. The biocompatibility and antibacterial properties of Ti-35Nb-7Zr-6Ta (TNZT) using fibre laser surface treatment were assessed in this work, due to its excellent material properties (low Young’s modulus and non-toxicity) and the promising attributes of fibre laser treatment (very fast, non-contact, clean and only causes changes in surface without altering the bulk composition/microstructure). The TNZT surfaces in this study were treated in a high speed regime, specifically 100 and 200 mm/s, (or 6 and 12 m/min). Surface roughness and topography (WLI and SEM), chemical composition (SEM-EDX), microstructure (XRD) and chemistry (XPS) were investigated. The biocompatibility of the laser treated surfaces was evaluated using mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) cultured in vitro at various time points to assess cell attachment (6, 24 and 48 h), proliferation (3, 7 and 14 days) and differentiation (7, 14 and 21 days). Antibacterial performance was also evaluated using Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) and Live/Dead staining. Sample groups included untreated base metal (BM), laser treated at 100 mm/s (LT100) and 200 mm/s (LT200). The results demonstrated that laser surface treatment creates a rougher (Ra value of BM is 199 nm, LT100 is 256 nm and LT200 is 232 nm), spiky surface (Rsk > 0 and Rku > 3) with homogenous elemental distribution and decreasing peak-to-peak distance between ripples (0.63 to 0.315 m) as the scanning speed increases (p < 0.05), generating a surface with distinct micron and nano scale features. The improvement in cell spreading, formation of bone-like nodules (only seen on the laser treated samples) and subsequent four-fold reduction in bacterial attachment (p < 0.001) can be attributed to the features created through fibre laser treatment, making it an excellent choice for load bearing implant applications. Last but not least, the presence of TiN in the outermost surface oxide might also account for the improved biocompatibility and antibacterial performances of TNZT.
    • Fourier spectral methods for some linear stochastic space-fractional partial differential equations

      Liu, Yanmei; Khan, Monzorul; Yan, Yubin; LuLiang University; University of Chester (MDPI, 2016-07-01)
      Fourier spectral methods for solving some linear stochastic space-fractional partial differential equations perturbed by space-time white noises in one-dimensional case are introduced and analyzed. The space-fractional derivative is defined by using the eigenvalues and eigenfunctions of Laplacian subject to some boundary conditions. We approximate the space-time white noise by using piecewise constant functions and obtain the approximated stochastic space-fractional partial differential equations. The approximated stochastic space-fractional partial differential equations are then solved by using Fourier spectral methods. Error estimates in $L^{2}$- norm are obtained. Numerical examples are given.
    • Graphene Oxide Bulk Modified Screen-Printed Electrodes Provide Beneficial Electroanalytical Sensing Capabilities

      Rowley-Neale, Samuel; Brownson, Dale; Smith, Graham; Banks, Craig; Manchester Metropolitan University; University of Chester (MDPI, 2020-03-19)
      We demonstrate a facile methodology for the mass production of graphene oxide (GO) bulk modified screen-printed electrodes (GO-SPEs) that are economical, highly reproducible and provide analytically useful outputs. Through fabricating GO-SPEs with varying percentage mass incorporations (2.5, 5, 7.5 and 10%) of GO, an electrocatalytic effect towards the chosen electroanalytical probes is observed, that increases with greater GO incorporated compared to bare/ graphite SPEs. The optimum mass ratio of 10% GO to 90% carbon ink displays an electroanalytical signal towards dopamine (DA) and uric acid (UA), which is ca. ×10 greater in magnitude than that achievable at a bare/unmodified graphite SPE. Furthermore, 10% GO-SPEs exhibit a competitively low limit of detection (3σ) towards DA at ca. 81 nM, which is superior to that of a bare/unmodified graphite SPE at ca. 780 nM. The improved analytical response is attributed to the large number of oxygenated species inhabiting the edge and defect sites of the GO nanosheets, which are available to exhibit electrocatalytic responses towards inner-sphere electrochemical analytes. Our reported methodology is simple, scalable, and cost effective for the fabrication of GO-SPEs, that display highly competitive LODs, and is of significant interest for use in commercial and medicinal applications
    • Mathematical modelling of metabolic regulation in aging

      Mc Auley, Mark T.; Mooney, Kathleen M.; Angell, Peter J.; Wilkinson, Stephen J.; University of Chester ; Liverpool Hope University ; Edge Hill University ; University of Chester (MDPI, 2015-04-27)
      The underlying cellular mechanisms that characterize aging are complex and multifaceted. However, it is emerging that aging could be regulated by two distinct metabolic hubs. These hubs are the pathway defined by the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) and that defined by the NAD+-dependent deacetylase enzyme, SIRT1. Recent experimental evidence suggests that there is crosstalk between these two important pathways; however, the mechanisms underpinning their interaction(s) remains poorly understood. In this review, we propose using computational modelling in tandem with experimentation to delineate the mechanism(s). We briefly discuss the main modelling frameworks that could be used to disentangle this relationship and present a reduced reaction pathway that could be modelled. We conclude by outlining the limitations of computational modelling and by discussing opportunities for future progress in this area.
    • Methods for the Treatment of Cattle Manure—A Review

      Font Palma, Carolina (MDPI, 2019-05-15)
      Environmental concerns, caused by greenhouse gases released to the atmosphere and overrunning of nutrients and pathogens to water bodies, have led to reducing direct spread onto the land of cattle manure. In addition, this practice can be a source of water and air pollution and toxicity to life by the release of undesirable heavy metals. Looking at the current practices, it is evident that most farms separate solids for recycling purposes, store slurries in large lagoons or use anaerobic digestion to produce biogas. The review explores the potential for cattle manure as an energy source due to its relatively large calorific value (HHV of 8.7–18.7 MJ/kg dry basis). This property is beneficial for thermochemical conversion processes, such as gasification and pyrolysis. This study also reviews the potential for upgrading biogas for transportation and heating use. This review discusses current cattle manure management technologies—biological treatment and thermochemical conversion processes—and the diverse physical and chemical properties due to the differences in farm practices.
    • New Quinoline-Based Heterocycles as Anticancer Agents Targeting Bcl-2

      Hamdy, Rania; Elseginy, Samia A.; Ziedan, Noha I.; Jones, Arwyn T.; Westwell, Andrew D. (MDPI, 2019-04-02)
      The Bcl-2 protein has been studied as an anticancer drug target in recent years, due to its gatekeeper role in resisting programmed cancer cell death (apoptosis), and the design of BH3 domain mimetics has led to the clinical approval of Venetoclax (ABT-199) for the treatment of chronic lymphocytic leukaemia. In this work we extend our previous studies on the discovery of indole-based heterocycles as Bcl-2 inhibitors, to the identification of quinolin-4-yl based oxadiazole and triazole analogues. Target compounds were readily synthesized via a common aryl-substituted quinolin-4-carbonyl-N-arylhydrazine-1-carbothioamide (5a⁻b) intermediate, through simple variation of the basic cyclisation conditions. Some of the quinoline-based oxadiazole analogues (e.g. compound 6i) were found to exhibit sub-micromolar anti-proliferative activity in Bcl-2-expressing cancer cell lines, and sub-micromolar IC50 activity within a Bcl2-Bim peptide ELISA assay. The Bcl-2 targeted anticancer activity of 6i was further rationalised via computational molecular modelling, offering possibilities to extend this work into the design of further potent and selective Bcl-2 inhibitory heteroaromatics with therapeutic potential.
    • A Numerical Feasibility Study of Kinetic Energy Harvesting from Lower Limb Prosthetics

      Jia, Yu; Wei, Xueyong; Pu, Jie; Xie, Pengheng; Wen, Tao; Wang, Congsi; Lian, Peiyuan; Xue, Song; Shi, Yu; Aston University; University of Chester; Xidian University; Xi'an Jiaotong University (MDPI, 2019-10-10)
      With the advancement trend of lower limb prosthetics headed towards bionics (active ankle and knee) and smart prosthetics (gait and condition monitoring), there is an increasing integration of various sensors (micro-electromechanical system (MEMS) accelerometers, gyroscopes, magnetometers, strain gauges, pressure sensors, etc.), microcontrollers and wireless systems, and power drives including motors and actuators. All of these active elements require electrical power. However, inclusion of a heavy and bulky battery risks to undo the lightweight advancements achieved by the strong and flexible composite materials in the past decades. Kinetic energy harvesting holds the promise to recharge a small on-board battery in order to sustain the active systems without sacrificing weight and size. However, careful design is required in order not to over-burden the user from parasitic effects. This paper presents a feasibility study using measured gait data and numerical simulation in order to predict the available recoverable power. The numerical simulations suggest that, depending on the axis, up to 10s mW average electrical power is recoverable for a walking gait and up to 100s mW average electrical power is achievable during a running gait. This takes into account parasitic losses and only capturing a fraction of the gait cycle to not adversely burden the user. The predicted recoverable power levels are ample to self-sustain wireless communication and smart sensing functionalities to support smart prosthetics, as well as extend the battery life for active actuators in bionic systems. The results here serve as a theoretical foundation to design and develop towards regenerative smart bionic prosthetics.
    • Optimisation and management of energy generated by a multifunctional MFC-integrated composite chassis for rail vehicles

      Liu, Yiding; Du, Sijun; Micallef, Christopher; Jia, Yu; Shi, Yu; Hughes, Darren; University of Warwick; University of California at Berkeley; Aston University; University of Chester
      With the advancing trend towards lighter and faster rail transport, there is an increasing interest in integrating composite and advanced multifunctional materials in order to infuse smart sensing and monitoring, energy harvesting and wireless capabilities within the otherwise purely mechanical rail structures and the infrastructure. This paper presents a holistic multiphysics numerical study, across both mechanical and electrical domains, that describes an innovative technique of harvesting energy from a piezoelectric micro fiber composites (MFC) built-in composite rail chassis structure. Representative environmental vibration data measured from a rail cabin have been critically leveraged here to help predict the actual vibratory and power output behaviour under service. Time domain mean stress distribution data from the Finite Element simulation were used to predict the raw AC voltage output of the MFCs. Conditioned power output was then calculated using circuit simulation of several state-of-the-art power conditioning circuits. A peak instantaneous rectified power of 181.9 mW was obtained when eight-stage Synchronised Switch Harvesting Capacitors (SSHC) from eight embedded MFCs were located. The results showed that the harvested energy could be sufficient to sustain a self-powered structural health monitoring system with wireless communication capabilities. This study serves as a theoretical foundation of scavenging for vibrational power from the ambient state in a rail environment as well as to pointing to design principles to develop regenerative and power neutral smart vehicles.
    • Pencil It In: Exploring the Feasibility of Hand-drawn Pencil Electrochemical Sensors and their Direct Comparison to Screen-printed Electrodes

      Bernalte, Elena; Foster, Christopher W.; Brownson, Dale A. C.; Mosna, Morgane; Smith, Graham C.; Banks, Craig E.; Manchester Metropolitain University (Foster, Brownson, Mosna, Banks), Universidad de Extremadura, Badajoz (Bernalte), University of Chester (Smith) (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 (3 ) 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.
    • A preliminary study to enhance the tribological performance of CoCrMo alloy by laser remelting for articular joint implant applications

      Chan, Chi-Wai; Smith, Graham C.; Lee, Seunghwan; Queens University Belfast; University of Chester; Technical University Denmark (MDPI, 2018-03-02)
      CoCrMo alloy has long been used as a pairing femoral head material for articular joint implant applications because of its biocompatibility and reliable tribological performance. However, friction and wear issues are still present for CoCrMo (metal)/CoCrMo (metal) or CoCrMo (metal)/ultrahigh molecular weight polyethylene (UHMWPE) (plastic) pairs in clinical observations. The particulate wear debris generated from the worn surfaces of CoCrMo or UHMWPE can pose a severe threat to human tissues, eventually resulting in the failure of implants and the need for revision surgeries. As a result, a further improvement in tribological properties of this alloy is still needed, and it is of great interest to both the implant manufacturers and clinical surgeons. In this study, the surface of CoCrMo alloy was laser-treated by a fibre laser system in an open-air condition (i.e., no gas chamber required). The CoCrMo surfaces before and after laser remelting were analysed and characterised by a range of mechanical tests (i.e., surface roughness measurement and Vickers micro-hardness test) and microstructural analysis (i.e., XRD phase detection). The tribological properties were assessed by pin-on-disk tribometry and dynamic light scattering (DLS). Our results indicate that the laser-treated surfaces demonstrated a friction-reducing effect for all the tribopairs (i.e., CoCrMo against CoCrMo and CoCrMo against UHHMWPE) and enhanced wear resistance for the CoCrMo/CoCrMo pair. Such beneficial effects are chiefly attributable to the presence of the laser-formed hard coating on the surface. Laser remelting possesses several competitive advantages of being a clean, non-contact, fast, highly accurate and automated process compared to other surface coating methods. The promising results of this study point to the possibility that laser remelting can be a practical and effective surface modification technique to further improve the tribological performance of CoCr-based orthopaedic implants.
    • Quality Mapping of Offset Lithographic Printed Antenna Substrates and Electrodes by Millimeter-Wave Imaging

      Zhang, Jiao; Tang, Jianhua; Sun, Wenfeng; Zhang, Yan; Yang, Bin; Wang, Xinke; University of Chester (MDPI, 2019-06-14)
      Offset lithographic printed flexible antenna substrate boards and electrodes have attracted much attention recently due to the boost of flexible electronics. Unmanned quality inspection of these printed substrate boards and electrodes demands high-speed, large-scale and nondestructive methods, which is highly desired for manufacturing industries. The work here demonstrates two kinds of millimeter (mm)-wave imaging technologies for the quality (surface uniformity and functionality parameters) inspection of printed silver substrates and electrodes on paper and thin polyethylene film, respectively. One technology is a mm-wave line scanner system and the other is a terahertz-time domain spectroscopy-based charge-coupled device (CCD) imaging system. The former shows the ability of detecting transmitted mm-wave amplitude signals only; its detection is fast in a second time scale and the system shows great potential for the inspection of large-area printed surface uniformity. The latter technology achieves high spatial resolution images of up to hundreds of micrometers at the cost of increased inspection time, in a time scale of tens of seconds. With the exception of absorption rate information, the latter technology offers additional phase information, which can be used to work out 2D permittivity distribution. Moreover, its uniformity is vital for the antenna performance. Additionally, the results demonstrate that compression rolling treatment significantly improves the uniformity of printed silver surfaces and enhances the substrate’s permittivity values.