‘Fuel Change Challenge’ moves into its final phase…

Scottish Modern Apprentices working on the Fuel Change Challenge are zooming into Sprint 3 in an effort to develop innovative low carbon solutions to real issues currently being faced by industry.

Now 20 original ideas enter this final sprint and will be presented to a panel of industry experts for them to decide which concepts should proceed to the National Showcase. The teams will receive guidance and support from individually allocated mentors as they look to develop their good ideas into great. The mentors have volunteered from wider industry attracted by the diverse array of challenges and solutions delivered so far by this next generation of problem solvers.

Launched on Monday 7 September, the Fuel Change Challenge initially encouraged  Modern Apprentices (MAs) to tackle real carbon challenges set by a range of industry partners from the private sector. And then in October, Foundation Apprentices (FAs) were invited to join in them on the project.

Around 230 MAs in 38 teams began the search for their ideal solutions and this has now been whittled down to 140 MAs in 20 teams who have been given the green light to use their creativity and ingenuity to help tackle climate change

The Fuel Change Challenge has proved to be so successful that organisers are already keen for teams of MAs and FAs and their employers – from all industries across Scotland not just construction and engineering – to register their interest for this year’s challenge. Register your interest at www.fuelchange.co.uk

The aim of the project is to hit the target of a low carbon Scotland and create real, practical solutions which can not only be implemented by the partner companies, but potentially be implemented across the world and make a real difference to climate change.

Five major companies initially supported the initiative including: Alexander Dennis Limited (ADL), BAM Nuttall, Scottish Power Energy Networks, National Manufacturing Institute Scotland (NMIS), and Spirit Aerosystems and all have submitted challenges to work on.

After Sprint 1 the teams were asked only to come back with their selected challenge from the six offered. However a number went so much further, already starting to develop eye-catching ideas as they headed into Sprint 2. These included creating a decommissioning yard for aircraft at Prestwick Airport – which suggested a series of innovative new businesses generated from materials recovered and using digital twinning to identify means to reduce energy in manufacturing plants. It would also create energy surplus from local innovative generators, to feed back into the grid.

Now Sprint 3 has seen these ideas really take shape and be developed as they go before an expert judging panel.

Challenges are focused around barriers to a low carbon economy or opportunities to create a product or service, which could develop a low carbon market offering.

A selection of the ideas in development include:

Oxygen Savers MAs from Ayrshire, have been developing how industrial seaweed farming could offset carbon and be used in several processes as well as being a food source. They have also been researching how coral reef could benefit from replanting.

Glaxo Smith Kline MAs based at Forth Valley College are working on a possible replacement for concrete and fellow MAs from the same college who work for SP Energy Networks are working on a trams system using a hybrid vehicle.

Several MA teams from Spirit Aerosystems who attend Ayrshire College are working on varying uses for old aircraft fuselages including: glamping pods and community centres and storage units for villages in developing countries.

Great minds think alike as a MA team from Edinburgh Airport based ay Forth Valley College have, independently, proposed that old airplane fuselages could be recycled and used as homeless shelters in the UK.

The wings of old aircraft are the focus for A&P Group MAs also working through Forth Valley College, who are looking to see if they could be used to help generate electricity on Scottish lochs.

DSM Nutritional Products MAs attending West College are working on three concepts looking into carbon lithium battery technology and the use of yeast as a biofuel.

GE Troops team of MAs from Ayrshire are looking at the viability of utilising tidal/wave power around existing oil rigs, which could generate electricity even after the oil has been extracted.

And a group of Alexander Dennis apprentices are taking on their company’s very own challenge of a conversion of busses in the Falkirk area to electricity and a re-cast of the area’s network services.

Apprentices have brought a unique practical perspective to solutions, different to many other innovation challenges before, and expert insight into the operations and processes of an organisation and how their ideas could be applied in the real world.

The initiative is being funded by the Scottish Funding Council and Skills Development Scotland and is being widely backed by Scottish Colleges with four ‘hub’ colleges driving participation and encouraging their partner employers and apprentices to get involved; Forth Valley College, North East Scotland College, Fife College and Ayrshire College.