The Royal Academy of Engineering Sustained Achievement Award 2012 has been presented to Professor Stephen Salter, whose career as an engineer holds many notable achievements including ‘Salter’s Duck’ and his pioneering work in the desalination of sea water.

Professor Salter, a world leader in the fields of renewable energy and geoengineering at the University of Edinburgh, has spent the last 37 years developing innovative and practical ways of mitigating the impact of climate change. His highly innovative research has resulted in very significant technology transfer through the spin-out of three companies, including Pelamis Wave Power and Artemis Intelligent Power.

His most famous invention is the iconic ‘Salter’s Duck’, developed in the 1970s to generate electrical power from waves, and still regarded as one of the most efficient wave power designs. At the heart of the ‘Duck’ was an innovative digital displacement hydraulic power transmission that Professor Salter has since adapted for automotive use. It is currently undergoing vehicle testing and achieving fuel savings of 30%.

A pioneer in the field of geoengineering, Professor Salter has investigated the practicalities of brightening clouds to reflect sunlight away from the earth. Rather than cloud-seeding with low-flying aircraft, Professor Salter envisaged using a flotilla of radio-controlled Flettner craft (using a vertical rotating cylinder for propulsion) and spraying the clouds with sea water as a low carbon alternative. As the water evaporated from the ultra-fine spray, the remaining grains of salt would provide the nuclei for cloud condensation.

Nominating Professor Salter for the award, his colleague Professor Peter Grant OBE FREng said “Stephen Salter is a true pioneer, often well ahead of the game – he was investigating touch screens back in 1969 and smart meters in 1977. I am enormously impressed by the scale and the originality of his commitment to working out the best engineering route to making the concept in question a reality.”

Notes for editors

The Sustained Achievement Award
The Royal Academy of Engineering’s Sustained Achievement Award was first presented in 2005, and is awarded to an engineer, normally resident in the UK, whose sustained achievements over a number of projects have had a profound impact upon their engineering discipline.

The Royal Academy of Engineering
Founded in 1976, The Royal Academy of Engineering promotes the engineering and technological welfare of the country. Our fellowship - comprising the UK's most eminent engineers - provides the leadership and expertise for our activities, which focus on the relationships between engineering, technology, and the quality of life. As a national academy, we provide independent and impartial advice to Government; work to secure the next generation of engineers; and provide a voice for Britain's engineering community.

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