Faculty of Engineering

University of Peradeniya

Faculty of Engineering

University of Peradeniya


Chathurangi Edussuriya, a Computer Engineering undergraduate of University of Peradeniya has won the Construction Industry Solution Limited (COINS) Grand Challenge in undergraduate category which was held in Manchester on the 12th of June 2019.

The challenge consisted of two entry categories, professional (Open) and the student (Undergraduate), with shortlisted ideas ranging from carbon negative building materials to autonomous land surveying marking drones. Six finalists in each category were invited to the UK for the final competition in which she managed to secure the first place of the competition after competing with contestants from Edinburg, Chicago, St. Carlo and India. Her “Soil Analyzer” with on location testing capability raised quite a few eyebrows which eventually granted her with this great achievement. The winners were announced at a Gala Dinner and Awards Ceremony held at the Imperial War Museum North, Salford Quays in Manchester UK.

Chathurangi’s product was a solution to the construction industry where field soil testing can be done in site using sensors connected to a mobile device like a smartphone. The device measures the electrical resistance of a tabular soil sample taken in site and the results are obtained instantaneously by the programmed mobile device. This invention saves enormous amount of expenditure in the construction industry. The massive investment prize money is given to develop the product and several leading UK construction companies have agreed to purchase her product and provide access to their lab facilities if she wishes.

It all started in a Hackathon (a software development competition) organized by Department of Computer Engineering, University of Peradeniya. The engineering idea is based on a research conducted by Mr. Janaka Priyantha , a postgraduate researcher under the guidance of Prof. S.B.S Abayakoon, Department of Civil Engineering.

Chathurangi wishes to thank the staff of the Geo-Technical Engineering laboratory who helped to conduct the experiments and Kasun Vithanage, Namila Bandara, Rasika Maduranga, Madushan Subash who helped to complete the project. She thanked for the encouragement given by the former and present Heads of the Computer Engineering Department Dr. Dhammika Elkaduwa and Dr.Kamalanath Samarakoon, the Dean, Faculty of Engineering and the Vice Chancellor, University of Peradeniya.

Furthermore, Chaturangi’s Soil Analyzing method and the device are patent pending in Sri Lanka. Patent protection for foreign jurisdictions is in progress through PCT (Patent Cooperation Treaty) administered by WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization). Dr. Manjula Sandirigama is providing legal advice to obtain the patent protection for her product.

More information can be accessed through the COINS webpage https://www.coinsglobal.com/blog/winning-ideas-could-revolutionise-the-construction-industry-2019-coins-grandchallenge/bp448/

The progress discussion on the ongoing joint PhD research between Faculty of Engineering, University of Peradeniya and Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) was held on Tuesday the 28th of May 2019 at the Faculty of Engineering, University of Peradeniya.

The Memorandum of understanding (MOU) and cotutelle agreement leading to this venture were signed in September 2018 for the joint PhD program between RMIT Australia and the Faculty of Engineering, UOP with the inauguration conducted in October 2018 at the Faculty Premises.

First two PhDs of this program commenced in December 2018 in the areas of concrete and environmental engineering. Out of the two PhD projects the one with the title “Feasibility of adapting different geo-polymeric binders for sustainable concrete in Sri Lanka” concentrates on using by-products such as fly ash and rice husk ash to produce concrete in order to add a commercial value to the huge amount of waste produced in Sri Lanka. The second PhD Project titled "Investigation of landfill leachate treatment using MBR and RO coupled system targeting the removal of emerging contaminants” evaluates total treatment of landfill leachate using membrane bioreactor and reverse osmosis coupled treatment system to focus on the removal of emerging contaminants from landfill leachate in Sri Lanka.

This collaborative progress discussion witnessed the participation of Prof. Sujeeva Setunga, Deputy Dean, Research and Innovation and Dr. Chamila Gunasekara, Postdoctoral researcher on behalf of RMIT and Dean/Engineering, Head/Civil Engineering, Prof. Ranjith Dissanayake, Dr. Shameen Jinadasa, Dr. Mohamed Nasvi and Dr. Anurudhdha Karunarathna from the Faculty of Engineering, UOP.

What is a nanosatellite?
Smarter and greener energy technologies are expected replace the legacy power network in near future. Variety of innovative technologies, system architectures and market models are being investigated in order to significantly reduce the carbon footprint of the energy sector. This project investigates the advantages of active participation of customers in energy market through a customer friendly plug & play system architecture. Where, aggregated Distributed Energy Resources (DER) like solar PV, Electric Vehicles and controllable loads in customer domain are controlled in an optimal fashion to minimize carbon emission while ensuring customer satisfaction. In this project, in addition to developing the required optimization algorithm, the study was extended to model the effects of random communication delays on the aggregated output of DERs using applied probability theory.

A satellite can be viewed as an intelligent robot orbiting the earth. Although the satellites orbit at hundreds of kilo meters from the earth at incredible speeds (Ravana-1 orbits at a speed of 25,200 Km per hour at an altitude of 400 km), they can listen to and instantly act upon commands transmitted from a ground station. For example, an operator at a ground control station can type a command to re-boot the OBS of a satellite orbiting hundreds of km from the earth just as you reboot a computer in front of you!

A good insight into how a satellite functions can be obtained by considering an example. Consider how a satellite records an image. First of all to record an image, the camera on-board the satellite should be facing the side of the earth illuminated by the Sun. How does the satellite find this information? The answer is that every satellite is equipped with a device called “Sun sensor”. Signals from the Sun sensor are interpreted by the OBS and the satellite can verify whether it is in the shadowed region of earth or not. Moreover, to record an image the satellite camera should correctly pointed towards the earth. This means that the satellite should be free of any rotational movements. This is ensured by the ADCS circuitry. The rotations of the satellite are measured by on-board gyroscopes. As nanosatellites do not use any liquid or solid fuel, control of the satellite is done by sending currents through a system of coil which crosses the magnetic field of the earth at very high speeds (25,200 km per hour in the case of Ravana-I). Calculation of currents to the coils to correct any rotations is based on the gyroscope and Sun sensor readings. This is done by the ADCS using a control algorithm.

Challenge of Ravana-I

Designing electronic circuits for satellites faces 4 unique challenges.

  1. The circuits should function under extreme temperatures. Nanosatellites are subjected to temperatures as cold as -200 C when under the shadow of the earth and temperatures as high as +1000 C when facing the Sun.
  2. The circuits should withstand extremely high vibrations. The vibrations during the launch of a satellite usually range around 10 times the gravitational acceleration.
  3. The ordinary electronic circuits use heat sinks which rely on thermal convection to carry excess heat generated in electronic components. As nanosatellites operate in a near vacuum, special techniques are needed for the thermal management.
  4. Radiation issues. This is less of an issue for nanosatellites and these satellites operate at low altitudes.

Therefore, development of a satellite demands not only unique design approaches but also test procedures to confirm performance prior to launch.

Impact of the project

Ravana-I marks the successful completion of the 1st sage of a long term project of the Aruthur C Clarke Institute for Modern Technology (ACCIMT), Sri Lanka. This project has been carried out in collaboration with the Kyushu Institute of Technology, Japan which has resulted in a direct technology transfer. Although technically advanced, design of nanosatellites provides a low cost path to acquire space technology. At present, the cost of a nanosatellite stands around US$ 50,000/= which is within the reach of a developing country. However, the benefits of designing a nanosatellites are many. Few of the potential benefits are listed below.

  • The level of advanced training received by the design team can be utilized to improve the quality of products developed in Sri Lanka which will have a direct impact on our local and export markets. For example, the technical know-how acquired in designing satellite circuitry to withstand extreme conditions can be used to produce robust products.
  • Products of a country capable of producing space qualified products has more acceptance in international markets.
  • Nanosatellites can be used to monitor activities such as deforestation.
  • Nanosatellites provide a reliable communication link that can be used for telemetry applications. For example, nanosatellites can be combined with ground based sensors to monitor and control floods.