Durham University: Supporting business through astronomy


Our astronomers are applying their skills to other fields – like improving x-ray technology and better washing powders!

Durham’s astronomers and cosmologists are increasingly sharing their knowledge and expertise to support business.

From washing powder to x-ray machines, our experts are helping to improve products for customers and enhance research and development in industry.

Galactic winds and washing powder

The next time your sheets are blowing on the line the washing powder they’ve been cleaned with might very well have been developed using galactic winds!

We created a computer programme to model the properties of laundry powder during the manufacturing process.

Using the same algorithms used to make predictions about galaxy formation, we partnered with Procter & Gamble (P&G) to develop a code which can link directly to the company’s pilot plant data and automatically create models that predict both product quality and process performance.

This means P&G can now model the feasibility of new washing powders in days instead of weeks, reducing the time it takes to get these products to shops.

Improving x-ray technology

We’ve also worked with County Durham firm Ibex Innovations Ltd on data analysis of x-rays to help them improve the quality of images used in medical diagnoses.

Using the COSMA supercomputer normally used to simulate the universe, our researchers developed a computer programme that learnt to automatically differentiate between soft tissue and bone in x-rays.

This work could lead to better diagnosis of bone health conditions like osteoporosis and reduce the impact these illnesses have on patients.

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