A SCOTTISH firm whose innovative braking technology cuts fuel consumption on buses and diesel trains has scooped the UK's most prestigious engineering award.

Edinburgh-based Artemis Intelligent Power were named the 2015 winners of the MacRobert Award, considered the Oscars of the Engineering industry, at a ceremony in London last night [Thu]. Previous recipients of the award, created in 1969 to recognise innovation in engineering, include the CT Scan, the catalytic converter, the harrier jump jet and light emitting polymer displays, which are now used extensively in televisions and smart phones.

The £50,000 prize and gold medal were presented to the Artemis team by the Duke of Edinburgh, who is the Senior Fellow of the UK's Royal Academy of Engineering.

Artemis was established in 1994 as a privately owned spin-out from Edinburgh University, and acquired by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries in 2010.

The judges praised Artemis for creating a "technical advance of global importance".

Their trademarked Digital Displacement system has been used to create a regenerative braking technology that cut fuel consumption by up to 27 per cent in trials with Lothian Buses and Alexander Dennis, offering potentially huge savings for operators and significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.

It has also been retrofitted to diesel commuter trains where it delivered 10 per cent fuel savings.

The technology offers a breakthrough for low-carbon public transport because it it is considerably cheaper than existing hybrid models, paying for itself within two years and removing the reliance on taxpayer subsidies.

It is also being used to significantly improve offshore wind turbine efficiency.

Traditionally, when something goes wrong, the whole transmission system needs replacing at considerable cost and inconvenience. For offshore turbines, this process can take months with high costs in lost production and in the mobilisation of heavy lifting vessels.

By contrast, the Digital Displacement system is able to continue to work even if something goes wrong, as it automatically identifies the faulty module and divides its work between the remaining functional ones. When maintenance teams arrive, the individual parts can usually be replaced quickly and without the need for heavy cranes.

Dr Gordon Masterton, a judging panel member and former Vice President of Jacobs Engineering, said: "The [Artemis] team has done for hydraulic engines what James Watt did for steam engines; they have totally transformed the efficiency and range of potential applications.

"The largest floating wind turbine in the world is to be powered with a Digital Displacement transmission, and I strongly believe there are many other exciting applications for this stunning engineering breakthrough."

Dame Sue Ion, chair of the MacRobert Award judging panel, added: “This is not simply evolutionary improvement but a complete step change, and one that took years of commitment to achieve."