The Anonymous Widower

Rolls-Royce Chief Warren East Spies Rebound For Air Travel

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on The Times.

It is a must-read article.

This is the first paragraph.

Warren East, the outgoing chief executive of Rolls-Royce, has sounded a bullish note on aviation’s recovery from Covid-19, reporting increased demand from the jet-engine maker’s airline customers and expressing his belief that China will gradually open up to international travel.

Certainly, with all the chaos at the Channel this weekend, people are starting to travel again.

Support For The Military

This is a paragraph in the article.

Tom Bell, head of Rolls-Royce Defence, said the company was in talks with the US and UK militaries about supplying “deployable” reactors for military bases.

I’m sure that a reactor would have advantages to a large diesel or gas-turbine generator to power a military base.

  • Military bases need a lot of power.
  • It would not need refuelling every day.
  • It could be connected to an electrolyser, to generate hydrogen for vehicles.
  • It would be a lot quieter.
  • I wonder, if it could be transported in a large transport aircraft.

But I feel, it might have other applications.

  • It could provide power support after a large earthquake or natural disaster.
  • It could provide power in remote or difficult locations.
  • If the only power station for a remote community had a catastrophic failure, a deployable reactor could be brought in.
  • It could provide power for a large construction site, which would help to decarbonise the construction.
  • Power would be zero-carbon at point of generation.

The reactors might even be rail-transportable, so they could be moved to where they are needed safely and quickly.

But I don’t think they would necessarily be the same size as the Rolls-Royce SMRs, which are 470 MW.

A Scalable Reactor

This is a paragraph in the article.

Rolls also has a contract with the UK Space Agency to develop a “micro reactor” for space vehicles and satellites, Bell added. “These are really exciting opportunities for us to not only perpetuate our business undersea, at sea, on land, in the air, but also to go to space,” he said. East noted the advantage of nuclear reactors in space: “You can’t have air-breathing engines on the moon.”


  1. East is Warren East, who is the outgoing Chief Executive of Rolls-Royce.
  2. Nuclear power sources have been used in space before, usually by using an isotope, that gives out heat, as it decays.
  3. How small is micro?
  4. The US deployed a 1.75 MW nuclear power plant in Antarctica under the Army Nuclear Power Program. That reactor also provided heating and hot water. It is worth reading the Wikipedia entry, especially the section about the MM-1 reactor.

It does seem that Rolls-Royce are designing a reactor that can be scaled in size, to cover a whole spectrum of applications.



July 24, 2022 Posted by | Energy, Transport/Travel | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Repowering Zero-Emission Buses As An Alternative

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on Digital Journal.

The article makes the argument for swapping out the diesel engine for a zero-emission powertrain.

I very much feel that this is a worthwhile idea, as do Ricardo.

I wrote about converting London’s New Routemasters to hydrogen in Could London’s New Routemaster Buses Be Converted To Hydrogen Power?.

July 24, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

The Channel Crossing Problem

My company provided the project management computer system; Artemis, that planned how both the tunnel and the rail link to London was built. So I heard numerous stories of inadequate infrastructure on both sides of the Channel.

I also for a time was a business partner of the man, who had been project manager on a previous attempt to build a Channel Tunnel, that was cancelled by Harold Wilson’s government in 1975, who had a lot of interesting input.

I have heard over the years of these inadequacies,

  • The Dartford Crossing wouldn’t be able to handle the traffic generated at busy times.
  • The Eurotunnel terminal in Folkestone wasn’t built large enough.
  • The port of Dover is too small.
  • The roads to the Port of Dover were inadequate.
  • The rail terminal at St. Pancras doesn’t have the capacity to run services to the places that are better served by train.

The government only has one major improvement in place, which is a new Thames Crossing, but that will only make matters worse, as more traffic will be tempted to cross the Channel to get to Europe.

It is my belief, that we need more innovative services to provide more capacity.

  • A German company called CargoBeamer, is developing a system, whereby unaccompanied freight trailers can be moved thousands of miles across Europe by rail. Their plans include services to Birmingham, Cardiff, Manchester and Scotland.
  • I would also run a CargoBeamer service from Calais to Holyhead to create a direct freight service between Ireland and Europe.
  • Ebbsfleet needs to be developed as a destination for the Elizabeth Line and an extra terminal for both daytime and sleeper trains to Europe.
  • High speed freight trains, based on existing 160 mph EMUs could be used.
  • Given the position of the new Thames Crossing on the Isle of Grain, perhaps a new ferry port could be built on the island to partially replace Dover.
  • Could some Eurotunnel services start from Watford Gap?

We have to be bold.

July 24, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , | 22 Comments