The Anonymous Widower

Dereliction On Teesside – 28th October 2020

The Tees Valley Line between Middlesbrough and Redcar is lined with derelict steel works.

I don’t think there’s an area of such industrial dereliction, in the UK.

October 31, 2020 Posted by | Business, World | , , | Leave a comment

Frankfurt Starts Building Fuel Station For World’s Biggest Zero-Emissions Train Fleet

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

These are the two opening paragraphs.

German regional transport group RMV began construction on Monday of a filling station near Frankfurt that will use hydrogen generated as a by-product of chemicals manufacturing to fuel the world’s largest fleet of zero-emissions passenger trains.

France’s Alstom will deliver 27 hydrogen-powered fuel cell trains to the Infraserv Hoechst industrial park in the Rhine-Main region in mid-2022. Starting regular local services by that winter, the fleet will replace diesel engines.

All the investment will be partly funded by fares.

Chlorine Manufacture

I find it interesting, that the article also states that the hydrogen comes as a by-product of chlorine manufacture. When I worked in a ICI’s electrolysis plant around 1970, their plant used the Castner-Kellner process to produce both gases.

The process uses a lot of mercury and Wikipedia says this about the future of the process.

The mercury cell process continues in use to this day. Current-day mercury cell plant operations are criticized for environmental release of mercury  leading in some cases to severe mercury poisoning as occurred in Japan Minamata_disease. Due to these concerns, mercury cell plants are being phased out, and a sustained effort is being made to reduce mercury emissions from existing plants.

Are INEOS, who now own the Runcorn plant, and the Germans still using the Castner-Kellner process?

I remember two stories about the theft of mercury from the Runcorn plant.

Mercury was and probably still is very valuable,  and it was always being stolen. So ICI put a radioactive trace in the mercury, which didn’t affect the process. The result was that all legitimate metal dealers on Merseyside bough Geiger counters to check any mercury before they bought it.

One guy thought he had found the ideal way to steal mercury, so he filled his bike frame with the metal and wheeled it to the gate. Whilst he clocked out, he propped the bike against the gate-house. Unfortunately, it fell over and because of the weight of the mercury, he was unable to pick it up.

My work in the plant, involved devising a portable instrument that would detect mercury in air and a colleague’s project was to develop a way of detecting mercury in urine samples from the plant operatives.

Those projects say a lot, about why we should be careful around any process involving mercury.

 

 

October 26, 2020 Posted by | Hydrogen, Transport, World | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Energy Scavenging Nanogenerator Finds Power All Around Us

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

These are the opening two paragraphs.

Imagine a mobile phone charger that doesn’t need a wireless or mains power source. Or a pacemaker with inbuilt organic energy sources within the human body.

Australian researchers led by Flinders University are picking up the challenge of “scavenging” invisible power from low-frequency vibrations in the surrounding environment, including wind, air or even contact-separation energy (static electricity).

I’ve known people with pacemakers, including someone with a nuclear-powered one. But surely this would be better, as the power source would be everlasting.

I don’t think I know anyone with one now! Are they less common?

Conclusion

If this can be commercialised, it is a very interesting development.

 

October 21, 2020 Posted by | Energy, Health, World | | Leave a comment

Can We Innovate Our Way Out Of Our Troubles?

One Of London’s biggest problems at the moment is the bridges across the Thames.

This article on the BBC is entitled London’s Bridges ‘Are The Capital’s Embarrassment’  and is typical of many.

Hammersmith Bridge is causing particular trouble and has been closed to all traffic for some time.

But then I saw this innovative solution to the Hammersmith Bridge problem.

Note.

  1. Hammersmith Bridge is still closed.
  2. A floating bridge has been added alongside for pedestrians and cyclists.
  3. The floating bridge uses parts of the old Blackfriars pier.
  4. There is an innovative floating pontoon, which is activated by the current, that is used in the middle of the river to transfer passengers across.
  5. New Civil Engineer thinks, the temporary bridge could become a tourist attraction.

The design made me smile.

October 16, 2020 Posted by | Design, Transport, World | , , , | Leave a comment

Why Is Manchester The Odd City Out?

I find the different reactions of the large Northern cities interesting.

I have seen no comment and moaning from Leeds, Newcastle and Sheffield, and Liverpool and the rest of Lancashire seems to have accepted their Tier 3. fate.

Only Manchester seems to have a serious objection.

I know Liverpool well, as I went to Liverpool University in the 1960s, met my late wife there and we lived together in the city for a couple of years.

I still visit the City regularly, as I like the city’s weather and outlook and do business with my old University.

I have visited Manchester many times, often for football (I support Ipswich, despite being a Londoner!) and I find the city very different to Liverpool.

But I don’t seem to warm to Manchester, as I do to Liverpool and the other large cities of the North.

Or is it Manchester doesn’t warm to me?

Andy Burnham is not a Mancunian and could it be, that his hard stand against the Government, is driven by wanting to be more Mancunian, than the Mancunians.

Manchester puzzles me, but it does seem to be out of step with the rest of the North.

October 16, 2020 Posted by | Health, World | , , , , , | 5 Comments

Covid Humour

I have yet to hear any good humour about the covids.

Although an incident this morning at my local station was thought funny by those present at the time.

  • The large lifts at the station are now limited to six passengers at a time.
  • A couple of other passengers and myself, were waiting to descend, when an enormously pregnant lady appeared at the lift doors.
  • She smiled and asked! “Have you got room for another two?”
  • A guy in the lift, pointed to everyone and did a quick count on his fingers.
  • He then said. ‘Not if you’re expecting triplets, Madam!”

We were all laughing and smiling, as we walked to the trains.

October 7, 2020 Posted by | Health, Transport, World | , | Leave a comment

Ulstein Designs Hydrogen Powered Wind Turbine Installation Vessel

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on 4c Offshore.

This is the introductory paragraphs.

Ulstein has revealed its second hydrogen hybrid design for the offshore wind industry, the ULSTEIN J102 zero emission wind turbine installation vessel (WTIV). The shipbuilders claim the vessel can operate 75% of the time in zero emission mode. Using readily available technology, the additional cost is limited to less than 5% of the total CAPEX.

Most new jack-up designs are featuring a battery hybrid system in addition to diesel gen sets, with a future option for hydrogen powered fuel cell system. Ulstein stated that the down side of a high-power battery energy storage system (BESS) is its heavy weight and cost.

The article shows how hydrogen could be the power source for large specialist equipment.

Ulstein are a Norwegian company.

October 6, 2020 Posted by | Design, World | , , | 2 Comments

Trump and Biden – First Encounter

I once saw John Major operate in a ninety minute speech to the Cambridge Chief Executives Club, who were a radical bunch and probably not very attuned to the Tory Party.

He gave a masterful performance, that was both serious and entertaining, as would many top flight politicians, from all round the world.

Neither Trump nor Biden hardly made a serious point and they certainly weren’t entertaining. It was almost like a boxing match, where the referee won!

September 30, 2020 Posted by | World | , , , , | Leave a comment

US Man Faces Jail In Thailand Over Hotel Review

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

I suggest that before you visit Thailand, you read the article.

After reading, the article, I moved Thailand onto my never visit list, alongside Iran and North Korea.

How can a country have such a stupid legal system?

It’s all rather strange really, as I’ve had nothing but kindness and courtesy from all the Thais I have met.

September 29, 2020 Posted by | World | , , , | 1 Comment

Memories Of Althorpe

On The way to Cleethorpes, I passed through Althorpe station.

This Google Map shows the area.

Note.

  1. The River Trent flowing South to North.
  2. Keadby power station at the top of the map.
  3. Althorpe station close to the bridge over the river.
  4. The village of Althorpe is at the South of the map by the river.

C and myself had friends, who farmed much of the land in the curve of river, South of the railway.

These are a few tales, some might enjoy.

Althorpe And Princess Diana’s Grave

I was once told, that regularly tourists would appear looking for the last resting place of Princess Diana.

Sat-navs may be a wonderful gadget for some, but they do lead those with a certain lack of common sense on wild goose chases.

C And The Tug-Boats

C once spent a night in their farmhouse, which was by the River Trent.

She didn’t sleep well, as tug-boats pulling barges were constantly going past and sounding their sirens. The river was actually above the house, due to the embankments to stop flooding.

Princess Anne And The Centrefold

Our friends’ daughter was a very good rider in eventing and used to supplement her variable income in the sport with modelling. At one point, I used her for some promotional shots for one of my companies.

Some years ago, she was competing at an event in Yorkshire. Coincidentally, this was just after she had appeared as the centrefold in a well-known men’s magazine.

The event was a bit of a nightmare for her, as paparazzi were following her with open copies of the magazine.

At one point, it all got a bit much, so she decided to sneak back to the calm of her horsebox, by a circuitous route.

As she walked back, she encountered Princess Anne, who was also competing and using the same route to avoid the paparazzi.

They talked about the pressures of the paparazzi, who were being a nuisance, with the Princess saying, she approved of my friends’ daughter’s modelling and hoped it continued, as it had taken the pressure off herself.

Flixborough

My friends’ farm was not far from Flixborough, which is infamous for the Flixborough Disaster in 1974, when a chemical plant exploded and killed 28 people and seriously injured a further 36.

My friends also lost several thousand pigs because of the explosion.

Wikipedia says this about the cause of the explosion.

The disaster involved (and may well have been caused by) a hasty modification. There was no on-site senior manager with mechanical engineering expertise (virtually all the plant management had chemical engineering qualifications); mechanical engineering issues with the modification were overlooked by the managers who approved it, nor was the severity of the potential consequences of its failure appreciated.

At the time, I had just left ICI and I was still in contact with my former colleagues.

One told me, that he had met a Senior ICI Engineer, who had been involved with the enquiry into the disaster.

The plant had been a copy of a Dutch plant, that had been built to metric units, which were converted to Imperial to build the Flixborough plant.

As ICI had used metric units since the mid-1950s, there was considerable alarm in the mind of the Senior Engineer, that when the hasty modification was made, someone got mixed up.

Would the Flixborough disaster have happened, if the plant had been built as a copy of the Dutch plant using metric units?

 

September 26, 2020 Posted by | Design, Sport, Transport, World | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment