The Anonymous Widower

Are Disposable Nappies A Wasted Resource?

I stated my views on disposable nappies in this post called Disposable Nappies, where this was the first sentence.

From a scientifically green point of view, in many places I’m against using disposable nappies, as they clog sewers, end up in landfill and I’ve even seen them in litter bins in parks. We used real nappies for all our three children in the seventies, washing them ourselves in a machine for the first and then using a nappy service for the last two.

But dirty nappies contain a lot of the ingredients, that can be used to make hydrocarbons.

This article from the Sunday Times in 2018 is entitled Syngas, The New Jet Fuel — Stinky Nappies And Coffee Cups.

These are the first two paragraphs of The Times article.

With their packed cabins and recycled air, long-haul passenger jets are the last place where you would want to encounter the whiff of a dirty nappy.

However, old nappies are to be used — along with other non-recyclable waste such as meal packaging and takeaway coffee cups — to power British Airways planes.

Syngas is a mixture of hydrogen, carbon monoxide and some carbon dioxide. Some countries without access to petroleum or diesel created syngas and then used the Fischer–Tropsch process to create the fuels they needed. The process doesn’t have a good reputation as the two main countries to use the process were Germany under the Nazis and South Africa during apartheid.

Why is the use of this process being revived to produce aviation biofuel or sustainable aviation fuel for British Airways?

According to Wikipedia, it can save between 20 and 98 % of carbon emissions compared to conventional jet fuel.

The same process can also make biodiesel for buses, trains and trucks

It’s certainly an area, where a lot of research is going on! Just type “syngas nappies” or “syngas diapers” into Google and you’ll get a lot of serious hits.

By my front door I have a well-designed blue bin.

This is for my food waste bin, which is collected once a week.

This page on the Hackney web site is entitled Food Waste Recycling, and this is said about where the food waste goes.

Food waste from households in Hackney is sent to an anaerobic digestion facility in south east England, where it’s turned into renewable energy to power homes and biofertiliser to be spread on local farmland to grow crops.

A similar bin of an appropriate size could be used for nappies.

The nappies would go to an appropriate recycling site, instead of down the toilet or into landfill.

 

 

July 4, 2021 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Through Settle And Carlisle Service Under Consideration

The title of this post, is the same as that of an article in the June 2021 Edition of Modern Railways.

This is the first paragraph.

Plans for a new Leeds to Glasgow through service via the Settle and Carlisle line are being developed, with CrossCountry and the Department for Transport starting to look at the possible scheme.

It sounds like a sensible idea to me.

The article also suggests the following.

  • CrossCountry is a possible operator.
  • CrossCountry are keen to improve services between Leeds and Glasgow
  • The trains could be InterCity 125s, freed up, by a the arrival of Class 221 trains from Avanti West Coast, when they receive their new Class 805 trains.
  • Maintenance of the trains wouldn’t be a problem, as this could be done at Neville Hill in Leeds or Craigentinny in Edinburgh.
  • Services could start in December 2023.

I have a few thoughts of my own!

The Route

The route between Leeds and Carlisle is obvious, but there are two routes between Carlisle and Glasgow.

Trains would probably choose a route and call at stations to maximise passenger numbers.

These stations are on the various routes.

  • Settle and Carlisle – Shipley, Bingley, Keighley, Skipton, Gargrave, Hellifield, Long Preston, Settle, Horton in Ribblesdale, Ribblehead, Dent, Garsdale, Kirkby Stephen, Appleby, Langwathby, Lazonby & Kirkoswald and Armathwaite
  • Glasgow South Western – Dunlop, Stewarton, Kilmaurs, Kilmarnock, Auchinleck, New Cumnock, Kirkconnel, Sanquhar, Dumfries, Annan and Gretna Green
  • West Coast Main – Motherwell, Carstairs and Lockerbie

There are certainly a lot of possibilities.

 Upgrading The InterCity 125 Trains

CrossCountry appear to have enough InterCity 125 trains to muster five in a two Class 43  locomotives and seven Mark 3 coach formation.

They may not be fully in-line with the latest regulations and there may be a need for a certain degree of refurbishment.

These pictures show some details of a refurbished Great Western Railway Castle, which has been fitted with sliding doors.

Will The InterCity 125 Trains Be Shortened?

Scotrail’s Inter7City trains and Great Western Railway’s Castle trains have all been shortened to four or five coaches.

This picture shows a pair of Castles.

Journey Times, Timetable And Frequency

The current journey time between Leeds and Glasgow Central stations via the East Coast Main Line is four hours and eight minutes with nine stops.

The Modern Railways article says this about the current service.

The new service would be targeted at business and leisure travellers, with through journey times competitive with road and faster than the current direct CrossCountry Leeds to Glasgow services via the East Coast main line.

I would expect that CrossCountry are looking for a time of around four hours including the turn round.

  • Stops could be removed to achieve the timing.
  • The trains could run at 125 mph on the West Coast Main Line.

This could enable a train to have the following diagram.

  • 0800 – Depart Leeds
  • 1200 – Depart Glasgow Central
  • 1600 – Depart Leeds
  • 2000 – Depart Glasgow Central
  • Before 2400 – Arrive Leeds

Note.

  1. A second train could start in Glasgow and perform the mirrored timetable.
  2. Timings would probably be ideal for train catering.
  3. Trains would leave both termini at 0800, 1200, 1600 and 2000.
  4. The timetable would need just two trains.

I also think, if a second pair of trains were to be worked into the timetable, there could be one train every two hours on the route, if the demand was there.

I certainly believe there could be a timetable, that would meet the objectives of attracting business and leisure passengers away from the roads.

Tourism And Leisure Potential

The Settle and Carlisle Line is known as one of the most scenic railway lines in England, if not the whole of the UK.

There are important tourist sites all along the route between Leeds and Glasgow

Many of the stations are used by walkers and others interested in country pursuits.

I believe that it is a route that needs a quality rail service.

Travel Between London and Towns Along The Settle And Carlisle Line

In Thoughts On Digital Signalling On The East Coast Main Line, I said this.

I think it is highly likely that in the future, there will be at least one train per hour (tph) between London Kings Cross and Leeds, that does the trip in two hours.

It may seem fast compared to today, but I do believe it is possible.

With a timely connection at Leeds station, will this encourage passengers to places along the Settle and Carlisle line to use the train?

What About the Carbon Emissions?

The one problem with using InterCity 125 trains on this route, is that they are diesel-powered, using a pair of Class 43 locomotives.

But then there are over a hundred of these diesel-electric locomotives in service, nearly all of which are now powered by modern MTU diesel engines, which were fitted in the first decade of this century.

Consider.

  • The locomotives and the coaches they haul have an iconic status.
  • Great Western Railway and Scotrail have recently developed shorter versions of the trains for important routes.
  • There are over a hundred of the locomotives in service.
  • Companies like ULEMCo are developing technology to create diesel-powered vehicles that can run on diesel or hydrogen.
  • There is plenty of space in the back of the locomotives for extra equipment.
  • MTU have a very large number of diesel engines in service. It must be in the company’s interest to find an easy way to cut carbon emissions.
  • I believe that the modern MTU diesel engines could run on biodiesel to reduce their carbon footprint.

And we shouldn’t forget JCB’s technology, which I wrote about in JCB Finds Cheap Way To Run Digger Using Hydrogen.

If they could develop a 2 MW hydrogen engine, it could be a shoe-in.

I believe that for these and other reasons, a solution will be found to reduce the carbon emissions of these locomotives to acceptable levels.

Conclusion

In this quick look, it appears to me that a Glasgow and Leeds service using InterCity 125 trains could be a very good idea.

May 21, 2021 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Shell Withdraws From Waste To Jet Fuel Plant Project

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

Oil giant Shell has withdrawn from the joint development agreement for a proposed facility for the conversion of waste into aviation fuel.

It would appear that the Altalto project will continue and has no likelihood of folding in the near future.

I like the idea behind Altalto, which will take household and industrial waste and turn it into sustainable aviation fuel and biodiesel.

But I also like Shell’s Blue Hydrogen Process, which takes methane and effectively removes the carbon to create carbon-neutral hydrogen.

Conclusion

I feel the world is a big enough place for both technologies.

January 20, 2021 Posted by | Hydrogen, Transport, World | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Green Jet Fuel Plant Developers’ Ioy As World Economic Forum Backs Method As Best Aviation Solution

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

This is the first paragraph.

The World Economic Forum has backed sustainable aviation fuel as the most promising decarbonation policy for aviation, delighting the developers of a £350 million refinery on the Humber.

I bet Velocys are delighted.

I also think, that, the biodiesel, that they can produce, is a short term solution to the decarbonisation of rail freight and the heaviest vehicles powered by diesel.

It’s so much better than throwing the rubbish into landfill.

November 17, 2020 Posted by | Energy, Finance, Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment

Net Zero: Alternatives To Hydrogen

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

This is the introductory sub-title.

An alternative view for how the UK can achieve net zero for housing and other users, without the wholesale use of hydrogen.

I agree with a lot of what the author says.

  • Better insulated houses with heat pumps, battery and thermal storage, and renewable energy.
  • The production of green hydrogen for use as a chemical feedstock.
  • Biofuels could be promising for heavy haulage, ships and trains.

I do think though, that he ignores, what I think will be a big market for hydrogen – the powering of vehicles like buses, trucks and freight trains in urban areas.

In fact, I believe that the hauling of freight trains, is a classic use for a battery electric locomotive, with a hydrogen-powered range extender.

Read the article!

 

August 17, 2020 Posted by | Energy, Hydrogen, Transport | , | 2 Comments

Velocys Delivers 4 FT Reactors To Red Rock Biofuels In Oregon

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

Velocys plc has completed manufacturing and delivery of four of its Fischer-Tropsch reactors to Red Rock Biofuels. Red Rock Biofuels plans to convert 136,000 tons of waste woody biomass into more than 15 MMgy of renewable diesel, sustainable aviation fuel and naphtha fuels in Lakeview, Oregon.

It would appear that MMgy is million million (billion) gallons per year, which I assume are US gallons. Why can’t they use litres, tonnes or Olympic swimming pools, like everybody else?

It appears 15 billion US gallons per year is 56.8 million Olympic swimming pools per year!

This page on US Energy Information, which is entitled Diesel Fuel Explained, says this.

In 2019, distillate fuel (essentially diesel fuel) consumption by the U.S. transportation sector was about 47.2 billion gallons (1.1 billion barrels). This amount accounted for 15% of total U.S. petroleum consumption and, on an energy content basis, for about 23% of total energy consumption by the transportation sector.

If I haven’t got my millions and billions mixed up, that is an awful lot of diesel.

Especially, to be produced from woody biomass from reactors designed and built by a company spun out of Oxford University.

August 4, 2020 Posted by | Energy | , , | Leave a comment

Beeching Reversal – Transforming The Newquay Line

This is one of the Beeching Reversal projects that the Government and Network Rail are proposing to reverse some of the Beeching cuts.

 

This map clipped from Wikipedia shows the Newquay or Atlantic Coast Line.

When I first saw this map, my initial thought, was that the various loops and other sections of disused track could and/or might be added to the route.

Searching the Internet, I can’t find much information except from this article on Cornwall Live, which is entitled Cornish Railway lines Axed In Beeching Cuts Could Be Restored, where this is said.

Other projects focused on Cornwall bidding for the funding to develop business cases include one to transform the Newquay to Par railway line as well as a “Mid-Cornwall Metro” proposal.

Nothing more about the Atlantic Coast Line, is said in the article.

This Google Map shows where the Atlantic Coast Line joins the Cornish Main Line at Par.

Note.

  1. The Atlantic Coast Line goes off to the North West.
  2. Par station is shown towards the North-Western corner on the Cornish Main Line.
  3. The junction is designed, so that china clay trains can access the branch.

In the summer, Newquay station is also served by long-distance trains from London and Scotland.

This Google Map shows Newquay station in the heart of the town.

It could probably be called a Beach station, as the sea is just off the map.

Partly, because I lived in the town, from 1963 onwards, I can remember Felixstowe Beach station! Yarmouth Beach station has gone too, but how many others are left?

These are the only ones, I can think of with Beach in their name!

Perhaps, if Felixstowe ever gets the promised tram-train, that I wrote about in  Could There Be A Tram-Train Between Ipswich And Felixstowe?, one of the or more of the stops on the way to the Port of Felixstowe will be Felixstowe Beach.

Frequency Improvement

The current frequency on the Atlantic Coast Line is one train every two hours, which is not a family-friendly frequency, as if any child starts playing silly games, you have a two-hour wait for the next train.

I would suspect that an hourly service would create a large increase in ridership on the line.

As the journey takes fifty-one minutes between Par and Newquay, is the frequency defined by the need for one train to work the line, by shuttling from end-to-end?

So is one of the needs, some better track layouts, so that trains can pass and be parked at Par, whilst the crew has a refreshment break?

I also suspect, that if one of Network Rail’s track wizards got the layout spot on, which they seem to do, that this would make things easier for any china clay trains still passing through the area.

Could Newquay Be Used As An Extra Terminal?

I wonder how many people drive to Newquay, if they live in East Cornwall or Devon?

I have just looked at train times today from Plymouth to Newquay.

To be fair to Great Western Railway (GWR), I would only have a few minutes to wait at Par station, but there is only one train every two hours, due to the limitations on the Atlantic Coast Line.

With an improved higher-capacity track, GWR could call up the heavy brigade.

As full-length InterCity125s have served Newquay station for decades, four-car Castles like these, should manage the trip with ease.

Surely, once the Atlantic Coast Line can handle at least hourly trains, that would enable separate one train per two hour schedules.

  • Newquay and Par
  • Newquay and either Plymouth or Exeter.

This would improve service frequencies on both the Cornish Main Line and the Atlantic Coast Line and enable passengers to go between Exeter, Plymouth and Truro, and Newquay without changing trains.

Hopefully, the Cornish Main Line trains would serve appropriate refreshments at the correct times of the day.

Would Newquay Station Need A Second Platform?

Newquay station used to have more than one platform, but all the others were removed in British Rail’s ruthless quest to save money in the 1960s and 1970s.

I have never been to Newquay station, so I don’t know whether there is space to reinstate another platform.

However, I did find this video, which appears to be some very professional plans for Newquay station.

This video dates from 2008.

The video definitely says, that Newquay station needs an extra platform or two.

  • Two platforms would allow two trains to share the station.
  • A third platform would allow steam trains to visit.

The video also answers the age old question about why in many towns and cities, the railway station is often the best building, except for the church and the town or city hall.

Conclusion

It does appear to me, that giving the Atlantic Coast Line a modern track layout, will unlock a lot of possibilities that can be tried on the branch, to the benefit of all stakeholders.

 

 

July 24, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 8 Comments