The Anonymous Widower

Concretene Cements Its Future With £8m Funding

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

This is a precis. which explains what Concretene have done.

Concretene combines graphene with concrete to form a “stronger, more sustainable and more cost-effective alternative” to the world’s most-used building material.

The eight million funding is mainly to be used for more tests.

Is Concrete The New Wonder Material?

I once lived in a concrete apartment and although it is now fifty years old, it still looks the same, as it did the day it was built.

Cromwell Tower

Cromwell Tower in The Barbican may have been built to a high specification, but we don’t hear cancer, cladding, damp, fire or mould problems about the City of London’s flagship housing estate.

In the last few years, concrete has been able to be 3D-printed, so it can now be produced in different shapes.

All these wall and roof panels on the Elizabeth Line were made by 3D-printing of concrete.

The technique also seems to be being used on High Speed Two.

These innovative uses of concrete have led to research into the manufacture and use of concrete.

These posts are must-reads.

  1. Carbon-Neutral Concrete Prototype Wins €100k Architecture Prize For UK Scientists
  2. UK Cleantech Consortium Awarded Funding For Energy Storage Technology Integrated With Floating Wind
  3. New HS2 Pilot Project Swaps Steel For Retired Wind Turbine Blades To Reinforce Concrete
  4. Earth Friendly Concrete
  5. HS2 Utilising UK-First Pioneering 3D Concrete Printing On Project
  6. Carbon Capture From Cement Manufacturing Nears Market Readiness
  7. Mineral Carbonation International Win COP26 Clean Energy Pitch Battle

The number of these posts show how much research is going into cutting the massive amount of carbon dioxide emitted by the concrete industry.

I also feel that some could work together.

Earth Friendly Concrete is a replacement for normal concrete, so perhaps it could be enhanced with graphene, to create an Earth Friendly Concretene.

 

 

December 29, 2022 Posted by | Design, World | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Carbon-Neutral Concrete Prototype Wins €100k Architecture Prize For UK Scientists

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on the Architect’s Journal.

Under a picture of two white-coated scientists with their protective boots on concrete samples, the story and their invention is outlined.

A pair of PhD students at Imperial College London have won a global architecture prize for devising a groundbreaking method of creating carbon-neutral concrete

Material scientists Sam Draper and Barney Shanks landed the €100,000 2022 Obel Award with their ‘simple way’ to capture carbon from industrial production processes and create an end product that can eliminate the CO₂ footprint of concrete.

The prototype technology, dubbed Seratech, takes industrial CO₂ emissions directly from flues and produces a carbon-negative cement replacement material (silica). According to the scientists, when this is used in combination with Portland cement, the carbon capture associated with producing the silica means the concrete products can be zero carbon.

One of the products, we will need in the world is concrete and if we can make it in a carbon-neutral manner, then that will surely reduce worldwide carbon emissions.

The Technology Explained

This page on the Seratech website is entitled Our Technology.

It gives this description of the technology.

Seratech has developed a process that consumes olivine and waste CO₂ from flue gases and produces two products which both have significant value in construction.

Silica is produced which can be used as a supplementary cementitious material (SCM) in concrete meaning the amount of Portland cement in the concrete can be reduced by up to 40%. As the silica comes from a process that captures CO₂ it is “carbon negative” and the concrete can become carbon neutral.

Magnesium carbonate is produced that can be used to make a range of zero carbon construction materials and consumer products, including alternatives to building blocks and plasterboard.

The aim is for humanity to be able to continue building robust cities and infrastructure, but without the climate cost of traditional cement mixes and with the Seratech technology this goal is achievable!

Note that olivine in Europe is generally mined in Norway.

Replacement Of Steel By Concrete

Could we also replace steel in some applications with concrete?

In UK Cleantech Consortium Awarded Funding For Energy Storage Technology Integrated With Floating Wind, I talked about some of ground-breaking methods used by a company called RCAM Technologies to create infrastructure using 3D printing of concrete.

If Imperial’s concrete, which is called Seratech can be 3D printed, I can see lots of applications for the technology.

So you could kill two sources of large carbon emissions with one technology.

Conclusion

I have said on this blog before, that we will have to keep or even build more gas-fired power stations, as they can be an efficient source of pure carbon dioxide, that will be needed as a feedstock to create an increasing number of agricultural and building products.

October 10, 2022 Posted by | World | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Accelerating The Delivery Of Offshore Wind Farms

It is one of Kwasi Kwarteng’s ambitions to accelerate the delivery of offshore wind farms.

In The Growth Plan 2022, these groups of wind farms are mentioned.

  • Remaining Round 3 Projects
  • Round 4 Projects
  • Extension Projects
  • Scotwind Projects
  • INTOG Projects
  • Floating Wind Commercialisation Projects
  • Celtic Sea Projects

My thinking in this post, will probably apply to all of these groups.

These are my thoughts.

Accelerating Delivery Of A Wind Farm

This will have these positive effects.

  • Electricity will be delivered earlier.
  • Customers will have a more secure supply of electricity.
  • The wind farm owner will start to be paid for their electricity.
  • The Crown Estate will start to be paid for their leases. Although, these might start at signing.
  • National Grid will be paid for the transmission of the electricity.
  • An energy storage company could be paid for storing surplus electricity.
  • Construction teams and engineers can move on to the next project.
  • Expensive construction hardware like ship-mounted cranes will no longer be needed.
  • I also suspect that the government will raise some taxes from the various companies involved.

It looks like it’ll be winners all round.

How Will Delivery Be Accelerated?

These are some thoughts.

Overall Project Time

In How Long Does It Take To Build An Offshore Wind Farm?, I came to these conclusions.

  • It will take six years or less from planning consent to commissioning.
  • It will take two years or less from the start of construction to commissioning.

I suspect that as we have been building offshore wind farms for some years, that it will be very difficult to reduce these times significantly.

But as some wind farms take quite a few years to progress from the initial proposal to planning consent, I suspect that improvements to the planning process may speed up the overall construction time of a wind farm.

Project And Resource Management

Good project and resource management will always help.

Better Design And Construction Methods

I always remember in the early days of North Sea Oil, being told by a very experienced project manager that construction of production platforms was accelerated by the availability of larger and more powerful cranes.

Are we approaching the design of the ultimate wind farm? I doubt it, as in the last few months, I’ve seen two very radical new designs.

In Hexicon Wins UK’s First Ever CfD Auction For Floating Offshore Wind, I show this image of one of their TwinHub turbine installations being towed into place.

The TwinHub home page has a title of The First Floating Offshore Wind Project in The Celtic Sea.

This is the description on the page.

The TwinHub offshore wind demonstration project intends to prove how Hexicon’s innovative design with two turbines on one floating foundation can further reduce the Levelized Cost of Energy (also referred to as LCoE) before large scale commercialisation. The TwinHub project is a stepping stone to help kick-start floating wind in the Celtic Sea, an area identified as a hotspot for floating wind by the UK Government. It will pave the path for larger and larger projects to help support The Crown Estates’ ambitious target of 4GW of floating wind in the Celtic Sea.

Scroll the page down and there is a fascinating short video of a pair of wind turbines in operation.

  • It appears that when there is no wind, it automatically goes into a safe parked mode.
  • As the wind rises, one turbine starts up.
  • The second turbine starts up and the float turns so they face the wind.

It appears to be a classic example of disruptive innovation.

I have a feeling that this type of installation might have generation, assembly and cost advantages over a single turbine mounted on a single float.

RCAM Technologies are also creating interesting designs for mounting turbines and energy storage using 3D-printed concrete.

What Ts The UK Government Doing To Accelerate Projects?

This article on offshoreWIND.biz, was published in late September 2022 and is entitled BREAKING: UK Puts Massive Amount Of New Offshore Wind Capacity On Fast Track and this is the first paragraph.

The UK will speed up planning and development consent processes for projects from the recently completed, currently ongoing, and upcoming (floating) offshore wind leasing rounds to bring new energy capacity online faster and facilitate economic growth and job creation.

The article is based on what Kwasi Kwateng said on the 23rd of September about speeding up projects in the 2022 Growth Plan.

A Quick Summary Of Our Wind Energy

The article has this paragraph, which summarises our wind energy.

For the UK, which currently has around 14 GW of offshore wind capacity in operation and 8 GW under construction, the projects from the listed auction rounds could bring well beyond the targeted capacity for 2030, which was recently raised to 50 GW.

I can see the target being raised again to at least 60 GW.

 

September 30, 2022 Posted by | Design, Energy | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

UK Cleantech Consortium Awarded Funding For Energy Storage Technology Integrated With Floating Wind

The title of this post, is the same as that of this page on the UK Government’s Catapult Offshore Renewable Energy Web Site.

This is the introductory paragraph.

STORE, a UK-based cleantech consortium led by RCAM Technologies Limited, has been awarded £150,000 of funding to develop an advanced subsea energy storage technology manufactured using 3D printed concrete that could help offshore wind farms produce a steady and predictable energy output to the electricity grid.

This paragraph talks of the concept of Marine Pumped Hydro.

STORE is assessing the feasibility of integrating Marine Pumped Hydro (MPH) technology, which stores energy using hollow concrete spheres fitted with a hydraulic turbine and pump, with floating offshore wind plants in UK waters. In addition, the project advances the design of MPH systems and plans a prototype demonstration in the UK.

Note.

  1. The hollow concrete spheres are 3D-printed in concrete using the technology of RCAM Technologies.
  2. Spheres are structurally very strong.
  3. 3D printing of concrete is now mainstream technology and has been extensively used on the Elizabeth Line as I wrote about in The Story Behind The Concrete Panels On The Elizabeth Line.
  4. There is a visualisation on the Catapult web page, which shows several floating turbines, a floating sub station and several concrete hemispheres sitting on the seabed.
  5. The energy storage medium is sea water and air, which must be environmentally-friendly.

The technology is described in detail on this page of the STORE consortium web site.

  • The spheres are fifteen metres across.
  • The spheres can be installed at depths between 150 and 2000 metres.
  • The system has a round-trip efficiency is up to 70%, which is similar to pumped storage hydro.
  • The design life is 50 to 80 years.

I think that this system has possibilities.

This last paragraph in the Catapult web page gives a look into the future.

As well as improving the reliability and predictability of energy to the electricity grid, the project will support the cross sector transfer of UK offshore expertise and port infrastructure for use in renewable energy and create high-value UK jobs in engineering, construction, and operations and maintenance. This energy storage solution is ideally suited to coupling with floating wind plants and for powering offshore oil and gas assets from renewable energy. The 3D printed concrete also facilitates localized manufacturing and enables low cost fabrication of new and complex shapes that were previously not practical.

I also feel that if the concrete sphere energy storage can be made to successfully work, then the technology can surely be fitted to any offshore wind farm, by just adding the right number of spheres and connecting them to the offshore sub station.

The STORE Consortium

The STORE consortium has a web site, which has a heading of Innovative Subsea Energy Storage.

It describes the technology in this paragraph.

STORE is advancing a subsea energy storage technology called Marine Pumped Hydro (MPH). MPH uses large hollow concrete spheres on the seafloor to store mechanical energy in the form of pressure. MPH charges when seawater is pumped out of the spheres and releases energy to the grid when high-pressure water flows back into the spheres through a turbine. MPH features a patent-pending multi-sphere pod to increase the amount of energy stored and uses efficient 3D concrete printing to reduce manufacturing costs.

It sounds like an engineer with children, has been playing with them and their plastic toys in a bath and has had an Archimedes moment.

The project and its funding is described in this paragraph.

STORE was awarded £150,000 from the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy Longer Duration Energy Storage Demonstration (LODES) competition. Phase 1 will deliver a Feasibility Study focused on the design and analyses for the UK. Phase 2, if awarded, will design, manufacture, and operate a prototype system at TRL 6.

Note that TRL 6 is Technology Readiness Level 6 and is fully defined on this NASA web page, as having a fully functional prototype or representational model.

There is also an interesting link to the ScotWind N3 wind farm. that I wrote about in ScotWind N3 Offshore Wind Farm.

  • This is an unusual floating wind farm with a floating substation.
  • Technip and Loch Kishorn port are involved in both the wind farm and STORE.
  • Loch Kishorn has a history of building immense concrete structures.

I wouldn’t be surprised if this wind farm would be the location of the prototype system.

Conclusion

This is a brilliant concept.

  • It is the ideal energy storage system for offshore wind, as it can turn a wind farm with a variable output into one with a much more constant output.
  • It can be retrofitted to existing offshore wind farms.
  • It will work with both fixed and floating wind farms.
  • The concrete storage spheres can be fully assembled with all their electrical gubbins on shore and towed out, before sinking in the required position.

It also looks like the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy have got involved and helped with the funding. Someone there seems to know a good idea, when they see it!

 

September 21, 2022 Posted by | Energy, Energy Storage | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

RCAM Technologies

Wouldn’t it be a good idea to have a wind turbine with built-in energy storage?

This article on Power Engineering, is entitled Five Long-Duration Energy Storage Projects Get Funding In New York.

One of the projects, from RCAM Technologies is described like this.

To develop a 3D concrete-printed marine pumped hydroelectric storage system that integrates directly with offshore wind development in support of grid resiliency and reduced reliance on fossil fuel plants to meet periods of peak electric demand.

That sounds like an offshore wind turbine with built-in energy storage, that is 3D-printed in concrete.

The RCAM Technologies web site is all about 3D-printed concrete.

  • It looks like they can build taller wind farm towers, than you can make with steel.
  • It appears offshore wind turbine tower with integrated foundations  can be built on-site.
  • Material can be 100 % locally-sourced.
  • The next step could be to build some form of pumped storage into the tower.
  • They are experimenting with storing energy as pressure in 3D-printed concrete spheres. The New York grant will help fund this.
  • High Speed Two is using 3D-printing of concrete, as I wrote about in HS2 Utilising UK-First Pioneering 3D Concrete Printing On Project.

The company has offices in Colorado, California and Edinburgh.

Conclusion

This technology could be on the right track. Read their web site.

September 9, 2022 Posted by | Energy, Energy Storage | , , , , , | 1 Comment

ITOCHU, Taisei Corporation And Mineral Carbonation International Announce Collaboration

This collaboration is reported in this article on Market Screener, which is entitled ITOCHU : Announces Collaboration With Taisei Corporation In Initiative With MCi Testing Uses Of Concrete From Calcium Carbonate With Mineral Carbonation.

This paragraph described MCi’s mineral carbonation technologies.

MCi is a company that has pursued fifteen years of research and development into mineral carbonation and possesses the technology to produce a range of low carbon embodied materials including calcium carbonate by carbonating minerals in slag and other by-products of the steelmaking process (mainly steelmaking slag), coal ash produced by thermal power plants, and other industrial waste materials containing magnesium or calcium (mine tailings: by-products from the collection of metals and ore).

It also appears that ITOCHU invested in MCi last year.

I have read the whole article and I suggest that this collaboration could grow into something very big.

August 16, 2022 Posted by | World | , , , , | Leave a comment

The Story Behind The Concrete Panels On The Elizabeth Line

These are a selection of the pictures I took yesterday inside Elizabeth Line stations.

Note.

  1. The walls and ceilings appear to be covered in light grey panels with holes.
  2. The material appears to look like concrete.
  3. Every one is a totally different shape, so how were they manufactured?

This article on Ian Visits is entitled How Crossrail Is Using 3D-Printing To Build Its Stations.

This is the two opening paragraphs.

When you start to use the new Elizabeth line stations, among its many achievements will be the first large scale use of 3D-printing in concrete.

The use of 3D printing has made possible one of the more distinctive features of the future Elizabeth line stations — the curved concrete panels that will line the inside of the passenger tunnels and some stations, and sinuously glide around corners in a way never seen before in a tube station.

There will be a total of something like 36,000 of these panels and although printing each in concrete is possible, Crossrail would probably have been delivered in the 2040s or 2050s.

The contractors used an innovative process called FreeFAB, which had been invented by an Australian architect.

  • The process creates a wax mould for each panel using 3D printing.
  • This mould is then used to create the actual panel.
  • After each panel is cast, the wax is melted off and recycled.
  • The panels are made in a factory in Doncaster.

We will see a lot more of this technique used in the construction industry.

May 25, 2022 Posted by | Design, Transport/Travel | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Elizabeth Line – Custom House Station – 24th May 2022

I took these pictures at Custom House station on the Elizabeth Line.

Note.

  1. The station was built in a factory and the concrete beams were assembled on-site. Traditionally, the concrete structure would have been poured on site.
  2. The quality of the columns is excellent and an engineer I spoke to a few years ago, said that the methods used at Custom House station ensure a high quality building. Look at the last two pictures.
  3. The two escalators are in-line, rather than side-by-side and it looks like this was done to squeeze in the station.
  4. There were signs up for toilets, that are visible in picture 4. Are they going to be installed?

The ideas used to create Custom House station, will be borrowed by architects and builders all over the world.

May 25, 2022 Posted by | Design, Transport/Travel | , , , | 1 Comment

HS2 Reveals Dramatic Carbon Saving With Ambitious Modular Design For Thame Valley Viaduct

The title of this post, is the same as that of this press release on High Speed Two.

This is the first paragraph.

HS2 today revealed the final designs for the Thame Valley Viaduct and the pioneering pre-fabricated construction methods that will see the 880m long structure slotted together like a giant Lego set, cutting its carbon footprint by an estimated 66%.

This is one of the pictures released in this photoset.

This second picture shows a closer view of a pillar and the catenary.

It does appear in these two views that the catenary and the gantries that support it are more elegant than those that tend to be used on most electrification schemes at the present time.

These paragraphs describe how the design saved carbon emissions.

Applying lessons from recent high speed rail projects in Spain, the design team cut the amount of embedded carbon by simplifying the structure of the viaduct so that every major element can be made off site.

In a major step forward for viaduct design in the UK, the team opted for two wide ‘box girder’ beams per span instead of eight smaller beams – to simplify and speed up assembly.

The production of steel and concrete is a major contributor to carbon emissions, with the new lighter-weight structure expected to save 19,000 tonnes of embedded carbon in comparison to the previous design. That’s the same amount of carbon emitted by one person taking a flight from London to Edinburgh and back 70,000 times.

It would appear that saving weight and using less steel and concrete can save a lot of carbon emissions.

I once got a bonus at ICI because I saved ten metres on the height of a chemical plant. My boss said, I’d saved nearly a million. by using a mathematical model on an analogue computer to show that a vessel in the plant wasn’t needed and this eliminated a complete floor of the plant.

How much concrete and steel has been saved by High Speed Two on this viaduct, by making it more basset than Afghan hound?

Ever since I watched the building of Crossrail’s Custom House station, I have been in favour of off-site construction.

I wrote about it in An Express Station and am pleased to see it being used on High Speed Two.

April 8, 2022 Posted by | Design, Transport/Travel | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

New HS2 Pilot Project Swaps Steel For Retired Wind Turbine Blades To Reinforce Concrete

The title of this post, is the same as that of this press release from High Speed Two.

These are the first three paragraphs.

Worn-out wind turbine blades destined for the incinerator will instead be used to create carbon-friendly reinforced concrete on Britain’s new high speed rail network, HS2 Ltd has said today (12.03.21).

The innovative project will swap steel rebar, traditionally used to reinforce concrete, with sections of glass fibre reinforced polymer turbine blades that have reached the end of their operational lives generating low carbon electricity.

By 2023, around 15,000 turbine blades will have been decommissioned across the UK and EU. Until now, expired blades have either been ground down to be used as building materials or sent to energy-from-waste incinerators.

Replacing reinforcing steel with sections of retired wind turbine blades is claimed to cut up to 90 % of the carbon generated by steel reinforcement.

It would appear to me, that this is a worthwhile process.

  • In 2018, 295,000 metric tons of steel reinforcing bars were produced in the UK.
  • Retired blades don’t end up in landfill or incinerators.
  • Could we export them as eco-friendly reinforcing bars, to countries with smaller wind industries.

As we have more wind farms, than most other countries, we will probably have more blades to recycle, so perhaps we should research other secondary uses for these blades.

March 12, 2022 Posted by | Energy, Transport/Travel | , , , , | 1 Comment