The Anonymous Widower

JCB Unveils World’s First Hydrogen Digger

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on International Vehicle Technology.

The signs have been there for some time.

  • JCB are one of the backers of ITM Power, who make large scale electrolysers in Rotherham.
  • Jo Bamford has a hydrogen company called Ryse.
  • Jo Bamford took over Wrightbus and is saying he’ll be building thousands of hydrogen buses a year.
  • Ryse have planning permission for a giant hydrogen electrolyser at Herne Bay.

To me, it is totally logical, that JCB build a hydrogen-powered digger.

And it appears they have got there first!

July 2, 2020 Posted by | Hydrogen | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

An Untidy Railway

I took these pictures as I returned from Eridge.

You see it all over the railways and not just in the UK; general untidiness!

When I joined ICI in 1968, I went on a thorough and excellent induction course.

One very experienced engineer, gave a Health and Safety Lecture and one thing he said, was that a neat and tidy chemical plant was less likely to have silly accidents.

Some years later, I went to the United States to see some of Metier’s clients, of whom some were nuclear power stations. This must have been just after the Three Mile Island accident, which is described like this in Wikipedia.

The Three Mile Island accident was a partial meltdown of reactor number 2 of Three Mile Island Nuclear Generating Station (TMI-2) in Dauphin County, Pennsylvania, near Harrisburg, and subsequent radiation leak that occurred on March 28, 1979. It is the most significant accident in U.S. commercial nuclear power plant history.

Artemis was involved in maintenance at the nuclear stations I visited. I can remember at AEP Donald C Cook nuclear station being shown a database of work to do and many of the actions were referred to as TMIs and checking them had been mandated by the US regulatory authorities.

I should say, the site on the shores of Lake Michigan impressed me, but another I visited later didn’t. I won’t name it, as it is now closed and it was the most untidy industrial plant of any type I have visited.

As we left, I gave my opinion to our support engineer and he told me they had a very large number of TMIs to process. I wasn’t surprised!

So why are railways generally so untidy?

 

June 23, 2020 Posted by | Transport, World | , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Hydrogen Freight Trains And Anti-Slip Technology For UK Railways Get Share Of £9.4m Funding

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on Professional Engineering, which is published by the Institute of Mechanical Engineers.

This is the introductory summary.

A zero-emissions machine that removes and replaces rails, a hydrogen-based turbine system for freight trains and ‘cryogenic blasting’ to prevent wheel slip could all be coming to UK railways thanks to a new £9.4m fund.

The article is a good summary of the important projects and it also gives details of what a project in the last round of funding achieved.

I seem increasingly to be reposting articles from professional engineering institutions. Does this mean, that we’re all thinking that good engineering, is one of the ways out of this COVID-19 mess?

I also think, that if I look at the list of twenty-five new projects, that I listed in First Of A Kind Funding Awarded For 25 Rail Innovation Projects, that some will benefit the wider UK population in a world dominated by the remains of the COVID-19 pandemic.

June 21, 2020 Posted by | Health, Transport | , | Leave a comment

Newport To London Electric Railway Is Completed

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on the South Wales Argus.

This is the introductory couple of paragraphs.

Railway works to improve the line between Newport and London will allow for more frequent and quicker journeys, said to the boss of Network Rail.

Electrification works have now been completed on the Severn Tunnel, meaning the line from Cardiff and Newport to London Paddington is now fully electric.

The article also states that the Sudbrook pumping station, which pumps fourteen million gallons of water out of the Severn Tunnel every day is to be replaced.

The Severn Tunnel has been a project, which has involved lots of heroic engineering.

When I read articles like the one in the South Wales Argus, I am drawn back to the briefing I had from engineers at Sir Frederick Snow and Partners about their plan for a Severn Barrage, in the early 1970s.

It was a One-Design-Solves-Everything project and their plan, included a high speed railway and a motorway crossing between England and Wales.

 

June 7, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , | Leave a comment

Sizewell C: Nuclear Power Station Plans For Suffolk Submitted

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

A few points from the article.

  • It will provide enough electricity for six million homes.
  • It will create 25,000 jobs during construction.
  • Sizewell C will be a near replica to Hinckley Point C.
  • It will generate 3.2 GW of electricity.
  • It will be low-carbon electricity.

As a well-read and experienced engineer, I am not against the technologies of nuclear power.

But I do think, by the time it is completed , other technologies like wind and energy storage will be much better value. They will also be more flexible and easier to expand, should we get our energy forecasts wrong.

  • We will see higher power and more efficient wind farms, further out in the North Sea.
  • Massive energy storage systems, based on improved pumped storage technology and using new technology from companies like Highview Power, Zinc8 and others will be built.
  • Wind and solar power an energy storage are much easier to fund and financial institutions like L & G, Aberdeen Standard and Aviva have invested in the past for our future pensions.
  • If you want to go nuclear, small modular reactors, look to be much better value in the longer term.
  • I also don’t like the involvement of the Chinese in the project. History tells me, that all pandemics seem to start in the country!

It is my view that the biggest mistake we made in this country over energy was not to built the Severn Barrage.

My preferred design would be based on the ideas of Sir Frederick Snow.

There would have been a high and a low lake, either side of a central spine, behind an outer barrage.

  • Reversible turbines and pumps between the lakes would both generate and store electricity.
  • When proposed in the 1970s, it would have generated ten percent of the UK’s electricity.
  • A new road and rail crossing of the Severn, could have been built into the outer barrage.
  • A lock would have provided access for shipping.
  • It would have controlled the periodic, regular and often devastating flooding of the River Severn.

Some versions of the original design, even incorporated an international airport.

  • The runways would be in the right direction for the prevailing wind, with regard to take-off and landing.
  • Take-off would be over open sea.
  • High speed trains could speed travellers to and from London on an updated Great Western Railway.

I believe a modern design could be even better.

  • The central spine and the outer barrage would be the foundations for a large wind farm.
  • There would also be a large number of powerful floating wind turbines to the West of the outer barrage in the Severn Estuary.
  • A giant electrolyser on the central spine would produce hydrogen, that could be used to decarbonise the UK’s gas network.
  • A power interconnector could be built into the outer barrage to connect Wales to the nuclear power stations at Hinckley :Point.
  • A cluster of small nuclear reactors could be built on the central spine.
  • In the intervening fifty years, we have probably learned how to build a barrage like this, so that it can benefit birds and other wildlife.

I believe, it will never be too late to build a Severn Barrage.

 

May 27, 2020 Posted by | Energy Storage, Transport | , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Equipmake And HiETA Developing New Motor With 20kW/kg Power Density With Additive Manufacturing

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on Green Car Congress.

This is the introductory paragraph.

UK-based electrification company, Equipmake, has teamed up with additive manufacturing organization HiETA to develop a next-generation motor as part of a project grant-funded by Innovate UK.

Additive manufacturing is 3D-printing by another name. This has come to the fore in the COVID-19,  where schools, colleges and individuals have been using it to produce PPE.

Equipmake and HiETA are printing exotic alloys in intricate shapes to create the powerful motor.

Additive manufacturing is starting an amazing revolution. How many other common products can be redesigned to be more efficient and manufactured at lower cost.

 

May 7, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment

Thirsty High-Rollers … Mining’s Heavy Haulers Prime Candidates For Hydrogen Conversion

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

You understand, what the author means about mining’s heavy haulers, when you open the article.

This paragraph describes their carbon emissions.

One large scale dump truck, depending on the haul road it is using, will use between 100 and 140 litres of diesel per 100km. These vehicles operate all day every day except for maintenance down time. That’s between 260kg and 360kg of CO2 per 100km per truck.
Large open pit mines have tens of these vehicles operating continuously, so the numbers build up very quickly.

The author then goes on to say why, that converting these vehicles to green hydrogen makes a lot of sense.

The dump trucks are already diesel/electric, which means that the diesel generator can be replaced with a hydrogen fuel cell and a battery.

Mining giant; Anglo-American will be introducing a prototype hydrogen-powered dump truck at a platinum mine in South Africa this year.

These paragraphs describe the transmission.

The vehicle, which is called a fuel cell electric vehicle (FCEV) haul truck, will be powered by a hydrogen fuel cell module paired with Williams Advanced Engineering’s scalable high-power modular lithium-ion battery system. Williams provides batteries for FIA’s E-Formula motorsport.

This arrangement will replace the existing vehicle’s diesel engine, delivering in excess of 1MWh of energy storage. The battery system will be capable of recovering energy through regenerative braking as the haul truck travels downhill.

Note that the truck has more energy storage than is proposed for a four-car battery-electric train, like the Class 756 train, which has only 600 kWh.

The author finishes with this concluding paragraph.

With the major mining companies focusing on making significant strides in decarbonisation by 2030 expect there to be more announcements such as this focusing this “low hanging fruit” for the mining industry’s to materially reduce its carbon foot print.

Reading this, I can’t help feeling that replacement of a Class 66 locomotive with a zero-carbon hydrogen-battery-electric hybrid unit could be possible.

 

April 26, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Battery-Powered Shunter Ready To Begin Testing

The title of this post is the same as that of an article in Issue 903 of Rail Magazine. The article describes how 08649, which is a Class 08 shunter is being converted to diesel-electric hybrid power.

  • It appears, that the shunter wasn’t in the best of condition.
  • A 6.8 litre John Deere diesel engine is to be fitted, which will be enhanced to Euro Stage 5.
  • Tesla battery packs with a capacity of 300 kWh will be fitted.
  • A bespoke control system is being developed.

The shunter is to be tested on the Chinnor & Princes Risborough Railway, when COVID-19 restrictions allow.

The reason for doing the work is not outlined in the article, although it does say this.

The work has been carried out by Meteor Power Ltd., which won a contract last year as part of the Department of Transport’s Innovation Carbon Reduction programme.

According to Wikipedia, 996 shunters were produced with another nearly two hundred similar shunters in other classes. Eighty two are deemed to have been preserved in Wikipedia,  with sixty or so labelled as operational. Two operational examples are on the Chinnor & Princes Risborough Railway.

As some of the preserved examples are used by successful heritage railways and even commercial companies like Bombardier, perhaps Meteor have identified several possible commercial conversions.

Or it could be that Meteor want to show how their technology can reduce a company’s carbon emissions by re-putting a diesel engine with a hybrid transmission in a railway engine or a piece of heavy plant.

April 21, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 1 Comment

Will Innovative Engineering Solve The PPE Gown Problem?

In the early 1970s, I worked as a programmer for various consultancies, who were doing innovative engineering. In one, which could have been Cambridge Consultants, where I worked for perhaps three months. One guy told me about a project he was working on, that was the automatic assembly of clothing.

I know more than a bit about making clothes, as my mother taught me how to knit, crochet, sew and use a sewing machine. In the early years of our marriage, I used to make dresses for C and in one instance, I made her a long heavy-weight winter coat.

So I am surprised, that innovative engineering has not come together to make hospital gowns automatically!

Let’s hope that some engineers have seen the gap in the market, and as I write, are putting together a machine, where you put material in one end and get gowns out the other. Neatly folded of course!

April 19, 2020 Posted by | Health | , , , , | 4 Comments

Coronavirus: Mercedes F1 To Make Breathing Aid

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

A breathing aid that can help keep coronavirus patients out of intensive care has been created in under a week.

From reading the article it appears that engineers from University College London, clinicians at University College Hospital and production engineers and specialists at Mercedes Formula One have combined to re-engineer and hopefully improve something called a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) device, which is already used in hospitals and has been used in China and Italy to combat the virus.

The new design would appear to have advantages.

  • It doesn’t need an expensive ventilator.
  • It doesn’t need an intensive care bed.
  • From the pictures and video on a BBC Breakfast report, it looks to be quick and easy to manufacturer.
  • A production rate of a thousand a day is claimed by Mercedes.
  • The BBC Breakfast report also says, that patients don’t need to be sedated.
  • It also looks like the NHS is going to fast-rack the device into use.

Will this rethinking of standard treatment increase hospital capacity and save lives?

I can’t answer the question, but given those behind the device, it must have a better than even chance of being a success!

March 30, 2020 Posted by | Health | , , , | 5 Comments