The Anonymous Widower

Small Nuclear Power Plants To Replace Gas In Quest For Net Zero

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

I was very much involved in the writing of project management software in the last three decades of the last century and if there’s one thing we’re generally good at in the UK, it’s complex project management.

Usually problems arise because of political or ignorant senior management meddling.

Our Energy Saviours

I believe our two energy saviours will be floating offshore wind and small nuclear reactors (SMRs) and both need good project management to be built successfully on production lines.

So I don’t see any reason, why we can’t build large numbers of floating offshore wind farms to supply our electricity.

They are also complimentary, in that the fleet of SMRs back up the wind.

Floating Wind First

Floating wind is likely to be developed at scale first, as certifying anything involving nuclear will take an inordinate time.

The electricity from floating wind farms will keep us going, but it is also starting to develop a nice line in exports.

This press release from Drax is entitled Britain Sending Europe Power Lifeline – Report, where this is the sub-title.

For the first time in over a decade, Britain became a net exporter of electricity to its European neighbours, making around £1.5bn for the economy in three months.

Note.

  1. The report was written by Imperial College.
  2. Two new interconnectors; Viking Link and NeuConnect between the UK and Europe are under construction.
  3. Several large wind farms are under construction and will be commissioned in 2023/24 and could add over 4 GW to UK electricity production.

Exports will only get better.

A Sprint For Wind

So we must have a sprint for wind, which will then provide the cash flow to allow the SMRs to roll in.

Or will that be too much for the ultra-greens, who would object to cash-flow from GWs of wind being used to fund SMRs?

November 26, 2022 Posted by | Energy | , , , , , , , | 1 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

Students Design ‘Mitt’ Prosthetic Limb For Children

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

This was the good news story of the day, which started with these two paragraphs.

Even the most up-to-date prosthetic limbs can often be too heavy, or hard for young children to use with ease.

But now, a group of Imperial College engineering students has created a new, lighter one.

There is a video in the BBC article, which shows how it works.

  • It looks like it doesn’t have any power, so there are no heavy batteries.
  • Tools are attached by a powerful magnet.
  • As the name suggests, it is worn like a glove.
  • Judging by the look on the little girl’s face, as she used it to do simple tasks, it has found a satisfied customer!

What puzzles me, is that it is such a simple idea, that it hasn’t been thought off before.

Could The Mitt Have Other Applications?

I have a feeling it could.

I recently cut the back of my hand badly.

The picture shows it soon afterwards.

I don’t work or do many dirty tasks around the house, but could the students use their design principles for someone, who has perhaps damaged their hand and needs some protection.

This second picture shows how well it healed in the end.

I think the principle behind the Mitt has legs.

December 29, 2020 Posted by | Design, Health | , , | 1 Comment

One-Hour Covid Test Approved For Rollout

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

This article is more than the title as it details four testing methods, currently being rolled out.

After reading this article, I would not be surprised to see an affordable COVID-19 testing device being developed and available for non-professional use in the coming months.

Getting it right, will bring the team so much of a financial reward, they’ll make Dyson look like pauper. No wonder organisations like Cambridge University, Imperial College, big pharmaceutical companies and hedge funds are backing development.

As these tests are often about measuring the intricate properties of both human and virus DNA, I wonder how many other collateral benefits will aid diagnosis of diseases like cancer.

May 23, 2020 Posted by | Health | , , , , | 4 Comments