The Anonymous Widower

Crossrail’s Fans At Canary Wharf Station

I have just watched today’s episode of The Fifteen Billion Pound Railway on the BBC.

In one storyline, they negotiate a giant ventilation fan into Canary Wharf station.

Installing the fans is a fascinating tale, where in the end the last movements are performed using hover-pads and several strong men.

I am reminded of a tale I heard in my youth.

  • At the age of 15 and 16, I spent two summers working at a company in North London called Enfield Rolling Mills.
  • The boss of the company was John Grimston, who was a friend of my father and ERM were the largest customer of his printing business.
  • I got a superb introduction to working in a large factory, where I installed simple valve-based electronic control systems on heavy machinery.

The most important rolling mill in the company, was a mill, that reduced copper wirebars to wire about half a centimetre in diameter.

  • The machine had been acquired from Krupp, as war-reparations after the First World War and was still marked with Krupp’s trademark of three interlocked railway tyres.
  • Enfield Rolling Mills had a trademark of four rings.
  • The hot wire zig-zagged from one side to the other and it was turned by men using tongs.
  • The machine was powered by a massive flywheel driven by an electric motor.

At some time in the 1950s, the flywheel needed to be replaced, by a new 96-ton wheel.

The Chief Engineer of the company was an Austrian Jew, known to all as Shimmy, which was a contraction of his surname Shimatovich.

  • He had spent some time in a Nazi concentration camp and walked with a distinct stoop.
  • He was widely recognised as one of the experts on roll grinding and very much respected by management, staff and workers alike.
  • He had supposedly calculated, that if the new flywheel had come off its bearings at full speed, it would have gone a couple of miles through all the housing surrounding the factory.

There was very much a problem of how the new flywheel would be installed until Shimmy announced at a Board Meeting. “We will do it the way, we’d have done it in the concentration camp. We will use men! But our men are fit, well-fed and strong.”

So one Sunday morning, a large force turned up and rolled the flywheel off the low loader and into position using ropes, blocks and tackle and other equipment, that would have been familiar to ancient builders, after which it was duly fixed in place.

The job was completed just before one and the Managing Director of the company then asked if anybody would like a drink and indicated that everybody follow him to the company’s social club.

They arrived just as the steward was cleaning the last of the glasses and getting ready to lock up. On being asked to provide a large number of pints of bitter, he announced he was closed.

On this the Managing Director, by the name of Freddie Pluty, who was a strong man picked up the steward and sat him on the bar.

He then asked the two large workers at the front of the queue. “Are you going to hit him or shall I?”

They got their drinks.

 

June 12, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

MAN Energy Partners With Highview Power On Liquid-Air Energy-Storage Project

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

Highview Power, a leader in long duration energy storage solutions, has selected MAN Energy Solutions to provide its LAES turbomachinery solution to Highview Power for its CRYOBattery™ facility, a 50 MW liquid-air, energy-storage facility – with a minimum of 250MWh – located in Carrington Village, Greater Manchester , U.K.

The article is almost a word-for-word copy of this press release from MAN Energy Solutions, which has a similar title to this post and the Renewable Energy Magazine article.

As an Electrical Engineer who has done a lot of work in Project Management, I find these two paragraphs significant.

Construction will proceed in two phases. Phase 1 will involve the installation of a ‘stability island’, to provide near-instantaneous energy grid stabilisation. This will be achieved using a generator and flywheel, among other components. Enabling short-term stabilisation will provide the basis for Phase 2 and the completion of the more complex liquid air energy storage system that includes various compressors, air expanders and cryogenic equipment.

Phase 2 will represent the integration of stability services with a full-scale long-duration energy storage system, and in doing so promote the full integration of renewable energy. The Carrington project will offer a blueprint for future projects and cement the partnership between MAN Energy Solutions and Highview Power.

I first became acquainted with the use of flywheels to stabilise energy, when I was working in Enfield Rolling Mills as a vacation job at sixteen.

The centerpiece of their factory was a rolling mill, which took heated copper wirebars about two metres long  amd ten centimetres square and rolled them into thick copper wire just a few millimetres in diameter. The mill was driven by a powerful electric motor, to which it was connected with a 97 tonne flywheel perhaps four metres in diameter in between. The flywheel spun at probably 3000 revolutions per minute.

The wirebar used to meander through the rolling mill several times and at each turn, the head would be caught by a man with a pair of tongs and turned back through the mill.

Each time the wire-bar went through a new pair of rolls the energy needed increased, as there was more rolling to do. So this extra energy was taken from the flywheel!

The rolling mill incidentally had been built by Krupp before the First World War. It still had the Krupp trademark of three interlocked railway tyres all over it. It had ended up in Enfield as reparations after the First World War. Enfield Rolling Mills added a fourth ring to create their own trademark.

It would appear that the kinetic energy of that flywheel could be as high as 1.6 MWh. Flywheels also react very fast.

Flywheel energy storage would appear to be a feasible intermediate energy store for this type of application.

I always remember Shimatovitch, who was the Chief Engineer of the company had jokingly once said that if the flywheel came off its bearings, it would have ended up a couple of miles away and would have demolished all the houses in its path. But he was a man with a dark sense of humour, who had spent most of the Second World War in a Nazi concentration camp.

Could it be that Phase 1 is the installation of a similar system to that I saw working in the 1960s, but upgraded with modern electronics, which exchanges power with the grid to create the stability island referred to in the press release.

In Phase 2 electricity can be passed to and from the CRYOBattery.

Looking at the MAN Energy Solutions web site, I suspect that they don’t care what sort of energy store they connect to the grid.

They would appear to be an excellent choice of engineering partner for Highview Power.

I also wonder how many other applications and customers, they will bring into the partnership.

Conclusion

This looks like a very sensible and low-risk strategy to connect the CRYOBattery to the grid.

 

April 22, 2021 Posted by | Energy, Energy Storage | , , , , , | 2 Comments