The Anonymous Widower

Dereliction On Teesside – 28th October 2020

The Tees Valley Line between Middlesbrough and Redcar is lined with derelict steel works.

I don’t think there’s an area of such industrial dereliction, in the UK.

October 31, 2020 Posted by | Business, World | , , | Leave a comment

Scunthorpe Steelworks

On my way back from Cleethorpes, I passed Scunthorpe Steelworks.

It did seem rather quiet, although I did pass a train-load of new rails on their way to somewhere.

The Future Of Steel-Making

Steel-Making is on its uppers in the UK and it has a bad carbon footprint.

However, various processes are in development that could make the industry fit for the Twenty-First Century.

HIsarna Steelmaking

In Whitehaven Deep Coal Mine Plan Moves Step Closer, I said this.

In Wikipedia, there is an entry for the HIsarna ironmaking process.

This process is being developed by the Ultra-Low Carbon Dioxide Steelmaking (ULCOS) consortium, which includes Tata Steel and the Rio Tinto Group. Reduction in carbon-dioxide produced by the process compared to traditional steel-making are claimed to be as high as fifty percent.

This figure does not include carbon-capture to reduce the carbon-dioxide still further.

However, looking at descriptions of the process, I feel that applying carbon-capture to the HIsarna steelmaking process might be a lot easier, than with traditional steelmaking.

As Scunthorpe is close to Theddlethorpe Gas Terminal, the captured carbon-dioxide could probably be stored in wells connected to the terminal.

Hydrogen Steelmaking

North-East Lincolnshire is becoming the new Aberdeen, but instead of being based solely on oil and gas, there is a large proportion of wind energy being reaped.

In the future, I believe that a lot of this wind energy will be turned into hydrogen gas both onshore and increasing off-shore scores of miles out in the North Sea. There is talk of upwards of 70 GW of wind turbines being installed and much of it will be turned into hydrogen in North-East Lincolnshire.

In Funding Award to Supply An 8MW Electrolyser, I wrote about hydrogen steelmaking and the HYBRIT process in particular.

Will some of this massive amount of hydrogen be piped to Scunthorpe to make steel?

Conclusion

The future of steelmaking in Scunthorpe, doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom.

September 20, 2020 Posted by | Energy, Hydrogen, World | , , , , | Leave a comment

The Wrong Kind Of Bleach?

This article on Railnews is entitled 9 September: News In Brief.

It has the following sub-title.

Wrong Bleach Took Caledonian Sleepers Out Of Service

This is the first sentence.

Cleabers who used the wrong specification of bleach in the toilets and shower rooms on Caledonian Sleepers caused significant damage after the chemicals reacted with stainless steel pipes,

To my knowledge stainless steel, especially when it contains increased levels of chromium and some molybdenum, can be very proof to attack from most substances.

Look at this Butler Shba cutlery made in Sheffield from stainless steel with black Delrin plastic handles, which have seen continuous use in my household for fifty years.

Now that’s what I call stainless steel!

Perhaps, the Spanish used the wrong type of stainless steel?

Delrin is a form of polyoxymethylene, which is an engineering plastic.

This plastic has a wide spectrum of usage, including in zips, bagpipes and metered dose inhalers, to name just three of hundreds.

September 9, 2019 Posted by | Transport, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Network Rail Bids For Part Of British Steel

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

This is the first paragraph.

Network Rail is looking to buy part of British Steel, as bidders have until the end of Sunday to put in offers for all or part of the troubled firm.

Many would say, why does the nationalised industry Network Rail, which let’s face it, has had its troubles in recent years, want to get involved with a bankrupt company?

You have to remember, how big companies work.

  • They need to manage their cash flow.
  • They need quality supplies, that will do what it says on the specification.
  • They want supplies to be delivered as and where they need it.

But above all they need to be properly financed.

Making And Delivering Rails

This paragraph in the BBC article says a lot.

Network Rail owns and operates the UK’s railway network, including 20,000 miles of track, and buys 100,000 tonnes of rails from British Steel each year.

Suppose, you want to lay new rails urgently between Inverness and the Far North of Scotland. Getting it there will be a logistics problem, which will be made worse, if the source is halfway around the world.

And suppose, when it arrives in the UK, it fails the quality test! You can’t just give it back to the postman.

So for a reliable railway, Network Rail also needs a reliable supplier making rails, close enough for product to be delivered by special train.

From what I have read in the railway press, British Steel are good at the following.

  • Manufacturing quality rail.
  • Developing special products for rail companies.
  • Delivering it on special trains.

To illustrate this, read British Steel Secures Major Contract From Deutsche Bahn.

I also think, that in addition to the Germans, British Steel sell rail to the Belgians, French and the Dutch, to name but three.

So certainly, British Steel seem to be on the ball with making and delivering rails.

But they appear to be seriously underfunded.

Acquiring British Steel

If I was a financier, thinking about taking over British Steel, one of the most important things would be to secure the sales and the resulting cash flow for the company.

I would be on the train to all of the major rail infrastructure companies, that could be reached by British Steel’s special trains from Scunthorpe.

Network Rail have already put a marker down, that they would buy British Steel’s Rail Products Division, but are other rail infrastructure companies also looking at securing quality product, by either buying the division themselves or pledging support alongside Network Rail.

Network Rail are also aware that their predecessor Railtrack, was brought down by the Hatfield Rail Crash, so they are probably and rightly so, paranoid about safety.

The very fact that Network Rail have put in a bid, suggests to me that they know their power in the negotiations to follow, as any purchaser, who doesn’t have the major customers onside, is probably doomed to fail.

On the other hand, if British Steel was bought by someone, that would increase the risk of dodgy product, Network Rail would go elsewhere.

But would they be able to get the same quality and service?

Conclusion

I am sure, that Network Rail, Deutsche Bahn and all the other rail infrastructure companies will play a large park in the fate of British Steel.

 

July 1, 2019 Posted by | Finance, Transport | , , | Leave a comment

Northumberland Park Station – 22nd October 2018

Northumberland Park station is coming on.

It’s going to be a complicated steel construction.

Some people will like it! Other’s won’t!

I do suspect though, that there will be some superb photographs of this station, when the light is similar to how it was today.

October 22, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 1 Comment

Steelworm At Whitechapel Station

I took this picture at Whitechapel station.

It looks like steel’s equivalent of woodworm has been at work!

 

September 19, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , | 2 Comments

British Steel Secures Major Contract From Deutsche Bahn

The title of this post is the same as this article on Global Rail News.

I thought the article had a touch of Coals-to-Newcastle about it.

But read the article and there are a lot of things coming together to enable the order.

  • British Steel have spent a seven-figure-sum at Scunthorpe, to make the longer rails, that the Germans use.
  • Deutsche Bahn are Europe’s largest purchaser of rail.
  • The initial order is for 20,000 tonnes of rail.
  • Rails can be delivered in 120 metre lengths through the Channel Tunnel.

I should say, that I’ve read in the past, that Scunthorpe makes a quality product.

I found this video on the British Steel web site.

It all brings back memories of the time, I spent as a sixteen-year-old putting automation on heavy machines use to roll non-ferrous metals.

I doubt you get work experience like that these days!

March 15, 2018 Posted by | World | , , , , | 4 Comments

Could New Technology Help Save Steel Jobs?

One of my first jobs was in the instruments laboratory of Enfield Rolling Mills in the early 1960s. As someone with a mind like a sponge, I never missed storing away every piece of useful engineering and scientific information, I might encounter.

The company was involved in the rolling and the production of materials from non-ferrous metals, like copper, bronze, brass and aluminium. For instance, they did a lot of work with the continuous casting of metals like bronze and aluminium.

The company also used scrap metal as a source of raw material for their processing. One of their problems was identifying the scrap before processing and they had experimented with using a radioactive isotope to see, if it could give them an accurate opinion.

It probably wasn’t the best thing to do!

But since then technology has moved on.

I just wonder now, whether mass spectrometry could correctly identify the exact grade of a large piece of brass, bronze or steel!

If it could, I suspect that we could use our scrap metals to avoid refining new.

So I searched using “automatic steel scrap sorting” and found this page entitled Laser Methods For Automatic Scrap Metal Sorting.

And this page on the Oxford Instruments web site entitled Scrap Metal Analysis, Sorting and Recycling.

Who needs blast furnaces?

We just mine the scrap, rather than send it to China!

 

April 22, 2016 Posted by | World | , | 3 Comments

Sense About Steel

This article in the South Wales Evening Post is entitled Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon one solution to Tata Steel crisis, insists council chief Steve Phillips.

He is right and I said so in The Death Of Traditional Steel-Making.

I also said that in addition to the tidal lagoon, a comprehensive metro should be developed all over South Wales.

 

April 12, 2016 Posted by | World | , , , | Leave a comment

Green Steel

This article on the BBC is entitled Tata Steel: Would-be UK buyer Liberty’s jobs hope.

Sanjeev Gupta, the head of the Liberty Group, is reported as saying this.

We would look to transition from blast furnaces to arc furnaces, from imported raw material to domestically available scrap, from making carbon steel to making what we call green steel – melting and recycling scrap using renewable energy.

As I heard the quote on the radio, I can verify that it is more or less correct.

I don’t know, whether what Mr. Gupta said can be achieved, but it strikes me that it is a feasible idea.

 

April 9, 2016 Posted by | World | , | Leave a comment