The Anonymous Widower

Nuggets From The Union Connectivity Review

The Union Connectivity Review has now been published and it can be read online.

This paragraph outlines the objective of the Review.

The UK Government asked Sir Peter Hendy CBE to undertake a detailed review into how transport connectivity across the UK can support economic growth and quality of life in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Sir Peter was also asked to make recommendations as to whether and how best to improve transport connectivity between the nations of the UK.

Sir Peter Hendy is the Chairman of Network Rail.

In no particular order, these are some nuggets from the review.

The Case For UKNET – A Strategic Transport Network For The Whole United Kingdom

This paragraph introduces the case for UKNET.

Having identified the importance of good connections across internal borders and the challenges that currently prevent a pan-UK strategic vision or investment strategy, the Review recommends that the UK Government develop UKNET – a strategic transport network for the whole United Kingdom which would connect all the nations of the
UK, with appropriate funding and coordination with the devolved administrations to deliver it.

The creation only follows best practice from the European Union and large countries like the United States.

These three paragraphs sum up how UKNET would work and how it would bring benefits to the whole of the UK.

UKNET would provide a network into which transport investment would be made on a pan-UK basis to support economic growth, jobs, housing and social cohesion, across the nations of the UK, for the benefit of the whole country.

It would allow transport appraisals for schemes on the network to be undertaken on a UK-wide basis with all costs and benefits being fully accounted for. This would limit the risk of cross-border schemes being deprioritised.

The development of such a network would provide additional certainty for businesses and the private sector, allowing them to plan complementary investments in specific regions and to invest in the supply chain across the country.

I think overall that UKNET is sound thinking, but my only feeling is that it should also look at transport links to and from the whole island of Ireland.

The Case for Faster Rail Journey Times Between England And Scotland

These three paragraphs probably apply to most rail journeys in the world, that compete against air and road travel.

Both the UK and Scottish Governments have previously agreed to develop options which could support a rail journey time between London and Scotland of three hours. A journey time improvement of this size, even when compared to expected journey times once HS2 opens, would dramatically increase the number of people travelling by rail.

There is a correlation between journey times and how many people choose to travel by rail over air. If it takes the same amount of time to travel by rail or by air, the evidence shows that people choose to travel by rail. Rail is typically favoured when the journey time is around three hours between city centres.

Work undertaken by Network Rail and HS2 Ltd on behalf of the Review has demonstrated the potential for increased trips by rail if journey times are reduced. For assurance purposes, two forecasting models were used to assess savings of 20, 35 and 50 mins on the journey times forecast for HS2 Phase 2b. The outcomes for both models were broadly similar and the approach built upon the changes in mode share observed between rail and aviation following previous UK and European rail investments.

Three hours between London and Scotland could be a tough ask.

Note these points about the East Coast Main Line.

  1. An InterCity 225 ran between London and Edinburgh on the 26th September 1191 in three hours and 29 minutes.
  2. Full digital in-cab signalling will allow running at 140 mph.
  3. There are improvements to come on the East Coast Main Line.
  4. As now, the review says two tph will run between London and Edinburgh.
  5. London Kings Cross and Edinburgh is 393 miles
  6. On the East Coast Main Line a non-stop train between would need to average 131 mph.

Three hours is tough but not impossible.

And these points about the West Coast Main Line.

  1. Trains will run on High Speed Two between London Euston and Crewe.
  2. High Speed Two are claiming fifty-six minutes between London Euston and Crewe.
  3. Full digital in-cab signalling will allow running at 140 mph.
  4. Crewe and Glasgow Central is 243.4 miles.
  5. Current fastest time between Crewe and Glasgow Central is three hours and five minutes.
  6. Between Crewe and Glasgow Central, a non-stop train would need to average 118 mph.

A well-driven InterCity 125, with a clear track, could average that speed between Crewe and Glasgow Central.

Three hours is tough but very possible.

This paragraph sums up the mode shift expected between air and road to rail.

These initial estimates indicated that a three-hour journey time was forecast to increase the number of passengers by around four million a year and increase rail mode share from the 2019 level of 29% to around 75%. It was also forecasted that journey times in the region of three hours would generate considerable transport user benefits and revenues over the lifetime of the scheme.

People travelling from the Midlands and North West England to and from Scotland would also get substantial reductions in journey times.

Linking High Speed Two With The WCML

The review says this about linking High Speed Two with the West Coast Main Line.

The UK Government has already acknowledged some of the issues identified by the Review. The ‘Golborne Link’—the current proposed connection between HS2 and the WCML—is expected to deliver quicker journey times and more capacity between England and Scotland and resolve some of the constraints between Crewe and Preston.

However, the ‘Golborne Link’ does not resolve all of the identified issues. The suitability of alternative connections between HS2 and the WCML have been considered by the Review. The emerging evidence suggests that an alternative connection to the WCML, for example at some point south of Preston, could offer more benefits and an opportunity to reduce journey times by two to three minutes more than the ‘Golborne Link’. However, more work is required to better understand the case for and against such options.

These benefits could also include additional operational flexibility when timing freight services and less disruption to the WCML than major upgrades as most construction could take place away from the railway.

An infrastructure philosophy is also detailed.

  • Replacing and enhancing track, signalling and power supply.
  • Possible new sections of line north of Preston.
  • Maximising of line speed.

My feeling is that for good project management reasons and to give faster journey times with the existing trains, that a lot of these improvements should be started as soon as possible.

Borders Railway

The Review says this about the Borders Railway.

Communities in the Scottish Borders region are enthusiastic about the economic and social benefits they see resulting from an extension of the Borders Railway south, across the border, to Carlisle.

The Review also welcomes the £5 million in funding that the UK Government has made available for the development of a possible extension to the Borders Railway which would support improved connections to and from Scotland and with the WCML at Carlisle.

I would build this early, as when the West Coast Main Line is being upgraded between Carlisle and Glasgow, this would be available as a diversion route.

Perhaps too, the Glasgow South Western Line should be improved and electrified as well.

Air Passenger Duty

The Review has a sizeable session on Air Passenger Duty, where it concentrates on the problems of its application to domestic flights.

The Review makes this recommendation.

Where journeys are too long to be reasonably taken by road or rail, the UK Government should reduce the rate of domestic aviation tax.

I believe that before the end of this decade, there will be smaller zero-carbon airliners, that will be ideal for domestic routes, which could totally change the regime of domestic Air Passenger Duty.

Decarbonisation And The Future Of Flight

This is a section in the Review, where this is the first paragraph.

In July 2021, the Department for Transport published the Jet Zero Consultation: a consultation on our strategy for net zero aviation127, alongside the Transport Decarbonisation Plan. This includes the ambition to have zero-emission routes connecting different parts of the UK by 2030 and a commitment to assess the feasibility of serving PSO routes with low carbon aviation. The Review welcomes the commitments made in both publications to accelerate the uptake of sustainable aviation fuels (SAFs) and develop low and zero-emission aircraft.

The Review goes on to make two recommendations.

  • Drive the uptake of sustainable fuels and zero emission technologies on domestic aviation through a combination of incentives, tax benefits and subsidies to make the UK a world  leader in developing these fuels and technologies.
  • Support the development of sustainable aviation fuel plants in parts of the United Kingdom that are particularly reliant on aviation for domestic connectivity.

Note.

  1. PSO means Public Service Obligation.
  2. One of the world leaders in the field of sustainable aviation fuels is Velocys, which is a spin out from Oxford University.
  3. The Review also suggests building a sustainable aviation fuel plant in Northern Ireland.

The Review gives the impression it is keen on the use of sustainable aviation fuel

 

Conclusion

There are some good nuggets in the sections I have read in detail.

This post is not finished and there will be additions to the list.

 

 

 

November 30, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

With Southwest Airlines Deal, Velocys Presells 100% Of The Output From Its US Biobased Jet Fuel Project

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on the American Chemical Society.

This is the first paragraph.

The biofuel maker Velocys has signed jet fuel purchase agreements with Southwest Airlines and International Airlines Group. Velocys says it now has agreements for the entire output of the facility it plans to open in Mississippi in 2026. The plant, known as Bayou Fuels, will use gasification and Fischer-Tropsch chemistry to make the fuel from wood waste. It will be fitted with carbon-capture equipment from Oxy Low Carbon Ventures, making its fuel net-negative in CO2 emissions. The two airlines have also agreed to buy the resulting greenhouse gas.

Note that the technology is net-negative in carbon dioxide emissions.

This must be a short-term route to decarbonise existing aviation.

 

November 22, 2021 Posted by | Energy | , , , , , | 3 Comments

Freightliner Continue Trials On New Low Carbon Fuel

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on Rail Technology Magazine.

This is the first paragraph.

As part of their commitment to carbon reduction Freightliner will conduct operational trials of a new low carbon fuel supplied by Green Biofuels Ltd (GBF).

And this paragraph described the fuel.

GBF are the UK’s leading provider of Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil (HVO) and the new fuel consists of 55% Shell GTL (gas to liquids) Fuel and 45% Gd+ HVO.

It does appear that hydrotreated vegetable oil or HVO, could be becoming an intermediate step on the route to decarbonisation, as I’ve posted about the fuel before in Powered By HVO.

The other promising route to decarbonisation must surely be that of producing fuel from waste, as pioneered by Velocys and others.

But they are only intermediate steps before hydrogen becomes the preferred zero-carbon fuel for rail freight services.

November 16, 2021 Posted by | Energy, Hydrogen, Transport/Travel | , , , , , | 5 Comments

Velocys Announces Long-Term Clean Avgas Deals With Airline Behemoths

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

This is the first paragraph.

Fuel-from-waste pioneer Velocys has made the world’s biggest sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) plant more investible, as it detailed massive likely long-term supply deals to two big airline groups.

The share price seemed to benefit from the announcement.

I’m not bothered, as I have a small investment.

 

 

November 12, 2021 Posted by | Energy, Finance | , | Leave a comment

Velocys Welcomes US Government SAF Policy Support

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on London South East.

This is the first paragraph.

Velocys plc – Oxford, England-based fuels technology company – Welcomes US government announcement last week of a set of comprehensive new policy actions in support for Sustainable Aviation Fuel production in the US. Notes Velocys is cited in a White House briefing paper setting out the Biden administration’s plans to incentivise commercial scale supply of SAF in the US to meet decarbonisation objectives while stimulating economic growth.

I hope that being cited by the White House is a good thing.

I do think though, that Velocys have the technology, that could help us to keep flying until hydrogen-powered aircraft are developed.

September 15, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , | 2 Comments

Velocys’ Fischer–Tropsch Tech Picked For E-fuels Project In Japan

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

Fischer–Tropsch technology has a chequered history, as it has been used by regimes like Nazi Germany and South Africa under apartheid to create the fuel they need.

But now Oxford University spin-out company; Velocys have improved the process, so that it can turn rubbish destined for landfill into sustainable aviation fuel.

This is the last paragraph from the article.

The developer says its FT reactor can enable the production of SAF from household waste and woody biomass. The end product is a high-quality version of existing fuels, requiring no changes to engines or infrastructure, Velocys says on its website.

This is surely a viable alternative to keep airlines flying, until  hydrogen-powered planes are developed.

August 29, 2021 Posted by | Energy, Transport/Travel | , , , , | 3 Comments

Are Disposable Nappies A Wasted Resource?

I stated my views on disposable nappies in this post called Disposable Nappies, where this was the first sentence.

From a scientifically green point of view, in many places I’m against using disposable nappies, as they clog sewers, end up in landfill and I’ve even seen them in litter bins in parks. We used real nappies for all our three children in the seventies, washing them ourselves in a machine for the first and then using a nappy service for the last two.

But dirty nappies contain a lot of the ingredients, that can be used to make hydrocarbons.

This article from the Sunday Times in 2018 is entitled Syngas, The New Jet Fuel — Stinky Nappies And Coffee Cups.

These are the first two paragraphs of The Times article.

With their packed cabins and recycled air, long-haul passenger jets are the last place where you would want to encounter the whiff of a dirty nappy.

However, old nappies are to be used — along with other non-recyclable waste such as meal packaging and takeaway coffee cups — to power British Airways planes.

Syngas is a mixture of hydrogen, carbon monoxide and some carbon dioxide. Some countries without access to petroleum or diesel created syngas and then used the Fischer–Tropsch process to create the fuels they needed. The process doesn’t have a good reputation as the two main countries to use the process were Germany under the Nazis and South Africa during apartheid.

Why is the use of this process being revived to produce aviation biofuel or sustainable aviation fuel for British Airways?

According to Wikipedia, it can save between 20 and 98 % of carbon emissions compared to conventional jet fuel.

The same process can also make biodiesel for buses, trains and trucks

It’s certainly an area, where a lot of research is going on! Just type “syngas nappies” or “syngas diapers” into Google and you’ll get a lot of serious hits.

By my front door I have a well-designed blue bin.

This is for my food waste bin, which is collected once a week.

This page on the Hackney web site is entitled Food Waste Recycling, and this is said about where the food waste goes.

Food waste from households in Hackney is sent to an anaerobic digestion facility in south east England, where it’s turned into renewable energy to power homes and biofertiliser to be spread on local farmland to grow crops.

A similar bin of an appropriate size could be used for nappies.

The nappies would go to an appropriate recycling site, instead of down the toilet or into landfill.

 

 

July 4, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Technology Company Announces Deal That Could Produce Nearly 30 million Gallons Of Aviation Fuel In Mississippi

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

This is the first two paragraphs.

A technology company that has developed technology to turn household waste and forest waste into aviation fuel says it has signed an agreement that will help it produce 30 million gallons of fuel in Mississippi every year.

Velocys officials announced this week that they have signed a framework agreement with Koch Project Solutions to develop their biorefinery project which produces standard aviation fuel, in Natchez.

That all sounds good for the spin-out of Oxford University,

July 4, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , | Leave a comment

United Airlines Eyes A Supersonic Future With Deal To Buy Boom’s Overture Jets

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

Some may feel that the future of supersonic aviation is about as rosy, as an empty glass of tap water.

But!

  • A flight across the Atlantic in three-and-a-half hours, as is promised by the Boom Overture, is below the four-hour travel limit, where average people start to get anxious about being banged up!
  • Not for nothing do UK train companies want to get London and Edinburgh services below, the magic four-hour time.
  • Technology will get better to reduce the noise and carbon emissions of all aircraft and not just supersonic ones!

I don’t put it outside the genius of engineers to by 2050, be able to create a supersonic, almost noise-free aircraft.

I do have a few thoughts about the Boom Overture.

A Comparison With Concorde

These are comparisons of the Boom Overture to Concorde.

  • Engines – Three as opposed to four.
  • Length – Similar
  • Wingspan – 71 % of Concorde
  • Passengers – 75 % of Concorde

It’s almost as if the Boom Overture is a three-quarter scale model of Concorde.

The Wing/Airframe

When I left Liverpool University in 1968, I wasn’t totally sure, what I wanted to do. So I visited a lot of engineering and aerospace companies including both BAC and Hawker Siddeley. Including my own University, I must have visited about four or five large wind tunnels in that period and every one had a Concorde-like model for the wind tunnel.

Every company had their own ideas on what a supersonic wing, should look like.

And surprise-surprise they were all very similar!

Take the advertising off Formula One cars and paint them all silver and very few could tell them apart.

Aerodynamics defines the shape so strongly, they all look the same.

It’s the same with supersonic aircraft and I’m not surprised that wing planform of the Boom Overture appears to be similar to Concorde, but narrower.

Perhaps the more dart-like shape significantly reduces the drag? It should be noted that drag is proportional to cross-sectional area.

In Concorde’s Wikipedia entry there is a section called Development, which explains how the Royal Aircraft Establishment developed the slender delta wing planform, used by Concorde and now likely to be used by Boom.

Although, it would be different inside the wing, as Concorde was mainly made from metal and the Overture is a composite aircraft.

Perhaps composite construction helps with creating the perfect aerodynamic shape. I don’t have any experience of composites, but they surely mean more aerodynamic shapes and they are regularly used for airframes.

This page on the Heritage Concorde web site gives details of the airframe production materials.

I suspect that Concorde was a nightmare to build, but that the challenge helped develop a large number of machining and fabrication techniques.

The Fuselage

As I said earlier, the length of the plane is similar to Concorde, but the wingspan is 29 % smaller and the number of passengers is around 25 % less.

But if you look at the picture of the aircraft in the Times article, where it is emerging from the hangar, it’s almost as if the fuselage has a square cross section than Concorde.

I wonder about this square cross section. I remember an interview on the radio with Barnes Wallis, where he talked about his latest idea for a fast supersonic aircraft capable of flying between the UK and Australia.

This paragraph is from Barnes Wallis’s Wikipedia entry.

In the late 1950s, Wallis gave a lecture entitled “The strength of England” at Eton College, and continued to deliver versions of the talk into the early 1970s, presenting technology and automation as a way to restore Britain’s dominance. He advocated nuclear-powered cargo submarines as a means of making Britain immune to future embargoes, and to make it a global trading power. He complained of the loss of aircraft design to the US, and suggested that Britain could dominate air travel by developing a small supersonic airliner capable of short take-off and landing.

It sounds to me that he would have been a Brexiteer.

Could this supersonic airliner, be what I heard him talking about?

I distinctly remember that he was advocating a fuselage with a square cross section for supersonic flight.

  • It would have given more space inside for passengers.
  • Concorde was a bit pokey with small windows!
  • The picture in The Times of the interior of the Boom Overture is certainly spacious.

Have Boom, been looking through Barnes Wallis’s ideas?

One quote I heard Barnes Wallis say, in an interview with Chris Brasher was this.

There is no greater thrill in life, than proving something is impossible and then showing how it can be done.

Boom may not have been able to develop a small supersonic airliner capable of short take-off and landing, but it does sound, they’ve developed a smaller supersonic airliner capable of shorter take-off and landing.

The Engines

In the Boom Overture’s Wikipedia entry there is a section called Engines, where this is the last sentence.

In July 2020, the company announced that it had entered into an agreement with Rolls-Royce to collaborate on engine development.

As Rolls-Royce built the engines for Concorde, they probably have some experience locked away.

The design of the Olympus 593 engines for Concorde wasn’t simple.

  • The engines were based on an Olympus engine used in aircraft like the Avro Vulcan and the TSR-2.
  • The engines were fitted with afterburners, as the extra thrust was needed for take-off.
  • According to Wikipedia the engines had a high thermal efficiency in supersonic cruise.
  • According to Wikipedia, there was an engine without afterburning for a longer range Concorde under development.

Over the years, there have been various proposals for supersonic aircraft, in military, commercial and business fields, so I suspect Rolls-Royce have done significant work in powering supersonic flight.

But then other engine companies would have gone down similar routes!

Rolls-Royce though probably have all the data on the engine ideas for Concorde that failed.

I wouldn’t be surprised, if one of the major aero-engine companies has a solution to the powerplant for the Boom Overture, based on the chase for supersonic speeds forty and fifty years ago.

But Rolls-Royce because of the Concorde experience could be closer to a successful development.

So I think signing with Rolls-Royce could be a very sensible move.

The Afterburners

The Wikipedia entry for the Boom Overture says this about afterburners.

Boom wants to use moderate bypass turbofans without afterburners, unlike Concorde’s Rolls-Royce/Snecma Olympus.

Could that be one piece of complication, that improvements in technology has eliminated?

The Engine Intakes

The Wikipedia entry for the Olympus 593 engines has a section called Intakes.

They were thought to be clever in the 1960s, but they just look complicated to me, with all my extra experience.

The intakes seem to have used very comprehensive digital control systems, but these days controls like these will be even more comprehensive and a lot more sophisticated, as computing has moved on.

I very much feel that if the Boom Overture needed sophisticated variable-geometry engine intakes like Concorde, we have the knowledge to create them and the computer expertise to make them act as needed.

The Exhaust Nozzle

The Wikipedia entry for the Olympus 593 engines has a section called Exhaust Nozzle.

These too are complicated and a lot of what I said for the intakes, would apply to the nozzles.

The Fuel

The Wikipedia entry for the Boom Overture says

The aircraft is intended to run on Sustainable Aviation Fuel.

It is likely, that Sustainable Aviation Fuel will be used for commercial aviation until there is a significant move to hydrogen.

  • In the UK, a company called Altalto is building a large plant to make the fuel at Immingham from household and industrial waste.
  • One idea being pursued by some companies is to create the fuel from used disposable nappies.
  • Wikipedia indicates that the fuel could cut CO2 emissions by between 20-98%.
  • Altalto is backed by British Airways and Velocys, who are a spin-out from Oxford University.

There is certainly a lot of money and technology being thrown behind Sustainable Aviation Fuel to make it a net-zero alternative for the powering of aircraft.

The Noise

This Youtube video shows Concorde’s last take-off from New York.

It was certainly a noisy aircraft.

  • Concorde’s engines had afterburners.
  • It also needed a long take-off run, so it made more noise on the ground.
  • It used to take off with a high angle of attack with the nose high.

All of these factors would have increased real and perceived noise levels.

I feel that if the Boom Overture is going to have significantly lower noise levels than Concorde, then its design will need to be radically different.

The lack of afterburners will make some difference.

It carries only about 75 % of the passengers of Concorde.

It is roughly, the same length as Concorde, but the wingspan is nearly thirty percent smaller.

To be continued…

 

 

June 6, 2021 Posted by | Design, Hydrogen, Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

BECCS Beats Hydrogen For Decarbonizing Steel In Europe: ArcelorMittal

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on S & P Global Platts.

This is the first paragraph.

Bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) offers a more cost-effective, readily available solution for decarbonizing the steel industry in Europe than clean hydrogen, steel producer ArcelorMittal’s head of strategy David Clarke said May 17.

So what do they mean by bioenergy?

To make iron from iron ore, you need a reducing agent like carbon or hydrogen.

Iron ore is rich in oxides of iron.

The carbon is usually some form of coal, which produces large amounts of carbon dioxide with the oxygen from the iron oxides.

Hydrogen produces lots of water with the oxygen.

David Clarke of ArcelorMittal explains the process in the article.

“We know biomass worked as a replacement for coal,” he said. “We’ve been using it in our operations in Brazil and other places for many, many years. We have a project in Belgium that we’ll be starting up next year using waste wood, using that to make bio-coal,” with a project to take the emissions from the bio-coal to produce bioethanol.

Is this a case of Back-To-The-Future? If I remember my history, didn’t Iron Age men use charcoal to smelt iron and other metal ores?

If those scientists from Velocys can make Sustainable Aviation Fuel and biodiesel from household waste and used disposable nappies, can they apply their magic to make bio-coal?

I see great cost advantages with this process, as surely it would enable existing blast furnaces to be used, provided they were fitted with carbon capture and storage.

May 17, 2021 Posted by | World | , , , , , , , | 3 Comments