Yokogawa expands intoTurkey

Yokogawa Electric Corporation has announced that its subsidiary, Yokogawa Europe BV has acquired 100% of the shares of its distributor in Turkey, Birleşik Endüstriyel Sistemler Ve Tesisler AS (BEST), which is based in Izmir. Yokogawa sees this as a major step forward into the emerging market in Turkey and the associated area. The acquisition of shares was carried out on November 25.

With this acquisition, Yokogawa is strengthening its focus on Turkey as a market with substantial growth potential. It will allow Yokogawa to extend its position in several promising segments, such as the power industry. Through the acquisition, Yokogawa will also enhance its relationships with customers in Turkey.

“BEST has been Yokogawa’s distributor since 1977 and has already built an excellent reputation in the oil and gas industries, where it will continue to provide great value to customers,” comments Yokogawa Europe’s president Herman van den Berg: “Yokogawa is committed to working with customers as partners to help them get maximum value from their plant operations, and this acquisition is a major step forward in our plans to grow our footprint in emerging markets, and specifically in target industries including the power and energy sectors.”

US climate change contribution

….65 tonnes per hour of methane, discharging to atmosphere for 6 months!

The Climate Change conference in Paris, in December, was bracketed by yet more “once in 200 year” floods in Northwest England, and followed, or maybe even preceded, by the UK Government announcing the cancellation of CCS research support, and all subsidies to solar power. OK they are now rethinking solar power subsidy.

But the USA was already digging itself deeper into the mire by having a major methane gas leak in California. Already, the methane gas leak from underground storage tanks had been venting to atmosphere for two months when they sat down at the table. The problem is, current plans to stop the leak will take three further months, if it works. Why can’t the US machine do it faster?

So at 65 metric tonnes per hour of gas discharge of methane, this is 1560 T per day; 46,800 T per month; and 234 thousand tonnes over the five months of the leak, all things being well.

Now methane is 70 times more damaging to the atmosphere than CO2, so that means the leak will be equivalent to 16 million, 380 thousand tonnes of carbon dioxide, released into the atmosphere because of a leak that was not ‘controllable by the US industry involved’, from natural gas storage, presumably it was storing their fracked gas. We don’t get told the equivalent of this air pollution in terms of vehicle emissions or power station homes supplied with power: maybe we should measure it in terms of numbers of houses flooded, and cyclone casualties instead?

Actually, it can be measured against one of the biggest coal fired stations in the UK, Longannet in Scotland. Longannet power station is closing because it consumes 1000 Tonnes of coal per hour, say that is 4000 tonnes of CO2 emissions per hour. It does not have any CCS capture technology, so it is closing because it is a major source of European pollution.
The gas leak in California is 65T per hour methane, equivalent to 4550 Tonnes per hour of CO2 equivalent.
So this one gas leak is more polluting than one of the UK power stations that is now paying fines for its pollution emissions!
Are the US owners of this methane storage facility paying any fines for their climate damage? Does anyone in the USA care about this enough to put a major effort in to close the leak in less than another three months, maybe, if everything works like they hope?

See http://www.hazardexonthenet.net/article/107539/Massive-gas-leak-from-California-underground-storage-reservoir-causes-1-800-families-to-relocate.aspx?

January 2016 Update:

The leak rate has slowed considerably over the past months, and the Californian Air Resources Board reckon the total discharge to date has been about 83,000 tonnes of methane. They consider the well storage is being exhausted. This equates to 2.1 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent. SoCalGas suggest the leak capping process will be completed in the month of March.

February 2016 Update:

On Feb 11th SoCalGas announced that they had completed the drilling down to intercept the base of the leaking well, and they had succeeded in plugging the flow with heavy mud followed up by cement. So the leak had been stopped – but it was probably stopped anyway, all the gas having been exhausted. 11,300 residents can now return to their homes.

More important is that attention has now been focussed on the problem of these leaky old wells used for gas storage, and the Los Angeles Daily News has the bit between its teeth and is turning investigative reporters onto similar stories. Main focus is on the Hattiesburg Gas Storage site in Mississippi and Lake Gas Storage site in Texas.


Climate and UK power changes

It seems that a standard feature in the monthly INSIDER Newsletter now necessary is to review the U-turns and changes of subsidies and policies of the UK Government in relation to future power sources. Solar schemes have used up all the Government allocated finance, and wind has fallen from favour, presumably to allow the big nuclear plants from China and France to take the front position – showered with promises of Government money. Then the rather puzzling announcement came that the Government was to cancel any further spend on CCS – Carbon Capture and Storage – for which two prototype experimental plants are being built in the UK. This ignores the major market requirement for such plants in the developing world once the technology is sorted, but at least Shell has other similar CCS projects in other countries.

So the cancellation of Government support for these green climate saving technologies was a really good precursor to the Climate Change talks in Paris in December. However, one week later, and another U-turn, and solar power subsidies, smaller versions, are re-instated!

The UK policy subsequently seems to be that coal fired plants will be phased out completely, with a target end-date of 2025, to be replaced by solar and gas powered plants. Note the gas plants could also benefit from CCS technology, using up the caverns left empty under the North Sea, but there has been no U-turn there yet! Further offshore wind farm developments will also be allowed, provided they can deliver energy at a lower cost than currently. Plus small modular nuclear plants are now back on the list of possible options, too.

The next part of the Government’s spending review involved cutting out all the funding for the Manufacturing Advisory Service, which is, or was, a well-respected advice service for small manufacturers to get help in choosing the right form of automation systems, to enable them to trade competitively. That seems to have been the major area where it had a positive impact. So they cut that too.

Nuclear plant lifetime economics

TXT 3 Alisha Kasam

At Churchill College, Cambridge, Alisha Kasam, a student from Atlanta Georgia, has just completed an MPhil which was entitled Thermodynamic and Economic Evaluation of the Nuclear Air Brayton Combined Cycle. She is now studying for a PhD in Engineering – specifically the dynamic efficiency of energy and the economic viability of resource sustainability and waste minimisation in the next generation of nuclear plant technology. Just the sort of investigative report that an Editor would like to undertake, but obviously it’s a bit more work than might be obvious. Alisha is fully sponsored at Cambridge University by a Cambridge Trust scholarship and a Churchill Pochobradsky Scholarship combined into one.


It’s a pity Sir John didn’t put a spare reactor in that boiler house!

Yokogawa finds a niche

Yokogawa, or maybe the Irish firm Schwungrad Energie (I have real worries about the Irish!) have developed a system to store and smooth the intermittent or variable power coming out of wind turbines in particular, or solar farms, using a medium-sized flywheel and a lump of their clever electronics. This enables a stable supply to be delivered to consumers, avoiding brown-outs etc. Their system has been installed in Europe’s first hybrid energy storage plant in Rhode, County Offaly, Ireland. Developed in collaboration with the University of Limerick, the Rhode hybrid demo project comprises two Beacon Power 160 kW flywheels and Hitachi Chemical valve regulated lead acid batteries of up to 160 kW. The plant will have a maximum import capacity of 400 kVA and maximum export capacity of 422 kVA. The flywheel system, with very high cycling ability, can rapidly absorb short-term excess grid energy and generate energy as needed by grid operators.

Yokogawa delivered the FA-M3V high speed controller and the Fast-Tools SCADA software to monitor and control the amount of energy that is stored in the flywheels and the charging/discharging of the lead acid battery. Yokogawa are hoping to strengthen its position in the power industry through the provision of such grid-connectable power storage systems as these, and other solutions that can help to build a sustainable society.

Stop Press!

Not yet confirmed, but the rumour is the latest Government U-turn will be that, because of “global warming, which has led to unseasonably warm weather in the UK throughout December”, the GBP100 Winter fuel supplement paid to pensioners early in December is to be recalled, by a levy on their January pensions. Happy New Year!

Life Goes Full Circle

Now approaching the ripe old age of 70, your Editor was delighted to see a solution announced to the first research project he undertook when fresh out of University. This was in 1967, when starting work at the sensor/detection systems research laboratory of Plessey Electronics at West Leigh, near Portsmouth. The project was on advanced detection aids for the Home Office Police R&D Branch, and the broad feasibility studies looked at methods of improving Police search methods by introducing scientific aids.

One notable idea was that possibly hidden bundles of banknotes might be recognized and located by using an adapted form of ground radar to detect the resonance of the dipole formed by the metal strip embedded in UK banknotes. Various experiments were undertaken that involved dangling bundles of GBP100 in GBP1 notes within a radar beam, but the effective reflective area was still insignificant compared to the background clutter. The conclusion was that detection might be possible if the metal strip was built with an embedded diode junction, which might enable some sort of mixing of dual frequency waves, but this was dismissed as impractical.

TWIPR Twin Inverted Pulse Radar

A Report by Jason Ford in the Engineer suggests that a new type of radar could be used to detect hidden surveillance equipment, explosives, or any other tagged items. Developed by a team led by Prof Tim Leighton from Southampton University’s Institute of Sound and Vibration Research, the idea is based on the technique used by dolphins to help their sonar signal processing. Their system, called TWIPS, twin inverted pulse sonar, can enhance scattering from a linear target, such as a fish, while suppressing non-linear scattering from oceanic bubbles. The technique uses a transmitted signal consisting of two pulses in quick succession, one identical to the other, but phase inverted. The Engineer reports:

“The Southampton researchers teamed up with Prof Hugh Griffiths and Dr Kenneth Tong of University College London and Dr David Daniels of Cobham Technical Services to test the proposal, by applying TWIPR radar pulses to a ‘target’ (a dipole antenna with a diode across its feedpoint – typical of circuitry in devices associated with espionage or explosives) to distinguish it from ‘clutter’ (represented by an aluminium plate and a bench clamp). In the test, the target showed up 100,000 times more powerfully than the clutter signal from an aluminium plate measuring 34cm by 40cm.”

Useful Applications

In fact, it is said that TWIPR would work the opposite way round to TWIPS, in that it would look for non-linear scattering by the target. Given that the diode target measured 6cm in length, weighed 2.8g, cost less than €1 and requires no batteries, it allows the manufacture of small, lightweight and inexpensive location and identification tags for animals, infrastructure, and for humans entering hazardous areas. These tags could also be tuned to scatter-specific resonances to provide a unique identifier to a TWIPR pulse.

The technique could also be used by skiers, to enable quicker location after avalanche burial, although the technique could be adapted to look for resonances from within standard objects like mobile phones.



Fatberg, dead ahead!

As we come up to Christmas, maybe its time to think about some of those things we normally forget about, like Fatbergs? Mario Kelly, VP of the Waste Water Innovation Platform of water, energy and maintenance solutions provider NCH Europe, reminds us in the following article that earlier this year, a ten tonne mass of fat and wet wipes had to be extracted from a 1940s sewer pipe that had collapsed under its weight in Chelsea, London, of all places. These masses of grease and fat are causing local authorities a massive headache. So what can be done to sort the problem?

Because it is a problem, and not just restricted to London, or the fast-food consuming Western world. In 2015 the streets of Malabon, north of Manila, were transformed into rivers after the typhoons Egay and Falcon, but these natural phenomena can’t be entirely blamed. Flooding was massively exacerbated by fatbergs blocking sewer systems and preventing water moving away from the streets. This is proof that this global, man-made, epidemic has the potential, in extreme situations, to put lives at risk as well as cost authorities vast sums of cash.

To avoid damage, teams of local authority or Government workers have to enter sewer systems to break down these monstrous deposits manually, with shovels, chemicals and high-pressure hoses. If the, often mobile, fatbergs aren’t kept in check they can do much more harm than a bit of flooding. For example, broadband cables often take advantage of the warren of sewer pipes to connect major cities to the internet, and a fatberg has the potential to dislodge these lifelines.

The cost of Fatbergs

Dublin council spends €1m every year maintaining the city’s sewers, and in 2008 it introduced a control-and-prevention programme to battle fatbergs that required food service establishments to be licensed. To support this initiative, compliance teams carry out over 8,000 inspections a year, while a ‘risk map’ helps Irish Water to target inspections and preventative maintenance. According to University College Dublin, the council has managed to reduce sewer blockages from 1,000 a year to just 50, and its last major fatberg blockage was five years ago. NCH’s BioAmp system was approved by Dublin City Council to help solve this problem and reduce the amount of fat, oils and grease (FOG) being discharged to the sewers.

The success of this initiative proves that tackling the issue at source, rather than waging war from within the pipes, is the path to bringing this epidemic under control. While household waste is always going to be the potential Achilles heel of this approach, businesses such as hotels, restaurants, food manufacturers and takeaways are the biggest contributors to fatberg growth and should be doing more to prevent them.

There is much that can be achieved by implementing suitable grease traps within a business, but it’s unrealistic to expect a busy restaurant or hotel to completely sift all grease out before it mixes with the waste water. When it comes to disposing of waste water, businesses across Europe often fall into the trap of thinking that if they have paid what is deemed a fair fee by their local authority, their hands are clean. However, this is not necessarily the case.

Effluent water from hotels, restaurants and food processing plants is always going to contain contaminants that, once released into the local sewer system, will feed a hungry fatberg. That’s why it’s time for businesses to take things a step further with their waste water treatment. To this end, at NCH Europe we’ve developed the ideal solution that will help local authorities, businesses and the environment.

The BioAmp delivery system and the FreeFlow water treatment product from NCH Europe uses live, naturally occurring bacteria to break down fats, oils, greases, suspended solids and other contaminants in water. FreeFlow bacteria actually digest contaminants, unlike solvents and free enzyme products. This means that, by the time effluent reaches the sewer system, there’s nothing left for a Fatberg to feast on.

With solutions such as this, combined with the advances in grease trap technology, there’s no reason this phenomenon should be allowed to continue. Businesses simply need to take a few small, affordable steps to support their local authority, save money on their annual effluent water disposal fees and, most importantly, give the rule of our sewers back to the fabled alligators that are rumoured to live there.