Solar Aircraft pioneering transatlantic crossing

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solar-impulse-2_2_  solar-impulse-2_3_


The solar powered aircraft Solar Impulse 2 has set a world record by completing the first solar, electric and zero emission crossing of the Atlantic ocean. The plane began it’s 22,000 mile round the world trip in March 2015, but has suffered several set backs along the way. Pilot Bertrand Piccard landed the plane at Seville Airport on 23 June, after a 3 day historic flight across the Atlantic from New York.

The plane is built from carbon fibre, a single seater, has a 72m wing span – larger than a Boeing 747 and ways only 2300 kg – equivalent to a family car. The 17,000 solar cells built into the fuselage supply the solar power to the four electric motors (17.5 hp each) that can take the plane to speeds of up to 60 mph.

The Solar Impulse team hope this venture will inspire the adoption of clean energy technology to create a new cleaner world for the future.

The plane will fly on to Abu Dhabi in the UAE, to complete the round the world flight adventure.

Hope you have a good month



The following are broadcasts between pilots and control towers – enjoy …

Tower: “Height and position?”
Pilot: “I am 1,80 m and I’m sitting.

LH741: “Tower, give me a rough time-check!”
Tower: “It’s Tuesday, Sir.”

Pilot: “…Tower, please call me a fuel truck.”
Tower: “Roger. You are a fuel truck.”

Tower: Mission 123, do you have problems?
Pilot: I think, I have lost my compass.
Tower: Judging the way you are flying, you lost the whole instrument panel!

Tower: “Delta Fox Alpha, hold position, Marshall will park you.”
Pilot: “Roger. Looking out for John Wayne.”

Ground Control: “123DG, bear to the left, disabled aircraft on the right.”
Pilot: “123DG, Roger, I have the disabled aircraft in sight, but I don’t see the bear yet.”




Posted in aerodynamics, AIRCRAFT, carbon fibre, design, Energy, Engineering, environment, green power, humor, humour, mechanical, MECHANICAL ENGINEERING, power generation, project engineering, quotations, quotes, record breaking, renewable energy, speed records, technology, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Team GB Bike Design for Rio


This blog is particularly interesting to me as I ride road bikes for a local club, and I am always looking to find ways to go faster !

From what I gather the rapid engineering advancement in bike design began with Dimitris Katsanis (ex aerospace engineer) in 2001, using carbon fibre composites and improved aerodynamics. Chris Hoy used his bikes to win several medals at the Olympic Games in Beijing. He was originally commissioned by the UK governing body for cycling in 2001, a few years after National Lottery funding for sport began in 1997. Chris Boardman then took on the role up to 2013, carrying on the success with several wins in the 2012 Olympics in London.

Today Professor Tony Purnell, the former F1 team principal (Jagaur & Red Bull) heads up the Research and Innovation division at British Cycling – or ‘Room X’ nicknamed ‘Bletchley Park’ – who still teaches one day a week at the university of Cambridge. He has a team of post grad & PhD research engineers, and former rider Jason Queally, who helps with wind tunnel testing. Gains made in overall performance of 5% are considered major, and the cyclists notice the improvement !

A collaborative project between Purnell’s team and Cervélo, has produced the Cervélo T5GB bike for team GB for 2016 Rio games. Tony Purnell states, “This means that, even after the fantastic success we enjoyed at London 2012, we have been determined to work alongside Cervélo to build and improve on the equipment that has served us so well in the recent past. Without question, this bike represents that quest for continuous improvement.”

Investment in UK sport, advancing training knowledge combined with advancing equipment design, has lead to amazing number of medals in Rio – go GB !

Hope you have a good month,

All the best,



“When your legs scream stop and your lungs are bursting, that’s when it starts. That’s the hurt locker. Winners love it in there”

– Chris Mc Cormack (Ironman champion 2007 & 2010)

My biggest fear is that when I die my wife will sell my bicycles for what I told her they cost.”

– unkown

ps  If you have enjoyed the blog please forward to those who might be interested, many thanks in advance, Mike

Posted in aerodynamics, business, cad, carbon fibre, cycling, design, Engineering, humor, humour, mechanical, MECHANICAL ENGINEERING, project engineering, record breaking, research science, technology, Uncategorized, university | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Brexit: engineering a new future

Brexit Flags_   Brexit Manufacturing_

What a close call this referendum was – 52% to leave. How will things pan out for engineering companies and industry in general? Article 50 still needs to be invoked by parliament with cross party MPs officially voting in favour of brexit. The details of the mechanism to exit this side in the UK and in Brussels is not always clear, and is unchartered waters for both . The effects of this political upset are still rippling through Europe and the world one week later.

The pound to the dollar exchange rate is the lowest since the 1980s, which will effect our businesses. FTSE100 share prices have dropped significantly but have recently bounced back.

For exporters, the drop in the pound makes their goods cheaper overseas and could help lift flagging demand. Until recently, manufacturers had been complaining that a relatively strong pound was hampering their competitiveness and contributing to a slowdown in the manufacturing sector. Conversely for importers, materials & certain goods are more expensive and so hamper profit margins & profitability. Profitability may well be affected also by new trade tariffs with Europe.

Business leaders and politicians all agree choppy waters are still ahead.

I feel we need to look heavenwards as a nation in these times, for help & wisdom to see us through these unsettling times to a new prosperous and peaceful future.

Hope you have a good month

All the best


Posted in Brexit, business, Engineering, Europe, Industry, manufacturing, Politics, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Bloodhound 1000mph record attempt

Bloodhound #4_                  Bloodhound #2_

Bloodhound #5_  Bloodhound #3_

The Bloodhound project was launched nearly 8 years ago. The aim & vision is to break the land speed record, and ultimately achieve 1000mph. The project has been very much ‘open source’ regarding it’s design and innovative technology. CAD drawings are readily available on the net of the car’s design, plus youtube videos of it’s progress to date. The reason for this, as I understand it, is ‘share’ the  project to help promote & enthuse engineering amongst the younger generation. There are over 300 sponsors & commercial partners, including the Institution of Mechanical Engineers that share this vision. Regarding budgets and costs, £16 million has been spent thus far, and another £7 million is needed to achieve it’s goal at the Hakskeen Pan, South Africa.

Not surprisingly the design has changed & evolved along the way due to computer simulations, low speed testing and new technologies, materials and products coming to market. I perceive this to be expected for such a long term ground breaking engineering project as this. They are now on the last stage, with just 10% left to go before the trip to South Africa.

Let’s hope Bloodhound is amazingly successful, and has good media coverage, that will encourage the younger generation into engineering.

Hope you have a good month

All the best


For further info:

ps please also see my previous blog on Bloodhound in June 2015 for more videos


“You will never win if you never begin.”

-Helen Rowland

“People who think they know everything are a great annoyance to those of us who do.”

– Isaac Asimov

“If you’re not failing every now and again, it’s a sign you’re not doing anything very innovative.”

– Woody Allen

ps  If you have enjoyed the blog please forward to those who might be interested, many thanks in advance, Mike



Posted in aerodynamics, cad, COMPUTER SIMULATION, design, Engineering, ergonomics, humor, humour, jet engine, manufacturing, mechanical, project engineering, quotations, quotes, record breaking, research science, rocket engine, speed records, technology, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Whitechapel Bell Foundry – oldest UK manufacturer



The Foundry was established in 1570, and is the oldest manufacturing company in the UK, according to the Guinness Book of Records. It resides in a grade 2 listed building in East London, and has been casting bells for nearly 500 years, including Big Ben in 1858, Liberty Bell in 1752 and more recently the 9/11 bell in 2001.

The basic principles of casting bells hasn’t changed. Molten metal is poured into a bell shaped space between an inner & outer mould that are made from sand, clay, manure and goat hair!

The bells, made from 77% copper and 23% tin, are tuned by cutting metal from the inner surface on a lathe, and by measuring frequencies. A bell produces 40 discernible harmonic tones, which blend to give it’s tone.

Tours are available on Saturdays and can be booked from their website

Hope you have a good month,

All the best,



“By the time a man realises that his father was right, he has a son who thinks he’s wrong.”
– Charles Wadworth

“The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.”
– Steve Jobs

“Am I not destroying my enemies when I make friends with them?”
– Abraham Lincoln

ps  If you have enjoyed the blog please forward to those who might be interested, many thanks in advance, Mike



Posted in architecture, business, design, Engineering, humor, humour, manufacturing, mechanical, MECHANICAL ENGINEERING, record breaking, technology, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Rasa – New Fuel Cell Car

Rasa Fuel Car 2_     Rasa Fuel Car 3_

Riversimple, a company in mid Wales, has come up with a brand new design for a fuel cell car, that is lighter and more fuel efficient than any such cars to date. The design by  Chris Reitz & his team in Barcelona, who designed the new Fiat 500, has used a fuel cell 1/10th the power of other manufacturers within a car body and drive train weighing just 580Kg! Fuel economy is equivalent to 250mpg of today’s petrol vehicles.

The car uses the latest lightweight materials, and advanced aerodynamics (drag coefficient of 0.224 – lower than any current production car). Super capacitors quickly absorb 50% of breaking energy and releases it again very quickly for assisted acceleration, making the car very energy efficient.

A quick note that fuel cells work by combining hydrogen (stored) and oxygen (within cell) to produce electricity and water. The electricity powers motors at each wheel.

The competition for future transport seems to be between electric and fuel cell vehicles. Disadvantages of ‘electric’ is the limited range and the need to wait for cars to charge at a charging point. The disadvantage of fuel cell technology is the limited number of filling stations offering hydrogen – presently 13, hopefully 65 by 2020, whereas electric charging points number 3700.

A road legal prototype has been produced, with a further batch of 20 due shortly partly funded by the EU. To help carve out a market for fuel cell cars the company founder Hugo Spowers plans to introduce a low cost car loan scheme that is easily affordable for the average person. The car initially would be offered as a ‘local’ vehicle to be used within a 25 mile radius of a hydrogen supply, until the infrastructure further expands. For more info please go to

Which ever technology becomes dominant we the general public will be benefit from these maturing technologies

Hope you had a good Easter, and hope you have a good month,

All the best,



“I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.”
– Douglas Adams

“Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm”
– Sir Winston Churchill

“Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off the goal.”
– Henry Ford

ps  If you have enjoyed the blog please forward to those who might be interested, many thanks in advance, Mike


Posted in aerodynamics, business, Car, carbon fibre, design, Energy, Engineering, environment, humor, humour, manufacturing, mechanical, MECHANICAL ENGINEERING, technology, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Renewable energy Steps forward

PaveGen_Floor Tile_                 PaveGen_Floor Tile#2_

Lawrence Kemball-Cook at Loughborough University came up with a floor tile that generates power from footsteps, after seeing a growing need in cities for energy. He won the Royal Society of Arts design prize of £5000 and invested this in his new company Pavegen.

Pavegen floor tiles converts kinetic energy to electrical energy by converting the downward movement of people’s steps to rotate a flywheel, which has electromagnetic generators embedded within them. This special flooring used in public spaces presently costs 20% more than standard flooring. Some of these places receive over 30 million footsteps a year, and so the tiles have been designed with this in mind and to last at least 5 years. Pavegen employs 45 people and turns over £5 million. Projects have included, powering the lighting at West Ham tube station; power for Paris schools from the Champ-Elysees walkways. Contracts have been placed with the US federal government, including the White House; orders with JP Morgan in Los Angeles,and Nanjing University in Singapore. They have also launched a technology centre at the Future Business Centre in Cambridge, and brought in a team of scientists & engineers specialising in low-power electronics to take things further forward. (For more info:

A simple yet profound idea improving today’s world

Hope you have a good month,

All the best,



“Always borrow money from a pessimist. He won’t expect it back.”
– Oscar Wilde

“A stockbroker urged me to buy a stock that would triple its value every year. I told him, “At my age, I don’t even buy green bananas.””
– Claude Pepper

“Those people who think they know everything are a great annoyance to those of us who do.”
– Isaac Asimov

ps  If you have enjoyed the blog please forward to those who might be interested, many thanks in advance, Mike




Posted in design, Energy, Engineering, environment, humor, humour, manufacturing, mechanical, MECHANICAL ENGINEERING, power generation, quotations, quotes, renewable energy, technology, university | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment