Graphene – discovery to application

Graphene #2_  Graphene #1_


Graphene was discovered in 2004 by two professors at the university of Manchester, Andre Geim and Kostya Novoselov, and was hailed as the wonder material that would disrupt many industries. The academics, who have since won the Nobel Prize for their work, produced the material during a Friday night experiment by playing around and using Scotch tape to create ultra thin flakes from a lump of graphite. Graphene was soon proved to be the thinnest material known to scientists – just 1 atom thick, and 200 times stronger than steel, super-elastic and excellent heat and electrical conductivity ! A legend was born !

Subsequently there has been a problem in producing the material cost effectively to make it commercial because production techniques are so expensive. There have been some recent developments though, namely CVD (chemical vapour disposition – a process that grows Graphene on a copper substrate which is then dissolved with acid leaving the material). A more cost effective and higher quality variation on CVD uses carbonic acid between the graphene and copper enabling easy delamination, eliminating the post cleaning process using acids. Another is a chemical & substrate free process using a plasma reactor with methane gas – graphene is produced like flakes of snow !

Potential applications: coating on mobile phone batteries, electrodes on flexible solar panels, heat conductors on LED bulbs, fuel cells, water filtration systems …

It’s a shame that such a fantastic material is subservient to market forces and cannot be fully utilised in our world until high cost of production is overcome.

Hope you have a great month

All the best


Quotation corner:

“Life always offers you a second chance. It’s called tomorrow.”

– Anonymous

“Coincidence is God’s way of remaining anonymous.”

– Albert Einstein

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

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Engineering Oversights !

Trains Too Wide !

French Trains Too Wide_  French Trains Too Wide_#2_

In France 341 new trains intended to be rolled out over two years were too wide for the platforms in nearly 1,300 stations because railway network engineers “forgot to go and measure the actual distance between lines and platforms.”

It cost around $68 million to correct the error. The whole debacle brings to mind another notable engineering mistake we made in the UK:

The Bridge That Made People Seasick !

Millenium Bridge Sway #1_   Millenium Bridge Sway #2_

When the Millennium Bridge over London’s Thames River first opened in 2000, it swayed so much that pedestrians would get dizzy and fall down. It reopened in 2002 after undergoing an $8-million repair, and some experts blame the synchronisation of people’s footsteps to the movement of the bridge for the wobbliness.

Must have been an interesting experience during the New Year’s eve celebrations !

Just shows engineers are human and make mistakes – I guess all we can do is reduce the probability of them happening, and limit the losses when they do happen !

Happy & Prosperous New Year

All the best


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

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Volocopters – Uber high taxis

Volocopter #2_  Volocopter #3_

On Monday 25th September Dubai witnessed the first flight of a volocopter, an autonomous flying people carrying drone ! Dubai wants to become the cornerstone of a flying taxi service – an Uber of the skies no less !

Volocopters have 18 propellers driven by individual electric motors, which means any faults during flights can be isolated without any risk to safety. The motors are powered by nine independent batteries that can be quickly changed. Volocopters have a top speed of 100km/hr, much slower than traditional helicopters, and a flight duration of just 20-30mins and are extremely easy to fly. They are operated with a one hand joy stick that is aided by a flight control system made up of several independent units. Each unit contains positioning sensors that consist of pressure gauges, gyroscopes, accelerometers and magnetometers for all 3 spatial axes – roll, pitch and yaw. Take off and landing and adjustments to altitude are controlled with a thumb button, with semi-autonomous system ensuring landings are gentle.

Perhaps we need these in UK cities as an alternative transport for business to beat our traffic jams and ever increasing congested roads.

Hope you have a great month

All the best


Quotation corner:

“The Guide says there is an art to flying”, said Ford, “or rather a knack. The knack lies in learning how to throw yourself at the ground and miss.”

Douglas Adams – Author

“On his seventy-fifth birthday a photographer said: ‘I hope, sir, that I will shoot your picture on your hundredth birthday.’ Churchill answered: ‘I don’t see why not, young man. You look reasonably fit and healthy.”

Winston Churchill

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





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Bloodhound latest – 200mph test run

Bloodhound #1_      Bloodhound #6_

On 26th October just a few days ago Bloodhound SSC team experienced it’s biggest milestone to date in the development of the world’s first 1000 mph car. At 1pm the Bristol built supersonic car carried out it’s first public tests on the runway at Newquay airport taking the car to 200 mph driven by RAF Wing Commander Andy Green. All the data taken from the test will be processed and analysed to ensure car is record ready for the attempt in 2019 on a special track in Northern Cape, South Africa.

Please see video of actual first test run on link below: (actual footage starts 40 mins in to video !)

Hope you have a great month

All the best


Quotation corner:

“Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.”

Mark Twain

“Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon ’em.”

William Skakespeare

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




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‘Keyhole Surgery’ on RR Jet Engines

RR Trent Engine__#1_  Endoscope_Medical_


MiRoR (Minitarised Robotic System for In-Situ Repair) robotic technology is moving at a pace at Rolls Royce with the introduction of ‘snake’ like robots that can enter inside an in-service jet engine of a commercial or military aircraft and make repairs remotely controlled by a highly experienced and qualified engineer, who is based elsewhere in the world but most likely at Rolls Royce in Derby. Development of these robots is progressing significantly at RR’s facilities in Derby, the technology will save a lot of time and cost within maintenance and repair contracts, improving profit margins.

At Derby they have CAD models to supplement the views from on board cameras on the snake like robots that have 25 degrees of freedom of movement controlled by algorithms assisted by camera & sensors, as they move and contort through narrow gaps.

Presently engineers go on site and investigate stricken planes with a borescope similar to a medical endescope to peer inside the engine through tiny access holes. Repairs ideally are achieved with the engine in-situ using specialised miniaturised tools to clean up engine blade defects for example through the same access holes. This is very skilled work, but the robotic technology enables the process to happen remotely by the same engineer. This technology is also being used in other sectors and is enabling access to environments normally detrimental to humans.

The world is changing and the way we work is changing, this technology is a definite improvement.

Hope you have a good month

All the best,


Quotation corner:

“A verbal contract is not worth the paper it’s written on.”
    Samuel Goldwyn

“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving”
   Albert Einstein

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




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Hyperloop Transport – non friction !

Hyperloop Pod_#4_  Hyperloop Pod_#5_

Hyperloop transport is gaining momentum as a future transport system. It is environmentally sustainable and cost-effective. It consists of passenger Pods elevated by magnetism or pressurised air bed, within low pressure transport tubes, these then travel up to near supersonic speed ~ 800 mph, driven by linear induction motors or fans. SpaceX are encouraging further innovation in this area by holding a competition in January this year at their Hyperloop test track for 27 teams from across the world.

SpaceX and Elon Musk head of Tesla mentioned hyperloop transport to South Korea a few years ago, who have since signed a deal with HTT, a start up company from Calfornia, to develop a hyperloop line between Seoul and Busan. If it is successful, travel time will come down from 3 hrs by bullet train to just 30 mins ! The energy used will be much less than high-speed rail and cost of infrastructure would be less than half. Part of the deal includes co-operation with Hanyyang University in Seoul, starting initially with the build of a full scale test bed.

Elsewhere Dubai, US, Czech Republic, China, Indonesia, and India are all investing in hyperloop projects. The annual market is expected to grow by 50% from 2022 to reach $6.34 billion by 2026 – as reported from Markets and Markets. The first hyperloop is expected to be launched in 2022, providing 12 minute travel between Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

The science fiction movies often used to portray this type of travel and now it seems has become today’s reality.

I wonder what’s next?  Swish, Swish doors and silver one piece suits and interesting hairstyles !! Let’s hope not !!

Hope you have a good month,

All the best,


Quotation corner:

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

“Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow know what you truly want to become”
    Steve Jobs

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


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I, Robot – it’s nearer than you think !

Cobot #3_  Cobot #1_

Collaborative robots called ‘cobots’ are growing in popularity in manufacturing companies over traditional robots used on production lines. The main differences between them is that cobots are smaller and more versatile, they can be taught new tasks in hours instead of weeks, they are less expensive – average price is $24,000 compared with $50,000 to $75,000, and they are not within a physical safety cage or invisible kill-switch safety zone, but are free to roam within a given area.

Their movement and appearance are becoming more characteristically human to instill trust from humans as they work together. Monitors represent faces with almost cartoon like eyes and facial expressions, and they turn towards an object as their arm approaches it to carry out a certain task. Arm movement speed & range copy the more restricted movements of humans to not shock or cause fear in humans, but to gain trust. The Audi and Ford factories use collaborative robots and the factory workers have dressed them up a little and given them nick names ! The relationship between man and machine seems to be getting closer !

Jim Lawton chief product and marketing officer at Rethink Robotics, predicts they will also be able to share information with each other across the cloud network to help them learn from each other and improve, and that very soon they will be in every manufacturing environment in the world and eventually in our homes.

It’s amazing how some elements or themes of yesteryear science fiction films start to appear in present day society.

Hope you have a great month

All the best


A little light relief

some more alternative exam answers …  !

Funny Exam Answers #13_

Funny Exam Answers #14_

Funny Exam Answers #15_

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