Twistocaloric Cooling – new refrigeration technology

One fifth of global electricity consumption is from air conditioning and is a significant contributor to global warming. A more environmentally friendly development from the University of Texas has emerged and is based on twisting and untwisting fibres. The method known as ‘twistocaloric cooling’ or ‘elastocaloric cooling’ works by twisting a yarn or fibre causing an increase in it’s temperature which is used to heat a surrounding flowing liquid such as water. Untwisting causes the temperature to decrease therefore cooling a surrounding flowing liquid.

The team at Texas University have already successfully demonstrated twist-based refrigeration with materials ranging from rubber to fishing line to nickel titanium wire – results are published in the journal ‘Science’. (One of which is up to 16.4 degrees C of cooling).

Dr Ray Baughman at Texas University predicts Twist Fridges will be smaller and lighter than the cooling units used in traditional fridges. Efficiency is also better at 67% compared with 60% of today’s units.

This technology is very much welcomed as it is more efficient using less electricity, and does not employ refrigerants, of which both effect global warming.

Hope you have a good month

All the best


Quotation corner:

“In the business world, the rear view mirror is always clearer than the windscreen.”

Warren Buffett

“Some couples go over their budgets very carefully every month. Others just go over them.”

Katherine Mansfield

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

Posted in business, Energy, engineering development, environment, humor, humour, manufacturing, MECHANICAL ENGINEERING, quotations, quotes, refrigeration, technology, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Effectiveness of Cloth Masks against respiratory infections

Cloth masks have been used in healthcare and community settings to protect the wearer from respiratory infections for many years around the world.

Masks have two functions: firstly to prevent transmission of respiratory infections from infected person (source) to another (recipient), and secondly in the contra direction as a barrier to acquiring an infection.

The filtration effectiveness and performance of cloth masks is generally inferior than that of medical masks and respirators; however, cloth masks may provide some protection if well designed and used correctly.

The best cloth masks are those that use multilayer cloth, designed to fit snuggly around the face and are made of water-resistant fabric with a high number of threads and fine weave. Ill fitting masks can reduce effectiveness by up to 60%.

Cloth masks should be washed daily and after high-exposure use, by using soap and hot water or other appropriate methods to maintain good filtration.

There is a need for further research in improving the engineering design of cloth masks to enhance their filtration and fit, and also further investigation into the various methods for effective decontamination.

Reference article from CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) report Vol 26 No10 October 2020.

Hope you have a good month and stay safe through these unprecedented times

All the best,


Quotation corner:

“I don’t measure a man’s success by how high he climbs but how high he bounces when he hits bottom.”

General George S. Patton

“Never put off until tomorrow what you can do the day after tomorrow

Mark Twain

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

Posted in design, Health, humor, humour, medical, Medical Engineering, Pandemic, quotations, quotes, technology, Uncategorized, Virus Infection | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

3D CAD – The Evolution Journey

3D CAD was first introduced in the 1990s and was a game changer at the time.

Before this CAD was 2D and replicated traditional hand drawn engineering or archtitectural drawings on film or paper, a process that had been around for many years.

3D CAD has grown in functionality since the 90s and has become increasingly sophisticated enabling users to design quicker, easier & more accurately than ever before. The design data is used to produce prototypes or manufactured parts, or buildings.

A milestone since then have been, ‘add ons’ such as Visualisation and Simulation of parts within it’s intended engineering environment, traditionally used at the end of a design process. These can now be used near the beginning in realtime to analyse and verify design behaviour, therefore saving time before going down some unwanted cul de sacs !

Another milestone recently is ‘generative design’ whereby the designer inputs engineering goals and parameters such as physical boundary conditions, material options, applied loads, manufacturing methods and cost constraints. The software then provides a set of variations that solve the engineering problem and the designer chooses an optimum design solution !

3D CAD has also changed over the years in the area of financing. Traditionally ‘seats’ were purchased using a perpetual license model and software owned by the user indefinitely. Now CAD is moving to subscription based pay-as-you-go model, where the user pays a monthly or annual fee or leases software for a set period.

A further development is SAAS (Software As A Service) whereupon software is accessed via the ‘cloud’ or internet and deployed from there. The hardware restrictions of single user in the office are lifted and collaboration of design work is made easier by users or teams from around the world, using the latest software. The ‘add ons’ mentioned earlier are also paid for on a ‘on demand’ basis, which can lower costs.

My only reservation of the direction CAD software is taking is ‘contingency’ and ‘ownership’ – if the cloud or internet based software goes down (which is a possibility), what back up is there? In addition the latest software will eventually be only available from SAAS. The present situation of the CAD software market is that legacy CAD software of perpetual license holders will eventually go out of date, as it is not possible to upgrade to the latest software on a stand alone license basis. It seems users will only be allowed to lease software, and not own it and decide to upgrade when they choose.

To conclude 3D CAD software has progressed in leaps & bounds over the last 30 years, but ownership is moving from user to software supplier, with increased financial control.

Hope you have a good month

All the best


Quotation corner:

“Failure is the opportunity to begin again more intelligently”

Henry Ford

“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

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

Posted in 3D CAD, business, cad, CAD Software, design, Engineering, humor, humour, manufacturing, MECHANICAL ENGINEERING, project engineering, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Reverse Engineering

3D Scanner_IMechE_#1__

A rather counter intuitive title for a blog, but as I have often heard ‘one has to retreat to advance’ ! Reverse engineering in essence is the design process in reverse.

The need for reverse engineering arises when one has a legacy product one would like to reproduce or manufacture but no design drawings or information exist. You work backwards through the design process to arrive at the specification. The resulting technical data can be used to replicate the product in CAD.

Design information is collected by various 3D measuring systems or combinations thereof  including: coordinate measuring machines,  laser scanners, tomography scanners, 3D structured light scanners, time of flight and photogrammetry, and lastly digital calipers & micrometers.

Scanners produce a point cloud data file which is converted to a .stl file which is further converted to a 3D CAD model that can also be redesigned or optimised. The data from the final CAD file is then used to produce the part.

Although in engineering we seem to be in reverse we are in fact advancing !

Hope you have a good month

All the best


Quotation corner:

“Genius is one percent inspiration, and ninety-nine percent perspiration.”

Thomas Edison

“Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.”

Saint Francis of Assisi

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

Posted in 3D CAD, 3D Scanning, business, design, Engineering, humour, manufacturing, MECHANICAL ENGINEERING, project engineering, quotations, quotes, Reverse Engineering, technology, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Integrity in engineering & governance

Jet Turbine under test_    Jet Engine under test

Recent events in the UK and US led me to think about integrity in our world today, especially in places of leadership and governance, and even within our own professions – mine being engineering.

Their are codes of conduct in place for professions – in the IMechE we have a set which endeavours to preserve a high level of conduct in our association with others within a commercial environment.

Interestingly though in engineering the integrity of a component within a system is it’s ability not to fail under certain load test conditions of which it is designed to withstand. Failure can be due to incorrect design, material imperfections, internal stresses, manufacturing flaws and so on. An example would be a fan blade within a jet engine. If the integrity of the blade fails under certain tensile stresses within certain environmental conditions it will also carry through to failure of the engine – the whole system would then lack integrity not just the component. On the other hand, non critical parts can fail and the system integrity remains in tact.

This example is an illustration of what can happen when one lacks integrity and fails under pressure or a testing situation within business or society and the consequences that can follow.

I guess it’s a challenge to us all in our professions to wisely consider our actions before we take them, and to try our best to walk in integrity !

Hope you have a good month

All the best


Quotation corner:

“Something I learned early is to not worry about what I can’t control… But what I can control is my attitude, my effort, and my focus every single day.”

Tim Tebow

“There is nothing better than a friend, unless it is a friend with chocolate.”

Charles Dickens

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

Posted in business, design, Engineering, failure, Gas Turbine, humour, Integrity, jet engine, manufacturing, material science, MECHANICAL ENGINEERING, Politics, quotations, quotes, turbine, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Covid 19 – hands to the plough


It’s amazing that in challenging and difficult times communities and even professions pull together to combat the ‘enemy at large’ and it’s consequences.

At the risk of blowing the trumpet for IMechE, they have informed us of the following:

“Our members are involved in the national response to COVID-19 at many levels, from designing ventilators to working on infection control in buildings and public spaces.

We have over 3,000 members in our Biomedical Engineering Division, many of whom are playing vital roles working to support the NHS to cope with the COVID 19 crisis which has claimed thousands of lives in the UK.”

The UK faces a continuing shortage of PPE including face masks, visors and gowns. The Government has called for industrial manufacturers to switch production to making PPE and has also looked to imports to meet the shortfall.

I understand there are large & small companies from various sectors across the UK who have heard the ‘call’ and are switching parts of their production to making PPE.

It is great to see professionals from every sector ‘putting their hands to the plough’, including engineers to work for the common good.

Hope you have a peaceful month

All the best,


Quotation corner:

“I don’t measure a man’s success by how high he climbs but how high he bounces when he hits bottom.”

General George S. Patton

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


Posted in quotations, quotes, Uncategorized | Tagged | 1 Comment

Global Race for Coronavirus Vaccine

‘Unprecedented times’ seems to be the key phrase these days. A virus that has effected the world – physically, spiritually, mentally and financially. There is hope though that comes in may forms. One form is in the provision of a vaccine via scientific research.

Israel’s Institute for Biological Research—a civilian organization formerly under the Defense Ministry—are soon expected to announce the development of a vaccine for the coronavirus, but this process might require many months of trials and experiments before it is deemed safe and effective (source: Reuters, Haaretz )

The Israel state-funded Migal Galilee Research Institute also announced a breakthrough in the development of a vaccine for the new coronavirus. Their rapid progress was credited to four years of previous research focused on the development of a vaccine effective against an avian coronavirus affecting poultry, that could be adapted to counter COVID-19. (source: Reuters,  MIGAL )

In the U.S., a coronavirus vaccine trial has given a dose to its first participant. The study, funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and conducted in the Kaiser Permanente Health Research Institute in Seattle is currently testing whether the vaccine is safe for human use. (source: Reuters, )

In China, researchers at the Academy of Military Medical Sciences have received approval to launch early-stage clinical trials of the potential vaccine, as reported by state media. (Source: Reuters)

U.S. drug maker Pfizer are collaborating with Germany’s BioNTech to co-develop a potential vaccine for the coronavirus. (Source: Reuters)

Experts at the World Health Organisation say they do not expect any fully tested and approved vaccine to reach the market until the middle of 2021. (Source Reuters, WHO )

Another form of hope I have personally found helpful is in the Holy Bible,

“but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength … ” 

book of Isaiah chapter 40 verse 31

All the best,



Posted in research science, Uncategorized, Virus | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

A train that’s ahead by a nose !

ALPHA-X_Train__   Shanghai_Maglev_Train__

ALPHA-X                                                                        Maglev

Trains are accepted to be less polluting than aircraft but to truly rival plane travel as a valid alternative they are being developed to go faster. In Japan they are testing the ALPHA-X which stands for Advanced Labs for Frontline Activity in rail eXperimentation. It will be capable of speeds up to 250 mph (402km/h) – 50 mph faster than the current generation of Skinkansen trains. However the fastest in the world is the Shanghai’s Maglev train, which employs a non traditional train technology whereby the train is raised or levitated above a track by magnetism.

For the ALPHA-X to achieve 250 mph engineers have had to modify the ‘kingfisher’ inspired nose cone: namely to make it even longer. Night time trials are being undertaken presently with 16m & 22m length cones. The cone is used to combat the ‘piston effect’ when traveling through tunnels, which can cause an unwanted sonic boom at the other end, which has been known to smash windows ! It is also designed to reduce drag and effect of side winds.

Please see link below to YouTube video of ALPHA-X in action !

Hope you have a good month

All the best


Quotation corner:

“If you can dream it, you can do it.”

Walt Disney

“The greatest danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it.”


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



Posted in aerodynamics, business, design, Engineering, engineering development, environment, humor, humour, MECHANICAL ENGINEERING, polution, quotations, quotes, train travel, transport, travel, Uncategorized, Vehicle | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sepsis – early detection technology

Spyras_Sepsis_detection_  Spyras_Sepsis_detection_#2_

Patient deterioration owing to infections that develop into Sepsis is the primary cause of admissions to intensive care units from lower dependency hospital wards. A patient’s respiratory rate is well known to be the earliest signs of Sepsis.

Prototype paper sensors have been developed by Spyras (founded by 25 year old George Winfield), that will be able to detect early signs of Sepsis in hospital patients, by accurately monitoring a person’s breathing. The respiratory rate, inhalation and exhalation periods and depth of breathing, would be analysed and closely monitored. Clinicians would be alerted at the earliest signs of deterioration in the patient.

This technology is very important given that every 4 seconds someone in the world dies from Sepsis, and early detection might save up to 14000 lives a year in the UK alone – staggering.

May there be many more engineering innovations that will continue to improve our essential health service.

Hope you have a good month

All the best


Quotation corner:

“The greatest good you can do for another is not just to share your riches but to reveal to him his own.”

Benjamin Disraeli

“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”

Sir 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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Business Venture – Laurel & Hardy style !

Laurel and hardy Big Business__#1_

It’s that time of year for a little light hearted fun.

Please find link below to one of my favourite Laurel & Hardy short films on one of their many business ventures – selling Christmas trees !

A perfect 18 minute break from the frantic season over a cuppa !

Hope you have a good, peaceful & restful holiday

All the best,



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

Posted in business, Car, Comedy Sketch, humor, humour, Selling, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment
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