Tragedy of Italian Bridge Collapse

Italian Bridge Collapse_#4_

The Italian port city of Genoa experienced a terrible bridge collapse just one day before Italy’s major summer holidays on 14 August. A large section of the Morandi bridge collapsed amid heavy rainfall. Dozens of vehicles plunged 45m amid heavy traffic resulting in a death toll of 43. Genoa residents Carmelo and Wanda Presti said they thought there was an earthquake when they heard the sound of the bridge collapsing.

Part of the 1.2km (0.8 mile) long bridge spans the Polcevera waterway, with other portions reaching over railway lines and buildings.

It was designed by Riccardo Morandi and completed in 1967, but restructuring work was carried out in 2016.

Reasons for the collapse:

Italian Bridge Collapse_#5_

> Some experts have suggested that the ongoing maintenance work may have been a factor in the collapse.

> Others have suggested it may have been caused by a design flaw or heavy traffic.

> The bridge sees some 25 million vehicles every year, and a 2011 report by an Italian highways company said that the bridge had been suffering from degradation.

Antonio Brencich, a structural engineer who lectures at Genoa University, wrote in 2016 that it may have been more economical to rebuild the bridge because of the ongoing maintenance costs. “There are errors in this bridge. Sooner or later, it will have to be replaced. I don’t know when,” he warned.

Our thoughts & prayers are with the friends & families of the victims.

Let’s hope there is a thorough engineering inspection and risk assessment of other bridges in Europe to avoid a similar disaster.

Hope you have a good month


Reference: BBC News, ABC News
Posted in Bridges, business, civil engineering, design, Engineering, Europe, failure, material science, mechanical, MECHANICAL ENGINEERING, technology | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Gas Turbine Blades – 3D Printed !

Gas Turbine Blade_ AM Gas Turbine Blade #2_

3D Printing has come along way since it was first introduced a few years ago. It is now used in defence, aerospace, and automotive industries and has moved on to metal parts, and is referred to as AM (additive manufacture). The process consists of a nozzle that adds thin layers of metallic powder to a bed and a laser directed above, moves along the surface and melts the powder to form a solid metallic layer to a given design. The design itself is created as a 3D CAD model and imported into the printing machine.

The oil & gas industry has been a slow adopter to AM due to it’s inherent risk averse culture, but is now following suit with Siemens leading the way by producing gas turbine blades – presently at a pre-production level. New blade designs can be made within a few months, whereas with traditional casting & forging this could take up to 2 years. With AM new complex blade designs are now possible which can increase turbine efficiencies – such as lowering operating temperatures. There is also minimal waste material, and physical stock levels can be reduced with Just In Time manufacture – again reducing costs.

The use of AM has dramatically reduced production costs for the defence, aerospace & automotive industries – for example Boeing reduced costs by $1m on the production of it’s 787 Dreamliner simply by using printed parts !

Hope you have a great month

All the best


Quotation corner:

“Wine is a constant proof that God loves us and loves to see us happy.”

– Benjamin Franklin

“If this is coffee, please bring me some tea; but if it is tea, please bring some coffee.”

– Abrahm Lincoln


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


Posted in 3d, 3D Printing, business, cad, design, Energy, engine, Engineering, engineering development, Gas Turbine, humor, humour, Industry, manufacturing, MECHANICAL ENGINEERING, power generation, precision engineering, quotations, quotes, technology, turbine, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

FCEV or BEV – VHS or Betamax?

Fuel Cell Car - Toyota Mirai__  Electric Car - Nissan Leaf_.jpg

The battle for market share between Fuel-Cell Electric vehicles (FCEVs) and Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs) continues with BEVs taking an easy lead in car units sold to date – 300k+ units as opposed to 5k ! This competition for market share reminds me of the video format war between VHS and Betamax in the late 70s !

The pros & cons of FCEVs are that they are quick to refuel, but there are very few hydrogen fueling stations around. They tend to have a longer range before refueling is required than BEVs and there are no emissions except heat & water. One of the first FCEVs to recently go on sale to the general public was the Toyota Mirai – which means ‘future’. The energy density of this car is 5 times higher than current BEVs, so intuitively it seems a better solution. The diversity and scope of FCEVs now also includes passenger trains, buses, vans, and fork lift trucks.

BEVs on the other hand have a lower energy density than hydrogen or traditional petroleum fueled cars. Their range between charges has historically been a limiting factor. Although today’s BEVs have improved dramatically with increased energy densities and longer ranges due to rapid advances in battery technology. The re-charging time has also reduced considerably, but still much slower than fueling FCEVs.

Hydrogen as a commodity has also been used for long term energy storage in the renewable energy industry, and therefore helping with ‘grid balancing’. In addition Hydrogen is a ‘cleaner’ burning fuel reducing the carbon footprint for industry over and above traditional fossil fuels.

In summary FCEVs & BEVs both enjoy zero emissions, and FCEVs can refuel quickly but hydrogen fuel stations are few and far between ! Whereas BEVs take much longer to charge but electric points are comparatively numerous and convenient. Therefore at the moment, as they say in parliament, I think the BEVs “have it” !

Hope you have a great month

All the best


Quotation corner:

“Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted”.

– Albert Einstein (1879 – 1955)

“I find that the harder I work, the more luck I seem to have”.

– Thomas Jefferson (1743 – 1826)

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


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It is not personal but business data !

Preventative Maintenance__#3_   Preventative Maintenance__#2_

Business data is being used in our factories and services industry to decrease maintenance costs. There are two types of maintenance: ‘condition based’ and ‘predictive’. The former tends to be reactive, repairing faults & failures as they occur over time, whereas predictive maintenance is pro-active and relies on performance data.

Predictive maintenance works on real-time anomaly detection algorithms that can pick up tell tale signs of a fault by processing huge amounts of historic and real-time machine behavioural data.

To achieve the optimal balance in maintenance, parts need to be changed at just the right time, before a fault or failure occurs, to avoid further damage and limit the impact of systems downtime and loss of production. Preventative repairs can be scheduled to optimise production or machine output.

Today we have access to so much data, via machine sensors & instrumentation and the ‘internet of things’, which once utilised correctly can be used by the predictive algorithms. This utilisation comes under the banner of ‘data science’, which interprets & processes the data to develop predictive models.

In a nutshell Pedictive Maintenance is a pro-active approach to ensure high machine efficiency & reliability that ultimately saves industry money by the utilisation of performance data.

Hope you have a great month

All the best


Quotation corner:

“I haven’t failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

– Thomas Edison

“No man goes before his time – unless the boss leaves early”

– Groucho Marx


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



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Supercapacitors Vs Lithium-ion Batteries


Electric Car Charging__  Electric Car Charging_#2_


A development in supercapacitors based on contact lens technology could potentially allow electric cars to be refuelled as quickly as petrol ones. A Hertfordshire company Superdialectrics had a technological breakthrough in January 2017, and since then, in collaboration with UK universities, have been improving the product.

Present day supercapacitors have a practical capacitance of 0.3 farad per sq. cm, but now 11 to 20 farad per sq. cm is possible since this breakthrough. These figures demonstrate that similar or greater energy densities are now possible with these capacitors and are now considered a valid low-cost alternative to lithium-ion batteries for energy storage.

If this can be brought to the everyday motorist recharging will take minutes instead of hours ! The new low cost supercapacitors could also be used in other areas as well, such as renewable energy systems.

This technological breakthrough has the real ‘capacity’ for re-energising interest in  electric vehicle ownership !

Hope you have a great month


Quotation corner:

“Laugh and the world laughs with you – snore and you sleep alone.”

– Anthony Burgess

“Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift of God, which is why we call it the present.”

– Bil Keane

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


Posted in business, Car, design, electric vehicle, electrical engineering, Energy, engine, Engineering, engineering development, environment, humor, humour, manufacturing, mechanical, polution, quotations, quotes, renewable energy, research science, technology, travel, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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

Posted in architecture, business, cad, design, Engineering, humor, humour, Industry, manufacturing, mechanical, MECHANICAL ENGINEERING, mistakes, project engineering, technology, train travel, transport, travel, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment