Tunnelling feats of engineering

tunnelling machineAs one marathon amount of tunnelling is just completing another is about to begin.

The 26 miles of crossrail tunnelling, linking rail services from Reading and Heathrow in the West to Shenfield and Abbey wood in the East finished in June after 3 years of constant tunnelling. 8 giant tunnelling machines were used constantly to make the network of new rail tunnels, and whilst there are still stations and platforms to construct it is hoped the civil engineering work will be complete in 2017 with the new rail services starting from 2018.

The new services will allow an extra 24 trains an hour to run during peak services and will increase rail capacity by 10% carrying 72,000 passengers per hour through the new tunnels. 1.5 million more people will be able travel to within 45 minutes of central London.

However, as one feat of tunnelling engineering ends another is about to begin. The Thames Tideway Project preliminary construction works begin in 2016, with the proposed 4 years of tunnelling beginning in 2017. Continue reading

Autonomous ships – could they help marine freight transport?

rolls royce autonomous ships conceptSelf driving cars, whilst once a novel and entertaining idea have now become a regular news feature. The design and rigorous testing they are going through is all in an effort to see road safety improved by eliminating driving error.

In fact a recent report in manufacturing.net stated that in the 6 years and 1.9 million miles of testing by Google there have only been 14 accidents involving their self driving cars. Google say that none of the accidents were caused by their self driving cars. In 11 of the 14 accidents, the self driving car was rear ended, by distracted drivers.

So, could autonomous applications be applied to ships to improve efficiencies and also the level of CO2 emissions, which are twice that of the aviation industry? Could we see autonomous ships at sea?  Rolls Royce think so. Continue reading

Going Underground

underground earthscraperWill this be the way to solve overcrowding in big cities?

For years there has been concern over the space available for new buildings, whether it’s housing or industrial. Skyscrapers have got taller and taller and the space between buildings has reduced. But still, this isn’t solving the problem of overcrowding and in some countries planning authorities are becoming uncomfortable with the higher structures.

Living like the fictional Wombles, ‘underground’ is increasingly looking as though it could become a reality at some point in the future. We travel underground regularly, even using tunnels to get to other countries, so why not take that next step? Continue reading

F35B Jet Tests Ski Jump Launch

F35B jet launchingBAE Systems test pilot Pete Wilson became the first pilot to test the launch of the F35B from a ski jump last week.

The launch, which took place at a Naval Air Station in Maryland is only the start of testing which is expected to last two weeks and is a big step towards the implementation of the ski launch on UK aircraft carriers.

The F35B is designed for short and vertical take-off and the trials demonstrate the ability to take off and land safely and effectively from a ski-jump ramp. Continue reading

University of Bristol partners with Airbus

Airbus landingAirbus signed a partnership agreement with the University of Bristol last week, formalising their commitment to build on training, education and diversity. The agreement was signed at the International Air Show in Paris last week.

Talking about the partnership Thierry Baril, Chief Human Resources Officer of Airbus Group, said: “These partnership agreements underline our commitment to work hand-in-hand with academics and engineering education leaders to develop and secure the competences that the aerospace industry will need in the future.” Continue reading