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Friday, February 22, 2008

"Engineering Skills" in Shorter Supply than previously Imagined!

I have just taken a visit to Dave Bradley's Sciencebase site- mostly about chemstry.

It was a worthwhile visit. Of course it usually is. In this instance the added value concerned not chemistry, but engineering policy.

I stumbled upon a checklist entitled " Technological To-Do List " the list of most important engineering challenges by "experts."

Quite eye opening critical comments where made by David.

In particular he points out that since we are so close to engineering solar power, economically (I am translating liberally) why invest so heavily in Nuclear Fusion?
(NB. I am based in France-but not in the favoured South East of France- where the experimental reactor ITER is to be based. Worse, I remember quite clearly the Nobel prize winner the late Pierre-Gilles de Gennes' criticism of the ITER project. In one sentence P-G. de Gennes pointed out that this project lacked not only the resolution of some fundamental physics problems, but also did not respect the basic scaling rules of sound chemical engineering! NB. P-G, another of my mentors, was until his death, the Director of The Paris School of Industrial Physics & Chemistry, (ENSPCI) and member of the Board, for R&D, of several companies, noteably Rhodia)

As for the GHG-Green House Gases-critics, since we are concerned with "safety engineering safely", the only valid question, to my mind, is what engineering can and will be done to alleviate, mitigate, alter the current predicted "unmanageable" climate changes.

I am pleased he was not to harsh with my "mentor" Rob Socolow, source of my "Wedge-a-War" web-log.

Having let-off some steam, body temperature back to normal, I promise to read Dave Bradley (FRSC) Technological To-Do List on Sciencebase as well as R Socolow's comments at Princeton Engineering & Applied Science with more care, and to accept R Socolow's invitation to visit Engineering Challenges[Link]

R Socolow's invitation

Comments suggestions questions on my interpretation welcome.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Engineering Job call - Skill needs in energy industry - Significant decline in science, engineering and technical recruits

ref: ‘Skills needs in the energy industry’ report by the Energy Institute

"Energy skills shortage: a boardroom issue"

Future skills shortages and leadership development needs in the energy sector should be treated as strategic boardroom issues, according to the Energy Institute (EI).

This was one of the key recommendations drawn from surveys conducted by the EI in partnership with Deloitte , the management consultancy, and Norman Broadbent,an organisation dedicated to the search for executive talent in the energy sector, between 2005 and 2007.

A summary of the ‘Skills needs in the energy industry’ report was presented at International Petroleum Week, an annual four-day programme of major conferences and functions hosted in London by the EI.

According to EI, a significant decline in recruits, especially those with science, engineering and technical skills is reported.

For the first time, IP Week featured a seminar specifically dedicated to the issue of skills needs in the energy industry, during which delegates from 12 different oil and gas producing countries heard experts outline additional solutions.

The media report may be found at Energy Institute (EI)[link_pdf].

Other online resources from the Energy Institute are:

EI Publications online
Standard Test Methods
Modern Petroleum Technology
WPC Proceedings
Transport Fuels Technology Update Service
Hearts and Minds Toolkit
Safe staffing arrangements
Offshore technical guidance catalogue
Fuel and Energy Abstracts
Croner’s Energy Management
EI Yearbook

Source [link].

Friday, February 08, 2008

Nanoengineered concrete R & D to cut CO2 emissions

Nanoengineered concrete could cut CO2 emissions?

In a previous note on commercial or near commercial innovation, I recorded work on cement manufacturing at lower temperatures, thus saving energy and reducing CO2 emissions.

The MIT report (below_near the end of my entry) appeared to provide an opportunity to record both one high profile longer termed R&D work in Nanoengineering and the more mundane close to production, often overlooked by the main dailey press media.

Having recently received an invitation, among many others, to attend a 2 day conference, Global Fuels Conf. & Awards, held in London on 4-5 Feb. 08, [Link-html] reporting on Industrial progress and R&D work, many of which involved CO2 reduction in cement manufacturing, including it's use in steelmaking slags.


The following entry "Nanoengineered concrete could cut CO2 emissions? " which was my initial motivation to weblog, appears to belong to the longer termed (LT) research category unless the financial backing from the french company Lafarge pushes forward the project and in doing so achieve quicker and improved ROI-Return on Investment.

Nanoengineered concrete could cut CO2 emissions?
CAMBRIDGE, Mass.--While government leaders argue about the practicality of reducing world emissions of carbon dioxide, scientists and engineers are seeking ways to make it happen.
One group of engineers at MIT decided to focus its work on the nanostructure of concrete, the world's most widely used material. The production of cement, the primary component of concrete, accounts for 5 to 10 percent of the world's total carbon dioxide emissions; the process is an important contributor to global warming.

In the January issue of the Journal of the Mechanics and Physics of Solids, the team reports that the source of concrete's strength and durability lies in the organization of its nanoparticles. The discovery could one day lead to a major reduction in carbon dioxide emissions during manufacturing.

Could be worth repeating that the above reported MIT research was funded in part by the Lafarge Group according to

In guise of a conclusion:

May I take this opportunity to remind my readers that I travel for work missions only according to standard working request procedures, transportation mode being, of course, at the initiative of the requesting firm, however where distance is involved and when possible, rail travel is preferred. The latter is a considerable sacrifice, as I love flying!

1. With thanks to Danish Nano & Nilt News letter who drew my attention to this MIT
2. Global Fuels Awards
Four categories are open for nominations:

1 Outstanding alternative fuel project (cement or lime company)
2 Most innovative technology for alternative fuel use

3 Outstanding electrical energy efficiency project award (cement or lime company)

4 Most innovative technology for electrical energy efficiency