Cleantech, infrastructure and future engineers

News editor

A new bridge goes into place in Nottingham, while construction of tunnels to take London’s new power cables reaches a milestone. Meanwhile, cleantech and apprenticeships are on this week’s agenda

The UK’s clean technology sector – or cleantech – is claimed to be worth over £106bn, employs over 880,000 people and is expected to maintain positive growth.

Sounds encouraging but Robert Hokin, CEO of ecoConnect believes that cutting edge cleantech innovations still struggle to be seen and get accepted.

To counter this, business network ecoConnect and IMechE have organized this week’s Cleantech Innovate, an event to showcase cutting-edge cleantech technologies in order to get them to market more quickly.

Taking place at IMechE’s Birdcage Walk premises, the event will see 40 British ‘growth-oriented and venture-ready technology companies presenting live at the largest innovation showcase of its kind in the UK.’

The companies, described as being ‘handpicked from a highly competitive field and representing the next generation green industry pioneering’ will offer delegates access to technologies relevant to the needs of industry.

One company presenting at the event on Wednesday is Pavegen, who have developed method of harvesting kinetic energy from footfall into electricity. Click here to read how the electricity-generating paving slabs are to be rolled out across the world.

Somewhat further underground is a National Grid project in London that aims to safeguard London’s electricity supply.

In 2011 The Engineer reported that London accounted for 20 per cent of Britain’s electricity usage, a figure predicted to increase by between three and five per cent a year.

In order to cope with rising demand National Grid set about constructing 32km of underground tunnels designed to carry 400,000V of transmission cables at between 12m and 60m below ground.

With minimum disruption to Londoners on the surface, National Grid’s manned massive tunnel boring machine’s (TBM) will be able to work 24/7 on the project that is expected to be complete by 2018.

Last Thursday the company announced that one of its 100m long TBM’s – called Evelyn – had reached a pre-prepared tunnel shaft at St John’s Wood in north London.

Operated by a engineers who sit within the TBM’s structure, Evelyn is digging 19km of the new 32km ‘electricity superhighway’.

Backed up by a support team of engineers above ground, Evelyn has so far dug 7.26km of the tunnel since early 2012. A second TBM, Cleopatra, is grinding out the other 13km of the route and is due to arrive at St John’s Wood later this year. Click here to read our in-depth coverage of the project.

Another big move is taking in Nottingham this evening where engineers will start sliding the first section of a steel bridge designed to carry trams over Nottingham Station.

The movement of the first section of the Karlsruhe Friendship Bridge forms part of the Nottingham Express Transit (NET) project to extend the city’s tram lines to the south and south west of the city.

Measuring 104m long, 14.5m wide and weighing 1100 tonnes, the steel bridge is being built in two sections with the first half having been built on top of four temporary towers at a height that will allow it to be launched over Queens Road into its final position over Nottingham Station.

A team of up to 30 people will ensure this first section of the bridge is pushed from its Crocus Street compound 50m over Queens Road towards the railway station.

This, we’ve been told, will involve sliding the bridge in 2.6m cycles, between 2000 and 0600 on five consecutive nights Once the first half of the bridge is positioned over Queens Road, there will be room in the Crocus Street compound to construct the second half of the bridge. When this work is complete, the bridge section will be joined together and pushed over the station later this year.

Finally, we’ve good news from BAE Systems who’ve announced plans for a record intake of apprentices this year.

The company is looking for 387 engineering and business apprentices to swell its ranks across a range of sites engaged in submarine and ship building, aircraft construction and maintenance, cyber security and munitions manufacturing.

More details can be found here.

Other notable events taking place this month can be found here.