A milestone has been reached on the road to developing advanced biofuels that can replace gasoline, diesel and jet fuels with a domestically-produced clean, green, renewable alternative. Researchers with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)'s Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI) have engineered the first strains of Escherichia colibacteria that can digest switchgrass biomass and synthesize its sugars into all three of those transportation fuels. What's more, the microbes are able to do this without any help from enzyme additives.
"This work shows that we can reduce one of the most expensive parts of the biofuel production process, the addition of enzymes to depolymerize cellulose and hemicellulose into fermentable sugars," says Jay Keasling, CEO of JBEI and leader of this research. "This will enable us to reduce fuel production costs by consolidating two steps -- depolymerizing cellulose and hemicellulose into sugars, and fermenting the sugars into fuels -- into a single step or one pot operation."
Keasling, who also holds appointments with the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and the University of California (UC) Berkley, is the corresponding author of a paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) that describes this work. The paper is titled "Synthesis of three advanced biofuels from ionic liquid-pretreated switchgrass using engineered Escherichia coli."
Advanced biofuels made from the lignocellulosic biomass of non-food crops and agricultural waste are widely believed to represent the best source of renewable liquid transportation fuels. Unlike ethanol, which in this country is produced from corn starch, these advanced biofuels can replace gasoline on a gallon-for-gallon basis, and they can be used in today's engines and infrastructures. The biggest roadblock to an advanced biofuels highway is bringing the cost of producing these fuels down so that they are economically competitive.
Wednesday, November 30, 2011
A milestone has been reached on the road to developing advanced biofuels that can replace gasoline, diesel and jet fuels with a domestically-produced clean, green, renewable alternative. Researchers with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)'s Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI) have engineered the first strains of Escherichia colibacteria that can digest switchgrass biomass and synthesize its sugars into all three of those transportation fuels. What's more, the microbes are able to do this without any help from enzyme additives.
A new study from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute demonstrates how graphene foam can outperform leading commercial gas sensors in detecting potentially dangerous and explosive chemicals. The discovery opens the door for a new generation of gas sensors to be used by bomb squads, law enforcement officials, defense organizations, and in various industrial settings. The new sensor successfully and repeatedly measured ammonia (NH3) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2) at concentrations as small as 20 parts-per-million. Made from continuous graphene nanosheets that grow into a foam-like structure about the size of a postage stamp and thickness of felt, the sensor is flexible, rugged, and finally overcomes the shortcomings that have prevented nanostructure-based gas detectors from reaching the marketplace.
Results of the study were published November 28 in the journal Scientific Reports, published by Nature Publishing Group.
"We are very excited about this new discovery, which we think could lead to new commercial gas sensors," said Rensselaer Engineering Professor Nikhil Koratkar, who co-led the study along with Professor Hui-Ming Cheng at the Shenyang National Laboratory for Materials Science at the Chinese Academy of Sciences. "So far, the sensors have shown to be significantly more sensitive at detecting ammonia and nitrogen dioxide at room temperature than the commercial gas detectors on the market today."
Over the past decade researchers have shown that individual nanostructures are extremely sensitive to chemicals and different gases. To build and operate a device using an individual nanostructure for gas detection, however, has proven to be far too complex, expensive, and unreliable to be commercially viable, Koratkar said. Such an endeavor would involve creating and manipulating the position of the individual nanostructure, locating it using microscopy, using lithography to apply gold contacts, followed by other slow, costly steps. Embedded within a handheld device, such a single nanostructure can be easily damaged and rendered inoperable. Additionally, it can be challenging to "clean" the detected gas from the single nanostructure.
Sometimes when people talk about solar energy, they tacitly assume that we're stuck with some version of the silicon solar cell and its technical and cost limitations. Not so. The invention of the solar cell, in 1941, was inspired by a newfound understanding of semiconductors, materials that can use light energy to create mobile electrons -- and ultimately an electrical current.
Silicon solar cells have almost nothing to do with the biological photosystems in tree leaves and pond scum that use light energy to push electrons across a membrane -- and ultimately create sugars and other organic molecules.
At the time, nobody understood these complex assemblages of proteins and pigments well enough to exploit their secrets for the design of solar cells.
But things have changed.
At Washington University in St. Louis's Photosynthetic Antenna Research Center (PARC) scientists are exploring native biological photosystems, building hybrids that combine natural and synthetic parts, and building fully synthetic analogs of natural systems.
One team has just succeeded in making a crucial photosystem component -- a light-harvesting antenna -- from scratch. The new antenna is modeled on the chlorosome found in green bacteria.
Chlorosomes are giant assemblies of pigment molecules. Perhaps Nature's most spectacular light-harvesting antennae, they allow green bacteria to photosynthesize even in the dim light in ocean deeps.
It looks like bone. It feels like bone. For the most part, it acts like bone. And it came off an inkjet printer.
Washington State University researchers have used a 3-D printer to create a bone-like material and structure that can be used in orthopedic procedures, dental work and to deliver medicine for treating osteoporosis. Paired with actual bone, it acts as a scaffold for new bone to grow on and ultimately dissolves with no apparent ill effects.
The authors report on successful in vitro tests in the journal Dental Materials and say they're already seeing promising results with in vivo tests on rats and rabbits. It's possible that doctors will be able to custom order replacement bone tissue in a few years, said Susmita Bose, co-author and professor in WSU's School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering.
"If a doctor has a CT scan of a defect, we can convert it to a CAD file and make the scaffold according to the defect," Bose said.
The material grows out of a four-year interdisciplinary effort involving chemistry, materials science, biology and manufacturing. A main finding of the paper is that the addition of silicon and zinc more than doubled the strength of the main material, calcium phosphate.
Tarmac has signed a major contract with Masternaut Three X for a specifically developed web-based satellite-tracking solution for its fleet of aggregate vehicles. Masternaut will be implemented throughout Tarmac’s Aggregates Products Division, which provides sand, gravel, rock, asphalt and ready-mixed concrete to the building and road construction industries nationwide.
Tarmac will initially implement Masternaut’s satellite tracking and mobile solutions across 1350 vehicles owned by contracted and regular hauliers over the next 3 months. It is anticipated that more of the aggregates fleet will be equipped with the service by the end of 2008.
Tarmac will use Masternaut to track vehicle movements in real time enabling the company to boost customer service and operational productivity and efficiency. Using Masternaut reporting, the company will be able to monitor and obtain specific information about each vehicle as well as being able to answer customer queries about their aggregate orders by accessing real-time information provided by the tracking solution.
“Delivering on time, every time is a critical objective for aggregates suppliers. Customers need to know that their orders have been dispatched and when they will arrive on site. Likewise Tarmac does not want its vehicles arriving on site and waiting excessive periods before tipping asphalt or ready mixed concrete. The solution we have developed with Tarmac provides precise real-time information that will benefit both the Aggregates Products division and its customers,” says Mark Leavy, Corporate Accounts Director, Masternaut Three X.
Universal Aerial Platforms is expanding its fleet of specialist lifting equipment, after taking delivery of 10 Upright SL30SL machines.
Manufactured by UpRight Powered Access, the SL30SL has a unique “speed levelling” system that makes it ideal for rough terrain. The oscillating axle keeps all four wheels on the ground, even when operating on an incline. This means the machine can be used safely in conditions that are impossible for other types of platform – and the working area always remains level.
The SL30SL can cope with gradients of up to 35% (or 19 degrees) while still providing a working height of up to 11 metres – and can be driven at full height. The big deck 1.72m x 4.23m platform provides a large and safe working area, with a carrying capacity of 590kg.
Steve Mann of Universal said: “The UpRight SL30SL brings an added dimension to our rental fleet. We know there is demand from our customer base for a versatile machine that can still provide good deck space and working height for operations on rough terrain. Compared to other standard platform types, we feel the SL30SL provides greatly improved and safer operating conditions in the most difficult site environments.”
A mobile yard ramp from Thorworld Industries is providing the loading and unloading solution for use with heavy construction equipment at the Terex facility in Warwick. It's used for offloading new machines arriving from the company's Coventry plant and other European sites where these are not delivered on low loaders, but transported in containers or on standard 40ft long trailers.
The machines are stored on site prior to delivery to UK dealers and customers, when they are then driven up the yard ramp and loaded onto trailers or into containers. Thorworld built the special 15,000kg single axle capacity ramp, with a useable width of 2650mm instead of the standard 2250mm width, so that it could be used with the widest machines handled at the site. It replaced an elderly yard ramp, from another supplier, that an inspection revealed did not meet current Health and Safety requirements.
Terex chose the 15,000kg capacity model, the largest in the Thorworld range, so that the heaviest machines arriving at the site can use it. These are 12.5 tonne excavators made at a sister plant in Germany. The ramp has a serrated open grid deck for positive traction in all weather conditions, with a hand-operated hydraulic pump raising it to the required height.
Although it's screwed to the ground the screws can be easily removed, with a built-in tow bar allowing the highly mobile ramp to be moved by fork lift to another part of the yard if and when necessary.
Thorworld mobile yard ramps are ruggedly built and are ideal for the fast loading and unloading of vehicle trailers and containers by fork truck - particularly where there is no raised loading dock.
Hill Engineering Ltd has announced it is experiencing an ever increasing demand for its products in the UK and Ireland, as well as from across Europe and the USA.
Ireland-based Hill Engineering provides top quality, highly reliable attachments, including the 'Safety First' Auto-Loc quick hitch, together with a range of durable excavator buckets.
With the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) having issued a number of safety alerts and now proposing a ban on the production of semi-automatic hitches, following four fatalities over the past year where attachments have accidentally become detached from such devices (generally attributed to incorrect operator use), some contractors and plant hirers are recommending that only fully automatic versions be allowed on their machines/sites.
The Hill Auto-Loc has been purpose-designed to put operator safety first and is fully compliant with and actually exceeds all existing UK and international safety standards and legislation. As the Auto-Loc is fully automatic, there is no need for the operator to leave the excavator cab to remove or insert a safety pin when changing from one attachment to another. This completely eliminates the risk of a safety pin being inserted incorrectly or not being inserted at all.
Its advanced design also enables the operator to visually confirm from within the cab that the bucket or other attachment is securely locked in position - a vitally important and potentially life saving safety feature.
Piling and ground engineering specialist Stent - a subsidiary of Balfour Beatty Ground Engineering (BBGE) – has launched an environmental initiative called ‘Green Siesta’. The programme is the first of its kind in the industry to calculate the carbon emissions from prospective piling projects as part of the estimating process, enabling the customer to select the most energy-efficient piling solution.
Working with energy specialists Nifes Consulting Group, measurements are taken from each component in the piling process to assess how ‘carbon significant’ each one is. Siesta then automatically calculates the embodied energy associated with the piling.
Tony Suckling, Technical Development Manager at Stent, said, “Green Siesta will revolutionise the way the piling industry works. For the first time, customers can choose a piling technique for their construction project, safe in the knowledge that it has the least impact on the environment.”
A number of processes are taken into consideration when calculating the environmental footprint. These include; the manufacture of the cement used in concrete; the manufacture of the steel bars and rods; the transportation of materials and objects such as, rigs, piles and other raw materials; and the use of fuel in both the transportation and manufacturing processes.
“Carbon accounting is the future of sustainable construction. With increasing legislation being introduced, it is imperative that companies keep looking to lessen their carbon footprint. Green Siesta is the perfect starting point for any construction project”, added Nirmal Tiwari, Bid Manager at Stent.
Seymour Civil Engineering Ltd has taken delivery of two Volvo EW180C rubber ducks for its plant fleet. Although the Hartlepool based civil engineering company currently runs some Volvo B series crawler machines, the two nineteen tonne EW180C are the first Volvo wheeled excavators purchased for the fleet.
Says Fleet Manager Stephen Seymour; “We looked at the specification and tried out the performance especially with regard to the machine’s lifting capacity. This coupled to the overall package on offer from Volvo meant we weren’t disappointed with any aspect of the deal.”
The new Volvos replace a competitive make of machine and have been specified with two piece booms to give maximum flexibility on sites for handling sewer pipes and shuttering on the work typically undertaken by Seymour. Installed with the new Tier III compliant Volvo D6 engine developing 152 net hp, the EW180C offers high torque at low rpm, leading to ultra-efficient fuel consumption. The engine is impossible to stall as the onboard computer balances maximum available power to hydraulic output, preventing the engine from becoming overloaded (regardless of engine speed or pump demand).
Total operating weight of the machine is 19.8 tonnes when equipped with front dozer blade and outriggers and two piece boom. In this configuration the EW180C demonstrates impressive lifting capacities across carriage which played a major part in Seymour Civil Engineering’s decision to purchase. For instance at a maximum reach of 8.4 metres, the EW180C can lift 1.7 tonnes and as much as 7 tonnes at a radius of 3 metres. The machine is supplied with quick fit hydraulics, hammer / shear hydraulics and hose rupture valves as standard.
Tuesday, November 29, 2011
Although the recent tragedy in Japan has diverted attention away from the earlier natural disasters in New Zealand, the full scale of the rebuild task required in Christchurch has not diminished. For those in the construction and built environment industry the scale of the project means that help is needed from across the globe.
On September 4th 2010 an earthquake struck Christchurch, New Zealand only to be followed by a second more devastating earthquake months later. The earthquake of February 22nd 2011 cost 200 people their lives and dramatically changed the face of the South Island’s largest city.
The number of buildings damaged by the second earthquake hasn’t increased greatly, but the amount of damage has, four fold. Subsequently the cost of the rebuild has tripled to approximately $15billion, whilst in most cases the size of the teams needed for the epic rebuilding project has also increased threefold. For those looking for jobs in construction, New Zealand’s current need represents an opportunity to be involved in a challenging and fulfilling project abroad.
Phil Ponder, director at Catalyst Recruitment Ltd in New Zealand, revealed the extent of the challenge facing the construction industry and the implications for specialist recruitment in the region: “The rebuild has taken on a completely new complexion as the landscape has literally changed. The Government has indicated that approximately $15billion damage has been caused. 100,000 of the 140,000 homes have been damaged with 10,000 no longer habitable. The Centre of Christchurch
"Demolition: Practices, Technology, and Management", the first university textbook on the subject of the demolition process, is now available for reading on all e-book readers, including Kindle, Nook, and iPad devices.
"Since its publication in a print format in 2010, sales have been brisk," said Michael R. Taylor CAE, Executive Director of the National Demolition Association, which teamed with Purdue University Press on the publication of the book. "We expect with the added availability of the book in a digital format to see a big jump in sales. Considering the recent news that e-book sales at Amazon surpassed print books, we think this may become the preferred format among the book's intended audiences.
"The reason for its popularity is the interest it's generating not only among college students studying construction management, but also among general contractors, engineers, government regulators, and even the members of the general public who want to know more about demolition," he said.
According to Taylor, demolition contractors intent on training staff properly are making the book required reading as part of the ongoing education process. "The full range of technical issues such as project management, disaster response, demolition project safety, and material handling and recycling covered in the book focus on the real-world skills needed to take on and safely complete demolition projects," Taylor noted.
For the CRA’s first annual award scheme, submissions were invited in a variety of categories with the Recycling Contract of the Year being one of the most fiercely contested.
Downwell Demolition has won the Construction Recycling Alliance’s (CRA) prestigious ‘Recycling Contract of the Year’ award. The company’s impressive recycling performance whilst demolishing at number of structures at the famous Leavesden film studios formed the basis of its successful entry.
Downwell Demolition’s successful entry focused solely on its six month contract at Warner Brothers’ Leavesden Studios in Hertfordshire. The project entailed stripping-out and dismantling the world-famous studio buildings where the entire series of Harry Potter films together with the James Bond film Goldeneye were produced. A total of seven stage set buildings were stripped of their ceilings, roofs and existing sound-proofing to allow the creation of new structures that can be used to produce forthcoming blockbuster movies.
Downwell Demolition was able to demonstrate high levels of reuse and recycling whilst carrying out the various activities during the project, which included dismantling the scaffold framework housed in the high ceilings of the film sets, thus allowing it to be reused elsewhere on site. The company also successfully completed the crushing, screening and stockpiling of 20,000m3 of concrete rubble on-site so as to allow the material to be reused during the facility’s redevelopment. Other material such as wood, scrap metal and plastics were segregated and recycled at dedicated facilities thus ensuring a recycling rate in excess of 97%.
Commenting on Downwell Demolition’s success company director Matt Philips remarked, “I am really pleased to accept this prestigious award on behalf of all the entire Downwell team. The Leavesden project was challenging in many respects and our team of operatives and labourers not only worked hard on completing what was asked of them on time and on budget but also excelled at reusing and recycling waste materials arising from the work. The award also acknowledges Downwell Demolition’s on-going investment in recycling equipment with our latest machine, a Scavik jaw crusher, used to good effect throughout the project.
Director of the CRA, David Barnes, summarised Downwell Demolition’s success, “Downwell is one of the demolition industry’s up and coming companies, so it was reassuring to see their commitment and determination in reusing and recycling as much of the material on site as possible. The company fought off some strong competition to win this award and they should be justifiably proud of their success”.
Developed by Human Recognition Systems, MSite Civil is a workforce management and reporting solution designed to meet the flexible needs of the civil environment. MSite Civil is the new edition of the MSite biometric access and workforce management solution for the construction industry.
MSite Civil uses the same software platform as MSite Build – the established construction solution which is currently in use with major contractors including Carillion, BAM and Balfour Beatty – but the new MSite Civil solution is configured to work without fixed perimeters and with non-fixed worker locations.
The platform provides a comprehensive and easy-to-use management and reporting system that collects information wirelessly and securely from locations several miles apart which is then collated at a central hub.
Reports can then be produced in real-time including muster reports, site safety records and accurate time and attendance reports against hours worked.
Nick Wilkinson, Construction Business Manager at HRS said: “MSite Build has been very well received by the construction industry, as it makes the processes of site access control, timesheet generation and attendance reporting accurate and less labour intensive.
Thomas Bow and City Asphalt Combine Their Operations To Become A Major Player İn The Highways Maintenance Arena
Thomas Bow and City Asphalt have been working together as an integrated unit since 2005. They have now announced that they are officially joining forces to create one of the major civil engineering and highway contractors in the East Midlands. The decision has been taken to combine their operations and re-brand as Thomas Bow City Asphalt.
Nottingham-based Thomas Bow actually dates back to 1867 but was dormant from 1990 until 2002, when Alistair Bow re-launched the business previously run by his father and uncle.
He explained: “Thomas Bow has come a long way since it was re-launched from my garage and although we bought up City Asphalt in 2005 and have since added ID Construction and Ashbow Estates to the group, they continued to operate as separate companies. Both Thomas Bow and City Asphalt are very strong brands in their own rights. Consequently, having taken the decision to have one logo that covers both, we opted for Thomas Bow City Asphalt as our trading name.”
In joining forces, the building and civil engineering contractors have become a major player in the highways maintenance arena and Managing Director Bow, who is also Chairman of Nottingham Rugby, believes it will give the company a lot more ‘clout’ within the industry.
He added: “As independent businesses in their specialist fields they were comparatively small but when you bring all our companies together, we have an operation turning over £14million a year.
“I believe the re-brand sets us up for an exciting future and although you can never afford to be complacent, I’m very happy with where we are at the moment. The last 12 months have been extremely good for us - despite the tough economic climate – and I expect that to continue for the foreseeable future.”
Ocado Appoints Waldeck To Provide Civil and Structural Engineering Services For New Dordon Distribution Centre
Waldeck has been appointed by online grocer Ocado Group Plc to provide civil and structural engineering services for a new £210m distribution centre in Dordon, North Warwickshire.
Waldeck, which also has offices in Hull, Sleaford, Lincoln, Nottingham and Northampton, is responsible for the structural design of the Customer Fulfilment Centre (CFC), Ocado’s second, and the infrastructure on the 35-acre site on the Birch Coppice Business Park.
North Warwickshire Borough Council has agreed to an extension to the business park, confirming Ocado’s plans for the 350,000 square foot warehouse facility which will be fully automated and will make the online retailer’s services available to even more people.
Work is expected to begin on site in January 2011 and it’s hoped the CFC, which will create up to 2,000 jobs, will be fully operational by September 2012.
Director Matt Tyers, who is based at Waldeck’s Peterborough office, said: “We have been doing work for Ocado at their CFC in Hatfield since 2007 and have built up a good relationship with the company. This has resulted in us being awarded this job which is one of the biggest construction projects currently in the UK.
“Waldeck has years of experience in the planning, design, supervision and delivery of large-scale engineering projects, which means we can fully appreciate what is required to provide a cost-effective, innovative design solution. This will be a high-tech, cutting edge facility capable of delivering between 180,000 and 200,000 orders a week. One of the logistical challenges we face is co-ordinating the external building works with the construction of the internal, highly sophisticated automated system and we’re liaising closely with Ocado’s in-house project management team to ensure everything goes to plan.”
The pan-European model building codes developed by the European Committee for Standardisation should have been fully adopted in the UK from April 2, 2010, when British Standard codes for construction stopped being updated. However, professionalism is "falling short" in the UK construction industry with a poor understanding of Eurocodes amongst British construction companies.
"This is a potentially massive issue", said Paul Cowton of property and construction consultancy McBains Cooper. "Our research indicates that the vast majority of construction industry professionals are blissfully unaware that Eurocodes are here - and that two-thirds of civil engineers feel uncomfortable with Eurocodes - and that they have been designing and specifying buildings to outdated British Standards since updates stopped".
"Only around a third of civil engineers said they've received any Eurocodes training. It's a ticking time bomb, and sooner or later there's going to be a slip up resulting in litigation at the very least.
"British Standards for building will be withdrawn completely in 2013, and simply aren't being updated. But so far as we can see, the vast majority of professionals in building design simply don't know about Eurocodes, but the front-line engineers do.
"We attended a seminar recently, and, anecdotally, literally 90% of the construction professionals in the room had not even heard of Eurocodes. So confusion reigns. If something goes wrong, there is huge potential for litigation, because they're not designing to current best standards or using current best practice. There is a strong potential for legal action under Duty of Care.
"This is about professionalism in the construction sector, and, frankly, it is falling apart when it comes to Eurocodes. But it is a tediously important piece of legislation. Back in April we warned that Eurocodes will sneak up and bite any UK construction company or professional services business that does not recognise their importance.
Construction Recycling Alliance Membership Now Available to Corporate Enterprises İn The Construction İndustry
The Construction Recycling Alliance (CRA) is a new organisation created to represent and support companies in the construction industry that are dedicated to reducing, reusing and recycling unwanted materials.
CRA membership is now available to corporate enterprises in the construction industry as well as companies from interrelated sectors such as demolition, remediation and waste management. CRA membership offers those companies that are dedicated to reducing waste an opportunity to achieve a new environmental accreditation specifically created for construction-related activities. Membership is granted upon completion of a CRA assessment to ensure applicants are dedicated to reducing, reusing and recycling unwanted materials.
The CRA supports its members by sharing innovative recycling techniques, disseminating guidelines and regulations as well as liaising with policy makers at local, regional and national levels. Members’ profiles are featured on the CRA website and their environmental techniques and initiatives showcased in the CRA’s magazine.
One of the most successful light rail systems in the UK, carrying nearly 20 million passengers every year, Manchester Metrolink’s new £575M (Phase 3A) project includes the 3.9 mile (6.3 km) upgrade to the East Manchester Line extension to Droylsden, which will run from Manchester Piccadilly to provide a link to the City of Manchester Stadium and the National Cycling Centre. Phase 3A also includes a new 3-stop, 1.7 mile (2.7 km) South Manchester Line extension from Trafford Bar and reconstruction of the 14 mile (22.5km) Oldham Loop Line to Oldham and Rochdale.
Stanton Bonna is close to completing the supply of its lightweight Twin-Block Concrete Railway Sleepers to MPT for the £575M Phase 3A extensions to Manchester’s Metrolink network.
The contract, which includes over 50,000 VAX U21 Twin-Block sleepers, follows successful light rail systems installations of Stanton Bonna sleepers in Birmingham, Nottingham and Sheffield – as well as High Speed 1 (formerly the CTRL) and previous phases of Manchester Metrolink since 1998.
Five variants of the VAX U21 Twin-Block sleeper were supplied with Pandrol Fastclip, E-clip and VIPA baseplates for both the ballasted and slab track sections.
The adaptability of the twin block sleeper meant that sleepers could be easily matched to suit the existing trackforms on Metrolink. The principal quantity of sleepers was set for BS113A rail and Fastclip fastenings, with smaller quantities of sleepers also being provided with E-clip fastenings for both BS113A and 80A rail sections. Weighing only 160kg and with a depth of 170mm at the rail seat, the sleepers are lighter than traditional monoblock sleepers - and the steel tie bar also makes them easier to handle on site. Increased lateral stability is another key reason why the twin block sleeper has been used on so many UK LRT projects.
Two variants of the sleeper were supplied with Vipa baseplates, one with hold down assemblies using plastic inserts and the other with cast iron inserts to be used on the tighter radius curves. The sleepers have Vipa baseplates fitted at the Stanton Bonna factory before being delivered to site ready for installation.
The construction method consists of laying out the sleepers on a concrete slab; then rails are fitted and the track is raised using levelling bolts, which pass through the body of the sleeper blocks. Once the track is aligned, concrete is poured around the sleepers to form the upper slab. Once the initial set has taken place, the levelling bolts can be removed and reused on the next section of track.
The Eastern Gateway project project aims to revamp the Eastern approach to Loughborough with a new road, renovation of Loughborough Train Stations forecourt and the building of 91 new affordable homes. Construction has now officially started on the 20 million Eastern Gateway project.
Councillor Mike Preston, leader of Charnwood Borough Council, said: "I'm excited that work has finally begun on the Eastern Gateway project. We have waited a long time for this day.
This is a major step forward and, finally, residents will be able to see this project take shape and become a reality over the next couple of years."
A collection of local partners has worked together closely and invested funds to enable Eastern Gateway to come to fruition. These include the Borough and Leicestershire County Council, the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA), East Midlands Development Agency (EMDA), Prospect Leicestershire and Network Rail.
The new affordable homes are being developed for Nottingham Community Housing Association (NCHA) by local contractor William Davis Ltd and the company is due to commence infrastructure works for these properties imminently. The Ringway Group are contractors for the new road works.
A team from Ringway started work and began clearing an area off Gordon Road to prepare for the construction of the new road which will link Meadow Lane and Nottingham Road. The new road will improve quality of life for residents in Ratcliffe Road and Burder Street which will be sealed off at one end.
Monday, November 28, 2011
Upconversion emission materials are ideal for bioimaging due to its effectiveness as contrast agents for the detection of cancer cells, more so when the background emission of non-cancerous tissues can be minimised. These materials could be used as biomarkers for luminescent labeling of cancerous cells. Opaque tissues can be turned into glassy, transparent substances by using these biomarkers which rely on near-infrared excitation. The Singapore research team led by Associate Professor Xiaogang Liu and its co-researchers from Saudi Arabia and China succeeded in developing an efficient upconversion process in nanoparticles, ensuring a broad tunability of light emission that could be used in imaging applications. They found a chemical structure that can exhibit efficient upconversion properties through a special arrangement of energy levels. Their synthesis of lanthanide-doped core-shell nanocrystals which resulted in advanced optical properties that can control light, proved to be a novel approach.
For sensing applications, separating optical signals from the background can be tricky when the signal and noise occur at the same wavelength. This problem can be solved with upconversion -- a nonlinear optical process -- where two low-energy photons of an incident beam can be converted into a single photon of higher energy, which can then be easily distinguished from the background.
The ability to convert light using these nanomaterials for heating also offers promising applications in photodynamic therapy and drug delivery.
The work of Assoc Prof Liu and team was reported in Nature Materials on 23 October 2011. His team comprises research fellow Dr Feng Wang and graduate students Renren Deng and Juan Wang from the National University of Singapore's (NUS) Department of Chemistry. They worked alongside researchers from King Abdullah University of Science and Technology and Fujian Institute of Research on the Structure of Matter. Assoc Prof Liu and Dr Feng Wang are also scientists at the Institute of Materials Research and Engineering (IMRE), a research institute of Singapore's Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR).
The published research work was funded by Singapore's A*STAR and Ministry of Education.
A century after the valves that link the lymphatic and blood systems were first described, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital scientists have detailed how those valves form and identified a gene that is critical to the process. The gene is Prox1. Earlier work led by Guillermo Oliver, Ph.D., a member of the St. Jude Department of Genetics, showed Prox1 was essential for formation and maintenance of the entire lymphatic vasculature. The lymphatic vasculature is the network of vessels and ducts that help maintain the body's fluid balance and serves as a highway along which everything from cancer cells to disease-fighting immune components moves.
Oliver is senior author of the new study, which appeared in the October 15 edition of the scientific journal Genes & Development.
The new research suggests that Prox1 is also essential for proper formation of the one-way valves that control movement of fluid and nutrients from the lymphatic system into the blood stream. Researchers found evidence that the Prox1 protein also has a role in formation of the venous valves.
"Understanding how valves form is crucial to efforts to develop treatments for valve defects that affect both children and adults," said the paper's first author, R. Sathish Srinivasan, Ph.D., a research associate in the St. Jude Department of Genetics. Those defects are linked to a variety of problems including lymphedema and deep vein thrombosis, which are blood clots that form deep in veins and have the potential for causing life-threatening complications. Lymphedema is the painful and sometimes disfiguring swelling that can occur when lymph flow is disrupted.
For more than a decade, the lymphatic system has been a focus of Oliver's laboratory. The laboratory's contributions through the years include evidence that leaky lymphatic vessels might contribute to obesity. Oliver and his colleagues also demonstrated how the lymphatic system forms from Prox1-producing cells destined to become lymphatic endothelial cells (LECs) when they leave the developing veins and migrate throughout the body.
A new University of Minnesota study reveals that treated municipal wastewater -- even wastewater treated by the highest-quality treatment technology -- can result in significant quantities of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, often referred to as "superbacteria," in surface waters. The study also suggests that standard wastewater treatment technologies probably release far greater quantities of antibiotic-resistant genes used by bacteria, but this likely goes unnoticed because background levels of bacteria are normally much higher than in the water studied in this research.
The new study is led by civil engineering associate professor Timothy LaPara in the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities College of Science and Engineering. The study is published in the most recent issue of Environmental Science and Technology, a journal of the American Chemical Society. The research was part of a unique class project in a graduate-level civil engineering class at the University of Minnesota focused on environmental microbiology.
Antibiotics are used to treat numerous bacterial infections, but the ever-increasing presence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria has raised substantial concern about the future effectiveness of antibiotics. In response, there has been increasing focus on environmental reservoirs of antibiotic resistance over the past several years. Antibiotic use in agriculture has been heavily scrutinized, while the role of treated municipal wastewater has received little attention as a reservoir of resistance.
Antibiotic-resistant bacteria develop in the gastrointestinal tracts of people taking antibiotics. These bacteria are then shed during defecation, which is collected by the existing sewer infrastructure and passed through a municipal wastewater treatment facility.
St. Enoch Centre, owned and managed by Ivanhoe Cambridge, is located in Glasgow's busy city centre, one of the UK's top shopping destinations outside London. The first of its kind in Scotland, St. Enoch Centre was officially opened in 1989 and has since become one of the city's favourite shopping destinations.
Ivanhoe Cambridge has awarded Sutton Group FM the mechanical and engineering contract for Glasgow’s St. Enoch Centre. The contract commenced on January 1st 2011 with the facilities management firm providing specialist maintenance to one of the city’s leading shopping destinations.
A team of three resident engineers supported by Sutton Group FM’s local team of ten mobile engineers and specialist sub-contractors will work on-site at St. Enoch to provide the planned upgrades.
St. Enoch has recently undergone a £150M transformation which has seen the arrival of a host of well-known brand names and retailers to the Centre, including Hamleys, Cult, Fossil and Fenchurch, resulting in record footfall levels and increased customer spending.
Colin Merryweather, Managing Director, Sutton Group FM, said: “It is with great pleasure that Sutton Group FM announce the award of the M&E contract for St. Enoch Centre in Glasgow. This is the first contract awarded to Sutton Group FM by Ivanhoe Cambridge and is part of St. Enoch’s continuing service delivery improvements.
Founded by the aristocracy nearly 250 years ago, Brooks’s in St. James’s is one of London’s most famous gentleman’s clubs. It is still frequented by many of London’s wealthiest and most influential gentlemen today.
Despite its location in the heart of London and its high-brow clientele the brick and stone façade on this Listed Building had never been cleaned, until now. Using the unique ‘façade gommage’ system, London-based masonry cleaning specialist Thomann-Hanry, cleaned the 700m2 brick and stone façade in just three days, and all without the use of scaffold.
Brooks’s was founded in 1764 by 27 members of the aristocracy, including four dukes. With high-ranking politicians and HRH The Prince Regent among its members, the Club became known as one on London’s most distinguished gentleman’s clubs. The building was designed by Henry Holland, one of the most prominent architects of his day, whose work includes Althorp House, Theatre Royal Drury Lane and The Royal Pavilion in Brighton.
As a Grade 1 Listed Building, within the St. James’s Conservation Area, English Heritage, test panels had to be approved by English Heritage, City of Westminster’s Planning and Conservation department and the commercial property consultant Drivers Jonas Deloitte before the work could begin.
Although the façade, which consists of the notoriously soft yellow London stock bricks, with Portland stone architectural dressings, had never previously been cleaned, it didn’t present any problems for Thomann-Hanry’s sensitive ‘façade gommage’ masonry cleaning system. Nearly 250 years of West End grime and pollution was cleaned off in just three days, bringing the 700m2 of Georgian brick and stonework back up to its original splendour.
No scaffold was used during the cleaning process which meant disturbance to the access of the Club, and the busy streets and pavements surrounding it were kept to an absolute minimum.
RMD Kwikform Engineers Help B and K Structures Construct Geodesic Dome For Scunthorpe Leisure Centre
The new £21m leisure centre project in Scunthorpe will transform the lives of local residents, creating one of the UK’s most lively and interesting facilities that will complement the adjacent Central Park, which will also be refurbished as part of the scheme.
Housed within the geodesic dome pods will be a large fitness suite, a 25m swimming pool and a training pool, a dance studio and a six-court sports hall. A crèche and a café will also form part of the complex.
RMD Kwikform’s engineering team has designed ten specialist pyramid support towers to help contractor B & K Structures construct the innovative wood and steel geodesic dome for the leisure centre.
Erecting the structure, which once completed is self-supporting, thanks to a steel spine, was a complex task, requiring specialist systems that could provide pinpoint node support, without compromising or slowing down the erection procedure.
Tasked with connecting numerous individually fabricated steel node points to varying lengths of special Glulam engineered timber sections, (Glulam consists of planks of timber that are finger jointed to create endless boards, then pressed and glued together to form beams or columns) B & K Structures had to find a safe and workable support solution.
Having worked with RMD Kwikform on a number of previously successful projects, the B & K Structures project team made contact with RMD Kwikform engineers at the earliest design phase, to devise a practical support system that would meet the tight programme needs.
Commenting on this and the structure itself John Booth, B & K Structures contract manager said: “The really exciting part of this project is the nature of the structure that will house the new leisure centre. It is truly unique in its design, consisting of five interconnected ‘untrue’ geodesic domes to form a roof over the facility. Once completed it will look very impressive as if a number of different sized pods have been connected together.
“The core self-supporting frame is extremely intricate in design and cleverly marries the use of wooden beams and steel node point connectors to create the geodesic domes structure that is further supported by a steel spine running across the full length of the structure
Chicago Pneumatic (CP) has announced its increased activity and expansion plans for the Indian market in 2011, which include launch of several new products and comprehensively covering the Indian market through more and bigger distributors over the period of next few months.
CP aims at becoming a stronger player in the Indian market and as a part of this initiative the company is exhibiting its new products at one of the world's biggest construction and industrial trade shows being conducted in India, the Bauma Conexpo India in Mumbai.
According to Mr. Kishore Sidhwani, Vice President, Chicago Pneumatic Construction Equipment AB, Stockholm “We are now actively leveraging and building the Chicago Pneumatic brand globally. CP is well known in India and has been present here for over 70 years. We have a wide range of products designed for offering value to customers in the strong emerging markets. We are launching the new RX range of Hydraulic breakers, Light Towers and more models in Portable Electric Compressors.”
Chicago Pneumatic’s India plant is based in Nasik, Maharashtra and collaborates closely on product design, prototypes and testing. This plant is dedicated solely to construction tools – handheld pneumatic breakers, chipping hammers, pick hammers, scrabblers, rivet busters, surface and underground rock drills. The production lines are ISO 14001 certified, and equipped with high-end machining centers to ensure superior, consistent quality. In the Nasik test labs every single product is tested and certified before delivery.
Street Crane has designed the new LX chain hoists for precise and safe lifting for a range of industries such as automotive, commercial transport, construction, aviation, light marine and general engineering workshops. In capacities from 125 to 5000Kg, the new LX chain hoist opens a new market segment.
Flexibility was a key project goal – there are hoists to meet every need. Eye suspension models for stationary lifting, powered or push trolley options, standard height models or chain hoists configured for low/restricted headroom situations are just a few of the choices. Other options include choices of hoist and travel speed, dual speed hoisting, enhanced environmental protection to IP55 and variable frequency travel drives. IP54 is the default environmental protection standard and all models are suited for temperatures from -20 to +50 degrees C.
Safety is paramount. A slipping clutch provides overload protection and chain hoists feature high performance disk brakes. Plug and socket electrical connections simplify final fix installation. Limit switches can be set for both hoisting and lateral travel.
There are several answers to problems of height limitation. On low headroom hoists the hook rises to the side of the motor gearbox to give an exceptionally low profile. Where the available operating envelope for the hoist is more limited, the hoist can be installed between the beams of a double beam crane to give an even greater clear working height.
Control options include 48 Volt standard pendant control or remote operation by radio device for greater convenience and safety. Control units can be set-up for solo operation or to work twin hoists for tandem lifts.
Scottish Government Should İncorporate Specific Provisions For The Construction İndustry When Bidding For Public Sector Contracts
At the moment, there are many different procedures for pre-qualifying to bid for public sector and local authority contracts. They differ between authorities and sometimes even between different departments in the same authority.
The Holyrood Parliament has just concluded a lengthy consultation process involving key stakeholders from both suppliers and purchasers within public procurement. Its aim is to deliver a more standardised approach to pre-qualification procedures. SELECT is calling on the Scottish Government to incorporate specific provisions for the construction industry in its current shake-up of the procedures for bidding for public sector contracts.
Martin Reid, Member Services Manager at SELECT, said: “The cost of continually dealing with these different sets of questions is enormous and it is adversely affecting the construction industry which, in the current climate, needs all the help it can get. Across the UK, the National Specialist Contractors’ Council estimates that to answer new questionnaires every time a bid is made for government contracts costs the construction industry £250 million a year.”
Mr Reid said that SELECT broadly welcomed the Scottish Government’s consultation on a Standard Pre-Qualification Questionnaire (SPQQ), which would create a database of suppliers’ answers which could be consulted by all public sector buyers. The trade body also welcomes the provision for suppliers to update the database.
But Mr Reid said the SPQQ should also incorporate the Publicly Available Specification (PAS91) which has been developed specifically for the construction industry in the rest of the UK with the aim of saving companies significant time and money.
Ringway Works With Lincolnshire School To Provide A Safer Way For Pupils To Navigate Around Hazardous Roads
The Staniland Primary School, based in Boston, Lincolnshire, ran a competition for its pupils to design a road safety plan for the area which had to cover all modes of transport from cars and lorries, to cyclists and pedestrians. The plan was to raise awareness of road safety among the pupils at the same time as highlighting ways in which all modes of transport can safely maneuver around the road works at the same time.
Ringway has been working with the school to provide a safer way for pupils to navigate around hazardous road works near to the school. Ringway and Client Project staff are turning the winning design into a construction project with the winning pupil taking a lead role in the process.
Bob Sutton, the Contracts Manager for Ringway in Lincolnshire, said: “We have all seen incidents when children come running out of school, full of energy, and temporarily forget their road safety rules. So it is really important that children understand the dangers of traffic and navigating safely around busy road works. This competition is an ideal way of teaching them about road-signs, road markings and the safest way to behave in such conditions. At Ringway, we put safety at the top of our agenda and we pride ourselves in being able to assist in any activity that highlights safety. It is a pleasure to work together with Staniland School on such an enlightening project.”
For the competition entries, pupils could use road markings and signs that are used everyday on our highways or, as long as it was clear what the instructions were meant to be, they could design markings and signs of their own. They were given two different areas around the school for which to design plans. The first being a crossing between the school playground and school playing field; the second area where the playing field extends up to the end of a play equipment area.
Saturday, November 26, 2011
In the late 1960s Caterpillar was one of the first manufacturers to commercialize electric-drive trucks but elected to focus its design and development efforts on mechanical drive. With advances in AC drive technology, coupled with proven components and technologies from existing Caterpillar products, the company concluded it was the appropriate time to make electric drive available to its customers as a complement to its highly successful mechanical drive.
Caterpillar Inc. has unveiled the next generation of mining trucks. Along with improved safety features, Tier 2 compliant engines and new integrated technologies in the existing Cat mining fleet, the company has developed electric drive mining trucks.
"When our customers asked us for improvements to our mining trucks, we responded by making a record investment in every single truck in our line, as well as the increased capacity to produce more of them," said Caterpillar Group President Stu Levenick. "New technologies have allowed us to make trucks more reliable, easier to maintain and more friendly to the operator and to the environment".
While Caterpillar believes mechanical drive is the best solution for the vast majority of situations, the company listened to its customers and explored the situations and conditions where electric drive would be the preferred option. As the only manufacturer of 200-ton and above mining trucks with both drives, Cat is able to offer trucks that address all of its customers' preferences.
Over the past 40 years or so there has been an increasing shift to concrete flooring - particularly in commercial and industrial buildings. Some of the key reasons for this continuing growth can be summed up as sustainability, innovation and health & safety.
Sustainability is in many ways an obvious feature since it is one of the principal features of concrete as a material. Its 'shelf life' can be measured in decades rather than years and, what’s more, it can be broken up when no longer required and recycled in a variety of ways; including use as an aggregate for new concrete.
In terms of innovation, there are now many variations, each offering particular benefits for specific individual applications.
Health & Safety
Last, but certainly by no means least, there is health & safety - a vitally important area that is at the heart of the work of the Precast Flooring Federation.
Whilst product developments and innovation still continue, there are currently three main generic types of precast concrete floor: hollowcore, beam & block and lattice girder
Tom Prichard started his business as an agricultural contractor in 1997 when he was eighteen. He diversified into general plant hire in 2001 and his Company became Limited in 2005. Now, with its head office, yard and comprehensive workshops based in Llantrisant, Tom Prichard Contracting Ltd undertakes a whole variety of earthmoving projects throughout South Wales and the south west corner of England. This includes bulk excavations, remediation work and haulage with the Company’s fleet of tipper wagons.
Tom Prichard Contracting Ltd of Llantrisant, South Wales has taken a further selection of Volvo Construction Equipment products for its plant fleet. The most recent additions to Mr Prichard’s fleet include two compact reduced swing excavators – namely an ECR28 and ECR88; two twenty one tonne EC210C’s, and EC240C and the recently released C series version of the fourteen tonne EC140. Accompanying the excavator additions the Company has also taken delivery of its first DD24 tandem roller in full Volvo livery.
These recent arrivals bring the number of Volvo branded products to fourteen out of a total fleet of 110 items of plant. “We are continuing to invest with Volvo machines for the fleet for two main reasons,” comments managing Director Tom Prichard. “Firstly Volvo provides us with a first class support and service back up and secondly, the products and especially the excavators are robust and have proven reliability.”
According to a report released by the UK Trade & Investment, British construction firms are being encouraged to take advantage of the multi billion pound infrastructure opportunities in South Africa.
The report, titled ‘Building South Africa: Opportunities for the UK Construction Sector’, highlights infrastructure opportunities in both the public and private sectors stemming from the Government’s £33billion infrastructure plans and events like the 2010 World Cup.
UK Trade & Investment Chief Executive Officer Andrew Cahn said: “South Africa is a fast growth economy with infrastructure plans to match. With investment opportunities in both private and public sectors, coupled with a severe skills shortage now is the time for UK companies to take advantage of the construction boom.”
“The Government’s infrastructure spending plan is set to accelerate the annual growth of the economy between 4.5 per cent and 6.0 per cent. Its ambitious plans for mass transport, water projects, prisons, hospital and prison upgrades provide plenty of opportunities for UK companies.
“This investment and events like the 2010 Football World Cup are acting as a catalyst for growth in the private construction sector. Opportunities include hotel and residential development as well as urban regeneration projects. By establishing a business in South Africa, UK companies can gain a foothold into sub-Saharan Africa.”
Safety and security scanning for all external environments from large construction and civil engineering sites to conveyors and other heavy moving plant above or below ground is now available with SICK’s IP67 rated / PLd and SIL 2 certificated OS2000 laser scanner.
Developed by SICK, the OS2000 enables a high reliability, electronic safety and security screen to be maintained outdoors despite the harshest conditions and exposure. The system is ideal for the detection of movement of people, vehicles and objects for safety, security and collision avoidance, including emergency stops and machine control.
The OS2000 is easy to install and set up, yet capable of sophisticated and multi-sensor deployment with its intelligent BUS connections. Its versatility allows it to be used for a wide variety of situations and applications, vertically or horizontally, and reconfiguration to meet changed conditions is easy.
The OS2000 is believed to be the first scanner of its type to be CE certificated to performance Level d (EN ISO 13849-1) and SIL2 (EN162061), which allow it to be used where safety demands are critical.
Use of high reliability electronics and with self testing and system status indication capability ensure its operability in situations where mechanically based safety systems might fail or not offer the flexibility and controllability required.
Cirrus Environmental has launched the MK:427 Noise Sensor, a self-contained outdoor noise meter that connects directly to SCADA systems. The sensor allows noise level data to be incorporated into Process Measurement and Control systems with unparalleled ease. The data can be stored to provide a complete record of a plant's noise activities, and can also be used to control noisy processes in real time. For example: a pump or fan can be throttled back when the noise it generates reaches an excessive level at the site boundary.
Unlike a conventional Sound Level Meter, the Noise Sensor simply converts the noise level in decibels into standard 4-20mA and linear DC outputs. The pure-analogue electronics are highly reliable and operate without any user intervention. No specialist acoustic knowledge is required – simply power-up the Noise Sensor and the measured noise level is continuously fed to the output. With the 4-20mA output, very long cable lengths can be used without reducing the accuracy of noise measurements.
The Noise Sensor incorporates a 1.2 meter microphone pole, allowing the microphone to be positioned in free space, well away from any obstructions. A variety of mounting methods make the device simple to fit on any building or structure. The sensor hardware is based on a well-established Cirrus design that has been proven in harsh weather conditions around the world for many years.
To ensure that the sensitive microphone transducer is always in good condition, it is fitted with an electrostatic actuator calibrator. This can be used to make regular fixed-point calibrations of the entire measuring chain, thus verifying data integrity. The device can be set to measure Fast or Slow time-weighted Sound Pressure Level with “A”, “C” or “Z” frequency weighting to Class 1 standards. A unique prescaling calibration system allows any 65dB span in the range 20 to 130dB to be selected by the user.
Thanet Earth, Britain’s biggest glasshouse development at over 220 acres, is currently under construction near Margate in Kent. Its significance is huge, not only for the county but the whole of the UK. When fully operational, the site’s seven vast glasshouses will be home to some 1.3 million plants – estimated to increase the UK’s crop of salad vegetables by 15% and creating 550 new jobs in Kent.
Thanet Earth will be built on solid foundations with the help of Kent-based plant specialist, FGS Plant. It is part of a phenomenal effort that involves moving around 1million cubic metres of chalk/subsoil and topsoil.
FGS Plant currently has a fleet of excavators, ranging from five tonnes to 34 tonnes, and a six tonne dumper on site, which have been hired to Main Contractor Fitzpatrick as both operated and self-drive, and bulk earthworks subcontractor D&M Plant on a self-drive basis only.
Together, they are playing a key role in a delicate earthworks scheme that is working closely with local archaeologists to ensure any significant historic artefacts remain intact. To date, the earliest remains found are of the early Bronze Age (c 2500–1700 BC).
It is also maintaining a complete earthworks balance, with all materials remaining on site and reused elsewhere on the development. It is the perfect byline to the project’s impressive eco-credentials.
Kubota has announced that all their new machines will now carry a full 3 year warranty as standard. The new 3 year warranty will apply to all models across the entire Kubota range. Most other manufacturers currently offer a maximum 2 year standard warranty period.
Richard Harrison, Sales & Marketing Manager, Kubota (UK) - Construction Equipment Division, said: "The decision to extend the standard warranty to 3 years (or 3,000 hours) is another industry first for Kubota and shows our confidence in the quality, reliability, durability and superiority of our machines."
"With their outstanding performance, versatility and excellent residual values, plus our unique key-based 'ANTI-THEFT' security system which also comes as standard, Kubota minis provide unbeatable value for money."
"The addition of an extra year's warranty, our in-built security system, and the legendary Kubota quality and performance characteristics, combined with outstanding dealer support, are all vitally important considerations for customers buying or hiring machines in today's challenging business climate," concluded Richard Harrison.
Since opting for Volvo branded excavators for the first time in 2004, L Lynch Plant Hire has added a further twenty five Volvo’s to its operating fleet of two hundred, predominantly Volvo badged excavators. At the same time, the Company has recognized the need to be able to offer larger machines for hire to high profile projects and blue chip contractors working on some of the most prestigious construction projects currently being undertaken around the U.K.
Other projects include long term quarrying and landfill contracts in the Midlands and south of England. To this end Lynch included twenty nine tonne EC290C’s and thirty six tonne EC360C’s in the recent package along with a mix of fourteen and twenty one tonne excavators.
Commenting on the deal, Lynch’s Sales and Marketing Manager Rob Lynch said; “There are two main reasons why we prefer operating Volvo excavators in our fleet. Firstly, we take great store in the opinions, advice and feedback from our machine operators and their assessment of the Volvo product is very high indeed. Naturally, operator comfort comes top on the list, but also the performance and power of the Volvo machines is considered superior over their competitors. Our other reason for choosing machines from Volvo is their ability to support the product 100% from their support centres. Their ‘Yes –can do’ approach exactly mirrors our own ethos with our customers,” he continued.
Inspicio has announced the acquisition of the independent pile testing specialists Precision Monitoring and Control Ltd (PMC).
PMC is the UK's leading independent pile testing specialist, operating nationwide in the construction sector, primarily on infrastructure projects. Its capability in diagnostic foundation engineering is complementary to Inspicio's Soil Mechanics business and will provide opportunities to cross sell between the businesses.
This latest acquisition will fit into the Inspicio Environment Division headed up by Alex Sleeth. Alex joined Inspicio on 1 October 2008 having spent the previous 20 years in various roles within National Britannia culminating in his role as Chief Executive Officer. The existing PMC management team will remain in place and the two founding directors will continue with the business on a consultancy basis.
Mark Silver, CEO Inspicio said: “After more than 20 years in the business, PMC has built up an enviable reputation in the market and is a valued addition to the Inspicio Environment Division. This is our eighth acquisition this year and clearly demonstrates the support 3i, our major shareholder since February, offers to the Group. The acquisition of PMC will enable us to expand our offerings in the Environment market both throughout the UK and internationally.”
Friday, November 25, 2011
Recent studies conducted at Marshall University have demonstrated that nanoparticles of cerium oxide -- common diesel fuel additives used to increase the fuel efficiency of automobile engines -- can travel from the lungs to the liver and that this process is associated with liver damage. The data in the study by Dr. Eric R. Blough and his colleagues at Marshall's Center for Diagnostic Nanosystems indicate there is a dose-dependent increase in the concentration of cerium in the liver of animals that had been exposed to the nanoparticles, which are only about 1/40,000 times as large as the width of a human hair. These increases in cerium were associated with elevations of liver enzymes in the blood and histological evidence consistent with liver damage. The research was published in the October 13 issue of the peer-reviewed research journal International Journal of Nanomedicine.
Cerium oxide is widely used as a polishing agent for glass mirrors, television tubes and ophthalmic lenses. Cerium oxide nanoparticles are used in the automobile industry to increase fuel efficiency and reduce particulate emissions. Some studies have found that cerium oxide nanoparticles may also be capable of acting as antioxidants, leading researchers to suggest these particles may also be useful for the treatment of cardiovascular disease, neurodegenerative disease and radiation-induced tissue damage.
Blough, the center's director and an associate professor in the university's Department of Biological Sciences, said, "Given the ever-increasing use of nanomaterials in industry and in the products we buy, it is becoming increasingly important to understand if these substances may be harmful. To our knowledge, this is the first report to evaluate if inhaled cerium oxide nanoparticles exhibit toxic effects in the liver."
Research from the University of Sheffield has found that people are willing to pay up to £29.91 per month, or around £360.00 per year, for greener urban spaces. Researchers surveyed the public in the two major urban centres of Manchester and Sheffield to find out how much extra they were willing to pay in council tax or rent/mortgage payments for green spaces in their local area. They found that people were willing to pay more for greener spaces with greater tree coverage.
Members of the public in Sheffield and Manchester were shown images of how their local areas could be developed in the future and were asked to state how much more they would be willing to pay for each scenario.
On Whitworth Street in Manchester, members of the public pay an average of £2.20 per month for street cleaning and £1.50 per month to maintain green spaces through council tax. The survey found that people were willing to pay an extra £1.46 per month to maintain the street in its current state, an extra £1.61 per month if small ornamental trees were planted and up to £2.33 extra per month for large forest trees and grass landscaping.
Meanwhile, in Sheffield city centre near Blonk Street, rents or mortgage payments for small apartments are around £575 per month. The study found that people were willing to pay £4.27 more per month to maintain the new footbridge, riverside walkway and flood defence works that have recently been completed. If additional landscaping was undertaken in the area they would pay £8.00 more per month. However, they said that they would pay even more -- an extra £10.81 per month -- if the natural vegetation of the riverside was allowed to re-establish itself.
Many experts believe that advanced biofuels made from cellulosic biomass are the most promising alternative to petroleum-based liquid fuels for a renewable, clean, green, domestic source of transportation energy. Nature, however, does not make it easy. Unlike the starch sugars in grains, the complex polysaccharides in the cellulose of plant cell walls are locked within a tough woody material called lignin. For advanced biofuels to be economically competitive, scientists must find inexpensive ways to release these polysaccharides from their bindings and reduce them to fermentable sugars that can be synthesized into fuels. An important step towards achieving this goal has been taken by researchers with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)'s Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI), a DOE Bioenergy Research Center led by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab).
A team of JBEI researchers, working with researchers at the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service (ARS), has demonstrated that introducing a maize (corn) gene into switchgrass, a highly touted potential feedstock for advanced biofuels, more than doubles (250 percent) the amount of starch in the plant's cell walls and makes it much easier to extract polysaccharides and convert them into fermentable sugars. The gene, a variant of the maize gene known as Corngrass1 (Cg1), holds the switchgrass in the juvenile phase of development, preventing it from advancing to the adult phase.
"We show that Cg1 switchgrass biomass is easier for enzymes to break down and also releases more glucose during saccharification," says Blake Simmons, a chemical engineer who heads JBEI's Deconstruction Division and was one of the principal investigators for this research. "Cg1 switchgrass contains decreased amounts of lignin and increased levels of glucose and other sugars compared with wild switchgrass, which enhances the plant's potential as a feedstock for advanced biofuels."
The results of this research are described in a paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) titled "Overexpression of the maize Corngrass1 microRNA prevents flowering, improves digestibility, and increases starch content of switchgrass."
Scientists from The Scripps Research Institute and the US Army's Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases have isolated and analyzed an antibody that neutralizes Sudan virus, a major species of ebolavirus and one of the most dangerous human pathogens. "We suspect that we've found a key spot for neutralizing ebolaviruses," said Scripps Research Associate Professor Erica Ollmann Saphire, who led the study with US Army virologist John M. Dye.
The new findings, which were reported November 20, 2011, in an advance online edition of Nature Structural & Molecular Biology, show the antibody attaches to Sudan virus in a way that links two segments of its coat protein, reducing their freedom of movement and severely hindering the virus's ability to infect cells. The protein-linking strategy appears to be the same as that used by a previously discovered neutralizing antibody against the best-known ebolavirus species, Ebola-Zaire. The new study suggests that this may be the best way for vaccines and antibody-based therapies to stop ebolaviruses.
Ebolaviruses first drew the attention of the medical world with simultaneous deadly outbreaks in 1976 in the nations of Sudan and Zaire (currently known as the Democratic Republic of the Congo). These two outbreaks were caused by the two major viruses: Ebola-Sudan and Ebola-Zaire, and early field studies showed that sera from patients that survived one virus could not help patients infected with the other. . Both viruses persist in animal hosts-probably bats-and when they spread to humans, typically cause severe hemorrhagic fevers, killing up to 90 percent of people they sicken. Although not as contagious as influenza or measles, ebolaviruses can be transmitted in bodily fluids including exhaled airborne droplets, and scientists who study these viruses are generally required to use special "Biosafety Level 4" facilities. The US government regards the ebolaviruses as a potential bioterror threat.
Ebolavirus researchers hope to develop a vaccine that could be used to protect health workers and others in the vicinity of ebolavirus outbreaks, as well as an antibody-based immunotherapy that could help infected people survive. However, these tasks are complicated by the fact that there are now five recognized species of ebolavirus: Ebola-Zaire, also known simply as Ebola virus; Taï Forest virus; Reston virus; Bundibugyo virus; and Sudan virus.
"These species differ enough from each other that neutralizing antibodies to one don't protect against the rest," said Ollmann Saphire. "Sudan virus is a particular concern because it has caused about half of the ebolavirus outbreaks so far, including the largest outbreak yet recorded."
Uncovering the Body's Natural Protection
US government researchers recently demonstrated that an experimental vaccine containing proteins from Ebola and Sudan viruses provides monkeys with some protection against those viruses. But precisely how the vaccine works is unclear, and it has never been tested in humans. Moreover, until now no laboratory has isolated a neutralizing antibody against Sudan virus.
An international team of scientists has created super-strong, high-endurance mice and worms by suppressing a natural muscle-growth inhibitor, suggesting treatments for age-related or genetics-related muscle degeneration are within reach. The project was a collaboration between researchers at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, and two Swiss institutions, Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL) and the University of Lausanne.
The scientists found that a tiny inhibitor may be responsible for determining the strength of our muscles. By acting on a genome regulator (NCoR1), they were able to modulate the activity of certain genes, creating a strain of mighty mice whose muscles were twice a strong as those of normal mice.
"There are now ways to develop drugs for people who are unable to exercise due to obesity or other health complications, such as diabetes, immobility and frailty," says Ronald M. Evans, a professor in Salk's Gene Expression Lab, who led the Salk team. "We can now engineer specific gene networks in muscle to give the benefits of exercise to sedentary mice."
Johan Auwerx, the lead author from EPFL, says molecules such as NCoR1 are molecular brakes that decrease the activity of genes. Releasing the brake by mutation or with chemicals can reactivate gene circuits to provide more energy to muscle and enhance its activity.
In an article appearing in the journal Cell, the Salk researchers and their collaborators reported on the results of experiments done in parallel on mice and nematodes. By genetically manipulating the offspring of these species, the researchers were able to suppress NCoR1, which normally acts to inhibit the buildup of muscle tissues.
In the absence of the inhibitor, the muscle tissue developed much more effectively. The mice with the mutation became true marathoners, capable of running faster and longer before showing any signs of fatigue. In fact, they were able to cover almost twice the distance run by mice that hadn't received the treatment. They also exhibited better cold tolerance.
Sustainability has not only become a science in the past 25 years, but it is one that continues to be fast-growing with widespread international collaboration, broad disciplinary composition and wide geographic distribution, according to new research from Los Alamos National Laboratory and Indiana University. The findings, recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, were assembled from a review of 20,000 academic papers written by 37,000 distinct authors representing 174 countries and over 2,200 cities. Authors of the paper, Los Alamos research scientist Luís M. A. Bettencourt, and Jasleen Kaur, a Ph.D. student in Indiana University Bloomington's School of Informatics and Computing, also identified the most productive cities for sustainability publications and estimated the field's growth rate, with the number of distinct authors doubling every 8.3 years. The study covered research generated from 1974 through 2010.
By analyzing the temporal evolution (distinct authors), geographic distribution, the discipline's footprint within traditional scientific disciplines, the structure and evolution of sustainability science's collaboration network, and the content of the publications, the authors ascertained that the field "has indeed become cohesive over the last decade, sharing large-scale collaboration networks to which most authors now belong and producing a new conceptual and technical unification that spans the globe."
While specialized fields like the natural sciences have generally been concentrated in a few cities in developed nations, Bettencourt and Kaur found that sustainability science had a very different geographic footprint.
"The field is widely distributed internationally and has a strong presence not only in nations with traditional strength in science -- the U.S., Western Europe and Japan -- but also elsewhere," Kaur said. "It is also perhaps surprising that the world's leading city in terms of publications in the field is Washington, D.C., outpacing the productivity of Boston or the Bay Area, which in other fields are several fold greater than that of the U.S. capital."
Countries producing sustainability publications of noteworthy magnitude were Australia, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Brazil, China, India, South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya and Turkey. Productive cities included London, Stockholm, Wageningen in the Netherlands, Seattle, and Madison, Wis.
Functional electrical stimulation (FES) was developed to help return lost function to patients with upper and lower extremity injuries and spinal cord injuries, among other applications. However, the devices, which work by stimulating neuronal activity in nerve-damaged patients, have a potential shortcoming in that the electrical currents needed for the treatment to work can also send errant signals to surrounding nerves, resulting in painful side effects. Earlier this fall, a plastic surgery research team at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) and an engineering team from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), described a new method of nerve stimulation that reduces the device's electrical threshold by 40 percent, compared with traditional FES therapy. Reported in the October 23 Advance On-line issue of the journal Nature Materials, the findings could help researchers develop a safer, more efficient FES therapy with fewer side effects.
"This new device works by manipulating the concentration of charged ions surrounding the nerve," explains co-senior author Samuel J. Lin, MD, a surgeon in BIDMC's Divisions of Plastic Surgery and Otolaryngology and Assistant Professor of Surgery at Harvard Medical School. "This could potentially mean reduced risk to surrounding nerves because less electrical current is required to stimulate the affected nerve." The researchers additionally discovered that they could use the device to block signals in nearby nerve fibers, which could help prevent unwanted muscle contractions.
The research team, led by Lin and MIT Associate Professor Jongyoon Han, PhD, determined that by altering calcium ion concentrations in the fluid surrounding the nerves they could adjust the electrical impulses.
"Nerve fibers fire their signals based on the message they receive from the interaction of ions, or charged particles," explains coauthor Ahmed M.S. Ibrahim, MD, a Research Fellow in BIDMC's Divisions of Plastic Surgery and Otolaryngology. "We wanted to achieve the lowest current possible that would still result in positive results." After testing the manipulation of sodium and potassium ions, the researchers determined that consistent results could be achieved by removing positively charged calcium ions from the fluid surrounding the nerves.
The newly designed method not only prevents electrical impulses from traveling along a nerve but also uses significantly less current required by existing FES therapy. "This could be of particular benefit for the treatment of patients with various forms of paralysis," explains Lin. "The nerves that control movements and the sensory nerves that carry pain signals are extremely close together, so existing FES therapy has had limitations."
The researchers conducted their study of this new electrochemical-stimulation method in the nerves of frogs and plan to later test it in mammalian nerves.
The number of apprentices entering the construction sector declines, and the number of unemployed under 25-year olds increases. This status has given rise to a new initiative aimed at strengthening communities and offering young people skills and advancement in the building industry.
The initiative, launched this week by CC Developments UK 2007 Ltd, has been given a much-welcomed reception by community development schemes in London and its surrounding boroughs.
Darren Bolger, Managing Director of CC Developments UK, with over 20 years experience in the industry said: “The introduction of the new initiatives will offer builders, tradesmen and professional service providers within the construction sector the opportunity to work in their immediate communities through our accreditation scheme.
“Through our Apprenticeship Scheme, we are also providing under 25-year-olds the opportunity to access the construction sector, working with professional companies and offering them the chance to build on their future, resulting in long-term vocational careers within the building and construction industry.”
Statistics released by ONS (Office for National Statistics) revealed last week that unemployment within the under-25 year old age bracket has hit the highest level since 1992 with figures resting at 1.2million.
Further research by BIS (Business Innovation and Skills) reveal a decline in the number of apprenticeship starts for the construction sectors, compared to 2008/2009 and only a 5% increase up from last year.
Confıned Spaces – Invısıble Dangers - Businesses Could Be Putting Themselves At Huge Risk By Not Knowing That They Have A Confined Space Within Their
Businesses could be putting themselves at huge risk by not knowing that they have a confined space within their work environment. Confined spaces are not just underground and what is one day not classed as a confined space can quickly become one, through very subtle changes like a change in the weather.
Under the Confined Spaces Regulations 1997 act, a confined space can be: “any place, including any chamber, tank, vat, silo, pit, trench, pipe, sewer, flue, well or other similar space in which, by virtue of its enclosed nature, there arises a reasonably foreseeable specified risk.”
Confined Spaces can be present across a wide range of industries and sectors from agriculture to hairdressing and mining to plumbing, examples of over 50 industries are listed on the HSE website.
It has been reported that there on average 25 fatalities per year involving people who work in Confined Spaces. These are caused by suffocation, drowning, being exposed to dangerous substances or by being crushed. It is believed that most are directly attributed to employee’s not being taught the correct procedures whilst working in a confined space.
Aside from the distressing loss of human life, the cost to organisations can be huge and can vary from a sullied reputation, massive legal fees and downtime.
Leading technical training provider, Develop Training, have now extended their specialist Confined Spaces training from a regional programme to a nationwide as a way of creating awareness of this issue and have recently introduced certificated refresher programmes for those who may have undertaken this sort of training in the past.
framwScape, the organisation that’s at the forefront of driving down public sector building procurement costs, has just appointed a range of suppliers to its latest framework to help organisations across the East Midlands access design and technical services more quickly and efficiently.
A total of 26 local providers - including Pick Everard, Faithful+Gould, WT Partnership and Focus Consultants - have been chosen following a competitive tender process that evaluated price, quality, performance and service innovation. Scape’s new Design and Technical Services Framework has taken 12 months to develop, and covers the full spectrum of specialist industry support needed on all aspects of portfolio management, maintenance and development. Architectural design, structural engineering, quantity surveying, planning consultancy and ground works investigations are also included.
Alex Wakefield, Associate Director of Faithful+Gould, said: “We’re delighted to be working with Scape and see this as a great opportunity to help the public sector buy in quality assured industry services at a better price for the taxpayer. As a well established company with sector expertise, we look forward to delivering our comprehensive range of construction management services for many organisations in the East Midlands.”
With estimates showing that at least *£25bn is wasted by the public sector through badly organised procurement and outsourcing each year, there’s never been more of a demand for Scape’s services. These are designed to help public sector organisations, who are planning a new build or renovation project or require property management support, to buy in services without having to go through a costly and time consuming procurement process.
Thursday, November 24, 2011
Co-located with ConExpo-Con/Agg, Mar. 25, 2011 in Las Vegas, Nev., The Crane & Rigging Conference (CRC) offers expanded educational opportunities for contractors, fleet managers, safety directors and others interested in promoting crane safety and improving risk management inside their organizations.
Produced by Maximum Capacity Media, the event is conveniently located at the Riviera Convention Center, just a short walk from the Gold Lot, where most cranes will be on display. Registrations are being taken now for CRC, which costs just $275 and includes lunch and coffee breaks. You must also be registered for ConExpo in order to attend CRC.
The conference includes five educational sessions, one of which is a panel discussion designed to guide contractors and crane owners through the path to compliance with the new OSHA1926.1400 regulation for cranes and derricks in construction. Even though the rule took effect in November 2010, many questions remain over compliance and enforcement.
The panel of experts, who represent a wide range of experience in heavy lifting—from insurance, risk management and general contracting to operator, rigger and signalperson training—will be on hand to talk through the issues and field questions from the audience. As there will be no shortage of strong opinions on the new rules, you won’t want to miss this lively discussion.
Telehandlers are among the most versatile pieces of material handling equipment used on construction sites, and contribute significantly into the efficiency of the construction process. In recent years both the capacity and reach of telehandlers have developed to the point where they are able to carry out many of the tasks traditionally undertaken by mobile and tower cranes. However, the versatility that makes them so useful also increases the risk of unsafe operations, which has led to a significant number of serious telehandler accidents, tragically including some fatalities.
The Strategic Forum Plant Safety Group has launched a new best practice document, ‘Safe Use of Telehandlers in Construction’, intended to help operators reduce their risks of accident and injury. The new document, which includes expert contributions from BITA members, was unveiled at the Executive Hire Show. The guidance is now freely downloadable from the Construction Plant-hire Association (CPA) and BITA websites.
In the Foreword to the Best Practice Guidance, Phillip White, Chief Inspector of Construction at HSE, said “Not only do these accidents have a terrible cost in terms of human suffering, they also have a significant financial cost for all concerned. This guidance has been prepared by a Working Group representing all parts of the industry, including the Health and Safety Executive to provide clarity on the safe use of telehandlers; including planning, role of personnel, training and familiarisation of personnel, safe use, maintenance, inspection and thorough examination. The guidance is straightforward, comprehensive and easy to adopt.”
Bob Hine IEng MIMechE, Technical Consultant to BITA, says: “We’re delighted that BITA members JCB, JLG and Merlo were able to have such full participation in the preparation of this definitive guide to the safe operation of telehandlers. The new document complements the pocket-sized BITA safety booklet Operator’s Safety Code for Rough Terrain Lift Trucks (the ‘red book’) offered via the BITA website.”
The Jablite Dynamic Wall, with its superior U-value, which allows builders to achieve Code 4 without changing the construction footprint, is already attracting the attention of house builders.
Jablite Ltd has taken on a dynamic duo, Karen Morris and Joanne Hollingshead, to sell its range of new products to the house building sector. Between them, the pair has 25 years of experience in selling to the construction sector .
Jablite Sales Director, Richard Lee explains: “Our aim is to challenge the big players in the insulation sector, to do that, we needed more people out on the road selling our products. Joanne and Karen’s expertise and excellent understanding of the sector will considerably strengthen Jablite’s sales team. I could not be more delighted to have them on board. They both started just before Christmas and they are tackling the work with exemplary zeal.”
“It’s great to be out there selling such exciting new products,” says Joanne. “It is one of the things that attracted me to the position, that and the friendly and open management team – they genuinely do want to hear our ideas and opinions.”
Aberdeen-born Gavin Sharp has joined CALA Homes from Archial Architects, previously Jenkins & Marr, where he spent five years working mainly on large-scale commercial and leisure developments. CALA Homes has recruited the new architectural manager as it prepares to develop new sites in the Aberdeen area.
Gavin, who trained at the Scott Sutherland School of Architecture, is currently working on CALA’s projects at The Campus in Hilton, Aberdeen and The Sycamores in Liff, Dundee. He is also involved in plans for the apartments at Craigieburn Park in Aberdeen as well as other developments, soon to be announced.
Speaking of his appointment Gavin said: “After working in private practice for a number of years, I’m delighted to have the opportunity to join CALA. My experience and knowledge of CALA illustrates that not only is the group highly regarded by its home owners but also by outside architectural practices. CALA often develops in prestigious and sensitive sites which means bespoke designs are sometimes necessary and a challenge for the architecture team. Craigieburn, like The Campus at Hilton, will be a unique development and I look forward to being involved in its creation.”
Based in Lancashire’s Colne Valley, Barnfield Construction has undertaken a major environmental audit as a basis for continuing action to reduce carbon output. Barnfield is a company committed to sustainable construction and has a certified environmental management policy under ISO14001.
The company has become one of the first contractors in the UK to adopt Crown Oil’s carbon offset Diesel for all its site operations.
“As part of our programme of improvement we were concerned about emissions from our large vehicle and plant base,” explained contracts manager James Webber. “Biodiesel was considered, but we rejected this on the grounds that plant would require expensive modifications. The carbon offset Diesel from Crown provided an instant solution. In addition to providing fuel, Crown Oil was able to advise us on more efficient Diesel usage. We also implement a policy of updating plant with more efficient equipment as it is renewed.”
Speaking for Crown Oil UK, general manager Mark Andrews explained, “Our carbon offset Diesel is technically the same as standard red Diesel used in site plant such as excavators, dump trucks, generators and cranes. We have bought high quality carbon offset credits from a company that is engaged in carbon reduction and sequestration projects worldwide. Like all Diesel our product does emit carbon into the atmosphere, but this is cancelled out by applying the carbon offset credits.”
Crown Oil is happy to advise construction companies on fuel use and to make recommendations for direct carbon reduction by more efficient plant operation. Crown Oil already offsets 100 percent of the fuel used in the delivery of its road fuels and site fuels to its customers. The company offer a nationwide site fuel service for the construction industry backed by practical assistance with safe fuel bunkering, fuel management and programmed deliveries to avoid outages.
The Institution of Civil Engineers' quarterly survey monitors attitudes to key public services in the UK such as roads, public transport, water and waste facilities and energy supply to homes. Roads and highways have again topped the list of areas that need investment with over half the UK (55 percent) rating it as their first or second priority, according the latest public service satisfaction survey, published by the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE).
Roads and highways have remained the public’s first or second priority for more investment throughout 2010, following the severe weather of the 2009/10 winter which exacerbated existing road defects and led to a 40 percent increase in the number of pot holes. This caused satisfaction on the state of UK roads and highways to plummet from 60 percent down to 46 percent.
The survey, carried out in December amid the heavy snows which brought transport networks to a standstill, again showed the impact of the severe weather on our roads and highways with public satisfaction falling significantly, from 59 percent in Q3 to 50 percent in Q4, and those who place it as first or second priority for investment rising 6 percent (from 49 percent in Q3 to 55 percent in Q4).
The results follow a 15 percent cut to the Department for Transport’s budget in the October spending review and the subsequent announcement late last year of further cuts to highway maintenance funding, up to 19 percent on average across councils.
Stricklandgate House, in the heart of Kendal is a grade II listed building, built in 1776 by local merchant Joseph Maude. It is now home to 18 separate charities and community groups and has recently undergone a £360,000 building refurbishment, funded predominantly by the Heritage Lottery Fund and carried out by restoration and conservation specialist firm William Anelay Ltd in close consultation with John Coward Architects Ltd.
The works, which involved the comprehensive repair of the front and rear elevations along with the roofs, commenced in June 2009 and were completed last winter.
At the time of its construction it was considered the largest and best house in Kendal and is testament to the influence of Maude, who moved to the town from Sunderland in 1773 and set up as a merchant, bill broker and moneylender. In 1815 it became home to the Kendal Bank of Savings. Almost forty years later the house became a museum with the Kendal Literary and Science Society taking ownership. In 1870 the former servant’s quarters at the rear of the house became home to the Kendal Volunteer Fire Brigade and it remains today. A link to the main house was constructed in the 60s and thoroughly renovated by Anelays as part of the recent works.
It was comprehensively refurbished in 1895 after being purchased by Gilbert Gilkes but remained as home to the museum until 1913 when it became home to a prominent local medical practitioner, Dr Samuel Noble. Noble passed away in 1926 but his wife remained until her death in 1945. She bequeathed a piece of land, known as Maude’s Meadow, behind the house to the town in memory of her husband and it remains as Noble’s Rest to this day.