Monthly Archives: November 2013

Shenzhen International Airport opens

Shenzhen International Airport

The new Terminal 3 at Shenzhen International Airport has opened after five years of planning and construction. With an overall length of 1.5km and a gross floor space of 500,000 sq m, it will increase the potential capacity of the Shenzhen International Airport by up to 40m passengers per year.

The project was designed by Italian architect Massimiliano Fuksas and engineered by the German firm Knippers Helbig. The terminal roof spans an impressive 700m over the check-in area, reaching a height of 25m, and is supported by a 36m grid layout of slender columns. The concourses are column-free and in the transverse direction span up to 45m.

Shenzhen International Airport 2

Knippers Helbig undertook the discretisation of the surfaces, with the aid of specially developed parametric software tools. The openings and inclination angles of the panes of glass were equally matched to each other as were the daylight and energy input. Developing the geometry involved the specification of structural steel construction as well as the coordinates of all facade elements on the outer shell. The program allowed iterative optimisation of the facade at very short time intervals, making it possible to complete the preliminary design of both the facade and the structure within the short space of a year, with handover of the geometry, static and rule details of the framework and facade. The project planning was then taken over by the BIAD Office in Beijing.

Knippers Helbig was responsible for the development of structural solutions for the reinforced concrete of the arrival and departure levels as well as for the static analysis of the steel structures of the roof and facade. Here, the diamond-shaped structure refers directly to the honeycomb shape of the facade and is stiffened additionally by cross members. The spring-loaded bearing bolts of the steel structure permit uniform distribution of temperature and especially seismic loads on the supports, creating a unified impression of the structural elements up to 400m long.

Shenzhen airport Terminal 3

The building envelope is dominated by a honeycomb-like facade which through its double skin largely permits indirect light to enter the interior through 25,000 openings. Depending on the sun’s position, rays of sunlight also enter the building directly, offering unusual continuously changing lighting effects throughout the day. At numerous places along the concourses, strip-like windows offer panoramic views of the airfield.

The success of project is the result of the close collaboration between Italian, German and Chinese planners and thanks to the great openness of the client towards innovative approaches to design and planning tools as well as unconventional technical solutions.

Operations start at Japan’s new 70MW mega solar power plant

Kagoshima Nanatsujima Solar Power

The Kagoshima Nanatsujima Mega Solar Power Plant, Japan’s largest utility-scale solar plant to date, began operations on 1st November 2013. The clean electricity it generates will provide equivalent power for roughly 22,000 average households, and will help to offset about 25,000 tons of CO2 per year. Situated in Kagoshima Prefecture in southern Japan, the plant is being operated by electronics giant, Kyocera, in conjunction with six other companies. Its overall cost came in at around 27 billion yen ($275.5 million).

The impressive looking plant covers an area of some 1,270,000 sqm – roughly the same as 27 baseball stadiums. A tour facility has been built adjacent to it, featuring a circular viewing room where visitors can observe the 290,000 solar panels from an elevated vantage point, with the ocean and (the still active) Sakurajima volcano in the background. The aim is to deepen public understanding of renewable energy and its importance.

Indeed, expectations and interest in solar energy have reached new levels in Japan in response to power supply issues resulting from the Great East Japan Earthquake of March 2011. To further promote the use of renewable energy, the Japanese government launched a restructured FIT program in July 2012, which stipulates that local utilities are required to purchase 100% of the power generated from solar installations of more than 10 kilowatts (kW) for a period of 20 years. Accordingly, all the electricity generated by the new Kagoshima plant will be sold to a local utility.

Exploring a new business model for utility-scale solar power generation, Kagoshima Mega Solar Power Corporation was established by Kyocera and six other companies in July 2012. Under a financing plan devised by Mizuho Corporate Bank, the new company was tasked to develop and operate the 70MW solar power plant on land owned by IHI Corporation, with the power generated to be purchased by Kyushu Electric Power Co Inc under the FIT program. As the largest shareholder of the new company, the Kyocera Group was responsible for the supply of solar modules as well as part of the construction, and will also undertake maintenance of the system with Kyudenko Corporation.

Gail Taylor

Written By admin 
November 27, 2013 16:49 pm
Posted In ENERGY, Solar

London Underground to heat hundreds of homes

london underground heating

The Mayor of London announced an innovative new scheme on Friday that will see waste heat captured from the capital’s underground train tunnels and used to warm hundreds of homes in the city. The first of its kind in Europe, the scheme is hoped to cut fuel bills as well as lowering pollution. According to Islington Council, it is estimated that “carbon emissions will fall by more than 500 tons annually” as a result.

The project – a partnership between London’s Mayor Boris Johnson, Islington Council, UK Power Networks and Transport for London – comes as part of the Mayor’s sustainability drive in the capital. The system will make use of Islington Council’s pioneering Bunhill Heat and Power network, which currently supplies over 700 homes in the borough with greener heating and is forecast to reduce heating costs for locals.

An expansion of this network will ensure the utilisation of two major sources of wasted heat: from a London Underground ventilation shaft, and from a UK Power Networks sub-station. A further 500 homes will be connected to Islington’s heat network as a result.

The Mayor of London’s Senior Advisor on Environment and Energy, Matthew Pencharz, said: “We need to do everything possible to create a more secure, cost-effective and sustainable heat and power supply for London. By supporting locally sourced energy and heat networks which can reduce bills and lower carbon emissions, we can not only save money but also drive innovation, jobs and growth in this burgeoning sector.”

Leader of the Council, Cllr Richard Watts, stated: “The expanded Bunhill Heat Network will cut energy bills for hundreds more local people. With energy prices going up and up, it’s vital we do what we can to cut bills. It’s all part of the Council’s work to help people manage the rising cost of living. Last winter was one of the coldest for decades and record energy prices meant many families on fixed incomes spent it in misery, unsure whether to heat or eat.”

Islington Council’s executive member for sustainability, Cllr Rakhia Ismail, said: “Recycling heat from London Underground and the electrical network are exciting new ideas and a boost to our work to tackle fuel poverty and make Islington a fairer place. This cheaper energy scheme is greener too – local communities will see CO2 emissions drop by around over 500 tonnes each year.”

JGM to bring SkyTran to Tel Aviv in 2014


The world’s first SkyTran network, in the Israeli financial centre of Tel Aviv, is scheduled for completion in mid-2014. International project management firm Jenkins Gales & Martinez (JGM) will provide planning, civil engineering, and construction management for the groundbreaking city transport scheme.

SkyTran, first proposed in 1990 by the inventor Douglas Malewicki, is a metropolitan rapid transport system consisting of lightweight two-passenger vehicles suspended from elevated tracks. Making use of electric motors and passive magnetic levitation technology, the vehicles will be capable of reaching speeds in excess of 100 miles per hour while maintaining an impressive fuel economy equating to over 200 miles per US gallon.

In doing away with wheels, SkyTran’s passive maglev minimises maintenance and improves efficiency. The cars are to be driven by a linear motor in the vehicle or track, with no external power required to levitate the vehicles; rather, the vehicle’s movement over shorted wire coils in the track produces the magnetic repulsion. With very few moving parts – the car’s parking wheels, door, fans and air-con units – the system can be referred to as “solid state”.

how skytran works

A full scale model of the proposed SkyTran maglev system, “Indutrack”, has been constructed and tested by US nuclear physics and defence contractor General Atomics. UniModal Inc. and NASA are also collaborating on the development of SkyTran.

Speaking of JGM’s appointment to deliver the Tel Aviv project, Jerry Sanders, SkyTran Inc. Chairman and CEO said: “JGM’s reputation for delivering complex transportation projects on time and on budget makes them an ideal partner for deploying SkyTran in Israel.”

It is hoped the system will alleviate street-level traffic congestion which hampers Tel Aviv’s infrastructure. The first 10km SkyTran line would connect Tel Aviv University station with the high-tech Atidim Park, before continuing West towards the city’s Old Port: a hub of restaurants, shopping and night life. At a reported construction cost of under $7m per kilometre of track, SkyTran is cheaper than other city transport systems.

“We look forward to bringing SkyTran’s innovative capabilities to Israel,” stated Earl Gales, Jr., Chairman and CEO of JGM. “This is the beginning of a new era in automated transportation and we’re proud to play a role.”

Richard Greenan

Written By admin 
November 20, 2013 11:57 am
Posted In Metro, TRANSPORT

Infrastructure engineering celebrated at The Structural Awards 2013

Taizhou Bridge 1

The winners of the 2013 Structural Awards were announced on 15 November, in a ceremony held at London’s The Brewery. Organised annually by The Institution of Structural Engineers, the Awards celebrate the world’s most talented structural designers and their invaluable contribution to our built environment.

Y.K. Cheng, President of The Institution of Structural Engineers, said, “The Institution of Structural Engineers holds The Structural Awards each year to showcase the challenging environments in which engineers work and the complex structures they help to raise.

“The aim is to recognise the range of skills that characterise our global profession, raise awareness among the general public, and encourage young people into structural engineering careers. This year we have once again enjoyed a high standard of innovative entries and I congratulate all our winners on their achievements.”

Taizhou Bridge, which spans Jiangsu Province, China’s Yangtse River in, was presented with The Supreme Award for Structural Engineering Excellence, together with the Award for Highway or Railway Bridge Structures. The bridge, designed by AECOM Asia Company Ltd alongside Jiangsu Provincial Communications Planning and Design Institute, is the world’s first three-tower, long-span suspension bridge.

Taizhou Bridge 2

The Structural Awards judges declared: “This enormous project was an extraordinary achievement, which pushed the frontiers of suspension bridge technology to new heights. Bridge engineering has just moved forward by a very significant margin.”

A dramatic new addition to London’s infrastructure, the The Emirates Air Line collected the Award for Infrastructure or Transportation Structures. Straddling the UK’s River Thames, the impressive Air Line cable car links two major landmark destinations, the ExCel Exhibition Centre and the O2. It is a joint engineering effort between Expedition Engineering, Buro Happold and URS.

Emirates Air Line 1 (Image by Mace)

The judges stated: “The synergy between architecture and engineering has yielded a new landmark which is both beautiful and bold. Delivery within a very short timescale is testament to the whole project team and a fine example of what the UK construction industry can deliver.”

Emirates Air Line 2 (Image by Luke Hayes)

The Award for Pedestrian Bridges was handed to the Pembroke College Footbridge, in Oxford, UK. With structural designer by Price & Myers, the Pembroke College Footbridge provides a walkway between the existing college and the new buildings opposite.

Bridge over Brewer Street, New Build on completion March 2013. Oxford, UK

Judges were bowled over by “the way the geometrical constraints on this project were solved to achieve an extremely elegant structure that complements its surroundings.”

Bridge over Brewer Street, New Build on completion March 2013. Oxford, UK

Latest pictures of FCC’s new Panama Metro

Panama Metro Test Run with President Martinelli

The first subway in Central America, the $1.8bn Panama Metro engineered by global infrastructure group FCC, is now 94% complete. Yesterday Panama President Ricardo Martinelli travelled the full 13.7km length of the Metro Line 1 during a trial run. Once completed the full journey is expected to take less than 25 minutes.

The President’s journey took him between Albrook and Los Andes stations on board the Metro Unit 006. Ricardo Martinelli, the President of the Republic, was accompanied by the Minister for Canal Affairs and the Executive Secretary of the Metro, Roberto Roy, as well as other Cabinet members and the Executives of the Consortium formed by FCC and Odebrecht.

The Panama Metro Line 1 project has been under construction for 33 months, with the first stage scheduled for completion in the first quarter of 2014. Since the beginning of construction, the project has expanded to include a further 2.2 kilometres and two new stations – meaning the total will be 15.9 kilometres, covered in just 22 minutes.

Panama Metro 2

Yesterday’s tour was part of the dynamic tests which have been underway since the end of August in the Yards and Workshop zone, as well as at underground and elevated sections. Tests are currently being carried out on all installed equipment and systems such as the catenary, rails and rail components. Work has also begun on the restitution of flagstones in underground stations, which will begin with landscaping in the entrance area – pavement placing on sidewalks, painting and signage.

Currently , 15 of the 19 trains which will form the fleet of Metro are being kept in the Yards and Workshops zones, over the next two months the last four will be shipped to Panama. Vehicle movement trials and the testing of static functionality protocols are underway, as well as dynamic tests that verify maximum speed, acceleration capacity, and the braking ability of trains.

Panama Metro 3

The system’s “Metropolis” trains, manufactured in Santa Perpetua, Spain, each comprise of three cars with a maximum capacity of 200 passengers per car. Each car has a length of 52 meters with a height of 3.85 meters. For the convenience of passengers, each car is equipped with wide doors, level floors, corridors between carriages, information screens and natural lighting to enhance the safety of passengers. Trains have a locomotive at each end – with the cars in the centre – enabling travel in either direction.

FCC are also building a new access channel from the Pacific to the Panama Canal in a contract worth $271m.

Written By admin 
November 15, 2013 16:57 pm
Posted In Metro, TRANSPORT

Babcock considers stake in new British nuclear reactors

babckock dounreay nuclear

FTSE-100 engineering services group Babcock International is reportedly looking to take an equity stake in the new generation of UK nuclear plants.

The company, whose business with the Ministry of Defence spans Heathrow baggage handling to the maintenance of the Trident submarine fleet, is holding talks with Japan’s Hitachi over a stake in the new Advanced Boiling Water Reactor plants planned for sites at Gloucestershire, Oldbury, and Wylfa at Anglesey. Up to six new reactors are planned under Hitachi’s Horizon programme.

Babcock chief executive Peter Rogers said, “We told Hitachi we could be an equity partner in the station build. The equity piece would be tens of millions of pounds rather than hundreds of millions. Five years from now I would expect to have a bigger nuclear business.”

Babcock’s growing interest in the nuclear field comes after six months of “strong growth”, particularly in the marine division, as described by Rogers. The firm is also leading the consortium bidding for the 20-year, £5b contract to decommission the UK Magnox reactors, and has already secured the contract to clean up Scotland’s Dounreay nuclear plant.

Sales and group profit have been boosted by increased work on UK and Canada submarine programmes, in addition to ongoing assembly of £6.2b Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carriers at the firm’s Rosyth yard, and the commencing of Australia’s warship refit contract

Last week’s decision by BAE Systems to close their Portsmouth shipyard will have no effect on the Rosyth carrier assembly, according to Rogers. “It looks to me a very sensible commercial decision. There has been all this puff about Portsmouth being the home of shipbuilding but Portsmouth hasn’t built a major ship in two to three decades.”

Written By admin 
November 13, 2013 10:39 am
Posted In ENERGY, Nuclear

Smarter Mobility: an evening of debate hosted by Intelligence Squared

Smarter Mobility_Web Res-191

This debate, held at The Royal Institute of Great Britain and supported by Shell, aimed address the question of delivering smarter mobility options in ever-increasingly congested megacities, such as Los Angeles and Sao Paulo. Leading the line were five of the field’s most innovative thinkers, brought together in an effort to sketch out the future of smart mobility, and was chaired by Matthew Taylor, the Chief Executive of the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA).


Professor Paul Newman
A Professor of Engineering and leader of the Mobile Robotics Group at the University of Oxford, Professor Newman is an expert in driverless vehicle technology. He argued that, while the growth of driverless technology was inevitable, it will not occur overnight. Rather, the proliferation of autonomous vehicles will be a gradual progression. Key to this, Professor Newman stated, was the ability of vehicles to interpret their surroundings and learn without the help of external inputs such as GPS.

Robin Chase
Founder and CEO of Buzzcar, as well as co-founder and former CEO of Zipcar, Robin is a pioneer in the car-sharing marketplace. Focusing on the potential benefits of a city fully embracing car-sharing schemes, Robin observed that the development of car-sharing schemes would reduce the number of vehicles on the road, highlighting the vast majority of time personally owned cars spend parked and unused. This development also spells the proposition of the most functional, appropriate vehicles being made available to users at opportune times.

Jerry Saunders
Jerry is the CEO of Skytran, a company developing a rapid transit system that utilises maglev technology. Skytran, a NASA Space Act Company, has initially been developing this system for Tel Aviv. Skytran’s transportation pods run along tracks fitted above street level, and can travel at speeds of 100-200 kmph. Skytran will be capable of taking up to 11,500 passengers per hour on each guideline, with each pod using only one third of the energy of a hybrid car. When questioned on the greatest challenge facing this ambitious project, Jerry responded that it was not technological or developmental, but rather obstacles created by governments unable to fully understand and categorise this transportation alternative.

Ben Hamilton-Baillie
Ben is an urban designer and one of the leading proponents of the idea of ‘shared space’, a proposed solution to city congestion that involves the removal of street furniture and traffic controls. This low-tech and cheap congestion solution will increase road safety and vehicle flow by increasing user awareness of fellow users sharing the space around them, Ben argued.

David Rowan
The final speaker, David Rowan, editor of the UK edition of WIRED, attempted to tie together the various solutions proposed today. Key to David’s final messsage was the requirement of societies to reduce their fixation on personal ownership and embrace the idea of collective information, resources and ownership in the pursuit of smarter mobility.


The event concluded with a Q&A during which concerns raised by the audience focused on issues such as the transportation of goods, and what driverless cars and car-sharing schemes meant for those holding a passion for vehicles themselves. The first concern was met with a general consensus that there remains a considerable way to go in the development of goods transportation systems, especially within cities themselves. The second issue was handled by Professor Newman, who, reiterating an earlier point, argued that technology exists to provide its users with choices, and that an individual wishing to continue driving their own car will be free to do so.

Alexander Malden

Garden to bridge the Thames by Heatherwick and Arup

heatherwick thames bridge 3

A period of public consultation has begun for a new Garden Bridge proposed to cross London’s River Thames. Designed by Thomas Heatherwick with Dan Pearson Studio and engineers Arup, the concept has been developed in response to a call from Transport for London to enhance pedestrian links across the river.

When original proposals surfaced in June 2013, Heatherwick said: “With its rich heritage of allotments, gardens, heathland, parks and squares, London is one of the greenest cities in the world. In this context, we are excited to have been selected by Transport for London (TfL) to explore the opportunity of a pedestrian river crossing. The idea is simple; to connect north and south London with a garden.”

heatherwick thames bridge 2

This is not the first time that the designer has been inspired by the rich horticultural heritage of England’s capital as is most explicitly shown in his UK Pavilion for the Shanghai Expo in 2010.

The Garden Bridge is 360m in length and adopts a curving outline, widening and narrowing to create a series of five spaces for different habitats and miniature landscapes. The foliage incorporated into the design will be seasonal, including mature trees, shrubs, grasslands and perennial plants. Two potential building materials have been mentioned in the plans, both of which offer neutral hues to blend with the neighbouring architecture: a copper-nickel alloy and a reconstituted stone with a warm colouring and texture.

heatherwick thames bridge 1

As well as celebrating the impressive green heritage of London, the bridge is designed to enhance connections between the Southbank and Temple and onwards to Covent Garden and Soho. An analysis of pedestrian footfall in the area has shown that journeys beyond Southbank, with its wide array of cultural attractions, are limited, and it is hoped that this new elevated garden will encourage users to venture further and explore new areas of London within the local vicinity.

A period of public consultation is now underway, overseen by new charity The Garden Bridge Trust. The charity and TfL are welcoming all comments on the designs which will be open to critique from the public until 20 December 2013.

Sian Disson

FCC clinches €25m Costa Rican airport contract

Esther Alcocer Koplowitz receives CEAL Award

Global infrastructure and environmental services group FCC have won a €25m contract to refurbish Costa Rica’s largest airport – the Juan Santamaria. The project comes as part of a planned €36.5b infrastructure investment by the Costa Rican government.

Positioned 18 kilometers from San José, the Juan Santamaria site will see the construction of a €25m hangar, a number of ancillary buildings – used for workshops, the storing flammable liquids and materials and general use – and a 150-space car park.

Juan Santamaria Airport FCC

The facades and roof will be similar in appearance, with the ancillary buildings sharing the hangar’s aesthetic. FCC report that special attention has been paid to the collection and disposal of rain. The project, which will encompass a total area of 21,894 sq m, has a completion period of eighteen months.

The Juan Santamaria project is included within the Costa Rican Ministry of Public Works’ National Transport Plan – a investment programme of €36.5b in road, rail, airport and aircraft over the next 25 years, the contracts for most of which will be by tender.

FCC Juan Santamaria airport

The Alajuela facilities serve airlines flying to the entire American continent and their European connections. Juan Santamaria is one of the fastest growing in the region, in number of passengers (with nearly five million per year), the number of carriers used and cargo volume.

Earlier this month, FCC Chairwoman Esther Alcocer Koplowitz was awarded the Business Growth Award by the Latin America Business Council (CEAL) in recognition of FCC’s expansion in the region.

Richard Greenan