Archives for posts with tag: University of Birmingham


Congratulations to the Compagnie Maritime Belge (CMB), one of the oldest Antwerp ship owners, which has built the first commercial ship that runs on hydrogen and produces zero pollution.

CMB currently sources its hydrogen from the chemicals industry but wants to get it through electrolysis powered by renewables in the future.

Bloomberg reports that the Hydroville passenger shuttle can operate on compressed hydrogen as well as regular fuel oil and has recently been certified to operate as a seagoing vessel by Lloyd’s Register. CMB will expand the technology to engines on cargo ships after initial testing.

“There’s a very strong commitment to decarbonize shipping from countries such as China, Japan, and a group of European nations,” said Tristan Smith, a lecturer at University College London’s energy institute and a former naval architect. “Hydrogen is one of the most cost-effective ways to do this. It’s proven, it works in the energy system and it’s easy to combust in ships.”

Cargo shipping is too energy intensive for electricity to be an option. “Even with the world’s biggest battery, we wouldn’t be able to sail a full day,” said Roy Campe, research and development manager at CMB. “Our trips usually take two or three weeks.”

The shipping industry, estimated to produce as much as 3% of the world’s emissions, was not included in the 2015 Paris climate agreement. But the International Maritime Organization, a United Nations agency, is to impose rules that limit the amount of sulphur emissions from ships from 2020. There are also talks about adding a carbon tax.

“We’ve had one in Birmingham since 2006!!!!”: Professor Rex Harris

The Ross Barlow is powered by a combination of a metal hydride solid-state hydrogen store, a proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cell, a lead acid battery stack and a NdFeB permanent magnet electric motor (project leader: Professor Rex Harris). The ongoing development of The Ross Barlow is one of the hydrogen and magnets research interests of The Hydrogen Materials Group at the University of Birmingham.







Theresa May has announced that the Conservatives will renew a pledge to hold a free vote on overturning 2004 ban on the blood sport. During a visit to a factory in Leeds, the Prime Minister said: “This is a situation on which individuals will have one view or the other, either pro or against. As it happens, personally I have always been in favour of fox hunting, and we maintain our commitment, we have had a commitment previously as a Conservative Party, to allow a free vote”.

Is anyone surprised? What are the lives of a few foxes and the welfare of our least fortunate citizens to a person prepared to press the nuclear button?

Nicola Stavrinou writes about this repeal in Redbrick* (accessed via the Brummie aggregator):

She asks why: as 84% of British people are opposed to fox-hunting, would the Conservative Party back such an unpopular repeal?

Her answer: “Theresa May is using this repeal to gain back the hardliner Tories who wish to see the ban lifted once and for all. She is going for an electoral majority which could potentially remove Labour and SNP from the equation. The anti-hunting Labour and SNP MPs who voted to ban fox-hunting could potentially be replaced with Conservative MPs who are pro-hunting. May knows that she has the power to pass unfavourable laws because of the Conservative’s recent surge in popularity, most recently seen in the Mayoral elections from the beginning of the month”.

Wryly she concludes: “I have no doubt that if there is a potentially high Conservative majority win in the snap election, this ban will be lifted. Not that it has actually stopped anyone from hunting since then anyway”.

*Redbrick is the student publication of the University of Birmingham, established in 1936 under the original title Guild News

It has evolved to include eleven sections covering wide areas of student life, and expanded into the world of digital journalism. All content is produced by student journalists, including reporters, commentators, photographers and editors. As a student society, any student of the University of Birmingham can join and contribute to the publication.

The hard copy is published fortnightly and its website is updated continuously with regular content, videos, audio clips and photography. Events are covered through live blogging, providing a platform for readers to get directly involved with the debates. The website currently receives approximately 40,000 unique views per month.

Other recent articles:

The One Show: It May Never Get Cringier Than This

Labour Party Broadcast: A New Peake?





Trial of AutumnSense technology 


Duncan Tift of Business Desk, reports news of technology being developed at the University of Birmingham by Lee Chapman, Professor of Climate Resilience, working with Alta Innovations, the University of Birmingham’s technology transfer company. This might well make life easier for commuters tired of endless delays to autumn services. The problems usually reach their peak in mid-November, when leaf loss is coupled with moisture in the air or on the ground. The technical problems arising are described in detail in the Wall Street Journal.

leaf-on-trackThe project, partly funded by the Rail Safety and Standards Board, is called AutumnSense. It uses low-cost sensors to make continuous measurements of the level of moisture on the railway line at potentially thousands of sites across the network.

By linking this data with a leaf-fall forecast, operators can identify where and when the risk is greatest. This would improve the deployment of automated treatment trains, which are used before the morning rush hour starts. Prof Chapman said: “One of the major issues with road and rail safety is that hazardous conditions are usually highly localised. For remedial actions to be efficient, and demonstrate ‘best value’ for the taxpayer, resources should be deployed where they are needed, rather than in a blanket fashion.” He added:

“Even though leaf loss and damp conditions can largely be predicted – and despite automated treatment trains working round the clock from October to December – a windy, rainy night still causes havoc for commuters.

“We have run an initial trial of AutumnSense on a stretch of London Underground tracks that are above ground, and are hoping to move quickly towards a fuller network wide trial.”




A cross-party alliance is being proposed in some quarters – see MP Clive Lewis and Jonathon Porritt, who responded to a call from Neal Lawson of Compass. 

On the 5th July, Clive Lewis joined Caroline Lucas, Sir Vince Cable, Tommy Sheppard (SNP) and 1,000 audience members at a sold-out Progressive Alliance event, in Westminster. 

MEP Molly Scott Cato suggested contacting Neal Lawson of Compass. She recommended this article.

Neal Lawson would like to plan another meeting in Birmingham to focus on building a progressive alliance to promote electoral reform. He spoke at the discussion initiated by the Green Party on building a progressive cross party alliance at the University of Birmingham on 2nd September. He said this went well – almost 1000 came.

All those satisfied with the status quo would support the argument made by Conservative former minister John Penrose that electoral reform would harm our democracy rather than help it and the issue should be left alone for a “long, long time”.




via the Brummie

redbrick 2 reader

Mental illness is an issue that affects many individuals in society, so why is it that the government is not doing more to help? Keah Joseph of Redbrick – the student publication (hard copy and online) of the University of Birmingham – explains what the new Labour party are offering as a solution and what this means for the future. Summary below, link to full article at foot of blog.

Jeremy Corbyn is changing politics in many ways, but mainly by wanting to create a ‘kinder politics and caring society.’ This type of politics completely contrasts that of David Cameron who during the election period made promises which he had no intention of keeping.

Mental health is among the most widespread health issues, yet despite this it does not receive enough attention. Unlike physical health issues, mental health problems are not as easily noticeable, but are equally distressing. There have been many cuts to mental health trusts over the past five years and under the Tory government these cuts are not over yet. It is becoming harder and harder to help those who are suffering. 41 mental health trusts prepare themselves for an upcoming bleak five years, as the plans of the Tories have revealed, involve an 8% cut in funding to the trusts. Keah Joseph asks:

  • If 1 in 4 people are suffering with mental health issues within in the United Kingdom, why are the government cutting back?
  • Why are the conservatives not investing in mental health trusts and providing them with the facilities needed to help those suffering from mental illness?

Labour is introducing a fresh, new way of thinking about how to tackle the challenge of mental health within our society. Jeremy Corbyn is the first Prime minister (sic) to place mental health centre stage and recognise how much it affects so many people’s lives.

This was demonstrated on his first day which he spent attending a fundraiser for mental health. 1 in 4 people within the UK suffer a mental health illness such as depression, bipolar, anxiety, panic attacks and so on. Now that’s one quarter of our population being affected. The most common of these being a mixture of anxiety and depression. Around 10% of our population are diagnosed with depression each year.

Jeremy is stressing the importance in tackling mental health in a way no other party leader has done before by appointing Luciana Berger as shadow minister for mental health. This shadow cabinet is not only a first for specifically serving those with mental health issues it is the first shadow cabinet with a majority of women working on board.

Jeremy has informed voters that they do not have to accept inequality and injustice thrown at them; ‘things can and must change!’

redbrick logoTo read the article in full – including Keah Joseph’s interview with shadow minister for mental health Luciana Berger about her views on government stance towards mental health – go to


drone for general use

“Drone” documentary at MAC in November, plus post-screening Q&A. Location: MAC Birmingham, Cannon Hill Park, Birmingham B12 9QH
Date: 10 November 2015.   Time: 19:00 – 22:00

esrc2 festival logoA documentary about the CIA drone war, directed by Tonje Hessen Schei: Inside the secret CIA drone war. Intimate stories from the war on terror. People living under drones in Pakistan and drone pilots struggling with killing through joysticks in the US.

The film covers diverse and integral ground from the recruitment of young pilots at gaming conventions and the re-definition of “going to war”, to the moral stance of engineers behind the technology, the world leaders giving the secret “green light” to engage in the biggest targeted killing program in history, and the people willing to stand up against the violations of civil liberties and fight for transparency, accountability and justice.

drone control room

This is just the beginning. In the midst of fast advancement of technology and lagging international legislation the film shows how drones change wars and possibly our future.

Join the Institute for Conflict, Cooperation and Security from the University of Birmingham for a post-screening Q&A with experts on the ethics, strategy, and legality of drone use.

Please register online for this event

Contact: Ms Catherine Edwards: Email: Telephone: 0121 414 7340

Organised by: University of Birmingham. Event website: ‘Drone’ Documentary, plus post-screening Q&A

Venue: The MAC Birmingham, Cannon Hill Park, Birmingham B12 9QH

From the Friend, 31 July 2015

Qu'ran fragment Woodbrooke

The Birmingham Metallurgical Association

Affiliated to the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining

BMETA logo 2

Programme 2014-2015

Thursday, March 26th. Lecture Room GC13

School of Metallurgy and Materials, University of Birmingham.


              Andreas Zuttel,  LMER/EMPA, Switzerland Switzerland                                                                 


Hydrogen is produced from water by means of electrolysis with renewable energy. CO2 is abundant in the atmosphere at a concentration of 400 ppm. The extraction of CO2 and reduction with hydrogen to hydrocarbons leads to synthetic and CO2 neutral fuels. Furthermore, the controlled reaction to a specific product like C10H22 would allow the storage of large quantities of renewable energy in a relatively easy way, based on established technology for diesel fuel. However, two major challenges have to be overcome: (1), the development of the energy efficient extraction of CO2 from the atmosphere and subsequent concentration to pure CO2 at 1 bar, and (2), the development of new reaction pathways which allow the reduction of CO2 to a specific product.


  Please note the change of venue.

(A light buffet will be available beforehand at 6.00pm in Metallurgy and Materials, immediately next to the Lecture Theatre)

dr derek averreYou are cordially invited to attend the March talk for the Birmingham Branch of the United Nations Association which is to be held on Wednesday 19 March 2014: 7.30pm, at The Moseley Exchange, 149-153 Alcester Road, Moseley, Birmingham. B13 8JP. Guest speaker is Dr Derek Averre of CREES, University of Birmingham.

UNA flyer

Please confirm if you plan to attend, so we can prepare accordingly.

BMetA logo

The BMetA aims to disseminate information on materials processing and properties to industry and academia in the West Midlands region, primarily through a series of evening lectures. The Association is based in the School of Metallurgy and Materials at the University of Birmingham.

The lectures are usually about forty-five minutes long and attract an audience of between twenty-five and seventy-five, depending on the topic.

Thursday 17 October 2013

Carbon: Iron Age Charcoal to Graphene.
Peter Harris
University of Reading.

Thursday 7 November 2013

Visit to International Manufacturing Centre.
University of Warwick

Thursday 21 November 2013

The Challenge of Energy Storage
Jonathon Radcliffe
University of Birmingham.

Thursday 5 December 2013

The Pen Nib Museum: Visit and Lecture
 Jewellery Quarter

Unless indicated otherwise, these lectures will be held in the Small Lecture Theatre (GD20) on the Ground Floor in the School of Metallurgy and Materials. There will be a buffet and drinks at 6.00 pm, followed by the talk at 6.30 pm. All are welcome.

News of 2014 lectures will follow in December.