Friday, 31 January 2014

Friday Fact

Plants lace their nectar with caffeine to keep pollinators loyal.

I cant believe its the end of January!!!

Thursday, 30 January 2014


From the ECA

The Electrical Safety Council has discovered that almost a quarter of people have hired an electrician without checking their credentials. With electrical accidents responsible for half of all house fires and someone dying every week from an electrical accident, the charity is urging the public to be vigilant and check the person they employ is appropriately qualified.

The charity estimates there are around 20,000 non-registered electricians operating in the UK . It is concerned that casual attitudes to using non-registered electricians, and people not knowing how to check  whether an electrician is registered, are contributing to the number of electrical accidents in people’s homes. In addition to the deaths and fires, 350,000 are seriously injured each year.
The Electrical Safety Council study found that one third  of people have hired an electrician based on a recommendation from a friend without checking credentials. It also reveals that a quarter  would knowingly use an unregistered electrician if they were in a hurry. However, the study also found that nearly 1.3 million people have paid someone to fix botched work carried out by an unregistered electrician.

Worryingly, the problem seems to be on the rise – a third  of registered electricians say they have seen an increase in the amount of substandard or dangerous work conducted by unregistered electricians in the past two years. Registered electricians surveyed by the Electrical Safety Council also warned about the dangers of relying on others, such as a builder, to select electricians on your behalf. Over half  said they were aware of complex jobs such as bathroom or kitchen fittings with electrical elements, that were carried out by unqualified or  unregistered electricians.

Consumer champion Dominic Littlewood is an ambassador for the campaign. He said:
“Rogue traders come in many shapes and forms – from your mate down the pub, to the guy that helps your builder out with a few odds and ends. What can look legitimate, or sound convincing at first glance, may turn into a nightmare if the person doesn’t have the right qualifications.

 “So don’t be shy, get clued up – know what to look for and how to check that any electricians you use are registered. A bit of time spent getting these details right at the start of the job will give you peace of mind and could save you a lot of hassle in the long run.”   

Phil Buckle, Director General of the Electrical Safety Council said:
“It is worrying that many people are simply unaware of the need to ensure the person carrying out electrical work in their home is competent. Choosing an electrician registered with a government approved scheme guarantees they have the skills to carry out the work and ensures procedures are in place should something go wrong. Electrical safety is not something anyone should take a gamble on – this is why we are providing information online, to support people in identifying registered electricians in their area. You wouldn’t get an unregistered tradesperson to fix your boiler so why do it for your electrics?”

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

TrustMark numbers soar in 2013

TrustMark, the government endorsed quality mark for tradesmen, has recorded its greatest year to date for tradesmen details displayed on its website.

In 2013 more than five million (5,277,705) search results were provided to homeowners who used TrustMark’s website and telephone helpline to find local tradesmen to carry out work on their homes or gardens.

During 2013, the average number of details displayed across all trades rose by 36 per cent compared to the same period in 2012. Solar panel installers (131 per cent), installers for cavity, internal and external wall insulation (92 per cent) and window installers and glaziers (70 per cent) saw the largest rise last year, primarily due to homeowners wanting to reduce their rising energy costs. Electricians increased by 26 per cent during 2013 with October and November having the largest searches carried out by homeowners.

In December, TrustMark saw a surge in demand from the previous month for fence installers (65 per cent), underground waterproofing specialists (65 per cent) and flood recovery specialists (313 per cent). The severe weather conditions experienced throughout the UK would have contributed significantly to these growths.

Soaring energy prices coupled with extreme weather have been key contributors for homeowners seeking out our tradesmen last year.

We are Trustmark Registered

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Microwave signals turned into electrical power

An electrical current capable of charging a mobile phone has been created from microwave signals.

A team from Duke University said the technology they had used had been as efficient as using solar panels.

The device they created used metamaterials, which capture various forms of wave energy and convert them for other applications.

In the future, satellite, sound or wi-fi signals could be harvested

Using fibreglass and copper conductors on a circuit board, the researchers converted microwaves into 7.3 volts of electricity.

A USB charger, which is often used to recharge mobile phone batteries and cameras, provides about five volts.

Monday, 27 January 2014

Rogue landlord fined for illegal extension

A landlord has been fined £24,000 for housing tenants in an illegal extension.

Mohammed Saleem, from Ilford, was found guilty of letting out accommodation which was in an "appalling condition". The single-storey structure housed a family of three on one side of the building and three men on the other side.

Safety officers found the roof to be leaking, dangerous electrics, some of the rooms had no natural lighting or ventilation and there was no fire alarm or fire doors, meaning no safe way of escaping in an emergency.

Sunday, 26 January 2014

EU calls for much bigger fines for data breaches

The European Commission, wants far tougher laws that would introduce fines of up to 5% of the global annual turnover of a company for data breaches.
Viviane Reding dismissed recent fines for Google as "pocket money" and said the firm would have had to pay $1bn under her plans for privacy failings.

Ms Reding said such punishments were necessary to ensure firms took the use of personal data seriously.

And she questioned how Google was able to take so long to getting round to changing its policy.
"Is it surprising to anyone that two whole years after the case emerged, it is still unclear whether Google will amend its privacy policy or not?" she said in a speech.

Watch out Google and Facebook... Viviane Reding is coming for you, get out the Cheque book!!!

Saturday, 25 January 2014

Faster internet on trains, boats and planes

People on boats, planes and trains could soon enjoy fast broadband on their travels after Ofcom approved the use of new satellite technology.

The UK telecoms regulator has given the green light to the use of so-called earth stations on moving vehicles.

The devices connect to a geostationary satellite orbiting above the equator.

But critics suggest Ofcom should be concentrating on bringing home-broadband services up to speed before focusing on transport.

Recent advances have improved the effectiveness of earth stations.

Newer antennas are capable of maintaining very stable pointing accuracy, allowing the earth station to track the satellite closely, even on a fast-moving vehicle, providing a reliable internet connection.

we like this idea

Friday, 24 January 2014

Friday Fact

Sarah Greene used to bite Peter Duncan's ankles to distract him during Blue Peter cookery demos.

that's where the phrase ankle biters comes from (not strictly true)

Thursday, 23 January 2014

'complacency' over Christmas power cuts

Bosses of UK energy distribution firms have been accused of "complacency" as they defended their response to storms that led to power cuts over Christmas.

About 750,000 properties were affected, and many left without power for days.

UK Power Networks' Basil Scarsella said "tried and tested" plans struggled to cope in worse-than-forecast weather.

But Commons Energy Select Committee chairman Tim Yeo said there seemed to be a lack of any "expression of real concern" by firms for those affected.

After the first 45 minutes of the hearing, Mr Yeo told the bosses that the "tone of this conversation and its contents has been utter complacency".

watch and learn, watch and learn...

Ofgem accuses Npower of 'misleading'

A report by power supplier Npower, claiming bills will rise due to higher energy distribution costs, has been dismissed by regulator Ofgem as "misleading".

Npower, one of the UK's big six suppliers, said the report was designed to "shine a light" on company costs.

In it, the company argues that energy suppliers make small profits and have little control over customer bills.

But Ofgem said that some of the data used was "incorrect and misleading".

In its analysis, Npower said the cost of transporting gas and electricity - so-called network costs - would increase from £295 per customer to £314 between 2015 and 2020.

But Ofgem, which regulates that side of the industry - and sets the price controls - said those figures were wrong.

NPower said bills are high because British houses waste so much energy

Last month, the company was fined £3.5m by Ofgem, for breaching sales regulations. Based on the line above should be to spend their fine investing in energy conservation.

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Councils awarded cash to tackle rogue landlords

In an attempt to crack down on rogue landlords, councils have been provided with financial support from the government.

Leeds, Rochdale and Blackpool councils have all recently been given money to ensure that tenants are receiving high-quality living standards.

The local authority in Leeds was awarded £125,000 of government funding to tackle quality and safety issues above shops for more than 200 residences, according to LocalGov, after a bid by the local authority and West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue service. The council has served over 1,000 enforcement notices on at least 350 properties to improve living conditions.

The European Commission has outlined its plans for climate and energy policy until 2030.

The Commissioners want a binding target to reduce carbon emissions by 40% from 1990 levels.
Renewables will need to provide 27% of EU energy by 2030, but while the target will be binding at EU level there will be no mandatory targets for member states.

The policy proposals are subject to review by heads of government.

Green groups have said the new targets lack ambition and the 40% emissions cut is "dangerously low".

This wide ranging White Paper will have a significant impact on the way Europe generates its power from 2020 onwards.

The Commission wants to give clarity to investors in renewable energy while at the same time maintaining their leadership role in global climate negotiations.

A critical part of that is the headline figure on emissions cuts. The target that was set for 2020 was 20% but the EU as a group had almost reached the goal by 2012.

Some countries including the UK urged the Commission to propose a bigger target of 50% by 2030, others held out for 35%.

Climate commissioner Connie Hedegaard said that, given the economic climate, the 40% target was a significant advance.

"A 40% emissions reduction is the most cost-effective target for the EU and it takes account of our global responsibility," she said.

"If all other regions were equally ambitious about tackling climate change, the world would be in significantly better shape."

Officials emphasised that the 40% target would have to be achieved "through domestic measures alone", meaning that member states couldn't offset their reductions by paying for carbon cutting in other countries.

National targets on renewable set by the EU are not sustainable

The UK has lobbied hard to have the mandatory 2030 target watered down, saying it would drive up energy bills.

The EU executive will also outline a goal on emissions cuts for 2030, set to be 35 or 40% below 1990 levels.

Green groups said the proposals lacked ambition and were the acts of a "burnt out" Commission.

Seven years ago, the EU set out a three-pronged energy and climate strategy for 2020.

Emissions of greenhouse gases were to be cut by 20%, energy efficiency was to be improved by a similar amount and one fifth of all energy had to come from renewable resources.

The binding renewables target has been embraced by countries like Germany where a decision to get out of nuclear in 2011 meant a focus on wind and solar.

Other countries, including the UK and Poland, have argued strongly that the mandatory target approach was too restrictive, and was preventing them cutting emissions in the most financially efficient way.

each country needs autonomy having the flexibility to cut emissions in the most cost effective way.

A source within the Commission said that going forward, there would be a EU wide target on renewable energy for 2030, but it was likely that there would not be binding national targets.

The Commission is also set to unveil a more modest carbon emissions cut target, expected to be either 35 or 40%, reflecting the changed economic circumstances since 2007.

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Kryten plans a London to Edinburgh trip in 10 hours in an electric car

David along with actor and fellow EV fan, Robert Llewellyn want to drive in a family-friendly Nissan LEAF on Friday up to the land of the Gaels

David and Robert plan to make their journey Friday, January 24, expecting that the 391 mile journey should be completed in just 10 hours, thanks to the vastly improved charging infrastructure in the last few years.

Even in a conventional car, the journey would take around 6 to 7 hours, if you decided to be cruel to your own body by not stopping for a loo break and well-earned rest.

As the great man once said - “Well, I can't hang around here all day, I have to go out and take the penguin for a walk.”

nothing to do with the journey, but it makes us laugh every time...

sound like a great challenge, let hope it doesn't snow.

Monday, 20 January 2014

EE rushes to fix broadband box security risk

Network provider EE will push out an emergency upgrade to its broadband customers after a security flaw was discovered by a UK researcher.

Scott Helme said the vulnerability made "remote access" to EE's routers possible.

The problem affects customers who have either the Brightbox 1 or 2 router in their homes.

EE described the threat as "moderate", but plans to send out an automatic upgrade before the end of this month.

Any broadband customer who has signed up to EE since early 2012 is affected, as are earlier customers who upgraded

It has not specified how many of its customers will need the upgrade, but it is expected to be in the region of 350,000.

In a statement, EE said: "We treat all security matters seriously, and while no personal data will be compromised by the device itself, we would like to reassure customers that we are working on a service update which we plan to issue shortly, and which will remotely and automatically update customers' Brightboxes with enhanced security protection."

C-MAX Energi plug-in hybrid

With the price of energy always increasing, solar energy offers a way to power your car without buying petrol or increasing your monthly energy bills

The C-Max hybrid is the first car of its kind, the C-Max Solar Energi Concept has 1.5 square meters of PV cells with a 300 to 350 watt capacity located on its roof that can charge the vehicle's battery.

These panels alone do not generate enough energy to power a car for an entire day. In order to amplify the amount of solar energy harvested, Ford has also added a canopy with a solar concentrator lens that acts like a magnifying glass that boost the impact of the sunlight by a factor of eight to charge the vehicle more efficiently.

we cant wait....

Sunday, 19 January 2014

Batteries are about to get a whole lot better - Flow Batteries

US researchers have made an important step forward in the quest to store electricity from intermittent energy sources such as wind and solar.

A Harvard University team came up with a way to drive down the cost of flow battery technology, which is capable of storing energy on large scales - within an electrical power grid, for example.

Grid-scale storage for renewables could be a game-changer - making wind and solar more economical and reliable.

While flow battery designs are suited to storing large amounts of energy cheaply, they have previously relied on chemicals that are expensive or difficult to maintain, driving up costs.

Most previous flow batteries have chemistries based on metals. Vanadium is used in the most commercially advanced flow battery technology, but its cost is relatively high. Other variants contain precious metal catalysts such as platinum.

The researchers say their new battery already performs as well as vanadium flow batteries, but uses no precious metal catalyst and has an underlying chemistry that is metal-free, instead relying on naturally abundant, more affordable chemicals called quinones.

The amount of energy that can be stored by a flow battery is limited only by the size of the tanks and the amounts of storage chemicals that can be afforded

General Electric Global Research in New York, called the results "promising", and said the approach "may serve as the basis for a new flow-battery technology".

Battery basics
Electrode: Batteries contain two types of electrode where reactions take place. A reaction in one generates electrons and a reaction in the other absorbs them, yielding electrical energy
Electrolyte: Usually a liquid or gel containing an acid, base or salt. In batteries, it is the medium that allows electric charge to flow between the two electrodes

These water-soluble compounds are organic (carbon-based) and are similar to chemicals that store energy in plants and animals.

Saturday, 18 January 2014

The deadliest household appliances?

The washing machine, dishwasher and microwave may be great at making life easier, but if not maintained can become killers.

Around 70 people are killed every year, and 350,000 people are injured, as a result of a fire caused by an electrical appliance. These may be faulty models, or they may be used incorrectly - the figures show that most of the problem is misuse, but in 2012 alone almost 8,000 fires were the result of faults.

 Either way it's worth being aware of the risks: so the Electrical Safety Council has listed the appliances most likely to cause fires.

1. Ovens
Cooking appliances including ovens and microwaves account for the most fires and injuries in the UK. In 2012 they started almost 12,000 fires, causing almost 1,500 injuries, and 10 deaths. There are models with flaws which can cause the fires, but often this is a case of misuse.

2. Wiring and plugs
They may seem so simple that they cannot cause problems, but faulty or ageing wiring and plugs - or too many plugs in a single adapter can easily start a fire. They were responsible for 3,899 fires in 2012, causing 223 injuries and ten deaths.
 One major culprit is overloading sockets. With more gadgets than ever in the home, often the minimum number that are added as standard are not enough, so we overload each socket with adapters and extension cables. The Norfolk Fire Service advises "If in doubt, pull it out". The rule is one plug per socket, especially if the appliance takes a lot of power (like a kettle).

3. Washing machines and tumble dryers
A Which? survey actually claimed that washing machines and tumble dryers are the biggest fire risk of all. They caused 1,083 fires and 80 injuries in 2012.
 Most fires here are the result of faults. Sometimes electrical wiring shorts and causes a fire, alternatively the friction of an incorrectly revolving drum can cause sparks. A lint build-up in a dryer can also contribute to the risks.

4. Lighting
Faulty sockets, poorly installed lights, loose 'chocolate boxes' where light fittings are attached to the wires, and faulty side lamps or night lights can all cause electrical fires.

 However, you also have to watch for where bulbs can come into contact with light shades. A knock can cause the bulb to touch the side of the shade, and the heat will eventually lead to a fire. In 2012 lighting caused to 767 fires, 74 injuries and one death.

5. Dishwashers
These caused 475 fires and 68 injuries in 2012. The government's fire statistics show that overwhelmingly these were caused by faulty products rather than misuse, and the experts stress that this is why it's so important that we don't leave these appliances running while we go out, just in case a fault develops.

Protect your home / protect your family
Whenever you cook do not get distracted. Many fires are where people have left things cooking and forgotten them and in some cases even left the house.

You also need to make sure you will be aware if there is ever a recall of products you have around the house. Electrical products make up around 8% of all recalls, with more than 150 a year.

Which? found that 23% of consumers have owned a recalled product, and 5% of them just carried on using it anyway.

Friday, 17 January 2014

Friday Fact

There are more deer in the UK now than at any time since the last Ice Age.

Thursday, 16 January 2014

Can you hear your fridge wispering???

In the future, it might not just be your smartphone that leaks personal and private data, it might be your smart fridge too.

there is now a debate what happens to privacy and security as the "internet of things" begins to emerge.

This year, hi-tech firms have released a plethora of formerly dumb products that can gather and share data about what they and their owners do.

Governments will also need to do more to ensure consumers stay in control of the data gathered about them

Smart lighting systems, Skype-connected baby monitors are just a couple of idea's.

what about a fridge with a bar code scanner the pre populates the internet shopping list for you? its coming, and sooner than you think.

Such devices are about to become commonplace.

Dealing with the privacy and security aspects of the internet of things is going to be one of the biggest challenges we have faced in security for a long time

will we be able to dictate what happened with the data that smart appliances gathered? I very much doubt it as we are not even sure what data our phone gathers about us and what marketing and government agencies are doing with that info.

This data had the potential to be sensitive and deeply personal and is definitely not anyone else's business.

Samsung smart fridge Samsung is showing off fridges, washing machines and vacuum cleaners that connect to the net

There's a tendency among manufacturers to copy all the data to their own cloud and we are frequently not being given a choice to control or allow that. from that and past experience was can expect that manufacturers not living up to standards of fairness and disclosure demanded from websites and other hi-tech firms.

it could be a lot worse than your sibling hacking the house lights and flashing the lights in your room..

it could be quite sinister.

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Engineers create robot muscles 1,000 times stronger than mine

I say that because I don't know how strong you are :)

Research being conducted at UC Berkeley is any indication of where robotics is headed, taking a punch from a robot very well take your head clan off your shoulders

The Berkeley Lab is reporting that they have developed robot muscles that are 1,000 times the strength of the average human. This does not bode well for those of you preparing for a Skynet style takeover - Arnie, where are you????

Berkeley's new robot "muscles" use vanadium dioxide, a compound that changes from an insulator to a conductive metal at 67 degrees Celsius.

That transition yields an incredible amount of strength. According to Berkeley Labs, their robo-muscles are " to catapult objects 50 times heavier than itself over a distance five times its length within 60 milliseconds — faster than the blink of an eye.


These Quick-reacting muscles could lead to a new line of energy-efficient electronics. The vanadium dioxide-fueled muscles have already proven themselves capable of expanding and contracting a million times over without breaking down, even at 200,000 RPMs.

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Electricity caused four fires a week

Faulty electrical installations and appliances accounted for four house fires a week in Essex last year, according to the fire service.

Between December 2012 and December 2013, Essex County Fire and Rescue Service say there were 210 electrical fires in the county and six people were hospitalised by injuries caused in these fires.

Most of these fires started in the kitchen and were either caused by faulty wiring or faulty kitchen appliances.

Alarmingly more than a quarter of these fires occurred in homes with no working smoke alarms to alert residents to the peril they were in.

REALLY - with the cost of a smoke alarm, there is NO excuse. its just LAZY

GET SMOKE ALARMS NOW! and while your at it, get the right ones... Ion smoke go off when you burn the toast so get the right advice...

Sunday, 12 January 2014

Tandem electric car - it's a road-going jet fighter. we want one

look at this little beauty... not sure about the white wall tires, they are a tad naff, but the rest is B-E-AUtiful :)

Car designer Charles Bombardier has just let his imagination run wild, and what an imagination it is.

This is our kind of commuter vehicle. something to make commuting fun, and slightly dangerous.

it combines the fun of a motorcycle with the protection of a car, with some nice eco credentials

The driver and passenger sit in a row just like in top gun with maverick and goose.

(have you seen Tom cruise lately??? I mast be getting old because he looks nothing like the guy from Top Gun anymore...)

Powered by a 30-kW dual-synchronous motor driving the rear wheels, supplied by a lithium/air battery that gives the Arrow a 370 mile range, but NOT when driven hard - that's an 'optimised' figure.

Its a pity its only a concept at the moment but it is very sexy - we hope the 0-60 is in the region of the
Ariel Atom.

Friday, 10 January 2014

Friday Fact

 It would have taken 2.5 million seagulls to lift James's giant peach into the air, not the 501 that Roald Dahl suggested.

Thursday, 9 January 2014

China hands 'death sentence' to 75% of solar Panel Co's

The Chinese government is pushing for a drastic shakeout of the country's overcrowded solar cell industry, supporting only a quarter of players and practically telling the rest to get out of the business.
   The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology has announced a list of 134 producers of silicon materials, solar panels and other components of photovoltaic systems as meeting certain conditions, as measured by 2012 production, capacity utilization and technical standards.

   In a sector said to have more than 500 companies, the ministry's move means that three-quarters didn't make the cut -- including the core subsidiary of Suntech Power, which went bankrupt in March, and Jiangsu Shungfeng Photovoltaic Technology, Suntech's startup rescuer.

These firms will not be able to get credit lines from financial institutions and thus will have a tough time borrowing, according to industry insiders. They will also no longer be eligible for refunds of export tariffs, a huge blow to companies that depend on overseas business. On the home front, it will be difficult for them to participate in state-run utilities' auctions, sharply curtailing their opportunities to win orders.

 amid slowing demand in Europe, the world's largest market.

The country's trade friction with the U.S. and Europe is not helping, either. Even Suntech, which became the world's top solar cell producer at one point, saw its core subsidiary go under.

Midsize businesses are staying afloat only because of support from local governments.

In China, markets offering high margins tend to attract scores of entrants, often resulting in oversupply situations. The government has declared excess capacity in several other industries, including steel, cement and shipbuilding, and is calling for consolidation.

Wirelessly charged electric buses on our doorstep

Electric buses which allegedly can run all day are set to begin service in MK
A fleet of eight new electric vehicles will operate along a busy route in Milton Keynes from the end of this month
The buses can run for longer by virtue of a wireless induction booster charge they receive at the start and end of the route from plates in the road.
The buses are the first of their kind to operate in the UK.

The fleet will run on the Number 7 route, which covers 25km (15 miles) between the Milton Keynes suburbs of Wolverton and Bletchley and carries an estimated 800,000 passengers a year.
After a night charging at the depot, the buses will receive booster charges throughout the day at the start and end of the route.
There, the bus parks over plates buried in the road. The driver then lowers receiver plates on the bottom of the bus to within 4cm of the road surface and the bus is charged for around 10 minutes before resuming service.
The system uses a process called inductive charging. Electricity passes through wire coils in the road plates, generating a magnetic field. This field induces a voltage across coils in the bus plates and the vehicle's batteries are charged.
very clever indeed


Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Reports of damp soar in social housing

Fuel Poverty is a Health issue

An massive increase in reports of damp and mould in social housing because tenants on low incomes can no longer afford to switch on their heating has emerged as the latest unwelcome sign of Britain's cost-of-living crisis.

Social housing maintenance experts say a new condensation damp phenomenon – which was considered a marginal issue for social landlords until a few months ago – is a direct result of increasing poverty and rising energy bills.

Aragon, recently started to monitor reports of damp and mould and discovered they had more than tripled over the past year, a rise it attributes to hard-up tenants not being able to afford to put money in the electricity meter – or being too worried about their finances to turn on the heating.
Managing director, Aileen Evans, said: "This is about poverty. It is not about a malfunctioning technical component; it is about people who cannot afford to use their heating system. These tenants are choosing not to heat."

Damp housing is most often associated with old, poorly insulated dwellings – but Aragon, which has 6,500 properties in mainly rural central Bedfordshire, has spent millions of pounds ensuring its properties have the highest energy efficiency ratings in social housing in the south-east of England.
In November, Aragon registered 76 complaints about damp and mould, up from 22 in the same month last year. When it analysed the figures for the previous four years, it discovered that damp reports had been climbing each winter, roughly in line with rises in energy bills.

Condensation dampness – regarded as a major public health risk because it can exacerbate respiratory diseases such as asthma

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Team Day 2013 video

Thank you to Darren Grace for this

Most Random Fires

London Fire Brigade’s investigations team, said he had seen some “weird and wonderful” things in 2013

Among the most unlikely causes of fires were:
* A teenage boy on his first date sprayed a can of deodorant on himself, then inexplicably lit what remained in the can, causing an explosion.
* A toilet roll dropped down the loo was placed in a microwave to dry it out.
* A dog hit the controls of a toaster as it leapt on to a worktop to reach food, setting fire to a bag.
* A pigeon dropped a discarded lit cigarette down a chimney, starting a fire in a bird’s nest.
* A pair of boxer shorts being used to apply linseed oil to a floor caught fire.
* A fridge freezer caught fire after a mouse got into the back, shorting the electrics.

please don't use microwaves to dry out clothes or other items, never to leave candles unattended and to keep mirrors and glass, which reflect the sun’s rays, away from flammable objects.

and don't burn down the house with a can of Lynx (other deodorants are available)

Department of the Environment - more important than the MOD

North America's brutal cold snap is heading east, ushering in dangerous temperatures not seen in two decades, warn forecasters.

Yet the UK Govt propose substantial cuts to the government's environment department budget.

Surely this will severely hamper its future ability to cope with emergencies such as flooding and a possible crippling cold snap.

Environment Secretary Owen Paterson needs to clarify which policy areas the cuts will be made.

Lets face it, we can see his department becoming as important as the Dept of Health and the MOD in the very near future and maybe more important as was cant see any opportunity in reversing climate change any time soon.

Currently Climate (and viral control in medicine) are more of a threat to us than all of the terrorists lined up in  a row.

Sunday, 5 January 2014

New Year - check your smoke alarms

Think of your house fire safety, possible escape routes and to fit smoke-alarms.

The idea is that preventing a fire is always better than putting one out.

You should test your smoke alarms every week.

We are guessing you don't.

It's no good having a smoke alarm in your house but take the batteries out to use in the Christmas toys, you may as well not have one at all.

Working smoke alarms your lives.

After recent and current storms...

This Quote says quite a lot

"A glaring observation that emerges from this ice storm is the vulnerability of human populations when their electrical service is dependent on complex and capital-intense electricity grids transporting electricity over large distances. This underscores what advocates for science and the humans are increasingly arguing–human society urgently needs to rapidly reduce its energy consumption and waste, end the burning of fossil fuels, switch to renewable energy sources, and localize energy production and distribution to the maximum extent possible."

Saturday, 4 January 2014

Hydrogen As Electric-Car Range Extender?

Hydrogen fuel cells have often been viewed as alternatives to large battery packs for powering electric vehicles.

what if a small hydrogen fuel cell could be used in a battery-electric vehicle as a range extender?

The French postal service, is about to test that concept in three Renault Kangoo ZE

The goal is to double the range, letting La Poste use zero-emission electric Kangoos on its longer routes and in more challenging terrain with steep hills.

The fuel cells come from Symbio FCell, based in Paris, and they'll be deployed in three "HyKangoo" small vans that will go into service by March.

When the range extender concept, originally developed for chemical giant Solvay, was offered to La Poste, the delivery group instantly saw it as solving a crucial range limitation.

La Poste today operates the world's largest electric-vehicle fleet, and it intends to electrify all 60,000 of its vehicles by 2050 or before.

More than 70 percent of its vehicles cover 62 miles or more per day, which currently limits use of Kangoo ZE vans to less than one-third of its routes. The fuel-cell range extender is expected to expand their use to a large majority of regions covered.

The Kangoo ZE is driven by a 44-kilowatt (70-horsepower) electric motor, powered by a 22-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack. Its range is rated at about 100 miles (160 km) on the European cycle, though in the U.S., its EPA-equivalent range might be as low as 70 miles.

The fuel cell, along with a reinforced 1.3-cubic-foot (38-liter) tank holding 3.8 pounds (1.72 kg) of hydrogen compressed at 5000 psi (35 mPa), is said to add a further 100 miles. At full power, roughly 0.7 lb 0.1 lb (0.3 kg) of hydrogen is consumed per hour.

According to Symbio FCell, the hydrogen-powered range extender is based on a system of 5-kW stacks--the HyKangoo uses a 5-kW system--and can be sized to provide output from 5 kW to 20 kW using one to four modules.

La Poste calculates that the lifetime running costs of the HyKangoo will be no more than the diesel-engined Kangoo vans they use today, including the cost of diesel fuel.

from -

Wind farms paid NOT to produce electricity

The National Grid, has paid about £5 million wind farms throughout the country to temporarily shut them down.

The reason behind the move from the National Grid has to do with recent storms in the United Kingdom and the strong winds that these storms have produced.

Winter storms have brought powerful winds to the United Kingdom, which means that wind farms have been producing more electrical power than they usually would.

These wind farms have produces more energy than the National Grid can handle.

The problem, however, is that powerful storms left many people throughout the United Kingdom without electricity and turning off wind farms did not help to resolve the issue.

Friday, 3 January 2014

Friday Fact

The sentence "A nut for a jar of tuna." is the same when read backwards.

Thursday, 2 January 2014

Fire safety project for people with Down's syndrome

A course which teaches fire safety skills and awareness to young people and adults with Down's syndrome in Essex could be rolled out across the UK and beyond, after it won national recognition as a runner-up for partnership excellence in the Guardian's public services awards.

Essex county fire and rescue service has produced a free Firebreaks training package for other fire services if they are interested in offering the five-day accredited course to young people in their own district. The Down's Syndrome Association charity has brought the scheme to the attention of its global arm, Down's Syndrome International, so that other fire services across the world can adopt the Essex model.

Donna Finch, the fire service's children and young people's manager in Essex, says achieving a place on the shortlist gave her a national platform to encourage other agencies to engage with people with Down's syndrome and focus on their abilities rather than concentrate on what they cannot do.

"I think that is quite a powerful thing to do," says Finch. "People with Down's syndrome are a section of the community that tends to be forgotten, regardless of the fact that we want to prepare them as a community for independent living; I think sometimes we don't give them the tools to do that."

Finch is adamant that fire and rescue services have a responsibility to educate all vulnerable groups in fire safety to help reduce the "shocking " national figures which reveal that 15% of all fire fatalities involve a person with a mental impairment and 29% involve somebody with a physical disability.

"It concerns me that up until now the sort of work [we are doing in Essex] has not been identified. I think it is the role of fire and rescue services to work with vulnerable groups, and make an impact on these shocking figures."

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Wednesday, 1 January 2014