Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Big Freeze

The big freeze damaged pipework at both Manchester sites, which I patched up yesterday, and hope to be able to restart tomorrow.

The Kuwait job as so often the case with Middle-Eastern work is in last-minute negotiations, may yet not happen...

I've got a few University related tasks to do, glad to be working again, more than a week of holiday and I'm itching to do something.

Compliments of the season from all of us here...

Friday, 10 December 2010

Emergency Callout

Had a call-out to a frozen plant in Manchester this week, and also picked up some training in Kuwait in the new year. Things are ticking over nicely.

Thursday, 25 November 2010


An old job rebooted yesterday, upgrading an undersized package plant in situ to avoid having to dig it up from the centre of a housing development. It's essentially identical to something I did a few years back for Schlumberger.

My teaching load is almost up to the maximum allowed at Nottingham Trent, and I'm reprising last year's Mogden Formula tutorial at Loughborough Uni. next week, so that side of things pretty busy too.

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Training etc.

I got good customer feedback on the Libyan oil industry environmental monitoring course - it didn't hurt to take them for a quality kebab at my favourite Iranian place on the way back from the field trip to the groundwater treatment plant in Manchester..

Other than a call-out to the usual problems at the Manchester site, engineering is a bit quiet again.

The money for the US job never materialised, despite our having a signed contract. Every time I call them, the money is supposedly on its way, but it never arrives. I can't be bothered to chase them any more. Who knows what that was about. Time-wasters.

Talking of time-wasters, the people with the garlic butter problem lost all interest in further investigations unless I was wiling to enter into a continuing extended dialogue with them free of charge, so I guess they have gone back to trying to fix things themselves.

I have plenty of teaching to keep me busy though, with upcoming engagements at both Loughborough and Nottingham Universities in addition to my steady gig at NTU.

Sunday, 5 September 2010

Garlic Bread and Safe Flying

An interesting job last week tracking down the source of heavy fat contamination of effluent in a business park containing a garlic bread factory, and figuring out what to do about it. As is so often the case, by the time I visited, several people and their contractors had had a go at solving some of the knock-on effects, but no-one had got to the bottom of the problem, or monitored whether their "fixes" had actually worked.

As it turned out, the client was amenable to reasonable argument, but I have to admit my heart sank when he told me before going to site that "we know what the problem is, we just want to discuss what to do about it". If you really know what the problem is, knowing what to do about it is usually quite obvious, and dealing with a fixed idea in the client's mind can often lead to upsets.

So I have a fair idea what the problem probably is (something different from what the client thought, and in part to do with the amateur fixes already tried). Now I get a bit of sampling and lab analysis done to check I am correct before spending any more of the client's money.

I am preparing a course on environmental monitoring in the oil and gas industry, and came across a document allowing rational safety evaluation of airlines produced by an industry body, which you can see here. Call me chicken, but I don't like to fly with the crashier outfits, and this will allow me to point to an industry standard to justify my insistence of only flying with the safer companies.

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Teaching and Training, Engineering and Business Considerations

I'm writing a leachate pumping plant specification, putting a new layer on the oil spill response tool, and writing any number of courses, including a fairly hands-on week on environmental monitoring for the oil industry.

Things are going well with the Indians, we are progressing through an initial phase of optimising what is there already with encouraging results. It may however now be that we are approaching the limits not just of what those particular bits of kit will do, but what that particular technology will do. It might be time to get a little more radical.

The US job is in a peculiar state of limbo, with a signed contract and promises of money on its way into our account which never seems to materialise. I'm glad I asked for upfront payment!

Thursday, 19 August 2010

Keeping Busy

I've picked up quite a bit of teaching for the forthcoming term at Loughborough and both Nottingham unis, as well being likely to land a training course for oil industry clients.

Back on the practical side, I've got some leachate pumping applications to look at, as well as some more oil spill response stuff, and work is continuing on the Indian job.

I'm busy enough.

Monday, 16 August 2010

Jam Jar Test

I came across a new water scam today, called the Jam Jar test-people selling home RO water systems scare customers into thinking that tap water is filled with impurities by using a coarse form of electrolysis to produce brown sludge in ordinary tap water. RO water's far lower conductivity means that it does not, as illustrated. Doesn't mean a thing, don't be taken in!

Tuesday, 27 July 2010


Back from a week's holiday, and things are gearing up slowly.

Awaiting developments on three overseas jobs.

Picked up a bit of data analysis predicting the remaining working lifetime of a groundwater treatment plant.

Looking good so far on the modifications made to the pharma effluent treatment plant.

Should firm up on most of my teaching commitments by the end of this month, allowing me writing time for materials.

Much of next week will be spent updating my First Aid Certification, so no problem with a slow restart....

Monday, 12 July 2010

Clarifier Upgrade

Some pics of the clarifier unit upgrade we carried out over the weekend for our pharma client, increasing the capacity of their existing clarifier five-fold to cope with increased production

Clarifier Upgrade: Lamella Plate Pack
Plate Pack

Clarifier Upgrade: Plate Pack, Weir,launder Difuser
Plate Pack with new weir plates and launder in place, obscuring the new diffuser arrangement

Clarifier Upgrade
Working, smooth enough to function as a reflective pool...

Friday, 2 July 2010

Another busy week

Coming to the end of another busy week, oil-spill job finished, Indian and US jobs in. Kenya/ Uganda jobs will be in mañana...

Indian job started (new holders of the blower undersizing record, having a 2HP blower which should be 70 HP!)

Pharma. client presentation went well Tuesday, will be upgrading their plant again shortly.

Firming up on next term's teaching, might get a module to myself at Loughborough, at least a half-share at NTU, and summer school work for Nottingham.

Last month's invoice total was the highest for a couple of years....Things definitely look to be picking up...

Friday, 18 June 2010

Still all go...

Coming to the end of the working week, wrapping up reports for the house-builder, and the oil-spill client.

Arranging a presentation about the pharma plant for a couple of weeks in the future and making a start on the Indian job.

The US one should kick off next week, and a rush job from Uganda is expected soon too.

May well be working this weekend...

Thursday, 17 June 2010

More international enquiries

Yet more international enquiries, looks like I'm going to be making a few visits to Africa in the near future. I love an adventure...

Tuesday, 8 June 2010


We are getting so many international enquiries that I am looking into getting Skype...Is this the weak pound effect?

Friday, 4 June 2010

Ringing off the hook

Got an urgent UK government order last Saturday, been working solidly on a confidential (but highly topical) project all week.

Almost missed a second confidential project this afternoon from overseas due to 'phone traffic, then the Indian order arrived by snailmail, It's all go!

The house-builder's promised contract didn't arrive this week, but can't be bothered to chase it or the pharma plant order under the prevailing conditions.

Monday, 31 May 2010

Picking Up

Got an order on Saturday to provide urgent assistance with a report on how to clean up oil-contaminated beaches (topically), and expecting another couple of formal orders tomorrow to assist an Indian leather goods manufacturer with water minimisation, and provide a remedy for a well-known housing developer who was sold an undersized packaged treatment plant.

With a stack of NTU exam papers to mark before Friday, and the possibility of an order in the near future for that overloaded pharma treatment plant, it's a bit like the old days...

Sunday, 23 May 2010

Summer's here!

My MA is finishing next week, so no more essay writing for me a while, and I have no teaching now until September.

We have just picked up a new client in India, in addition to the existing ongoing pharma effluent plant upgrade, and misbehaving package sewage plant jobs.

We are not running at full capacity, but the sun in shining, and I'm looking forward to getting out on the hills again...

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Improvements better than expected

Things were not quite as bad as expected, and though the client's improvements were sometimes ill-conceived, they were at least well-executed.

The same could not be said for his attempts to save money by emptying sludge three times less frequently than I specified in the manual. But he is, I suppose, learning as he goes.

I have a report to write, some lab-work and modifications to design. My other bits and bobs of engineering consultancy, and plenty of teaching and learning are keeping me pretty busy.

Thursday, 22 April 2010


Off to visit a plant which the client has "improved" to the point where it no longer meets consent tomorrow, and a teleconference with the lawyers early next week about the undersized package plant.

Things are picking up a little, but accounts are in, and last year was a tough one...

Thursday, 1 April 2010

Package Treatment Plant

An order to assist with preparing a legal case against the supplier of an badly sized and poorly installed package treatment plant has come in (from a large well-known company), off to see them next week.

Other than that, more teaching, more learning, and the usual bits and bats of consultancy work.

Friday, 12 March 2010

Teaching and so on

More teaching last week at NTU. Really enjoying it. Other than that, bits and bats of consultancy, (mainly Envirowise stuff) and the torture of reading those social science papers for my MA...

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Thursday, 25 February 2010


After an interview yesterday, I now have a formal contract for lecturing, at Nottingham Trent University. I am continuing with my less formal arrangements at Loughborough and Nottingham Universities...

Monday, 22 February 2010


All of a sudden things are getting busy. I've got an interview on Wednesday to teach more formally at a third University, and I have a number of enquiries for troubleshooting jobs.

Off to see that misbehaving package plant tomorrow, with a possibility of a side visit to upgrade that pharma effluent plant to remove titanium on the way.

Teaching at Notts Uni again on Thursday, I even had an Envirowise enquiry when I came back to my desk.

It's dragging me away from the educational research I was reading for the next MA session, but that's a price I'll just have to pay. LOL!

Monday, 15 February 2010

Package Treatment Plant Problems etc.

We got an enquiry today to help with a misbehaving Package Sewage Treatment Plant. I used to get at least one of these a month back before the recession hit. I always relish the challenge. As usual the client is on the brink of prosecution by the EA. No pressure then!

I've got a few books coming for reviews in the Chemical Engineer Magazine, and I'm finalising the material on solid waste treatment I'm due to deliver at Nottingham University on Wednesday.

I'm also negotiating with two separate clients for delivery of a distance learning course in hydraulic design.

Quite busy by recent standards...

Thursday, 28 January 2010

What happens when you let an architect design a pumping station?

Ever wondered what would happen if you abandoned your objections to the architect's artistic vision of the project and gave them free rein?

This is a sewage pumping station as designed by an architect.

More info

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Business as usual II

The call-out didn't come at 3AM Sunday morning as predicted, but at noon the previous day.

Frost damage had shattered many pipes, several pumps were air-locked, and there were unexpected foreign bodies in the feed which were causing blockages-and of course the buffer tanks were completely full at both sites, and the generators, instrumentation and SCADA system were also misbehaving.

It took half a day to patch things up, clear the blockages and airlocks, and get both plants running at top speed again to shift the melt-water.

Thursday, 14 January 2010

Teaching/Bits and Bats

I've been asked to be on high alert for problems with the Manchester groundwater treatment plants, but experience suggests that they never fail during the working week. I'm expecting the callout Sunday morning 3AM. Luckily I love an emergency.

I've received all sorts of exciteable emails from Invent Water Features/Invent Water Treatment's other creditors this last week, including solicitor's letters, threats of reporting to the DTI and so on.

I'd be a lot more excited if they owed me more than the £650 I'm down, and if I thought that it wasn't too apparent what happened to all of the company's assets and director's loans as the emails tell me it isn't.

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Business as usual

Called out again over the break, had a great drive over the Peak on empty frozen roads to Manchester to repair freezing damage to a groundwater treatment plant. This is why I have a Land Rover and snowchains-365 day call-out, weather not a factor. All went well, and we had a fine kebab on the way home.

Other than that, ploughing through Educational Research papers ready for the start of my MA-they are so sloppy compared with real science!

Invent Water Features creditor's meeting is in Bicester tomorrow, a long way away from all of the people up North who they owe money to. I hear official investigations of the directors and receivers are to be requested. People are unhappy.