Welcome to NES 2023-24

Our Events Programme

Next NES Event :-

Wed 10th July 2024 at 00:00, Norwich Air Museum
Visit: Norwich Air Museum
by Museum Staff,

Summary: This visit gives NES Members the opportunity to see up close several iconic aircraft such as the Avro Vulcan and the De Havilland Nimrod. Details of the visit will be circulated to Members in the near future.

Our Mission

Norwich Engineering Society is a forum for the exchange of ideas and experiences for anyone, engineers or not, having an interest in engineering. We aim to promote widespread discussion and debate through a programme of talks and visits related to advances and achievements in engineering in the world today.

Most of our events from October to April are talk based spanning a wide range of engineering interests. The talks, roughly two a month, are usually held in the Hub at the Pavilion on Park Drive, Hethersett, but since the first Covid lockdown have been published live using Zoom and can be watched a few days afterwards on Youtube.

In the summer events are usually visit based; mostly to local companies or facilities of interest to Members. Watch this space.

CERN - Measurement and Engineering - Mar 18th 2024

Particle accelerators supporting the Large Hadron collider (LHC)

CERN has been in existence for at least 60 years and has grown to the present Large Hadron Collider(LHC). This talk was given by John Pickering, an independent electronics design engineer, who has been involved in many contracts at CERN, ranging from current controllers for the main LHC superconducting beam steering magnets to instrumentation in many of the particle trajectory sensors.

The aim of the LHC is to look at the physics of the collision between two energetic protons. The protons have to have more than enough energy to overcome the force of repulsion due to their charges and get them close enough for the strong but localised nuclear force.
The way this is done at CERN is to have two proton beams in a vacuum travelling in the opposite direction colliding into one another. To achieve this, use is made of the fact that charged particles moving in a magnetic field travel in a circular paths.

It turns out, to achieve the energies used in the LHC it can't be done in one accelerator. As John explained. a cascade of sub-accelerators have to be used with sophisticated beam switching connections used to move the particles from one accelerator to the next. Once the counter-rotating beams have arrived at the desired energy both beams are deflected into a series of possible areas where collisions can take place. It is in these areas that a series of different particle detectors are placed to see what happens during the collision process.

John used the the latter part of his talk to tell us about the various detectors and what they had seen. He concluded his talk by indicating what plans CERN had for an even bigger accelerator than the LHC.

Smart Grids - Mar 4th 2024

Schematic of a typical smart grid

This excellent talk about the current thinking behind smart grids was given by Dr Alex Palmer, an engineering design consultant at the UEA Enterprise Centre. Alex started his talk by considering the general problem of supplying energy to users from sources. He then outlined the history of what actually happened.

Initially, independent relatively low power units supplied electricity to locally attached consumers. Over time as the power from the generators increased and suppliers moved from DC to AC generators could relatively easily be interconnected by high voltage low current networks called a grid thus allowing power to be shared between locations according to need. As Alex explained, the problem with this arrangement is the control is one sided and finds it very difficult to deal with small sources and sinks of energy. It is also very expensive to run.

The consequence of this is that small widely separated communities, such as in parts of Africa, could not afford to have electricity. However with the development or relatively cheap alternative energy sources such as solar and wind power, fairly abundant in many of these more isolated places, electricity is now available. This has led to the concept of micro grids and intelligent forms of control-smart grids.

In the latter part of his talk, Alex explained how such systems could be made to work. As one of his case studies he told us about a project he is involved with in Northern Uganda.

Cantley Sugar Works Visit Mar 20th 2024

The combined heat and power turbine at Cantley Works
The main sugar storage silos at Cantley

Cantley Sugar Works has the last continuously running coal fired power station in the UK. Current legislation states that al such units have to be phased out by Dec 31st 2024. The plant at Cantley ends its life at the end of the Works current sugar production campaign in April. Through the good services of Matt Goodrum, Adam Furby and Andy Cowan of Cantley, a visit to the Works was arranged before the station ceased operation.

The tour started with Andy giving an overview of the Works with Adam explaining in a little more detail about the history of why the works generated its own electricity; basically a by product of the need for vast quantities of steam needed to process the extraction of sugar and electricity needed in subsidiary operations running this process. At the time when major investments were being at Cantley the cheapest form of steam generating energy was by burning coal. At the same time it was decided that some of the steam could be used via a steam turbine to generate electricity. In non sugar producing periods some electricity is exported to the national grid.

The next part of the tour was to be taken by Andy and Matt to visit the boilers and see the generator in operation. The tour concluded with a viewing of the equipment used in the extraction of sugar and see the processes used to make the different grades of sugar.

Rare sights!

Ferrers Young and Tim Birt with covered knees!
Attentive NES members on the Cantley visit

Two rare sites were seen at the recent visit to the Sugar works at Cantley

The first was brought about because of a strict application of the Health and Safety Regulations at the plant i.e, no areas of bare flesh are allowed to be close to any areas in the works where there is a possibility of being splashed with scalding fluids. Stores had to be scoured for two hi-vis overalls for known shorts adherents; Tim and Ferrers. Apparently some serious overheating was experienced by both especially in the areas of the plant where sugar was being extracted from the pulped beet.

The second was the sight of 12 NES visitors paying rapt and quiet attention to what Andy was telling them about the sugar mashing process.