Local study days and events
If other local u3a's organise a study day or event and ask if any of our members would like to join them they will be shown below:
Report on Future Energy - Alternatives to Fossil Fuels Seminar
This Seminar on 7 June was organised by the Sevenoaks u3a Science Group and held at the Lecture Hall at East Malling Research Station.
1. Harnessing the Sun; from printed solar cells to liquid sunshine
The first speaker was James Durrant, Professor of Photochemistry at Imperial College in London.
He explained how the cost of fitting the traditional panels roofs has now become the main cost as the actual panels have become so cheap. Another problem is that they are heavy and therefore cannot normally be fitted all over large roofs as the roof would collapse. Which is why they have been mounted across fields. New inventions include ‘flexible cells’ which are now made from silicon and are light and can be used in huge numbers on the roofs of warehouses, hospitals etc. He sees the next stage to be the use of these in conjunction with battery storage so that businesses, properties etc will be ‘off grid’ thereby also solving the problem of ‘grid capacity’. Windows are also now in production which can function as solar panels. It makes the window slightly tinted but in many cases that is an advantage especially in hotter climates or particular kinds of buildings. Other things in the future will be ‘printing solar cells’ on roofs, cars; using solar energy in making sustainable fuels and chemicals etc.
A very exciting talk of the changes coming soon - hopefully.
2. The Hydrogen Economy - given by Steve Brown, the Technology Manager of Shell.
Shell are working on the decarbonisation of their tankers by research into other fuels and are now building their new tankers in ways that mean they can still use them to transport other fuels such as Methane, Hydrogen, Ammonia, Methanol - all of which have serious problems for their use and transport at the moment - in the future.
It was good to know that a lot of research is going into the production and transportation of alternative fuels.
3. Modular Nuclear Reactors - given by Mike Crawforth, Business Development Officer of Rolls-Royce.
They are making plans for fleets of Small Nuclear Reactors and a large part of the currant research is involving working out how these can be produced in a standardised way so that all the components are the same and can be produced and fitted etc exactly the same, thereby reducing costs and time. The investments are huge, but the nuclear technology is ‘known’ technology and with standard components the building should be much quicker. The energy produced can then be used for producing electricity, or hot water, or supplying data centres which use vast amounts of energy etc. A surprisingly positive talk.
4. Fusion Power: an Energy of the Future - given by Alistair McShee of UKAEA, Culham Science Centre.
This research is about copying what the Sun does here on Earth. There is certainly very serious research going on in this country as elsewhere, but the challenges are immense. I think it is fair to say that it is not something that U3A members are likely to benefit from in their lifetimes!
As always, these Seminars organised by the Sevenoaks U3A are extremely professional and interesting. Anyone who is interested should contact the Science Group through the Sevenoaks U3A website firstname.lastname@example.org and ask to be added to their contact list for future information.
London Region Summer School, 25 - 26 July
St Bride Foundation Institute, 14 Bride Lane, London EC4Y 8EQ
Bookings are now open for this popular on-residential event for u3a members only, now in its 10th year.
For more information and a full programme go to https://u3asites.org.uk/London-region/events.