logo new

Tamo to exhibit at the next Cryogenic Cluster Day

Beginning in 2010, STFC’s Rutherford Appleton Laboratory has been home to ‘Cryogenic Cluster Day’ each September.  This short introduction explains how Cluster Day came about, and provides an insight to the growing and increasingly valuable archive of presentations and poster material from these events, with links to suppliers who took part in the trade shows.

Cryogenics is a classic enabling technology, in which the UK and STFC  -  has exceptional strength.  Not many people experience the extremely low temperatures (literally as low as you can go) involved in cryogenics, though many things in their lives depend on cryogenics.  Gases turn to liquids at low temperature, molecular vibration is reduced in lower energy states; low temperatures allow superconductors to work too.  Phenomena like these in turn enable a plethora of applications.  In addition to bringing fish fingers and frozen peas to the kitchen, gas in the cooker may have come from as far as Qatar in liquefied form aboard refrigerated ship.  Liquefied fuels are also used in space travel.  Much science involves low temperatures  -  you can see better inside molecular structures and capture sharper images from faint signals, so cryogenics helps astronomers, helps bring us the weather forecast, and even plays a part in Cricket, in the cryocooled ‘Hotspot’ cameras.  Superconducting magnets rely on cryogenics and are crucial to operation of big science facilities like accelerators and synchrotrons.  They also make MRI scanners work, with liquid helium, while elsewhere in hospitals, much warmer (but still very cold) liquid nitrogen enables preservation of blood, semen, tissue, stem cells and organs.

The UK has a particularly strong Cryogenic Community, centred around Oxfordshire, emanating from the interaction of Oxford University and STFC’s Rutherford Appleton Laboratory [RAL] and the cascade of surrounding enterprise over many years.  Oxfordshire’s position as the world’s leading manufacturer of MRI scanner magnets today can be traced back to pioneering work at RAL in Superconducting Magnets and Oxford Instruments, the first spinout company from the University.  Cryocooler technology developed by the University and RAL has made it far and away the most successful flown in space.  A Cryogenic Infrastructure has built up around these centres, comprising everything from global corporations to sought-after, one-man specialists and every tier in between.  This exceptional community made it an obvious choice for a bid in the UK Government’s ‘National Cluster Mark Competition’ in 2010  - and from there, the British ‘Cryogenic Cluster’ was formed, subsequently synchronising its membership with the British Cryogenics Council.  CCD1, the first ‘Cryogenic Cluster Day’ was held in 2010, to bring the cryogenic community together and to showcase its formidable strengths, with RAL providing a natural home for this event.

Cryogenic Cluster Day has always comprised a mix of seminar, trade show and lab visits, free-to-attend for delegates.  At CCD4 in 2013, a Poster Session was added as a fourth element at the suggestion of one of the Universities.  Andrew Taylor, Head of RAL, opened CCD1.  The talks began with MRI Scanners and ended with Superconducting Generators for Offshore Wind Turbines (another area in which UK leads the world).  CCD2 began with back-to-back talks by Sir Martin Wood, founder of Oxford Instruments, and Professor Harry Jones from the Clarendon Laboratory and Chairman of the British Cryogenics Council  - no one who heard their reminiscences over the past 50 years could have been in any doubt why Oxfordshire is such a special place for Cryogenics in the World.  Attendance of CCD2 increased over CCD1 and has continued to grow year on year.  International interest has increased too, with attendees from Europe, America and even India and New Zealand.  Professor ter Brake from the University of Twente in the Netherlands and incoming Chairman of the International Cryogenic Engineering Conference spoke first at CCD3, followed by Klaas Kunze from BMW on Cryo-Compressed Hydrogen, reflecting that increasingly international flavour  - which continued in CCD4, with exhibitors from Austria, Germany and America as well as the UK and Oxfordshire.  The new Poster Session at CCD4 made use of the splendid Atrium in the Diamond Light Source.  Another novel part of the CCD4 programme was a highly acclaimed visit to the Mouse Facility at MRC-Harwell, complementing other visits to Diamond, RAL Space and the Cryogenic Labs.

Cryogenic Cluster Day has established itself as the best gathering of the Cryogenic Community in the British Cryogenics Calendar  - CCD5 takes place on Friday September 19th 2014 please check back for further details.

Could the Ukraine Crisis Hit UK Industry?

As the standoff between Russia and Ukraine continues, there are concerns that the crisis could begin to impact on UK industry.

In a recent interview, President Putin has threatened to cause major disruption to the energy supplies in Europe by cutting off gas supplies. As Europe is still highly dependent on Russia for gas supplies, this could cause a price hike in Europe – including the UK – where many people are already struggling to pay their spiralling energy bills.

It has been reported that the gas supplies have already been slowed down, however, this is not likely to cause any major problems at the moment as a White House spokesman pointed out that European gas supplies were still high because of the relatively mild winter, which means any reduction in the supply of gas won’t be felt for a while.

Another major concern over the Russian incursion to Ukraine is the damage that it could do to manufacturing in the UK. If there is a reduction in the supply of gas to Europe, then this would mean that manufacturing businesses that are highly dependant on the supply of gas from Europe could begin to suffer.

There are worries that if the Ukraine crisis continues and the gas supplies to UK industry are affected, that this could ultimately lead to job losses in the manufacturing sector.

The UK only has a limited supply of gas should an emergency hit – about 15 days’ worth – which could leave the manufacturing industry in crisis should the Ukraine crisis continue.

One of the sectors that could be heavily hit is the ceramics industry and the British Ceramic Confederation (BCC) has been quick to speak out about this.

In a press release issued recently, Dr Laura Cohen, the chief executive for the BCC, said:

“Energy security is essential in any modern industrial economy and we need to see urgent action to address this matter.

“We have campaigned in the past for Government intervention to protect industry from gas shortages.

“Last year, the BCC raised concerns after UK gas supplies fell dangerously low following a prolonged cold spell in March.

“One year on and we now face a different situation. The problems in Ukraine reinforce the need for the Government to ensure the UK has extra gas storage capacity and a requirement to hold adequate safety stocks.

“Uncertainty over supply has led to terrible price volatility in the past and will do so in future, leading to harmful effects on manufacturing and investment and a possible loss of jobs.”

Complaints against Energy Industry Surge

Many claim that the UK energy industry is in drastic need of reform and now new research shows that complaints about the industry have soared in recent months.

As reported in the Daily Telegraph, there were more than 3,500 complaints in February, meaning that complaints against the main energy companies have trebled since this time last year.

In 2013, a Which? Consumer survey showed that there were 5.5 million complaints against the main six players in the energy company. The findings have led Which? To announce that they feel that Ofgem and the Office of Fair Trading should investigate how the industry is serving consumers, how trust in the industry can be improved, and what can be done to make energy prices lower for consumers.

However, in the defence of the energy industry, Energy UK has said that most complaints are dealt with within a “couple of working days” and that the energy industry was putting in a lot of effort into resolving problems.

In a statement issued regarding the growing number of complaints, Energy UK, said:

“Energy companies are already making a number of changes which put customer service at the heart of what they do. They are making it easier to compare and find the best deal available - most recent figures show that around 1.3 million customers switched in the last quarter of 2013 alone. “

Energy UK went on to say:

“No one should be afraid to heat their homes and help is always available.  Our members want to make sure people get the support they need. There are many schemes helping consumers make their homes more energy efficient, cut usage and keep warm.”

In the meanwhile, Ofgem has announced the results of a report into the blackouts that occurred over Christmas 2013, which led to a surge of complaints after millions of people, were left without energy in December.

Ofgem has announced that it is to investigate the companies that were slowest to respond to the emergency. Ofgem has stated that there was also an inconsistency among the energy companies when it came to dealing with customer inquiries about the power cuts - some of which lasted for five days.

Ofgem also announced that they would look into the possibility of increasing payments to customers that were left without power during the winter storms and that the distribution companies will have to report back to Ofgem about the improvements made to their services.

We use cookies to improve our website and your experience when using it. Cookies used for the essential operation of this site have already been set. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, see our privacy policy.

  I accept cookies from this site.
EU Cookie Directive Module Information