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The Importance Of Having A Safe Railroad Network

How important are railroads to the country’s economy?

For over 180 years, railroads have revolutionized transportation, catalyzed economic development and united a nation. Thousands of American communities are connected through the US rail network, considered to be the longest and largest in the world with an operating route length of more than 155,342.8 miles. About 80% of the country’s total rail networks are used by freight lines while passenger network spans a total of 21,748 miles. On top of these, railroads deliver about 5 million tons of goods, on average every day, to ports, businesses and distribution centers.


Thousands of American communities are connected and served by the US rail network.

Safe Railroad Network
Hence, it is important to keep the railroad tracks and crossings in tip-top condition and safe for both commuters and cargo. Under the U.S. Department of Transportation is the Federal Railroad Administration – the government agency tasked with promoting and regulating safety throughout the country’s railroad industry. Regular inspections of railroad tracks, grade crossing, signal and train control are done to ensure the railroad-worthiness of the rail network.

Repair On Railroad For New Amtrak Line
In Massachusetts, Clayton D. Davenport Trucking has been recently hired by the state Department of Transportation for the repair work needed on the structural steel components of the railroad framework on Holyoke Street. The repair work is necessitated by the new passenger line of Amtrak which is slated to cross the tracks after the repair work is completed.

Clayton D. Davenport Trucking is set to replace all 72 steel stringers in deteriorating condition, remove and replace selected damaged lateral braces on the bridge, along with the bolts, nuts and 304 stainless steel flat washers, and remove existing lead-based paint from around the repair areas.

The new passenger line of Amtrak known as the Knowledge Corridor line or Vermonter will include stops in:

  • Northampton
  • Holyoke
  • Springfield
  • Greenfield

The tourism railroad company – the Adirondack Scenic Railroad received funding for a new repair facility.

It will run between Burlington and Washington DC. The Massachusetts DOT administered some $72 million in federal money for the improvement of the line, which included the recent installation of new seamless rails to cut down on noise and enhance passenger comfort. The company projected it would take seven weeks to complete the ongoing repair work.

New Repair Facility For Adirondack Scenic Railroad
In New York, the tourism railroad company – Adirondack Scenic Railroad, with operations based in the rail corridor between Saranac Lake and Lake Placid and in the NY Utica-Old Forge area received a $791,000 grant from the state to be used for a new repair and maintenance facility in Utica. The tourism railroad had apparently been operating sans full repair facilities. The Adirondack Scenic Railroad has been maintaining their 21 passenger cars and eight locomotives outside in the rail yard at Utica, and in a small one-stall shop south of Old Forge.


The tourism railroad company – the Adirondack Scenic Railroad received funding for a new repair facility.

With the funding, repairs will become more efficient and would allow the tourism railroad to expand and diversify as a tourist attraction while at the same time having a large facility for contract work. The new repair facility will be 220 feet long x 75 feet wide with:

  • 2 tracks in the building
  • An inspection pit
  • A room to repair a variety of equipment

The Adirondack Scenic Railroad is currently checking sites for the project in the vicinity of Union Station, north of the railroad tracks.

Rehabilitation Of Railroad Track In Orange County
Similarly, a $1.9 million grant was received by the Middletown and New Jersey Railroad, LLC for the rehabilitation of the railroad track in Orange County. The railroad company serves a variety of local customers ranging from local agricultural farmers to chemical and lumber companies.

The State of New York awarded $17.8 million in state funds from the State’s Passenger and Freight Rail Assistance Program to 12 rail projects for the repair and replacement of 65 miles of track and ties, rehabilitation of rail grade crossings and bridges, and the construction of new connections that will improve safety and rail operations.

Repair On Major Rail Crossings In Davidson, NC
In North Carolina, Norfolk Southern Company started repairs on major rail crossings in Davidson which forced drivers to detour onto side streets. The Virginia-based freight railroad company started replacing wooden ties and adding new stone ballast along the tracks known as “O Line” between Mooresville and Huntersville. No work of this kind has been done on the rail line since 1992. Crews have also repaired and repaved the grade crossings at Griffith and Catawba and at Depot, Delburg and Beaty streets.

Do you know of other railroad tracks with ongoing or scheduled repair work?

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Cement Industry Exploring CO2 Pollution Reduction Strategies

Cement plays a critical role in almost all infrastructure and construction. As a result, cement making represents a massive global industry that contributes significantly to CO2 pollution. Producing cement accounts for 7 to 8 percent of annual CO2 emissions worldwide. Confronted by this large carbon footprint, the cement industry is turning to carbon-capturing techniques and renewable energy sources to reduce emissions.

CO2-Infused Concrete

One approach to carbon capture involves trapping CO2 within the cement material itself. Researchers have experimented with mineralized CO2 and mixing it into the cement and other aggregates when making concrete.

An alternative method injects CO2 into the wet mix during pouring. As the final product cures, the gas remains trapped inside the solid material. CarbonCure and Solidia already have used these methods at construction sites and in the manufacturing of precast concrete blocks.

Alternative Materials

Cement represents 80% of the CO2 emissions attributed to concrete usage. Material scientists have reduced cement needs through the use of substitutes, like iron slag and coal ash. Limestone calcined clay offers another binding agent that offers the benefit of lower production expenses.

Wet cement. Credit: ProjectManhattan

Hydrogen Fuel

In the U.K., the Energy Safety Research Institute from Swansea University has installed a green hydrogen power generator at a Heidelberg Cement facility. When using power from renewable sources, the unit splits hydrogen and oxygen atoms from water molecules. The separated hydrogen provides a clean-burning fuel to power cement processing. This reduces reliance on fossil fuels and cuts CO2 emissions. Additionally, hydrogen fuel trucks could replace diesel trucks currently used to transport cement.

Advances in concrete technologies have the potential to preserve the use of a versatile building material while addressing pollution. How effective do you think carbon capture and renewable fuels will be at decarbonizing the cement industry?

ABOUT CarbonCure

CarbonCure’s vision is to make its carbon dioxide removal technology standard for all concrete production across the globe. By realizing the full potential of CarbonCure’s portfolio of technologies, the goal of saving 500 megatonnes of embodied carbon emissions every year could be met—which would be equivalent to taking 100 million cars off the road.

In order to shrink the carbon footprint of buildings, embodied carbon in new buildings must be reduced. Embodied carbon, or the carbon emitted from the manufacturing of building materials and construction, will account for nearly 50% of carbon emissions from new construction over the next 3 decades. In any given building, concrete can contribute a minimum of 50% of the embodied carbon footprint.

ABOUT Solidia Technologies Inc.

Solidia Technologies has developed a technology platform that enables production of next-generation building and construction materials with outstanding physical properties, lower life-cycle costs and low environmental footprint. Solidia’s “Low Temperature Solidification (LTS)” technology accelerates the natural bonding process of CO2 with minerals to form solids, ensuring that it happens in hours rather than years.

In the building materials industry, this enables the production of stronger and more durable products ranging from facades to floor and roof tiles to decorative countertops. Solidia Technologies is also working to develop materials that can replace concrete. Preliminary findings show that the strength and properties of these materials far exceed those of traditional concrete. The sequestration of CO2 in the production process provides the additional benefit of creating a carbon neutral concrete replacement.

ABOUT Energy Safety Research Institute

ESRI is housed on Swansea University’s new world class Bay Campus. ESRI provides an exceptional environment for delivering cutting edge research across energy and energy safety related disciplines with a focus on the following areas:

  • Inter-conversion of waste energy and resources – the conversion of excess and wasted energy via a range of energy vectors transformations (heat-to-electricity and electricity-to-hydrogen) providing enhancing flexibility of demand and supply.
  • Green hydrocarbon – reducing the environmental impact of hydrocarbon energy sources through enhanced production, reduced resource usage, and ensuring low environmental impact of production.
  • Carbon dioxide – defining solutions to the efficient separation, the conversion to useful feedstock, and the safe long-term sequestration of CO2.
  • The next generation of energy distribution – creating an internet of energy to allow for local generation and global sharing that enables everyone to have the potential to be a player in a one world energy scheme.

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New Type Of Steel Offers High Strength, Ductility, And A Lower Price

Usually, higher strength steels provide less ductility, and vice-versa. Materials scientists and engineers continuously look at methods for getting the most of these two qualities within a single alloy. Researchers in China and Taiwan may have gotten closer, as they’ve developed a new metal manufacturing technique that’s said to yield steel that’s both strong and ductile, and also considerably less expensive than many industrial steels used today.


FileCFS stud cross sectionjpg

Image Source: Wikimedia

Strong, Ductile, Lower Cost Breakthrough Steel

The new technique has been referred to as deformed and partitioned (D&P). While the researchers have not revealed many specifics of D&P, the process yields a material that can be defined as a “breakthrough steel”, containing 10 percent manganese, 2 percent aluminum, 0.47 percent carbon, and 0.7 percent vanadium. Cold rolling and embedding of metastable austenite grains are also used in the technique, which creates, what researchers call, a highly dislocated martensite matrix. The matrix allows the steel to retain ductility even as strengthening qualities are incorporated.

Image Source: UPI

Five Times Cheaper Than Aerospace And Defense Alloys

Apart from the dual physical advantages to the new steel, the production process is cheaper than that used to create steel grades that are commonly used in aerospace, defense, and other critical applications. The research team claims that their steel costs one fifth the price of production for aerospace and mil-spec steel, while offering the same characteristics of those alloys.

How Will It Impact Industry?

The study detailing the development of the super steel was published in Science on August 24th, 2017. How the technique and the resulting steel will impact the many industries that use comparable alloys is yet to be known.


What do you think of this development? Comment and let us know.

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Desktop Laser Engraving Device Scales Down Industrial Capabilities

Laser engraving is used for many different medical and manufacturing applications. The equipment needed for the capability is typically heavy, complex, and far from portable. There is a company that wants to change that by making laser engravers more compact and accessible, and potentially making the technology as popular as 3D printing.

Cubliio can be used on vertical or horizontal surfaces

Image Source: New Atlas

Portable Laser Cutting And Engraving 

Cubiio is a small, lightweight, and easily portable laser engraving and cutting tool. It has been designed to function as a desktop technology that can be easily incorporated into just about any maker studio. It’s run using software as basic as the average tablet or smartphone app. Users simply select a design to cut or engrave, place Cubiio over the work piece, and hit start. It’s no more complex than that.

Funded With Enthusiasm

Designed for hobbyists, Cubiio allows for customization of all manner of objects. The unit is comprised of a semiconductor laser source and two current-driven mirrors that direct the position of the laser according to digital commands. The device has recently gained enthusiastic backing and interest after being posted on Kickstarter and exceeding its funding goal in just days. It is now available for preorder and is expected to be available by the end of 2017.

cubiio laser engraver kickstarter dsc 0566

Image Source: Digital Trends

Laser Machining For The Masses

With its creators stating that they had to rethink the design from scratch, Cubiio could be the first of many products that bring laser machining to the masses as a creative tool. It may even follow the rise of 3D printing as a technology used for small, entrepreneurial products, creative household projects, and general novelty. The technology could even serve as an asset to manufacturers who have considered adding laser engraving to their miscellaneous capabilities but have chosen not to make an investment in larger, industrial scale equipment.


What are your thoughts on the Cubiio and desktop versions of industrial technology? Comment and tell us what you think.

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