At over 1230 km (764 mi) in length, $10 billion in cost, and over a decade in the making, the Nord Stream 2 pipeline was slated to connect the gas fields of Russia to Western Europe through Germany. But with the sanctions against Russia and the politics of the pipeline suffering a major meltdown, this incredible feat of engineering currently sits unused. What does it take to lay so much underwater pipe, and what challenges are faced? [Grady] over at Practical Engineering lays out out nicely for us in the video below the break.
As with any undersea pipeline or cable, a survey had to be done. Instead of just avoiding great chasms, underwater volcanos, or herds of sharks with lasers, planners had to contend with culturally important shipwrecks, territorial waters, and unexploded ordnance dating from the second world war. Disposing of this ordinance in a responsible way meant employing curtains of bubbles around the explosion to limit the propagation of the explosion through the water- definitely a neat hack!
Speeding up the job meant laying several sections of pipe at once, and then tying them together after they were laid. The sheer amount of engineering, manpower and money involved are nothing short of staggering. Of course [Grady] makes it sound simple, and even shares his take on some of the geopolitical issues involved, such as Germany refusing to certify the line for use after the Russian invasion of Ukraine. So far, the $10 billion pipeline is unused, and even Shell has walked away from its $5 billion investment.
Be sure to watch the whole video for even more fascinating details about the Nord Stream 2’s amazing engineering and construction. Check out a Robot Eel concept for the maintenance of underwater pipelines too.
There’s a major push now to find energy sources with smaller carbon footprints. The maritime shipping industry, according to IEEE Spectrum, is going towards ammonia. Burning ammonia produces no CO2 and it isn’t hard to make. It doesn’t require special storage techniques as hydrogen does and it has ten times the energy density of a modern lithium-ion battery.
You can burn ammonia for internal combustion or use it in a fuel cell. However, there are two problems. First, no ships are currently using the fuel and second most ammonia today is made using a very carbon-intensive process. However it is possible to create “green” ammonia, and projects in Finland, Germany, and Norway are on schedule to start using ammonia-powered ships over the next couple of years.
Ships at sea are literally islands unto themselves. If what you need isn’t on board, good luck getting it in the middle of the Pacific. As such, most ships are really well equipped with spare parts and even with raw materials and the tools needed to fabricate most of what they can’t store, and mariners are famed for their ability to make do with what they’ve got.
But as self-sufficient as a ship at sea might be, the unexpected can always happen. A vital system could fail for lack of a simple spare part, at best resulting in a delay for the shipping company and at worst putting the crew in mortal danger. Another vessel can be dispatched to assist, or if the ship is close enough ashore a helicopter rendezvous might be arranged. Expensive options both, which is why some shipping companies are experimenting with drone deliveries to and from ships at sea. Continue reading “Automate The Freight: Maritime Drone Deliveries”→
[Carl] just found a yet another use for the RTL-SDR. He’s been decoding Inmarsat STD-C EGC messages with it. Inmarsat is a British satellite telecommunications company. They provide communications all over the world to places that do not have a reliable terrestrial communications network. STD-C is a text message communications channel used mostly by maritime operators. This channel contains Enhanced Group Call (EGC) messages which include information such as search and rescue, coast guard, weather, and more.
Not much equipment is required for this, just the RTL-SDR dongle, an antenna, a computer, and the cables to hook them all up together. Once all of the gear was collected, [Carl] used an Android app called Satellite AR to locate his nearest Inmarsat satellite. Since these satellites are geostationary, he won’t have to move his antenna once it’s pointed in the right direction.
As far as antennas go, [Carl] recommends a dish or helix antenna. If you don’t want to fork over the money for something that fancy, he also explains how you can modify a $10 GPS antenna to work for this purpose. He admits that it’s not the best antenna for this, but it will get the job done. A typical GPS antenna will be tuned for 1575 MHz and will contain a band pass filter that prevents the antenna from picking up signals 1-2MHz away from that frequency.
To remove the filter, the plastic case must first be removed. Then a metal reflector needs to be removed from the bottom of the antenna using a soldering iron. The actual antenna circuit is hiding under the reflector. The filter is typically the largest component on the board. After desoldering, the IN and OUT pads are bridged together. The whole thing can then be put back together for use with this project.
Once everything was hooked up and the antenna was pointed in the right place, the audio output from the dongle was piped into the SDR# tuner software. After tuning to the correct frequency and setting all of the audio parameters, the audio was then decoded with another program called tdma-demo.exe. If everything is tuned just right, the software will be able to decode the audio signal and it will start to display messages. [Carl] posted some interesting examples including a couple of pirate warnings.