GE’s Giant Wind Turbines Will Have Rotors as Long as Football Fields

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 GE Renewable Energy has announced plans to build the Haliade-X, the biggest, most powerful offshore wind turbine that the world has ever seen. Standing at 853 ft., the turbine will be 300 feet taller than the Washington Monument.

The turbine will have a 12 MW direct-drive generator, and be able to produce 45% more energy than turbines currently on the market. The plan will take a significant investment from GE, which will plug more than 400 million dollars into the turbine’s development over the next three to five years.

The colossal turbine’s rotors will be designed and manufactured by LM Wind Power out of Denmark. The carbon hybrid blades will be 107-meters long, or 351 feet which is only nine feet shorter than a football field.

Each one of these machines will generate enough energy to power up to 5,000 U.S. homes. The hope is to create wind farms that will power up to 300,000 homes. It’s actually enough power to cover 1 million European households, just a side note on average U.S. energy consumption.

The diameter of the rotor is 722 ft. and the blade sweep will cover a surface of 410,000 sq feet — sticking with the football comparison, that’s the equivalent to the area of seven football fields.

The industry is interested for a number of reasons, namely the fact that more powerful turbines mean wind farms with fewer machines. It’s cheaper from a capital expense point of view, and it reduces risk in the installation process. It will also translate to less maintenance and simplify operations. According to GE, the design should make offshore wind projects more profitable and lower the cost of electricity.

The company hopes to ship the first Haliade-X as soon as 2021.

U.S. cabinet members say Canada, Mexico could escape new tariffs

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin reiterated President Trump’s position that if a NAFTA deal can be reached Canada and Mexico will be exempted from new metals tariffs. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross voiced a similar sentiment

“The president indicated that if we can work something out with Canada and Mexico they will be exempted,” said U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, speaking about sparing the U.S.’s NAFTA partners from punishing steel and aluminium tariffs if a new North American pact can be agreed upon.

WASHINGTON—Two members of U.S. President Donald Trump’s Cabinet suggested Wednesday that Canada and Mexico might escape new tariffs on steel and aluminum, a potential bargaining chip in North American trade talks that heeds the ‘surgical approach“ advocated by House Speaker Paul Ryan.

“The president indicated that if we can work something out with Canada and Mexico they will be exempted. It’s not inconceivable that others could be exempted on a similar basis,” Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross told reporters. He said earlier on CNBC that the president has “indicated a degree of flexibility.”

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the administration was “definitely going to end up” with the across-the-board tariffs Trump is seeking—25 per cent on steel imports, 10 per cent on aluminum. “But, again, there will be a mechanism where, to the extent that the president wants to give waivers, the president can do that,” Mnuchin told Fox Business.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the White House was “on pace for an announcement” on the trade penalties “at the end of this week.”

Trump has said the tariffs are needed to preserve the American industries and protect national security, but he also has tried to use them as leverage in the current talks to revise the North American Free Trade Agreement, negotiated under President Bill Clinton.

“We’re cautiously optimistic on NAFTA,” Mnuchin said. “This is part of those discussions. But assuming we get the new NAFTA deal done, they will be exempted.”

White House adviser Jared Kushner and staff from the State Department and National Security Council planned to meet Wednesday with Mexico’s president and foreign minister in Mexico City.

Congressional Republicans and industry groups, warning of the economic fallout, are pressing the president to narrow his plan, but he appears unmoved. “Trade wars aren’t so bad,” he said Tuesday, adding that the U.S. has long been “mistreated” in trade deals.

Hours later, Trump economic adviser Gary Cohn, who has opposed the tariffs, announced his plans to depart the White House.

Ryan, R-Wis., called for a “more surgical approach” that would help avert a trade war. Added Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.: “We are urging caution,” McConnell said.

Asked about the calls from those leaders, Ross said the White House was “trying to do a surgical approach.”

Sen. David Perdue, R-Ga., who opposes the tariffs, said after meeting Tuesday with White House chief of staff John Kelly that the administration was willing to consider his views. “Absolutely. There’s an openness now,” Perdue said.

“I think there’s been a step back,” said Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan. “I don’t think he’s reconsidering, but I think he’s trying to figure out what his best step is forward.”

But those views sounded more like wishful thinking after Trump’s news conference with Sweden’s prime minister, when Trump reiterated his intentions.

Trump has been keenly aware of how the tariffs may play in a March 13 special House election in western Pennsylvania, part of the steel belt, White House officials have said. The president is headlining a Saturday rally in support of Rick Saccone, who is battling Democrat Conor Lamb in the Republican-leaning district.

The dispute over tariffs has exposed a rift between advocates of free trade, who have long dominated GOP circles, and a president who has railed against China and pushed for more protectionist trade policies.

Internally, White House officials who oppose the tariffs have urged the administration to limit the countries that would be affected and to impose time limits. This would help the president say he delivered on his promise and still try to avoid possible negative consequences, said Stephen Moore, a former campaign adviser and now an economist with the conservative Heritage Foundation.

Republicans in Congress and within Trump’s administration say industries and their workers who need steel and aluminum for their products would be hurt by Trump’s threatened tariffs. They say Americans will face higher costs for new cars, appliances and buildings if the president follows through on his threat and other nations retaliate.

Business leaders are mobilizing against the tariffs. The Aluminum Association, a trade group representing 114 member companies with more than 700,000 U.S. jobs, told Trump in a letter Tuesday that it was “deeply concerned” about the effects of the planned tariffs and urged him to seek alternatives such as targeting China and other countries with a history of circumventing trade rules.

Ryan said Trump was correct to focus on the problem of the dumping of steel in the U.S. at lower prices. But he said the administration’s approach was “a little too broad and more prone to retaliation.”

President Donald Trump signs report rebuking own views on trade, Canada

Washington, DC —Donald Trump’s views on trade have been clobbered in a report released by the White House —and signed by none other than the president of the United States himself.

The self-rebuke includes some of his talking points about Canada.

The president regularly bemoans a trade deficit with the northern neighbour and was complaining again on Monday about Canadian trade, saying: “We lose a lot with Canada. People don’t know it. Canada’s very smooth. They have you believe that it’s wonderful. And it is, for them. Not wonderful for us.”

But a different story is told in the newly released 2018 White House “Economic Report of the President” —an annual document prepared by Trump’s own team, in which Trump’s own signature appears below the introductory foreword.

It contradicts a number of trade statements and policies already articulated by Trump.

One example involves the supposed trade deficit with Canada. Trump keeps insisting it exists, but the document he signed states Canada is among the few countries in the world with whom the U.S. runs a surplus.

The documents states that in three different places. For example, it says, “All countries show a (U.S.) services surplus offsetting a goods deficit, with the U.S. running a net bilateral surplus only with Canada and the United Kingdom.”

And again: “The United States ran a trade surplus of $2.6 billion with Canada on a balance-of-payments basis.”

And once again: “The United States has free trade agreements … with a number of countries —some of which represent net trade surpluses for the United States (Canada and Singapore), and some of which represent deficits (Mexico and South Korea).”

There’s more.

The report also contradicts the president by saying trade has helped the U.S. economy grow, that economies are shifting away from manufacturing, that foreign trade is increasingly important, that America has a good record of success in international dispute panels at the WTO, and that reworking trade agreements is no way to address a trade deficit.

“Trade and economic growth are strongly and positively correlated,” says the White House report.

The report does concede that trade deals create winners and losers in a country. But it says the states along the border have been the biggest winners in NAFTA. It concludes that, in general, trade creates jobs and wealth, and cites a study that every percentage point increase in trade-to-GDP ratio raises per capita income by between 0.5 and 2 per cent.

“(This) is a stunning rebuke of … the president and his trade team,” Scott Lincicome of the pro-market Cato Institute tweeted after the report was released last week.

The 563-page document was produced by Trump’s Council of Economic Advisers. He appointed the council.

Meanwhile, there are reports in U.S. media that Trump is looking to promote trade hawk Peter Navarro to a more prominent position in the White House.

GM extending a cutback in car production at Oshawa plant

Oshawa, Ont. – General Motors Co. is reportedly extending a cutback in car production at its plant in Oshawa, Ont., into April and May before it begins a second shift to produce pickup trucks later this year.

The automaker had halted production of Cadillac XTS and Chevrolet Impala cars for three weeks in January and brought the plant back online on one shift instead of the previous two shifts for the rest of the first quarter.

But The Globe and Mail, citing a memo it says Unifor sent to workers at the plant, reported Wednesday that GM has now extended the single-shift operation to May 28.

Jennifer Wright, the automaker’s manager of corporate communications, told The Canadian Press in an email that current job levels are “anticipated to be retained.”

She said production of the Silverado and Sierra pickup trucks began earlier this month and the company plans to “ramp up production over the coming months.”

The move comes amid a continuing slump in sales of passenger cars generally in North America and specifically in the U.S. market for the two cars that are built in Oshawa.

Super wood could replace steel: New process could make wood as strong as titanium alloys but lighter and cheaper


Engineers at the University of Maryland, College Park (UMD) have found a way to make wood more than 10 times times stronger and tougher than before, creating a natural substance that is stronger than many titanium alloys.

“This new way to treat wood makes it 12 times stronger than natural wood and 10 times tougher,” said Liangbing Hu of UMD’s A. James Clark School of Engineering and the leader of the team that did the research, to be published on February 8, 2018 in the journal Nature. “This could be a competitor to steel or even titanium alloys, it is so strong and durable. It’s also comparable to carbon fiber, but much less expensive.” Hu is an associate professor of materials science and engineering and a member of the Maryland Energy Innovation Institute.

“It is both strong and tough, which is a combination not usually found in nature,” said Teng Li, the co-leader of the team and Samuel P. Langley Associate Professor of mechanical engineering at UMD’s Clark School. His team measured the dense wood’s mechanical properties. “It is as strong as steel, but six times lighter. It takes 10 times more energy to fracture than natural wood. It can even be bent and molded at the beginning of the process.”

The team also tested the new wood material and natural wood by shooting bullet-like projectiles at it. The projectile blew straight through the natural wood. The fully treated wood stopped the projectile partway through.

“Soft woods like pine or balsa, which grow fast and are more environmentally friendly, could replace slower-growing but denser woods like teak in furniture or buildings,” Hu said.

“The paper provides a highly promising route to the design of lightweight, high performance structural materials, with tremendous potential for a broad range of applications where high strength, large toughness and superior ballistic resistance are desired, ” said Huajian Gao, a professor at Brown University who was not involved in the study. “It is particularly exciting to note that the method is versatile for various species of wood and fairly easy to implement.”

“This kind of wood could be used in cars, airplanes, buildings — any application where steel is used,” Hu said.

“The two-step process reported in this paper achieves exceptionally high strength, much beyond what [is] reported in the literature,” said Zhigang Suo, a professor of mechanics and materials at Harvard University, also not involved with the study. “Given the abundance of wood, as well as other cellulose-rich plants, this paper inspires imagination.”

“The most outstanding observation, in my view, is the existence of a limiting concentration of lignin, the glue between wood cells, to maximize the mechanical performance of the densified wood. Too little or too much removal lower the strength compared to a maximum value achieved at intermediate or partial lignin removal. This reveals the subtle balance between hydrogen bonding and the adhesion imparted by such polyphenolic compound. Moreover, of outstanding interest, is the fact that that wood densification leads to both, increased strength and toughness, two properties that usually offset each other,” said Orlando J. Rojas, a professor at Aalto University in Finland.

Hu’s research has explored the capacities of wood’s natural nanotechnology. They previously made a range of emerging technologies out of nanocellulose related materials: (1) super clear paper for replacing plastic; (2) photonic paper for improving solar cell efficiency by 30%; (3) a battery and a supercapacitor out of wood; (4) a battery from a leaf; (5) transparent wood for energy efficient buildings; (6) solar water desalination for drinking and specifically filtering out toxic dyes. These wood-based emerging technologies are being commercialized through a UMD spinoff company, Inventwood LLC.

Using virtual reality to train industrial workforce

Houston – Honeywell announced a cloud-based simulation tool that uses a combination of augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) to train plant personnel on critical industrial work activities. With as much as 50 percent of industrial plant personnel due to retire within the next five years, the Honeywell Connected Plant Skills Insight Immersive Competency is designed to bring new industrial workers up to speed quickly by enhancing training and delivering it in new and contemporary ways.

Honeywell’s advanced training solution combines mixed reality with data analytics and Honeywell’s 25 years of experience in worker competency management to create an interactive environment for on-the-job training. It uses Microsoft’s HoloLens, the world’s first and only self-contained holographic computer, and Windows Mixed Reality headsets to simulate various scenarios for Honeywell’s C300 controller – such as primary failure and switchovers, cable and power supply failure – that train and test personnel on their skills.

“Megatrends such as the aging workforce are putting increased pressure on industrial companies and their training programs,” said Youssef Mestari, program director, Honeywell Connected Plant. “There is a need for more creative and effective training delivered through contemporary methods such as Immersive Competency, ultimately empowering industrial workers to directly improve plant performance, uptime, reliability and safety.”

Simulating specific job activities through virtual environments, which are accessed through the cloud, Honeywell’s solution offers a natural way to interact and communicate with peers or a trainer. Similar to a flight simulator, trainees can safely experience the impacts of their decisions. This approach improves skill retention versus traditional training methods by up to 100 percent and reduces the length of technical training by up to 150 percent. Additionally, the employees’ training progress is tracked as part of a formal competency management system.

“Honeywell’s unique approach to industrial training and competency development, combined with Windows Mixed Reality platform and devices, is a good example of a major industrial player proactively and creatively driving digital transformation,” said Lorraine Bardeen, general manager for Mixed Reality at Microsoft. “This is the first solution that directly links industrial staff competency to plant performance by measuring the training’s effectiveness based on real outcomes.”

Honeywell Connected Plant turns data into insight that enable plants and businesses to run better. Honeywell delivers this capability through its unmatched domain expertise and advanced analytics capabilities to connect process, assets, people and enterprise to maximize performance. Honeywell’s breadth of cyber-security solutions ensures data stays secure from increasing external threats.

For more information, visit

Human error or criminal negligence? Lac Megantic criminal trial begins in Quebec

SHERBROOKE, Que. — Train driver Thomas Harding knows he’s partly at fault for the 2013 Lac-Megantic rail disaster that killed 47 people, but he was following procedure and the tragedy flowed from bad company policy, his lawyer said Monday on the first day of trial.

“Mr. Harding realizes he’s partly responsible for a very serious tragedy and that weighs on him a lot more heavily than the trial,” lawyer Thomas Walsh told reporters.

“Is it human error or criminal negligence? That’s what this case is about.”

Harding and two other ex-railway employees, traffic controller Richard Labrie and manager of train operations Jean Demaitre, are all facing one count of criminal negligence causing the death of 47 people.

All three ex-employees of Montreal Maine and Atlantic Railway have pleaded not guilty.

Crown prosecutor Veronique Beauchamp told the 14-member jury in her opening statement that all three men were each responsible in their own way for ensuring the train was safe, and all three failed in their duties.

“Evidence will be presented that will show beyond a reasonable doubt, all three were criminally negligent … they contributed to the deaths of the 47 victims,” Beauchamp said.

An oil-laden locomotive weighing more than 10,000 tonnes was not properly secured the night of July 5, 2013, leaving it resting precariously on a slope, 10 kilometres away from downtown Lac-Megantic, Beauchamp told the court.

Driver Harding brought the train to a stop outside the village of Lac-Megantic and retired for the night. A fire broke out on part of the train roughly 30 minutes after he left.

Around 1 a.m. on July 6, 2013, roughly one hour after firefighters put out the flames and turned off the main engine, the train began moving, picking up speed and barrelling into the town.

“You’ll see that the number of brakes applied to the (train) was clearly insufficient,” Beauchamp said, referring to Harding, whom she said was “responsible for the safe immobilization of the convoy.”

The evidence shows that Labrie, the Crown contends, never inquired about the security of the train after the fire.

“Only after the derailment did he ask Harding how many brakes he put on the train,” Beauchamp said.

Supervisor Demaitre, Beauchamp continued, was told before the derailment that part of the train had mechanical deficiencies.

“The evidence will show that (Demaitre) didn’t take any measures and left the (deficient) locomotive as head of the train block.

“Never did he ensure that a competent person would be sent to on scene ensure the train parked on the slope was safe.”

Walsh, who was the only defence lawyer who spoke to reporters Monday, alleged the company had a culture that neglected safety and his client was only following procedure.

“The people who were responsible for the policy of the company to park an empty train with the engine running — that’s not Harding’s decision. That’s the company’s decision,” Walsh said.

The bankrupt railway company’s former owners and managers should be the ones answering questions at trial but they are in the U.S., Walsh added.

“All of the shortcuts taken were at the expense of safety,” he said. “The real directors of the company … received their subpoenas, they decided not to come.”

The trial’s first witness was retired Quebec provincial police officer Steven Montembeault, who showed the jury aerial footage he took from a helicopter about 15 hours after the derailment.

Light from the setting sun was glimmering on the lake, surrounded by green hills and lush grass of the picturesque town, 250 kilometres east of Montreal.

Then the camera pans to what was left of the centre of the village, and zooms in on firefighters putting out pockets of fire across downtown Lac-Megantic as thick plumes of smoke billowed into the air and could be seen for kilometres.

Following Montembeault was Jacques Lafrance, of the provincial police, who began showing jurors crime scene photos he took of the disaster.

The Crown has signalled it will call 24 civilian and 11 police witnesses, and one expert witness in a trial that is expected to last until December.

Walsh said Harding will “likely” testify in his defence.

Beauchamp said jurors will also be shown video and listen to audio recordings of conversations between railway employees the night of the derailment.

The bankrupt Montreal Maine and Atlantic Railway has also pleaded not guilty to causing the deaths of 47 people and will face a separate trial at a later date.

The trial is being held in Sherbrooke, Que,. 150 kilometres east of Montreal.

General Electric Peterborough plant to cease most manufacturing by September 2018

General Electric Peterborough plant to cease most manufacturing by September 2018

By The Peterborough Examiner

An employees enters the Monaghan Rd. entrance at GE Canada on Tuesday January 17, 2017 in Peterborough, Ont. Canadian General Electric has cut 150 jobs at its Peterborough facility. Clifford Skarstedt/Peterborough Examiner/Postmedia Network

An employees enters the Monaghan Rd. entrance at GE Canada on Tuesday January 17, 2017 in Peterborough, Ont. Canadian General Electric has cut 150 jobs at its Peterborough facility. Clifford Skarstedt/Peterborough Examiner/Postmedia Network

The General Electric Peterborough plant will shut down manufacturing by September of 2018, the company announced Friday morning.

Workers were informed of the decision at a meeting Friday morning at the Park Street plant, which has operated for 125 years.

“It will be a difficult time for many residents who are connected with GE or who have historical ties to this company,” Mayor Daryl Bennett stated.

In its heyday in the 1960s, the plant employed as many as 6,000 people.

About 358 current workers in the motors division will be losing their jobs, company vice-president of communications Kim Warburton told The Examiner.

“it’s a tough day for our employees, We’re going to help them with the transition,” Warburton said.

The decision was made because production volume in the plant has been down 60 per cent in the past few years, Warburton said, citing global market conditions.

“There’s just not a market for what we are producing,” Warburton said.

About 50 GE workers in the engineering division will continue to work out of the plant, she said.

The closure also does not affect workers in the nuclear division of the site — the GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy Canada division was sold off a year ago and now operates as BWXT Nuclear Energy Canada. BWXT is the former Babcock and Wilcox Canada, which is based in Cambridge, Ont. It has a long-term lease for the nuclear operations at the site.

Hopes were high of new work for the motors division a few years ago.In 2014, GE announced it would be adding up to 250 new jobs in Peterborough to build motors for the TransCanada Energy East pipeline, which has been delayed through the application process.

A new environment review was called for Energy East and hearings are soon to begin.

Instead, GE has been reducing the size of its workforce in Peterborough over the last several years through a series of layoffs since then.

On Wednesday, the National Energy Board announced it will, for the first time, consider the public interest impact of upstream and downstream greenhouse gas emissions from potential increased production and consumption of oil resulting from the Energy East project.

General Electric’s Friday announcement in Peterborough begins a 12-month transition period for the affected workers, Warburton said.

They will be offered skills training, retirement planning and family counselling during that transition, she said.

“We are going to be working hard with them,” Warburton said.


Peterborough Mayor Daryl Bennett issued the following statement Friday morning on the plant closure:

“My immediate concern is for the workers and the families in our community affected by this winding down of General Electric’s operations in Peterborough. It will be a difficult time for many residents who are connected with GE or who have historical ties to this company. This year marked the 125th anniversary of GE in Canada, starting here in Peterborough in 1892.

“The winding down of GE in Peterborough is a business decision that’s directly related to the slow down in orders from the oil and gas industry. It’s a drastic reversal from 2014 when GE announced that it would be adding up to 250 new jobs in Peterborough to build motors for the TransCanada Energy East pipeline, which has been delayed through the application process. Instead, GE has had to reduce the size of its workforce in Peterborough over the last several years. I understand it currently employs about 358 workers, well down from the 6,000 people employed by GE in Peterborough in the 1960s.

“We are looking forward to the continued presence of BWXT Nuclear Energy Canada, which purchased GE’s nuclear energy business last year.

“In the coming days, I will be requesting a meeting with both our MP and our MPP to discuss how our governments can assist with securing our community’s long-term economic foundation.

“Over the years, we have asked for assistance and approvals for employment land growth, the Via Rail proposal for a new High Frequency Rail service through Peterborough, and local transportation network improvements needed to support growth. We need to continue to diversify our economy and to build the infrastructure that supports job creation.”

More details to come.

CX North America gains Little Truck Solutions as client

TECUMSEH, Ontario—CX North America Information Services Inc. (CX North America), provider of freight collaboration solutions for the transportation industry, announced that Concord, North Carolina–based Little Truck Solutions Inc., a specialist in delivering expedited, hot shot and less-than-truckload shipping, is a customer.

Little Truck Solutions is using both the CX North America platform and mobile app with its fleet of trucks.

The CX North America platform, a SaaS solution, provides carriers, brokers and 3PLs a single view of their freight and partner network on any desktop or mobile device. And, because it is already integrated with industry-leading telematics and transportation management solutions, subscribers can easily incorporate customers, carriers and subcontractors.

Companies also can maintain real-time communication with carriers and drivers via the CX North America app, available on both the Google and Apple App Stores.

David Harrison, president of Little Truck Solutions, shared, “Ninety percent of our shipments happen on the same day – we are contacted by a company that needs freight delivered within hours to destinations near and far. Many customers want status updates as frequently as every 15 minutes.”

“CX North America allows us to automate this function, saving us time and money while increasing driver safety. Plus, CX North America, unlike other providers, updates in real time. With CX North America, we can even schedule freight pickups for the return trip, avoiding deadhead miles.”

Lyall Cresswell, president and CEO of CX North America, said, “We are pleased to welcome Little Truck Solutions, to our growing customer base. It is particularly satisfying to be selected as the technology partner of a firm that has built its reputation on agility, dependability and visibility. We look forward to helping Little Truck Solutions increase its customer base and grow its revenue through the value-added services it can now provide with our technology.”

More than 100 TTC workers fired or resigned over alleged benefits fraud

To date, the TTC says 82 employees have been fired and more than 20 have resigned or retired to avoid firing, and it expects those numbers to grow

TORONTO—The Toronto Transit Commission says more than 100 of its employees have been dismissed or have resigned over benefits claims irregularities.

Toronto police laid criminal charges in July 2015 against the owner of Healthy Fit, a health care products and service provider that TTC employees frequented.

It is alleged that receipts were provided to employees by Healthy Fit for claim reimbursement where no product or service was obtained, or where receipt amounts were inflated.

It is also alleged that Healthy Fit and the employee making the claim would then share the money paid out by the TTC’s insurer at the time, Manulife Financial.

Investigators are continuing to interview employees who filed benefits claims involving Healthy Fit and the TTC says they will be dismissed if the evidence shows the benefits plan was defrauded.

To date, the TTC says 82 employees have been fired and more than 20 have resigned or retired to avoid firing, and it expects those numbers to grow.