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World News

A round-up of the engineering news that has been hitting the headlines around the globe.

1. France

An underground strategic oil store in France has been equipped with a sophisticated brine filtration system provided by Israeli firm Amiad Filtration Systems. Liquid hydrocarbons, including crude oil, gasoline and fuel, are held in 27 salt-leached caverns at the facility, which has a capacity of 7.5 million cubic metres.

The chemical-free filtration system cleans the leaching solution before it is injected into the sea. Performance testing and operation under real conditions are now under way.

2. Morocco

Morocco has ordered 14 very-high-speed trains from French company Alstom for the Tangiers-Casablanca route. The trains, due to enter commercial service in December 2015, will run at 320km/h between Tangiers and Kenitra – the first 200km section of Morocco’s very-high-speed network. They will then run on the conventional network to Casablanca. The new line will free capacity on the existing route to support an expected increase in traffic when the new Tangiers Med port opens.

3. Brazil

The city government of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, has opened a new operations centre that consolidates data from multiple departments and public agencies for real-time visualisation, monitoring and analysis. The centre, built by IBM, was designed initially for forecasting floods and related emergencies, but is extensible to any major or disruptive event, providing a unified view of all the available information to incident commanders and decision-makers.

As part of the project, IBM Research scientists are developing a high-resolution weather forecasting and hydrological modelling system that can predict heavy rains affecting Rio up to 48 hours in advance.

4. Sweden, Lithuania

The Nordic and Baltic energy markets are to have a new interconnector with the construction of a link between Sweden and Lithuania.

ABB has been chosen to supply a high-voltage direct current (HVDC) transmission system comprising two 700MW, ±300kV converter stations, one in Nybro, Sweden, the other in Klaipeda, Lithuania, as well as the supply and installation of two 300kV underwater cables, each 400km long, and land cables of the same voltage in Sweden and Lithuania.

Active AC voltage support will provide greater network stability, and there will be black-start capability for faster grid restoration after a blackout. The project will be supported by EU funding.

5. Estonia, Finland

Electricity transmission capacity between Estonia and Finland will increase three-fold with the construction of a second HVDC link between the two countries. The Estlink2 DC connection will deliver a bi-directional transmission capacity of 650MW in addition to the 350MW provided by Estlink1.

Nexans will design, manufacture and install the 145km subsea cable, which incorporates an integrated return conductor, so only a single cable is required to provide the 450kV link.

6. China

The Beijing-Shanghai high-speed railway, which was scheduled to open in 2012, will now go into operation in June this year, cutting the journey time between China’s two most important cities to less than five hours from the ten it takes now. Construction of the 1,318km railway began in April 2008. China’s rail minister, Liu Zhijun, said the country’s total length of railway had reached 91,000km by 2010, with 13,000km of high-speed railway expected this year and 16,000km by 2015.

7. India

State authorities in Gujarat, India, have approved development of Asia’s first commercial scale tidal current power plant in the Gulf of Kutch.

Marine energy developer Atlantis Resources will partner with Gujarat Power Corporation on the landmark project, with construction work starting as early as 2011. Atlantis will also investigate the feasibility of combining the offshore wind resource in the Gulf of Kutch with the proven tidal current resource for a mega marine power project.

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