The energy machines

  • From a drilling rig to a ‘smart pig’
  • Just how awesome are these high-tech helpers?

The energy with which you baked that fish pie the other night didn’t float into your kitchen of its own free will. It was, in fact, harvested with a host of incredible machines. Some are simply enormous, others house seriously sophisticated tech, and many boast both virtues.

In fact, they’re so awesome that we’ve given them awesomeness ratings. So say hello to the machines that work hard to keep the lights on as we potter about at home.   


Bibby Quantum MKIII ROV

A remotely operated submarine that’s fit to tackle the most heavy-duty subsea pipeline repairs. It’s controlled by an operator who, essentially, twiddles a set of joysticks to make the Quantum MKIII lift, grab, or weld pipes at a depth rating of up to 3000m. Few creatures can survive that far down, although operators might spot the odd eel or giant squid on their cameras.


Magnescan Triax

Sophisticated metal sensor that’s fired along the length of a pipeline to check fatigue. Each ‘pig’ contains wire brushes that magnetise the surrounding metal as it travels along the pipe – and detects changes in thickness of less than 10%. That’s smart.


Alstrom GT26 Turbine

Giant engine that converts natural gas into electricity by burning it so as to run a heinously potent generator. In five minutes, each GT26 turbine uses a volume of air the size of the Albert Hall – and there are two of them at Langage Power Station in Plymouth.   

Sevan 300 Floating Production Vessel

This is, quite simply, a huge boat that can process and store up to 3,000 barrels of oil or gas per day – which is almost half a million litres of the stuff.  In August 2008, The Hummingbird Spirit became the first cylindrical vessel of its type in the North Sea, where it currently sits over the Chestnut Oilfield.


Paragon B391 Drilling Rig

Mobile drilling-platform that’s used to punch open new oil or gas fields deep under the sea floor. These rigs operate under the Liberian flag, even in the North Sea, and accept Puma King helicopters in all weathers. Good job, given the inclemency of the area.     


Around the web

The 45,000 ton mining saw

A monster ship that can move oil rigs

Testing the world’s biggest gas turbine

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