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Report - Coal Research Establishment, Stoke Orchard - June '10

mookster

grumpy sod
Regular User
#1
After checking out Carmel College in Wallingford to find it tighter than the proverbial nun's chuff (pics can be seen here if you want as it's not worth a report) me and Treadstone headed to Bristol to attempt the Elizabeth Shaw chocolate factory - but found it in the hands of people who said they were 'workmen' but numerous things pointed to that not being the case - and looked like the sort of people you wouldn't want to meet in a building after just being told in no uncertain terms to 'fuck off'.

So we cut our losses and wondered what else could go wrong, luckily Treadstone had his map of interesting locations and we decided to head for the CRE near Cheltenham. Having just now looked at previous reports it seemed a lot of stuff was accessible a year or so ago but that is not the case now, pretty much everything is locked tight, and with it being a weekday the business park out the front was in full swing, so climbing any of the stacks wasn't an option either :(

Some history (shamelessly copied 'n' pasted)

The establishment was set up in 1950 by British Coal's director of research Jacob Bronowski to investigate alternative technologies to improve the value of the energy produced from burning coal along with completely new methods of using the coal won from the countries coalfields.

One of the CRE's most notable breakthroughs was a coal Liquefaction process which produced a synthetic oil which could be used to power motor engines. During the 1970's the CRE was home to a Ford Torino fitted with a experimental engine capable of using this oil as a demonstration vehicle. However despite rising oil prices's during the 1970's. Coal liquefaction was expensive process which proved to be uneconomic, it never progressed beyond the research stage and no trace of the mythical coal powered car could be found during the visit. The coal liquefaction facilities are still present at the CRE today, perhaps to the very end of its research days the scientists at the CRE hoped their liquefaction process may become an economic prospect as oil reserves ran low. In fact today a number of international research organisations are pursuing new research projects into Coal Liquefaction.

One of the process required to convert solid coal into a liquid fuel is conversion into a gas through a chemical process called gasification. Once the coal has been converted into a gaseous state it can be further processed into liquids but the gas itself can also have its own uses. burning this gas can be more efficient than burning the solid coal releasing more of the energy contained within the coal, Gasified coal is commonly used in power generation. The CRE was a pioneer in coal gasification initial studies were successfully concluded in the 1950's using coal seams at Newman Spinney, but the the project was abandoned by the NCB for economic reasons. Improved gas control systems and processes developed for the North sea oil and gas fields lead to a further round of research which proved the thin deep coal seams found in Britain could be economically exploited for coal gasification. Gasified coal is also the key to clean coal technologies where the carbon emissions generated as coal burns could be neutralised or trapped. One of the CRE's major projects in its later years was the pursuit of clean coal which would trap the carbon in a usable form that could be exploited in other chemical processes ore as a fuel itself.

When the government decided to privatise the coal producing divisions of British Coal in 1994 the CRE was left in a difficult position the newly privatised and in many cases cashed strapped operators, were unable to fund the CRE's research work and the government was unwilling to spend public money on supporting the coal industry so less than a year later the research operations at Stoke Orchard ceased.
So in a day of fail here is what I came away with....

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ta for looking, few more pics here http://www.flickr.com/photos/mookie427/sets/72157624172069071/
 

Tim Username

28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
#2
Mazing

The link you posted now has a notice announcing the closure of the site

"It is with great regret that I have to announce the closure of Stoke Orchard Airsoft with immediate effect.

The parent company has decided to pull out of the site and cease all training within Stoke Orchard to ready themselves for a move to new premises."

Anyone know what's happening there?
 

spungletrumpet

Super Moderator
Staff member
Moderator
#3
There's been talk of the site being demolished next July.

Presumably people are less likely to make much effort with a doomed site.
 

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