Hubert PHOTO

Google Doodle Honors British Engineer Hubert Cecil Booth

British engineer Hubert Cecil Booth, helped to revolutionise the way we clean our homes.

Celebrated in a Google Doodle on the 147th anniversary of his birth, Booth was the first to conceive a device that sucked up dirt instead of blowing it away.

A horse-drawn, petrol-powered machine too large to be used in buildings, his “Puffy Billy” looked little like the technology used on carpets in every household today.

But the way it operated was essentially the same as a modern vacuum cleaner.

Booth’s inspiration was an American inventor who demonstrated a device blowing dust off chairs at a theatre in London in 1901.

Booth later said he realised “if the system could be reversed, and a filter inserted between the suction apparatus and the outside air, whereby the dust would be retained in a receptacle, the real solution of the hygienic removal of dust would be obtained”.

He tested his theory by putting a handkerchief over his mouth and seeing how much dust he could suck up.

He found the technique worked – although what Booth’s dining companions thought of his behaviour is less clear – and the Puffing Billy was soon born.

Powered by an internal combustion engine, it used piston pumps and to draw air through flexible pipes fed through a building’s windows.

An electric-powered device soon followed, which Booth used to offer cleaning services to businesses through his British Vacuum Cleaner Company.

Despite drawing noise complaints, the machines received royal seal of approval and were enlisted to clean the carpets of Westminster Abbey before Edward VII’s coronation.

They were also used to clean naval barracks, as well as factories, theatres and shops.

The vacuum even led to Booth’s arrest after one of his inventions inadvertently sucked up silver dust from coins at the Royal Mint. However, he was soon released.

Booth later turned his focus to the domestic market after founding Goblin, a company which manufactured his vacuum cleaners for sale.

However, it was William Henry Hoover’s rival firm which would come to dominate that market and become synonymous with the modern-day vacuum.

New report says hydrogen can meet 18 per cent of energy demand by 2050

A new study has detailed how hydrogen energy can make up around one-fifth of the total energy mix by 2050, helping to keep global warming below two degrees Celsius.

The report was commissioned by the Hydrogen Council, a coalition formed earlier this year featuring the CEOs of automotive and energy giants including Shell, Air Liquide, General Motors, Statoil, BMW and Toyota. Entitled Hydrogen, Scaling up, it provides a roadmap for the expansion of the sector. By 2030, 10 to 15 million cars and 500,000 trucks could be hydrogen-powered. Overall, total demand could increase tenfold to almost 80EJ (around 22,000TWh) by 2050, according to the study.

Seven particular areas were identified by the council where hydrogen energy can play a key role:

– Enabling large-scale renewable energy integration and power generation
– Distributing energy across sectors and regions
– Acting as a buffer to increase energy system resilience
– Decarbonising transportation
– Decarbonising industrial energy use
– Helping to decarbonise building heat and power
– Providing clean feedstock for industry

“The world in the 21st century must transition to widespread low carbon energy use,” said Takeshi Uchiyamada, chairman of Toyota Motor Corporation and co-chair of the Hydrogen Council.

“Hydrogen is an indispensable resource to achieve this transition because it can be used to store and transport wind, solar and other renewable electricity to power transportation and many other things. The Council has identified seven roles for hydrogen, which is why we are encouraging governments and investors to give it a prominent role in their energy plans. The sooner we get the hydrogen economy going, the better, and we are all committed to making this a reality.”

Investment of between $20-25bn per year up until 2030 will be required to scale the industry to the level outlined in the report. However, it is pointed out that there is currently around US$1.7 trillion invested in energy each year, including $650bn in oil and gas. The report also claims that the hydrogen sector has the potential to develop $2.5 trillion of business, creating more than 30 million jobs by 2050.

By reaching 18 per cent of the energy mix mid-century, it is estimated that six gigatons of CO2 would be reduced each year compared to today’s levels. This would meet 20 per cent of the total reductions required in the 2050 two-degree scenario.

“This study confirms the place of hydrogen as a central pillar in the energy transition, and encourages us in our support of its large-scale deployment” said Benoît Potier, chairman and CEO of Air Liquide.

“Hydrogen will be an unavoidable enabler for the energy transition in certain sectors and geographies. The sooner we make this happen the sooner we will be able to enjoy the needed benefits of hydrogen at the service of our economies and our societies.”