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Biomass manure and straw systems

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Alastair Nicol BSc CEng MEI (a director of Element Consultants), was called on to give expert opinion on the underperformance of a straw and manure burning system which allegedly failed to meet the performance standards required under Contract.

The performance of a manure/straw blend burning system was the cause of concern for the Purchaser who having agreed a performance standard with the Contractor, disputed the performance of the plant.

The design was intended to burn a straw and manure mix as a means of heating an equestrian centre. In practice the plant did not achieve the performance required. The dispute between the Purchaser and the Contractor escalated and expert opinion was sought as to ability of the system as designed and installed to meet the agreed performance standards.

Alastair Nicol provided an Expert analysis and report with a schedule of documentation, a schedule of assumptions and data he considered to be relevant.

After careful evaluation and design analysis Alastair Nicol was able to conclude:

  • The design could never achieve the agreed performance standards
  • The furnace volume was too small
  • The ash separation system was inadequate
  • The design was conceptually and practically flawed
  • The design did not meet basic UK design health and safety standards
  • The design failed to meet Essential Health and Safety Standards (ESR)

The expert report was prepared for the client prior to court engagement and this included conclusions with supporting calculations and a clear statement of the Health and Safety failings. The report also concluded that elements of the design were so dangerous that young untrained staff should not be allowed to operate this equipment. (An employer failing)

In this case, and after presentation of the Health and safety failings, the case was settled out of court with the Supplier agreeing to absorb all costs

The principal difficulty for the Purchaser was the lack of formal Specification and Contract – A failing that was inevitably going to lead to difficulty. The principal failings for the Contractor were a lack of technical knowledge and a lack of Health and safety Knowledge. In both cases the Purchaser and the Contractor had no concept of their respective legal duties of care in respect of Health and Safety.

Alastair J Nicol BSc CEng is a professional Engineer with over 30 years experience and has undertaken Courtroom Cross examination training provided by Bond Solon and has provided expert opinion or reports for HSE on Biomass system, Boilers, Smoke explosion. Health and safety in design

  • Project Type: Expert Witness
  • Our Role:
  • Customer:
  • Year: 2016