Monthly Archives: March 2013

  • Mystery of the Conclave smoke revealed

    With the inauguration of the new Catholic leader, Pope Francis I, last week, the Vatican has revealed how the coloured smoke used during the conclave to indicate the results of the vote is created.

    The Sistine Chapel was closed the week before conclave to prepare for the event, including the installation of a copper flue and two stoves. The ballots are burned in the older of the two stoves and the smoke from the ballots mixes with the coloured smoke from the other stove as it travels up the flue to the roof where it is visible from St Peter’s Square. It is at this point where the Vatican’s decision is made public; black smoke signals an inconclusive vote whereas white smoke reveals a new Pope has been chosen. A chimney fan and a resistance wire are also used to ensure that the flue draws properly and that no smoke enters the chapel.

    The Vatican has revealed that the white smoke is created by combining potassium chlorate, pine rosin and milk sugar. The black smoke, used only twice during this conclave, is made from potassium perchlorate and anthracene (a component of coal tar) and sulphur as the fuel. Traditionally, damp straw was added to the ballots to make the smoke appear sooty but during the 1958  conclave, a failure to ignite the straw caused confusion amongst the anticipating crowd so a better way of creating the black smoke was found.


  • Gas Safety Campaign Saves Lives

    New figures from a campaign for gas safety, directed in the North-West of England, have revealed it has saved many lives. 

    Since October 2012, the Gas Safety Register has conducted over 1,500 checks on gas appliances across the region and found that 17% (one-in five) were found to be unsafe and if left unchecked, potentially could have caused gas explosions, fires or carbon monoxide leaks.

    Chief executive of the Gas Safety Register, Russell Kramer, said: “Gas safety is a life or death matter. This is therefore a really important campaign, as residents across the North-west can find out how unsafe their area is and take action to protect themselves.

    “By signing up to have an annual safety check and following a few simple tips, people can avoid explosions, fires, gas escapes and carbon monoxide poisoning, which has already affected far too many people across the North-west in recent years.”

    Make sure you are gas safe and have your gas appliances checked annually by a fully registered gas safety installer. Also consider installing a Carbon Monoxide Detector in your home, which you can buy directly from Flue Supplies, as carbon monoxide gas (known as the "Silent Killer") has no colour or smell and is undetectable without one.

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  • UK Energy Strategy

    UK Secretary of State, Edward Davey, has discussed the country's energy efficiency strategy at the Ecobuild 2013 conference in London.

    He suggested that the problems are not just going to disappear overnight and that it's going to be a long-term transformation to make the UK a more energy efficient country. By working together on the Green Deal, Davey said that the Government and industry can "help people struggling with rising energy costs; to help get the economy moving again; and to be part of the climate change solution.”

    Davey remarked that the UK building stock is currently responsible for over 40% of the country's overall greenhouse gas emissions. He commented that the percentage needs to come down if the UK is to help climate change which will only get worse if nothing is done to stop it. Davey said, "Energy efficiency and demand reduction are only a part of the response, but they’re a very important part. If we get this right, as my Department’s Carbon plan sets out, we could reduce carbon emissions from buildings by between a quarter and two-fifths by the middle of the next decade. This will go a long way to making sure Britain is part of the climate change solution, and not part of the problem.”

    Davey added that his department "awarded £22 million to support energy efficiency projects in more than 150 English local authorities and cities" and that the actions of the Green Deal are going to be published regularly so that a clear indication of what is being done to tackle these issues is widely available and updated to all.

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