Intro to the AD Placement Blog

February 25, 2014

I’ve been lucky enough to get a place on the EU Leonardo placement scheme working for two weeks on a anaerobic digestion (biogas) plant in southern Germany sponsored by the Germany renewables body (GerBio) and the Renewable Energy Agency (REA), to both of whom I am very grateful as I was in a bit of a tis about what to do with myself post-PhD. Despite having a near-worrying love for renewable energy technologies, I know really only a little about AD, which was really my main motivation for applying. Once on the scheme I was given the choice of a range of host companies in Germany but I really wanted some on-the-ground practical experience. So, I ruled out all of the office-based roles and whittled the list to a shortlist instead focussed on the operating plants and equipment manufacturers. Having read previous accounts of trainees working at Sturm farm (the scheme has been in operation for over a year now) I was hopeful of a placement there and got very lucky to be paired with another Brit for two weeks of an intensive on-site placement learning how a real 500kW biogas plants operates. The following blog is more of a diary of my time with the Sturms and includes a few technical bits and bobs, but is equally in line with the other aim of the project which is to teach trainees about German culture. Despite a fair amount of travelling and a number of internships (and jobs) in a range of industries I was a bit nervous about this before leaving but, as I hope you’ll soon see, my time as a lactose-intolerant vegetarian on a pig farm in Franconia, southern Germany was incredibly enlightening and (so far at least) an intensely rewarding experience…

I was wondering whether to blog about this or not but then I saw this. And yes, I know it's the soppy sort of crap you see at all transport hubs but I like it.

I was wondering whether to blog about this or not but then I saw this. And yes, I know it’s the soppy sort of crap you see at all transport hubs but I like it.

Saturday 15th February

Chelmsford – London St Pancras – Brussels.

DSC_1466_lr

Here we go again!

Have been dashing around a little bit of late (only back from Leeds on Thursday) and now setting off around 4pm with a rucksack and a bag of food, including two delicious fuul sandwiches…well there’s one way to make me miss home! Arrived at St. Pancras with about 90 minutes to spare so bought a coffee and settled into some work, managing to rewrite the vast majority of a rebuttal for a paper which was good progress for me – maybe I’ve forgotten how well I work on the train or in train stations? Boarded the Eurostar, completed the rest of the rebuttal and before I knew it I was in Brussels.

Now, Belgium in general isn’t my favourite place and unfortunately, as a welcome to this fine country, Brussels-Midi/South makes you walk an extra mile (or what seems like it) before getting out of the international section. On the plus side I’d been here before and so knew which way to turn to get to the main station before heading to my hotel. With a further kick in the teeth my ‘available offline’ Google maps were suddenly no longer downloaded. But it’s okay, all train stations have a map of the local area and I have the address of where I’m staying…Not Brussels. It has the roads next to the station but stops there. I suppose it would be possible to ask at the information but they’re all shut. Right then off we go in the direction I think it is from the zoomed out map I’ve printed. (Bear in mind that is my 3rd back up, damn you Belgium!)

Fortunately the hotel is close and well sign posted. I check in (around 2300), submit the rebuttal and decide I should at least try to find some Belgian beer or chips and mayo. All of the bars about don’t seem too welcoming and I decide I’ll walk for a bit instead before heading to bed. I’m knackered and have an early (5:30) start in the morning to catch the 6:25 train so eventually, finding nothing of interest close to where I’m staying – perhaps not surprising near the train station, head back to bed.

Okay, that’s journey one and day one complete. So far (for this country at least) so good.

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One Response to “Intro to the AD Placement Blog”

  1. sampickard said

    Reblogged this on Overland to the Far East: A better way to travel ? and commented:

    I’ve been off on the train again, this time only to Germany. But in case you’re bored there’ll be a fornight’s worth of diary blogged about me getting covered in all kinds of brown material, getting jittery on ladders, learning how to drive a tractor and somehow getting used to 6:30 starts on a farm. Since it isn’t really travel related the whole thing is actually over on my other blog at sampickard.wordpress.com – hopefully see you there!

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