This December, Discovery Channel takes you on a COUNTDOWN TO COLLISION. Explore some of the world’s most remarkable superstructures and find out how key inventions and engineering advances enable workers to carry out complex yet critical tasks without sparking a catastrophe. From the hydroelectric “singing stone” Itaipu Dam in Brazil and the Troll A gas platform in Norway, to the icebreaking Arctic oil tanker Timofey Guzhenko and the 600-metre deep Super Pit – Australia’s biggest open gold mine, COUNTDOWN TO COLLISION provides an all-access pass to the ingenious engineering systems that make modern world constructions and innovations work.
Using stunning computer-generated imagery (CGI) animation and archival footage capturing events that led to famous disasters in history, COUNTDOWN TO COLLISION dissects the inner workings of several clever innovations and presents engineering like you’ve never seen it before.
MEGA PORT ROTTERDAM
With 430 million tons of cargo passing through its harbours every year, Rotterdam Port is the biggest in Europe. Follow port workers as they turn around one of the world’s largest container ships, the Cosco Glory, in just 35 hours. The pilot taps into a hi-tech ship-tracking system to avoid a collision with a tanker in the narrow entrance channel, a tugboat captain wrestles the Glory into dock with a revolutionary three-propeller design of tugboat, robotic cranes and trucks use hi-tech guidance systems to shift 60,000 tons of cargo and the port’s fire brigade set fire to a container to test a high-power water jet that can pierce metal walls to dowse the flames. Will these modern devices do what’s needed to get the Cosco Glory back to sea?
MEGA DAM BRAZIL
The world’s most powerful hydroelectric dam, Itaipu, lies on the jungle-covered border between Brazil and Paraguay. In São Paulo, 19 million people rely on the dam for 40% of their electricity. Follow Itaipu’s team of specialist workers on a day when a football match in the world’s third-largest city threatens to put a massive surge on the grid. As workers drive the dam’s generators up to maximum power to meet the demand, COUNTDOWN TO COLLISION reveals the key inventions that keep Itaipu running. From seepage traps that halt erosion inside the dam wall, to super-sized grilles that stop debris jamming the turbine wheels and more, will these engineering wonders come through for the workers of Itaipu?
METRO DE SAO PAULO
Every weekday morning a million commuters pour into the São Paulo metro, the world’s most crowded subway. Follow the hard-pressed team of metro workers as they race against the clock to get everyone to work on time. Overnight, a crack maintenance crew scans the track for faults using a technology more commonly used to scan pregnant women; as the trains start running, ingenious radio signalling replaces drivers, and squeezes more trains onto the track; at overcrowded stations, intelligent platform doors prevent crowd surges pushing people onto the rails; and to prevent a deadly fire, technicians fill a subway station with smoke to test the metro’s revolutionary smoke extractors.
TROLL A NORWAY
Troll A is one of the biggest gas platforms in the world. At 472 meters, it is taller than the Empire State Building and is the biggest structure ever moved across the surface of the earth. As an arctic weather system hits Western Europe, Troll A must double its gas supply in just 34 hours. Witness as the crew tackles critical challenges using seven ingenious inventions to meet their deadline and learn about the amazing engineering advances that make it possible to pump vast quantities of gas from a reservoir 1400 metres under the North Sea to homes thousands of kilometres away.
MEGA MINE AUSTRALIA
At 600 metres deep and nearly 4 kilometres long, Super Pit is the biggest open mine in Australia. Producing 4 million dollars of gold a day, it’s one of the biggest gold operations in the world. This episode follows the miners over the course of a week as they blast, crush and process the rock in one of the hottest places on the planet. To meet their target they must overcome a series of critical challenges, using super-sized machinery and ingenious engineering. Beneath the pit, there are 3,500 kilometres of old mine shafts that could give way at any time. So which technologies will enable them to shift 150,000 tonnes of rock a day in this dangerous environment?
AIRPORT UNITED KINGDOM
With 200,000 tonnes of freight passing through it every year, Stansted is one of Europe’s busiest cargo hubs. After snow blankets the airfield, workers must battle winter conditions to turn around a gigantic 747-400 cargo plane in just two hours. A unique laser-guided docking system helps the pilot park correctly, hydraulic lifting machines haul tonnes of cargo in and out of the hold, a truck with nozzle-loaded boom arms sweeps the runway to melt ice and a radar system gives the air traffic controllers an extra set of eyes to avert disaster. With the weather against them, today, more than ever, the workers of Stansted will depend on these inventions to help them avoid a COUNTDOWN TO COLLISION.
In the Arctic Circle, a highly advanced ship, the Timofey Guzhenko, risks heavy ice and treacherous conditions to reach the world’s Northernmost oil offloading platform. This vessel is an icebreaking oil tanker, and her crew of 25 have just five days to collect 70,000 tonnes of Russian Crude oil from a one-of-a-kind oil platform in the Barents Sea. However, between their starting point of Murmansk and their end goal lies 1,000km of Arctic Ocean and kilometres of ship-destroying ice. In the isolated, ice-covered oceans of the Arctic, will some key innovations help the crew of the Timofey Guzhenko accomplish their mission on time?
TREM DE CARGA
The world’s longest cargo train runs from the Carajás mine in Northern Brazil across 900 kilometres of remote forest and grassland to the port of São Luís. It carries iron ore destined for China. Follow the dynamic team of railway workers as they race against the clock to get the three kilometre-long train to the port on time. At a giant silo, workers use an ingenious weighing system to load the ore into the train’s 330 wagons; once underway, the driver uses radio signals to harness the power of four locomotives spread along the train; to climb the railway’s steepest hill, the heavy train needs a push from a laser-guided locomotive. To unload its 30,000 tonnes of ore, a rotary dumper must turn the whole train upside down.