The Anonymous Widower

Big London Hospital Was Close To Running Out Of Oxygen

The title of this post is the same as this article on  The Times.

With COVID-19 and all those ventilators and CPAP devices, this sounds like a tragedy about to unfold.

I also remembered a story told to me by a friend, who used to be the Chief Pharmacist at a London hospital.

Oxygen was one of their problems, as the tanks were in a small yard with gates opening on to a busy street, about two hundred metres, away from the hospital.

The problem was that illegal parkers would block the gates, so that delivery couldn’t be made.

Knowing my physics and the reliability of deliveries in parts of London, I thought on-site electrolysis might be a better idea. So I consulted my bible.

There on page 760, it is all described how water can be split into two molecules of hydrogen and one of oxygen by electrolysis.

ITM Power are the experts on electrolysis, so I sent them an e-mail and asked if they could make an electrolyser, that produced oxygen instead of hydrogen.

The reply came swiftly and confirmed, that they could make an electrolyser that supplied oxygen. They also said, that the oxygen was of a high purity.

Just Connect Electricity And Tap Water

All these electrolysers would need is supplies of electricity and tap water to create hydrogen and/or oxygen.

No trucks would be needed to deliver tonnes of liquid gases, which can be rather dangerous to move around city streets.

ITM Power’s hydrogen electrolysers are starting to appear in filling stations, so they can refuel hydrogen-powered vehicles.

One could be installed in a hospital to provide a continuous stream of pure oxygen, which could be piped into the current oxygen delivery system.

What To Do With The Hydrogen

The hydrogen electrolysers produce oxygen as a by-product, which I suspect is just vented to the atmosphere!

But you can’t vent large amounts of hydrogen to the atmosphere, as it is an inflammable gas!

However, you could do either of the following options.

  1. Connect it to a hydrogen fuel pump to refuel hydrogen vehicles.
  2. Inject the hydrogen into the gas main, as is regularly done with hydrogen produced by surplus renewable electricity.

I prefer the first option, as it could mean that health-care could start to use hydrogen-powered ambulances, that are zero carbon and pollution-free.

Perhaps not an appropriate saying for the industry, but it would genuinely kill two birds with one stone.

 

 

 

April 3, 2020 - Posted by | Health, Transport | , , , , , ,

3 Comments »

  1. Very interesting and very practical, and more environment-friendly than trucking big gas bottles around town.

    On a trip round Swindon Works decades ago I was told that oxygen produced there was the highest purity in the UK – better than BOC’s. Not sure what the GWR and WR needed such high-purity oxygen for, though.

    Comment by Stephen Spark | April 3, 2020 | Reply

  2. Is the Nelkon/Parker book still in use ? Nelkon was my physics teacher for both O- and A- level exams, and of course we all passed with excellent grades ;=)

    Comment by Simon | April 3, 2020 | Reply

    • I’m 72 and mine is a 1977 Edition. I probably bought it about 1985!

      So you went to William Ellis School!

      Comment by AnonW | April 3, 2020 | Reply


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