The Anonymous Widower

Is There A Link Between Historic Coal Mining And COVID-19?

In Air Pollution May Be ‘Key Contributor’ To Covid-19 Deaths – Study, I wrote about the link between current pollution and COVID-19, that had been shown by European researchers.

Today, in The Times, there is an article, which is entitled Pressure To Free London From Lockdown As Cases Fall.

It talks about the areas, that are recording the most new cases of confirmed COVID-19 in the last fortnight.

The article says this.

Only one area south of Birmingham is in the 20 local authorities with the most coronavirus cases in the past two weeks, while those with fewest are clustered in the south, an analysis of official figures by The Times shows.

That local authority in the top twenty is Ashford.

i have looked at all the data in The Times and this table shows the number of cases in the last fortnight in decreasing order.

  • Birmingham – 266
  • County Durham – 209
  • Manchester – 184
  • Bradford – 168
  • Sandwell – 164
  • Wigan – 156
  • Shropshire – 155
  • Cheshire West and Chester – 151
  • Sheffield – 144
  • Cheshire East – 135
  • Leeds – 138
  • East Riding Of Yorkshire 129
  • Barnsley – 126
  • Tameside – 124
  • Doncaster – 121
  • Ashford – 118
  • Stoke – 117
  • Wirral – 107
  • Trafford – 102
  • Folkestone and Hythe – 99
  • Leicester – 99
  • Bolton – 94
  • North Somerset – 94
  • Oldham – 93
  • Stockton-on-Tees – 93
  • Oxford – 90

Note.

  1. Why is Cheshire in the top half of the list?
  2. There seem to be a lot of coal mining areas on the list.
  3. Ashford and Folkestone and Hythe are even close to the former Kent coalfield.

I’d love to see Welsh, Scottish and Northern Irish data added to this list!

Is Coal A Factor?

Given the large number of coal-mining areas featuring in my list, I very much feel that there should be a serious analysis to see if working in the mines or growing up in a coal-mining area, is a factor related to the chances of catching COVID-19.

I should say, that my only personal memories of British coal mines working, was to see the mines in Kent, as we drove to see by uncle in Broadstairs. They were filthy places.

The Cheshire Paradox

Cheshire doesn’t have any coal mining, but it does have a lot of chemical works and oil refineries along the Mersey, many of which use Cheshire’s most valuable natural resource – salt.

When I worked at ICI, I was told that there was enough salt underneath the green fields of Cheshire to last several thousand years, at the current rate of extraction.

There was also the ICI office joke about pensions.

You would get a good pension from ICI, as the pension scheme was well-funded and also because so many pensioners, after a lifetime of working amongst all the smells and dusts of a chemical works, which gave the lungs a good clear out, didn’t live long in the fresh air of normal life and caught every cold, cough and flu doing the rounds.

The three Cheshire areas have these numbers of total confirmed cases per 100,000 residents.

  • Cheshire East – 304
  • Cheshire West and Chester – 312
  • Wirral – 378

These compare closely to nearby Liverpool with 319.

But look at these figures of a similar county around London, that from personal experience is similar to Cheshire.

  • East Hertfordshire – 176
  • North Hertfordshire – 171

So have all the chemicals in the historic Cheshire air, softened up the population for COVID-19?

I used the word historic, as pollution in the seventies in Cheshire/Merseyside was much higher, than it is today.

 

 

May 23, 2020 Posted by | Health, World | , , , | 3 Comments

Cadent Launches Report Mapping Out Routes To Hydrogen Fuelled Vehicles On UK Roads

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

This is the first paragraph.

A roadmap using hydrogen to decarbonise transport, particularly commercial transport, in the North West of the UK, has been unveiled by the country’s leading gas distribution network Cadent.

The article makes some points about hydrogen-powered transport.

  • Using Cadent’s network to deliver hydrogen, rather than tube trailers, massively reduces the cost and makes fuel cell electric cars (FCEVs) available to the general public for around the same price as a battery electric vehicle or a conventional diesel car.
  • FCEVs can travel further than battery electric vehicles and take the same time to refuel as a conventional petrol car.
  • Grid-supplied hydrogen is the most cost-effective way of supplying hydrogen transport fuel at the required volume – up to six times cheaper than if delivered by trailer and 70 per cent cheaper than electrolysis.

Cadent‘s interest in all this, is not about selling gas, as their interest and income is totalling in transporting gas from producers to end users. So they don’t care whether they transport natural gas or hydrogen.

Hydrogen Storage

The article also discloses plans of INOVYN, a wholly owned subsidiary of INEOS, to develop a grid-scale hydrogen storage facility.

It will be in salt caverns in mid-Cheshire.

It will be able to hold 2,000 tonnes of hydrogen.

It is cheaper to store hydrogen in salt caverns, than on the surface.

The salt caverns have been used to store gas for decades.

This is a quote from the INOYN spokesman.

Storage is a vital component of delivering a viable hydrogen energy system in the UK.

I only had an indirect quick glimpse underground, when I worked at ICI in the area around 1970, but ICI’s salt expert, said they had enough salt in Cheshire to last 9,000 years at the current rate of extraction.

Salt in Cheshire, is a unique geological formation, that is very valuable to the UK and it looks like in the future, thar could enable hydrogen power.

Hydrogen Generation

The hydrogen will still need to be produced. Wikipedia has an entry caslled Hydrogran Production, which is fairly dismissive of electrolysis.

But in my view, hydrogen could be produced by electrolysis using wind power, as other methods like steam reforming of methane produce carbon-dioxide.

I particularly like the idea of building wind farms in clusters around offshore gas platforms, that have extracted all the gas from the fields, they were built to serve.

  • Instead of running electricity cables to the wind farms,  hydrogen is produced by electrolysis on the platform and this is transported to the shore using the same gas infrastructure, that brought the natural gas onshore.
  • This could enable wind-farms to be developed much further offshore.
  • If carbon capture is ever successfully made to work, the existing gas pipe could also be used to transfer the carbon dioxide offshore for storage in worked-out gas fields.
  • The pipe between platform and shore could easily be made reversible, carrying hydrogen one way and carbon dioxide the other.

All of the technology required would also appear to be fully developed.

Conclusion

I am convinced that in the next few years, a hydrogen gas network can be created in parts of the UK.

The North West has advantages in becoming one of the first parts of the UK to have an extensive hydrogen network.

  • It has the means to produce hydrogen gas.
  • It has large wind farms in Liverpool Bay.
  • There are worked-out gas fields, that might in the future be used for carbon storage.
  • If INOVYN can store large quantities of hydrogen, this is a big advantage.

The biggest problem would be converting large numbers of houses and commercial premises from natural gas to hydrogen.

But, we’ve been through that process before, when we changed from town gas to natural gas in the 1960s and 1970s.

Should We Remove Gas From Our Houses?

I only use gas for heating.

  • I feel that naked flames are not a good idea to have anywhere near people, as they can produce oxides of nitrgen, that causes health problems.
  • Gas cookers are also a major cause of household fires.
  • Technology is moving against cooking with gas, as more more to electric induction hobs.
  • If you are fitting a new gas boiler, make sure it can be connected to hydrogen.

When I buy my next property, it will be all electric.

 

June 7, 2019 Posted by | Transport, World | , , , , , , , | 9 Comments