The Anonymous Widower

Why A Lucky Few May Help The Rest Of Us Beat Disease

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article in The Times.

This is the sub-title.

A British biotech firm believes patients who defy odds could hold the key in their blood.

These three paragraphs introduce the article.

Patient 82 should be dead. At the age of 63 he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. In most cases, he would not have lasted a year. But seven years on, patient 82 is alive. Not merely alive — thriving.

He enjoys gardening. He likes seeing his grandchildren. He enjoys life.

How? The answer, a British biotech company believes, could lie in his blood. Now, with the help of dozens of other anonymous patients, all of whom have defied their cancer prognoses, they hope to find it.

Note, that the company is Alchemab Therapeutics.

The article got me thinking about myself.

I belong to a group of people, who are twenty-five percent less likely to suffer from cancer according to peer-reviewed research at Nottingham University.

I am coeliac and adhere to a strict gluten-free diet.

There may be other benefits too!

I have not had a serious dose of the covids, although I may have had a very mild case at the beginning of 2020 after I shared a train with a large number of exuberant Chinese students, who had recently arrived at Manchester Airport and were going to their new University across the Pennines.

I have also since found at least another seventy coeliacs, who have avoided serious doses of the covids.

Research From The University Of Padua

This paper on the US National Library of Medicine, which is from the University of Padua in Italy.

The University followed a group of 138 patients with coeliac disease, who had been on a gluten-free diet for at least six years, through the first wave of the Covid-19 pandemic in Padua.

This sentence, sums up the study.

In this analysis we report a real life “snapshot” of a cohort of CeD patients during the SARS-CoV-2 outbreak in Italy, all followed in one tertiary centre in a red area of Northern Italy. Our data show, in accordance with Emmi et al., the absolute absence of COVID-19 diagnosis in our population, although 18 subjects experienced flu-like symptoms with only one having undergone naso-pharyngeal swab.

It says that no test subject caught Covid-19, in an admittedly smallish number of patients.

But it reinforces my call for more research into whether if you are a diagnosed coeliac on a long-term gluten-free diet, you have an immune system, that gives you a degree of protection from the Covids.

The Times article mentions the immune system.

I believe my immune system to be strong after the reaction I had to the Astra Zeneca vaccine. I didn’t feel well to say the least after my Astra Zeneca vaccine and my GP and other doctors felt that it could be due to my immune system, thinking that the chimpanzee virus-based vaccine was a danger and attacking it.

Significantly, I had no reaction to the second dose. So had my immune system recognised the vaccine as a friend not a foe?

My son, who my late wife was sure was an undiagnosed coeliac, died of pancreatic cancer at just 37.

How did my late wife know? Don’t question her intuition and also she felt that my son and myself felt the same to her touch.

It should be noted that my son’s daughter was born with a Congenital hernia of the Diaphragm. Congenital defects can happen to people, who have a coeliac father.

At the age of 20, my granddaughter is fine now, after heroic surgery at the Royal London Hospital, at just a few days old.

December 27, 2022 Posted by | Health | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Making Carbon Dioxide Into Protein For Innovative Animal Feed

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

These are the first three paragraphs.

It’s common knowledge that proteins, a key component of human nutrition, are also essential for making animal feeds. Less well known is the uncomfortable fact that much of the protein we feed animals in Europe leads to deforestation and overfishing worldwide.

Biotechnology start-up Deep Branch have designed a biochemical transformation process that turns carbon dioxide (CO2) into a protein-rich powder for animals to eat.

The Deep Branch process converts carbon dioxide into a powder, called Proton, which has around 70% protein content. This is much higher than natural soy, which has around 40%.

Note.

  1. The technology is the brainchild of Peter Rowe, a PhD graduate in molecular biology of Nottingham University in the UK.
  2. Deep Branch appears to be a well-backed Anglo-Dutch company.
  3. Their backers are European and British household names and institutions.
  4. Drax, who have plenty of carbon dioxide, are also backers.

I believe that even if Deep Branch doesn’t succeed, then someone else will, with this technology.

October 19, 2022 Posted by | Food, World | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Coeliac Disease And Atrial Fibrillation

I am 75 and coeliac and I had or have atrial fibrillation. Cardiologists tell me that, the atrial fibrillation led to my stroke in 2011.

I should also say, that my father was an undiagnosed coeliac and he died from a stroke younger than I am now.

I typed the title of this post into Doctor Google.

I found this paper on Cureus, which is entitled Celiac Disease and Risk of Atrial Fibrillation: A Meta-Analysis and Systematic Review.

I will show two paragraphs from the Abstract,

This is the Introduction.

Several studies have found celiac disease may be associated with a variety of cardiac manifestations. Atrial fibrillation (AF) is one of the most common arrhythmias that can cause significant morbidity. However, the risk of atrial fibrillation in patients with celiac disease according to epidemiological studies remains unclear. The aim of this meta-analysis study is to assess the risk of atrial fibrillation in patients diagnosed with celiac disease compared to controls.

And this is the Conclusion.

A significant association between celiac disease and risk of atrial fibrillation was reported in this study. There is a 38% increased risk of atrial fibrillation. Additional studies are needed to clarify the mechanistic link between atrial fibrillation and celiac disease. Some of the limitations of this study are that all were observational studies, some were medical registry-based and there was high heterogeneity between studies.

One of the paper’s conclusions is more research needs to be done.

I know that I have a supercharged immune system, in that it seems to protect me from flu and the dreaded covids and it gave the AstraZeneca vaccine a good kicking. Research from Nottingham University has also shown, that coeliacs on a gluten-free diet have a 25 % lower risk of cancer compared to the general population.

So I asked Doctor Google if there was any link between the immune system and atrial fibrillation.

I found this paper on PubMed, which is entitled The Role Of Immune Cells In Atrial Fibrillation.

This was the Abstract.

Atrial fibrillation (AF) is the most common sustained arrhythmia, but its mechanisms are poorly understood. Recently, accumulating evidence indicates a link between immune response and AF, but the precise mechanism remains unclear. It should be noticed that the relationship between immune response and AF is complex. Whether immune response is a cause or a result of AF is unclear. As the functional unit of the immune system, immune cells may play a vital role in the immunological pathogenesis of AF. In this review, we briefly highlight the evidence on relationships between immune cells and AF, and discuss their potential roles in AF pathogenesis. We hope this review could provide new orientation and enlightenment for further research on AF mechanism.

One of the paper’s conclusions is more research needs to be done.

Conclusion

I feel a lot of research concerning coeliacs, their immune systems and atrial fibrillation should be done and this could lead to a better understanding of atrial fibrillation.

 

September 28, 2022 Posted by | Health | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Drax To Pilot More Pioneering New Carbon Capture Technology

The title of this post, is the same as that of this press release from Drax.

This is the first paragraph.

Renewable energy pioneer Drax has partnered with the University of Nottingham and Promethean Particles to trial a pioneering new bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) process at its North Yorkshire power station.

Normally, carbon capture from the flue gas of a power station uses a liquid solvent, which dissolves the carbon dioxide.

However, the process that Drax are trialling, uses porous compounds called metal–organic frameworks (MOFs) to absorb the carbon dioxide.

This page on the Promethean Particles web site described how their carbon-capture works.

Traditional solvent-based carbon capture systems require a significant amount of energy to regenerate the carbon-capturing material. In power generation applications, estimates put this energy penalty at up to 35% of the power station’s output. Metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) capture carbon mainly through physical, not chemical means. This “trapping” process requires lower energy inputs to regenerate the MOFs and can therefore help achieve more energy-efficient carbon capture. By using MOF-based carbon capture, more of the power generated can go where it was intended, lowering the price of energy for consumers and CAPEX for the power generators.

Note.

  1. It is a physical rather than a chemical process.
  2. It is more energy efficient than traditional carbon-capture.

This Drax graphic from the press release, shows how this process can be incorporated into a power plant..

Note.

  1. The trial will last for two months and will be hosted within Drax’s BECCS incubation hub at its North Yorkshire Power Station.
  2. Metal Organic Frameworks are a unique class of solid sorbents offering lower operational costs and reducing potential environmental impacts.

Work to build BECCS at Drax could get underway as soon as 2024, with the creation of thousands of jobs.

Fifty years ago, I spent several months at ICI looking at the mathematics of different numbers and sizes of vessels of in a proposed chemical plant, to optimise the cost of the plant.

  • I suspect a similar analysis could be applied to this process.
  • It would surely be very suitable for Drax, whose main power station has four units fuelled by biomass and another fuelled by natural gas.
  • Are two columns containing MOF, the optimum number?
  • The calculation could involve a lot of permutations and combinations, which I’ve used to advantage for over fifty years.

I will follow this trial with interest.

Conclusion

This is another application of advanced physics and chemistry.

If Promethean Particles ever decide to go the crowdfunding route, I would look seriously at a small investment.

June 21, 2022 Posted by | Energy, Finance | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Cheesecake Energy Secures £1M Seed Investment

The title of this post, is the same as that of this Press Release from Cheesecake Energy.

This is the first paragraph.

Cheesecake Energy Ltd (CEL), a Nottingham, UK-based energy storage startup today announced it has raised £1M in Seed funding to fuel the development of its manufacturing capabilities and support product development of its eTanker storage system. The round was led by Imperial College Innovation Fund alongside prominent investors including Perivoli Innovations, former Jaguar Chairman, Sir John Egan and other angel investors.

And the third and fourth paragraphs describe the technology.

The company’s unique technology, dubbed eTanker, takes established compressed air energy storage concepts and revolutionises them by storing two-thirds of the electricity in the form of heat which can be stored at far lower cost. To store the energy, electric motors are used to drive compressors, which deliver high pressure air & heat into storage units. When the electricity is required, the high-pressure air and heat is passed back through the same compressor (but now working as a turbine), which turns a generator to produce electricity. The company believes its system will cut the cost of storing energy by 30-40% and offers a solution that can be used in several sectors including electric vehicle (EV) charging, heavy industry and renewable energy generation.

The startup has filed 10 patents for stationary, medium-long-duration, long-lifetime energy storage technology. It is based on innovative design work by CEL, a spin-out from over a decade of research at University of Nottingham. Employing circular economy principles, truck engines are converted into zero-emission electrical power-conversion machines for putting energy into and out of storage. Its technology brings together the low cost of thermal storage, the turnaround efficiencies of compressed air energy storage, together with the long life and robustness of a mechanical system, making a game-changing technology in a modular containerised package.

It all sounds feasible to me and if I’d have been asked, I’d have chipped in some of my pension.

The system in some ways can almost be considered a hybrid system that merges some of the principles of Highview Power’s CRYOBattery and Siemens Gamesa’s ETES system of heating large quantity of rock. Although, Cheesecake’s main storage medium is comptressed air, as opposed to the liquid air of the CRYOBattery.

One market they are targeting is the charging of fleets of electric vehicles like buses and from tales I have heard about operators of large numbers of electric buses, this could be a valuable market.

I also noted that the Press Release mentions a National Grid report, that says we will need 23 GW of energy storage by 2030. Assuming we will need to store enough electricity to provide 23 GW for five hours, that will be 115 GWh of energy storage.

At present, pumped storage is the only proven way of storing tens of GWh of energy. In 1984, after ten years of construction, Dinorwig power station (Electric Mountain) opened to provide 9.1 GWh of storage with an output of 1.8 GW.

So ideally we will need another thirteen Electric Mountains. But we don’t have the geography for conventional pumped storage! And as Electric Mountain showed, pumped storage systems are like Rome and can’t be built in a day.

Energy storage funds, like Gresham House and Gore Street are adding a large number of lithium-ion batteries to the grid, but they will only be scratching the surface of the massive amount of storage needed.

Note that at the end of 2020, Gresham House Energy Storage Fund had a fleet of 380 MWh of batteries under management, which was an increase of 200 MWh on 2019. At this rate of growth, this one fund will add 2GWh of storage by 2030. But I estimate we need 115 GWh based on National Grid’s figures.

So I can see a small number of GWh provided by the likes of Gresham House, Gore Street and other City funds going the same route.

But what these energy storage funds have proved, is that you have reliable energy storage technology, you can attract serious investment for those with millions in the piggy-bank.

I believe the outlook for energy storage will change, when a technology or engineering company proves they have a battery with a capacity of upwards of 250 MWh, with an output of 50 MW, that works reliably twenty-four hours per day and seven days per week.

I believe that if these systems are as reliable as lithium-ion, I can see no reason why City and savvy private investors money will not fund these new technology batteries, as the returns will be better than putting the money in a deposit account, with even the most reputable of banks.

At the present time, I would rate Highview Power’s CRYOBattery and Siemens Gamesa’s ETES system as the only two battery systems anywhere near to a reliable investment, that is as safe as lithium-ion batteries.

  • Both score high on being environmentally-friendly.
  • Both rely on techniques, proven over many years.
  • Both don’t need massive sites.
  • Both systems can probably be maintained and serviced in nearly all places in the world.
  • Highview Power have sold nearly a dozen systems.
  • Highview Power are building a 50 MW/250 MWh plant in Manchester.
  • Siemens Gamesa are one of the leaders in renewable energy.
  • Siemens Gamesa have what I estimate is a 130 MWh pilot plant working in Hamburg, which I wrote about in Siemens Gamesa Begins Operation Of Its Innovative Electrothermal Energy Storage System.

Other companies are also targeting this market between lithium-ion and pumped storage. Cheesecake Energy is one of them.

I believe they could be one of the winners, as they have designed a system, that stores both compressed air and the heat generated in compressing it. Simple but efficient.

I estimate that of the 115 GWh of energy storage we need before 2030, that up to 5 GWh could be provided by lithium-ion, based on the growth of installations over the last few years.

So we will need another 110 GWh of storage.

Based on  50 MW/250 MWh systems, that means we will need around 440 storage batteries of this size.

This picture from a Google Map shows Siemens Gamesa’s pilot plant in Hamburg.

I estimate that this plant is around 130 MWh of storage and occupies a site of about a football pitch, which is one hectare.

I know farmers in Suffolk, who own more land to grow wheat, than would be needed to accommodate all the batteries required.

Conclusion

I believe that National Grid will get their 23 GW of energy storage.

 

 

September 28, 2021 Posted by | Energy Storage | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Fall In Covid Infection Rates A Pleasant Surprise, Says Adviser

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

The adviser who is pleasantly surprised is Mike Tildesley of the University of Warwick.

I am not surprised that Mike Tildesley is pleasantly surprised.

I have successfully built mathematical models on computers for over fifty years, and since the pandemic started I have been pursuing my own mining of UK, WHO and Wikipedia data and peer-reviewed scientific papers from sources all over the world.

Several scientists have said, that an individual’s immune system is important, when it comes to fighting the covids.

I am coeliac on a long-term gluten-free diet and we as a group have a strong immune system. This probably explains, why we are 25 % less likely to suffer from cancer, than the general population. This fact is not from the Gwyneth Paltrow School of Quack Science, but from JVT’s alma mata; Nottingham University.

It has also been shown by the University of Padua, who followed a group of coeliacs on a long-term gluten-free diet, that they did very well during the first wave of the virus in Padua, with no serious cases reported.

Look at the figures for Cambodia, which has very low figures. They have had just 22 deaths and they have a fatality rate of 0.78% according to Wikipedia. Our rate on a similar basis is 2.94 %.

Can their gluten-free diet be the reason?

I’ve also heard verified stories of groups of immigrants doing well, as they have not been seduced by Western junk food and are sticking to traditional diets.

I think there are a large number of people out there like coeliacs on a long-term gluten-free diet, who because of their diet or lifestyle are not going to get the virus and act like moderators do in a nuclear power station to slow the reaction. So they are slowing the transmission of the virus. We have already seen how some religious groups and types of behaviour have accelerated the spread of the virus, so why can’t groups exist that slow the rate of spread?

Hence Mike Tildesley’s pleasant surprise!

I have not found any UK-based scientific research on how coeliacs are faring in the pandemic and the charity Coeliac-UK has said nothing except Keep Calm And Carry On!

Let’s hope the good scientists of Padua are continuing to follow their coeliacs through successive waves of the pandemic!

We need more research now!

April 6, 2021 Posted by | Health | , , , | Leave a comment

A Slight Problem With Covid-19 Vaccination

I had my first AZ vaccine five weeks ago. I have had a slight allergic reaction around the injection spot, as I did with a pneumococcal injection a few months ago.

I am coeliac on a long term gluten-free diet, which means my immune system is probably very strong. Peer-reviewed research at Nottingham University has shown that coeliacs on this diet, do have a 25 % less chance of getting cancer.

I’m no medic, but do sponsor cancer research, and like many I suspect, I am very familiar with how the AZ vaccine uses viral-vector techniques. I suspect my immune system could be reacting to the carrier.

I suspect, we’ll see a few problems like this and some other more serious problems, but I’m fairly sure they can be solved. I might be better with an mRNA vaccine.

February 26, 2021 Posted by | Health | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Cheesecake Energy Receives Investment From The University Of Nottingham

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

Cheesecake Energy Limited (CEL) today announced it has received investment from the University of Nottingham to support UK-wide pilot programmes for the company’s energy storage solution.

Thse two paragraphs are a brief description of the company, their technology and what they do.

Cheesecake Energy Limited is a fast-growing startup developing energy storage at 30-40% lower cost than the current market leader, lithium ion batteries. Its system uses compressed air and thermal energy storage to achieve high efficiency, long lifetime and dramatically lower environmental impact. 

Founded in 2016, the company has already established itself within the Nottingham, and wider East Midlands energy ecosystem — having secured initial interest from local councils and bus services for pilot programmes. The company is currently designing a 150 kW / 750 kWh prototype system for completion in Q4 2020 which will be deployed with a local bus depot for charging of electric buses using renewable energy.

This is the home page of their web site, which proudly announces.

The Greenest Battery In The World

We’ll see and hear that slogan many times in the next few years.

A few of my thoughts on the company.

Cheesecake Energy’s Technology

Cheesecake Energy says it uses compressed air and thermal energy storage to achieve high efficiency, long lifetime and dramatically lower environment impact.

Three other companies also use or may use compressed air to store energy.

As Cheesecake appear to be using a thermal energy storage, have they found a unique way to create another type of compressed air storage?

Battery Sizes

How do the sizes of the three companies batteries compare?

  • Cheesecake Energy prototype – 150 kW – 750 kWh – five hours
  • Form Energy for Great River Energy – 1MW – 150 MWh – 150 hours
  • Highview Power for Vermont – 50MW – 400 MWh – 8 hours
  • Hydrostor for South Australia – 50+MW – 4-24+ hours

The Cheesecake Energy prototype is the smallest battery, but Highview Power built a 750 KWh prototype before scaling up.

Note.

  1. The first figure is the maximum power output of the battery.
  2. The second figure is the capacity of the battery.
  3. The third figure is the maximum delivery time on full power.
  4. The capacity for Hydrostor wasn’t given.

The figures are nicely spread out, which leas me to think, that depending on your power needs, a compressed air battery can be built to satisfy them.

Charging Electric Buses

Buses like this Alexander Dennis Enviro200EV electric bus are increasingly seen in the UK.

And they all need to be charged!

Cheesecake Energy say that their prototype will be deployed with a local bus depot for charging of electric buses using renewable energy.

  • An electric bus depot should be a good test and demonstration of the capabilities of their battery and its technology.
  • Note that according to this data sheet of an Alexander Dennis Enviro200EV, which is a typical single-decker electric bus, the bus is charged by BYD dual plug 2×40kW AC charging, which gives the bus a range of up to 160 miles.
  • With a 150 kW output could Cheesecake’s prototype charge two buses at the same time and several buses during a working day?
  • Would DC charging as used by Vivarail’s charging system for trains be an alternative?

To me, it looks like Cheesecake are showing good marketing skills.

I do wonder if this size of charger could make the finances of electric buses more favourable.

Suppose, a bus company had a fleet of up to a dozen diesel single-decker buses running services around a city or large town.

  • How much would they spend on electricity, if they replaced these buses with electric ones?
  • Would being able to use cheaper overnight energy to charge buses in the day, be more affordable?
  • Would electric buses run from renewable electricity attract passengers to the services?

These arguments for electric buses would also apply for a company running fleets of vans and small trucks.

To me, it looks like Cheesecake are showing good engineering/marketing skills, by designing a product that fits several markets.

 

 

May 11, 2020 Posted by | Energy Storage | , , , , , , | 3 Comments

The Robin Hood Line In Nottingham

This Google Map shows the Southern end of the Robin Hood Line as it connects to Nottingham station.

southrobinhood

Note the triangular junction towards the bottom of the map.

  • The line to the East goes into Nottingham station.
  • The line to the West goes to Beeston and eventually to London. In a few years time, it will go to the East Midland Hub station for HS2.
  • The line to the North is the Robin Hood Line and the Erewash Valley Line.

The \Erewash Valley Line splits to the West, from the Robin Hood Line just off the top of the map to the North of Nottingham University’s Jubilee Campus.

It is worth looking at services that go between these two branches and Nottingham station.

Langley Mill station on the Erewash Valley Line has the following services.

  • One train per hour (tph) between Nottingham and Leeds.
  • A few trains per day between Liverpool and Nottingham.
  • Some trains between Sheffield and London stop.

Passengers though are expected to take the infrequent service to Nottingham for onward trains.

On the 2nd of April, Ilkeston station will open on the Erewash Valley Line between Nottingham and Langley Mill.

Hucknall station on the Robin Hood Line has two hourly services.

Plans also exist for a branch to Ollerton, so this might change the service pattern. But there is no more than a total of four or five trains per hour in both directions.

All of these services go round the North-East chord of the junction and thus connect Nottingham University’s Jubilee Campus and  Nottingham station

But there are no stations along this line, although there used to be one at Radford.

In A Look At New Station Projects, I came across references to stations at Faraday Road and Lenton.

Both locations are on this section of line and it would seem logical that the more Northerly location would be ideal to serve the Jubilee Campus.

If only the local trains stopped, it would have the following services.

  • 1-2 tph to Ilkeston, Langley Mill and Alfreton
  • 2 tph to Hucknall, Kirkby-in-Ashfield and Mansfield
  • 3-4 tph to Nottingham.

Other questions and issues are raised.

  • Would a second station to the South nearer to the triangular junction be worthwhile?
  • Could the Nottingham Express Transit. have an interchange with the trains the Robin Hood Line?
  • Could the Nottingham Express Transit call both campuses of the University of Nottingham?
  • In future could 1-2 tph go to the HS2 station at East Midland Hub?

It does appear that there is scope for improving connectivity in the Western Part of the City Centre.

 

February 7, 2017 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , | 1 Comment