The Anonymous Widower

Brown Seaweed Could Remove 550 Million Tons Of Carbon

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

This may seem like a story that has arrived a few months early.

But the report does come from the respect Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology.

The research is detailed on this page on their web site, which is entitled Slime For The Cli­mate, De­livered By Brown Al­gae.

It is introduced by this sub-heading.

In form of fuc­oidan, brown al­gae could re­move up to 550 mil­lion tons of car­bon di­ox­ide from the at­mo­sphere every year.

Which is followed by this paragraph.

Brown algae take up large amounts of carbon dioxide from the air and release parts of the carbon contained therein back into the environment in mucous form. This mucus is hard to break down for other ocean inhabitants, thus the carbon is removed from the atmosphere for a long time, as researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology in Bremen now show. They reveal that the algal mucus called fucoidan is particularly responsible for this carbon removal and estimate that brown algae could thus remove up to 550 million tons of carbon dioxide from the air every year – almost the amount of Germany’s entire annual greenhouse gas emissions.

Note that fucoidan has a Wikipedia entry.

The page says this about brown algae.

Brown al­gae are true won­der plants when it comes to ab­sorb­ing car­bon di­ox­ide from the air.

It does seem to me that the Germans are on to something.

 

December 31, 2022 Posted by | Energy | , , , , | Leave a comment

National Ignition Facility Achieves Fusion Ignition

The title of this post, is the same as that of this press release from the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

This is the introductory paragraph.

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and DOE’s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) today announced the achievement of fusion ignition at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) — a major scientific breakthrough decades in the making that will pave the way for advancements in national defense and the future of clean power. On Dec. 5, a team at LLNL’s National Ignition Facility (NIF) conducted the first controlled fusion experiment in history to reach this milestone, also known as scientific energy breakeven, meaning it produced more energy from fusion than the laser energy used to drive it. This first-of-its-kind feat will provide unprecedented capability to support NNSA’s Stockpile Stewardship Program and will provide invaluable insights into the prospects of clean fusion energy, which would be a game-changer for efforts to achieve President Biden’s goal of a net-zero carbon economy.

BBC Radio Five is giving the story a high profile.

The breakthrough is also featured in this article on The Telegraph, which is entitled Nuclear Fusion: Scientists Announce Major Breakthrough That ‘Could Bring Limitless Clean Energy’.

I am 75 and ever since my teens there have been regular stories about limitless fusion energy.

But the history of nuclear fusion seems to be a continuing tale of one step forward and four steps back.

I can remember ZETA at Harwell, being announced with a similar fanfare in 1957.

December 13, 2022 Posted by | Energy | , , , , | Leave a comment

Scientists Set To Make A Bang In Nuclear Fusion ‘Breakthrough’

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

This is the caption under the very research looking picture at the top of the page.

Scientists at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory are expected to publish results of a controlled nuclear fusion experiment.

I shall report more, when the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory publishes their official press release.

 

December 12, 2022 Posted by | Energy | , , , | Leave a comment

UK Space Agency And NNL Work On World’s First Space Battery Powered By British Fuel

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

This is the sub-title.

The UK Space Agency and the National Nuclear Laboratory (NNL) are to collaborate on the world’s first space battery powered by Americium-241.

And these three paragraphs outline the project.

This work, commissioned and funded by the UK Space Agency from NNL, will be delivered in a new £19 million laboratory in Cumbria equipped with next-generation equipment and technology. It will deliver a sovereign supply of fuel for space batteries in the context of a global shortage, enabling the UK and its partners to pursue new space science and exploration missions.

Creating new highly-skilled jobs in the North West of England, it will drive innovation in radiochemistry and separations science and open a new market for the UK space sector.

Atomic space batteries, also known as Radioisotope Power Systems (RPSs), release heat as the radioactivity within them decays. The heat can be used directly to prevent spacecraft from freezing and it can be converted into electricity to power onboard systems. The batteries go on working for decades, without need for maintenance over the many years in which a spacecraft could be travelling.

These two paragraphs explain, why there is a need for a new type of atomic space batteries.

Considered ‘mission critical technologies’ by space agencies in the UK and around the world, all the Apollo missions had an atomic battery in tow, as has every rover that has gone to Mars. Until now, these have been powered by Plutonium-238, a radioisotope produced only in the US, where supply is limited, and Russia, so an alternative is urgently needed.

NNL, the UK’s national laboratory for nuclear fission, has been working on this endeavor since 2009, when its researchers first discovered that Americium-241, an alternative to Plutonium-238, is produced during the radioactive decay of used fuel from nuclear reactors and that it emits power for over 400 years.

With the supply plentiful – the new laboratory is being opened at NNL’s flagship Central Laboratory on the Sellafield site, home to the largest resource of Americium-241 available for extraction in the world – the new collaboration will turn a proven scientific concept into a fully-realised technology. It will be operational within the next four years and is expected to be first used on the European Space Agency’s Argonaut mission to the Moon and for future missions into deep space.

It would appear that Americium-241 has several advantages over Plutonium-238.

  • Plutonium-238 has supply problems
  • Who in their right mind, would buy a product like this from Russia or China?
  • The batteries have a life of 400 years.
  • There is plenty of suitable nuclear waste at Sellafield, from which Americium-241 can be extracted.

It looks like the first batteries could also be available in four years.

Aunt Margery

My late wife; C’s Aunt Margery was a lady, who needed a pacemaker. I seem to remember that after several of her pacemakers had run out of power and were replaced, and eventually she was fitted with a nuclear-powered pacemaker in the 1970s or 1980s.

This page on the Stanford University web site is entitled The History Of Nuclear Powered Pacemakers. It was written by Matthew DeGraw.

Many of these pacemakers in the 1960s and 1970s, were powered by Plutonium-238.

The last paragraph is entitled The Rise Of Lithium Battery Pacemakers And Fall Of Nuclear Pacemakers, where this is said.

Despite the often longer life-expectancies, nuclear pacemakers quickly became a part of the past when lithium batteries were developed. Not only did the technology improve, allowing for lighter, smaller, and programmable pacemakers, but doctors began to realize that this excessive longevity of nuclear pacemakers was excessive. Lithium pacemakers often last 10-15 years allowing for doctors to check in on their patients and replace either the batteries or the pacemakers themselves with new and improved technology as it is develops in those 10-15 year spans. While there are still several remaining patients with nuclear-powered pacemakers functioning in their bodies, it is likely that in the next few decades as these patients pass away, so will the once promising nuclear pacemakers.

Would the use of Americium-241 to power a nuclear pacemaker transform the economics of these devices?

I wonder, if there’s a cardiologist out there, who by chance reads this blog, who could answer my question!

 

December 9, 2022 Posted by | Energy, Health, Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Project To Develop 20+ MW Floating Offshore Wind Technology Kicks Off

This is the introductory paragraph.

December 2, 2022 Posted by | Energy | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Blood Testing At The Royal London Hospital

The Royal London Hospital is still trying to get to the bottom of my health incident, that I wrote about in The Hour Change Has Completely Knocked Me Out.

On Monday, I had a serious liver scan by ultrasound at Barts Hospital and today, I was phoned up by the Royal London to invite me to take a blood test to check against those that they took a couple of weeks ago.

They said to turn up any day before five and they would do it there and then.

As I was going past the hospital this afternoon, I turned up about two-thirty, without a prior appointment.

I logged myself into a queuing system, which was more McDonalds or Leon, than NHS and sat for about fifteen minutes, whilst the patients in front of me were tested.

As I sat there, I was approached by a doctor doing research. He asked if I would give a couple of extra vials of blood for his research.

As I knew that this would only delay me for a few more seconds, I said yes and filled in his form, which asked no important ethical questions.

Is the system in use at the Royal London Hospital research-friendly?

Suppose, a researcher is looking into the frequency of a particular gene in a population. They could just ask patients for a sample.

November 24, 2022 Posted by | Health | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

University Of Manchester And National Grid Team Up To Develop SF6-Free Retrofill Solution For Electricity Network

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

National Grid and the University of Manchester are to collaborate on a four-year project to develop a full-scale demonstrator at the Deeside Centre for Innovation, designed to test at scale how the UK can retrofill sulphur hexafluoride (SF6) across its network of high-voltage equipment.

Note.

  1. Sulphur hexafluoride (SF6) is a gas commonly used in the power industry to provide electrical insulation and arc interruption.
  2. Eighty percent of sulphur hexafluoride is used in the electricity industry.
  3. According to Wikipedia, sulphur hexafluoride has several important applications, including a medical one in eye surgery.
  4. But sulphur hexafluoride is a is a potent greenhouse gas with a global warming potential that is 25,200 times greater than CO2.

It certainly looks to be a good idea to see if the sulphur hexafluoride can be eliminated from electrical equipment and other uses, that may release the gas into the atmosphere.

These paragraphs from the press release outline the project.

The £1.9m project will see experts at Manchester help determine how National Grid can develop a retrofill solution to replace SF6 with an environmentally friendlier alternative without having to replace or otherwise modify the existing equipment.

This solution – to be demonstrated at National Grid’s test facility the Deeside Centre for Innovation – will mean National Grid can avoid the environmental impact and cost of replacing equipment otherwise fit for many more years’ service.

It is not the first time National Grid and the University of Manchester have teamed up on a project exploring SF6 alternatives – a previous initiative which concluded in 2020 is now up for an IET Engineering & Technology magazine innovation award for ‘Best Innovation in Net Zero and Sustainability’.

The press release also says this about the Deeside Centre for Innovation.

National Grid’s Deeside Centre for Innovation in North Wales is the first of its kind in Europe, where electricity network assets can be tested under real life conditions, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

It certainly seems that National Grid and Manchester University are on top of the problem and have the resources to achieve success in the project.

The Russian Attack On Ukraine

You may wonder what this has got to do with improving transformers and switchgear in Manchester and Wales.

Recently, the Russians have been targeting the Ukrainian electricity network. Are Ukrainian transformers and switchgear insulated with sulphur hexafluoride and if they are how of this potent global warming gas has been released into the atmosphere?

November 20, 2022 Posted by | Energy, Health | , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Five Million Britons Invited To Take Part In World’s Biggest Health Study

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

These two paragraphs outline the study.

Five million Britons are set to be invited to take part in one of the world’s most ambitious health projects as scientists seek ways to catch and treat disease earlier.

Our Future Health programme, a collaboration between the NHS, academics and the private sector, is an attempt to find ways to make a difference to people’s health sooner by monitoring millions of people as they age.

Note.

  1. Sir John Bell, Regius Professor of Medicine at Oxford will lead the project.
  2. Three million invitations are set to go out this autumn.
  3. The aim is to recruit five million participants by 2025.

Count me in!

 

October 24, 2022 Posted by | Health | , , | Leave a comment

Carbon-Neutral Concrete Prototype Wins €100k Architecture Prize For UK Scientists

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on the Architect’s Journal.

Under a picture of two white-coated scientists with their protective boots on concrete samples, the story and their invention is outlined.

A pair of PhD students at Imperial College London have won a global architecture prize for devising a groundbreaking method of creating carbon-neutral concrete

Material scientists Sam Draper and Barney Shanks landed the €100,000 2022 Obel Award with their ‘simple way’ to capture carbon from industrial production processes and create an end product that can eliminate the CO₂ footprint of concrete.

The prototype technology, dubbed Seratech, takes industrial CO₂ emissions directly from flues and produces a carbon-negative cement replacement material (silica). According to the scientists, when this is used in combination with Portland cement, the carbon capture associated with producing the silica means the concrete products can be zero carbon.

One of the products, we will need in the world is concrete and if we can make it in a carbon-neutral manner, then that will surely reduce worldwide carbon emissions.

The Technology Explained

This page on the Seratech website is entitled Our Technology.

It gives this description of the technology.

Seratech has developed a process that consumes olivine and waste CO₂ from flue gases and produces two products which both have significant value in construction.

Silica is produced which can be used as a supplementary cementitious material (SCM) in concrete meaning the amount of Portland cement in the concrete can be reduced by up to 40%. As the silica comes from a process that captures CO₂ it is “carbon negative” and the concrete can become carbon neutral.

Magnesium carbonate is produced that can be used to make a range of zero carbon construction materials and consumer products, including alternatives to building blocks and plasterboard.

The aim is for humanity to be able to continue building robust cities and infrastructure, but without the climate cost of traditional cement mixes and with the Seratech technology this goal is achievable!

Note that olivine in Europe is generally mined in Norway.

Replacement Of Steel By Concrete

Could we also replace steel in some applications with concrete?

In UK Cleantech Consortium Awarded Funding For Energy Storage Technology Integrated With Floating Wind, I talked about some of ground-breaking methods used by a company called RCAM Technologies to create infrastructure using 3D printing of concrete.

If Imperial’s concrete, which is called Seratech can be 3D printed, I can see lots of applications for the technology.

So you could kill two sources of large carbon emissions with one technology.

Conclusion

I have said on this blog before, that we will have to keep or even build more gas-fired power stations, as they can be an efficient source of pure carbon dioxide, that will be needed as a feedstock to create an increasing number of agricultural and building products.

October 10, 2022 Posted by | World | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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