The Anonymous Widower

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.


  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

How To Recycle A Hospital

The old Royal London Hospital is starting to emerge from its plastic chrysalis, as the new Whitechapel Civic Centre.

It is now eighteen years, since my granddaughter was born in the hospital with a congenital hernia of the diaphragm.

  • There were twenty-three people in the delivery room.
  • She was operated on within forty-eight hours by the incomparable Vanessa Wright.
  • She left hospital many weeks later.
  • Last year, she had her eighteenth birthday and entered the world of work.

A few years ago, I met one of the nurses, who’d looked after her in the hospital. On hearing of her successful life, she was exceedingly surprised. But also exceedingly happy!

But then success in life, is often down to those you meet! And my granddaughter happened to meet one of the best!

January 18, 2022 Posted by | Health | , , , | 1 Comment

The Operated On Left Eye Is Working Well

I have just completed The Times Deadly Killer Sudoku in forty minutes on the phone using only my left eye. It certainly works better than it did.

I’m actually doing most typing on my phone using the left eye as it is much better than the right.

The wonders of modern surgery. And all paid for by the NHS in a private hospital.


December 16, 2021 Posted by | Health | , , , | 1 Comment

Prioritising Patients

Homerton hospital is hoping to remove my gallstones on Thursday by endoscopy, so it’s just a fairly small procedure.

I do wonder if there is a shortage of nurses, doctors and other staff at the hospital caused by either the Covids or the fuel crisis, if some operations will be cancelled.

At no time, in the diagnostic process was I asked if I was in pain. Which I am not!

Surely, in the Age of Covid-19, where there is great uncertainty about predicting hospital capacity just a few weeks in the future, I should have been asked a few questions, so that urgent cases could be given priority if necessary.

As they must have been there for a few months causing me no trouble, surely a few extra weeks won’t make much difference to me.

September 27, 2021 Posted by | Health | , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Engineer Who Fixed His Own Heart

This story from the BBC’s web site is almost beyond belief, but it is totally true.  Here’s the intro.

As an engineer, Tal Golesworthy is no stranger to taking things apart, figuring out what the trouble is and putting them back together with the problem solved.

But for more than 30 years, he lived with a life-threatening issue that was less easy to fix.

That is, until he took an idea from the garden, combined it with some basic procedures borrowed from the aeronautical industry and came up with a “beautifully simple” solution to treat his own heart condition.

He then managed to convince surgeons to put it into him.

That was nine years ago, and he’s still here!

Perhaps we need to train doctors more in simple engineering techniques.

November 20, 2013 Posted by | Health | , | Leave a comment

Not One Of My Problems!

This story about treatment for varicose veins shows how a lot of medical treatments are going to get more hi-tech. This is the first bit.

People with varicose veins should be offered laser or heat treatment, say new guidelines for England and Wales.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) says, in most cases, surgery should be a last resort.

Both my parents had bad varicose veins, with my mother’s being particularly bad. She had them operated on at the old Highlands Hospital in Winchmore Hill in the mid-1950s.  The strange thing about that operation was that the surgeon was an Indian lady, who did her ward rounds in a sari. I don’t think, I actually saw the surgeon, as eleven-year-old children weren’t allowed to visit their parents in hospital in those days, but my father would recall if her surgery was as as good as her looks, then my mother would be fine.

It’s strange, but you don’t seem to see the awful varicose veins you did fifty years ago!

I certainly don’t seem to have inherited them from my parents!

July 24, 2013 Posted by | Health, News | , , | Leave a comment

Hip Transplants At Wigan

The BBC is running a story about the first hip transplants at Wrightington Hospital near Wigan in the 1960s. There’s a lot more in the Wikipedia entry for John Charnley, the surgeon who led the pioneering work.

At Liverpool University in the 1960s, I was in digs at Huyton.  My landlord’s daughter, Sheila Vaughan, was one of the nursing sisters at the hospital and told us about the work there.

Sheila had been a very good golfer, who’d played in the Curtis Cup.

November 23, 2012 Posted by | Health, Sport | , , , | Leave a comment

The Man With The Artificial Heart

This is definitely the good news story of today.

From what I can gather, the recipient is now able live a much more normal life until he can get a heart transplant.

My late wife, C, died of a squamous cell carnimona of the heart.  It just grew in her heart and strangled the life out of her.  She just lived only a few months after the diagnosis.

I got the impression at the time, that if she had been younger then they might have tried a transplant.  But I also know that if it had been offered she would have said no!

But after today’s news, if I was in the same state and they offered me an artificial heart for a few month’s life, I think I’d take it. In fact, I sometimes think that if by having the operation I had a high chance of not making it, but would help to advance knowledge, I’d take that risk. It might be better to die under the knife, than suffer a long-lingering death.

Not that this mongrel is thinking of going yet! There are too many windmills at which to tilt!

August 2, 2011 Posted by | Health, News | , | Leave a comment

They Come in Other Colours Too!

The picture shows a friend with a trussed finger after an operation.

A Finger Trussed in Pink

Apparently, if you have a similar need, you can have them in other colours, so macho men could have dark blue or black, Arsenal supporters dould have red, Ian Paisley could have orange and the Pope could have purple.

February 18, 2011 Posted by | Health | | Leave a comment