Tuesday, 10 November 2020

Seventh Norman Lloyd Scholar announced

Cara Watkins (pictured below) has been selected as the seventh recipient of a Dr Norman C. Lloyd Scholarship at Cardiff University. Cara has just started her first year at Cardiff on a MCheM degree course. The Norman Lloyd Scholarship is given to a new student in the Cardiff School of Chemistry who is of high academic standing and resident in Wales.

Cara was absolutely delighted to be selected for the award.

"I am very grateful to be selected as the beneficiary of the Dr Norman C Lloyd Scholarship for this year," says Cara. "As an aspiring chemist I believe this will help me significantly invest in the resources I need to complete my degree. It is an honour to be associated with Dr Norman C Lloyd as he has achieved many great things and is an inspiration for Welsh students."

"I first started to consider a career in chemistry after watching a detective drama when I was younger," she continues. "It was through this that I was introduced to how chemistry is much more than just reactions and elements and opened my eyes to how chemistry can be used in areas outside of research science. Ever since then I've dreamt of becoming a forensic scientist and I believe a degree in chemistry will bring me closer to achieving this. I'm sure that the skills and experience I gain through my degree will play a pivotal role in my success in becoming a CSI."

Our best wishes to Cara and our congratulations on her selection for the scholarship. We will hope to follow her progress with interest and wish her every success for the future.

The scholarship

The Norman Lloyd scholarship was set up by RSC Belgium in collaboration with Norman’s family and Cardiff University in memory of our old friend and supporter Norman Lloyd. Norman was himself a student at an institution that is now part of the university. The funds raised provide an annual scholarship of £1,000 for an undergraduate student, usually in their first year of study, at the Cardiff School of Chemistry.

Monday, 2 November 2020

Sixth Norman Lloyd Scholar report is in!

Annabel Hendley-Jones (pictured below), the sixth recipient of a Dr NormanC. Lloyd Scholarship at Cardiff University, completed her first year of her MCheM degree in Chemistry at the university and she has submitted an end of year report. The Norman Lloyd Scholarship is given to a new student to the Cardiff School of Chemistry who are of high academic standing and resident in Wales.

What degree are you undertaking and why did you choose the course here?

Currently, I am in my second year studying Chemistry (MChem) at Cardiff University. I chose to undertake chemistry as a degree as it incorporates many appreciated skills such as critical and analytical thinking, a strong dedicated work ethic which allows you to be composed in tough situations, academic and practical strengths and knowledgeable about a wide range of specialties. I chose to do the degree at Cardiff University due to its state-of-the-art laboratories, lecturers, research projects, investment for the future and sandwich year placement opportunities which all stood out to me more than any other university I considered. Since coming to study here in September 2019 it has exceeded all expectations.

What’s the best thing about studying at Cardiff?

The best thing about studying in Cardiff is the strong sense of a community in and around the university that is a very present and large part of the fabric of the city. It’s an exciting and safe place to live and study with large open parks and all shops desired all within a stone’s throw of the university buildings and accommodation and not much further out are areas of great natural beauty from beaches to mountains. These great attractions mixed with the strong academic lectures and research Cardiff University and the Chemistry degree provide mean Cardiff is a fantastic place to study. 

Do you have a particular career in mind after you graduate?

I have taken particular interest over the past year in environmental and energy resources chemistry. Seeing how chemicals created in our environment interact with each other either around us in the air or below in the soil or water sources and how humanity can affect and be affected by these reactions and chemicals has really engaged me, in particular atmospheric chemistry. I hope to specialise more to this area of chemistry during my masters with the hope to go into either analytical testing or lab development regarding atmospheric environmental chemistry after my graduation.

Do you have any hobbies outside of studying?

Outside of studying play for the chemistry netball team based in the university’s IMG league, where I am on the committee and hold responsibilities covering social sessions for players and leading coronavirus safety and hygiene whilst training. I enjoy taking time to relax by sketching and doing art as well as further unwinding by going on runs 4 times a week. I have also begun a beginner’s course in Welsh for All to learn the Welsh language as an extra skill and for a hobby centred around my country.

What difference has the Norman Lloyd scholarship made to you?

The scholarship has made a greatly positive change to me. It allowed me to access extra resources and specific academic books that previously I would not have bought due to financial limitations. For example, I purchased Atkins’ ‘Elements of Physical Chemistry’ which was popular at the library and so owning it personally allowed me to take my time to read and fully appreciate its contents more competently than having to return it in a specific time-frame. The scholarship also allowed me to think more freely about pursuing a year abroad placement with more monetary savings to achieve this goal and feel comfortable doing so.

If you could say something to the fund donors, what would it be?

Thank you very much, it was a great surprise when I found out I was the recipient of the Dr. Norman C. Lloyd scholarship and continues to be a great gift and an honour to this day. It has given me a newfound confidence in my chemistry learning and future allowing me more opportunities to explore and eventually accomplish.

We all wish Annabel every success as she continues her studies at Cardiff.

The scholarship

The Norman Lloyd scholarship was set up by RSC Belgium in collaboration with Norman’s family and Cardiff University in memory of our old friend and supporter Norman Lloyd. Norman was himself a student at an institution that is now part of the university. The funds raised provide an annual scholarship of £1,000 for an undergraduate student, usually in their first year of study, at the Cardiff School of Chemistry.

Sunday, 27 September 2020

Elements in Danger!

On the evening of Thursday 24 September from 19h30 RSC Belgium presented its first ever webinar event. The subject was ‘Elements in Danger’ and our speaker was Professor David Cole-Hamilton, Past President of the European Chemical Society and Irvine Professor of Chemistry at the University of St. Andrews. The webinar was also the occasion for the announcement of our prizewinners in our 2020 Chemistry Challenge and this year’s winner of the coveted Keith Price Award.

The webinar was run via Microsoft Teams with our Chairman and master of ceremonies Bob Crichton in a seminar room at Universite Catholique Louvain with technical maestro Fabio Lucaccioni and Prof Cole-Hamilton (pictured below at a previous RSC Belgium event) 'broadcasting' from his home in St. Andrews.

A couple of rehearsals were arranged before the event itself to iron out any technical glitches and the systems worked well on the night. 


As part of their contribution to the International Year of the Periodic Table, the European Chemical Society produced a new Periodic Table (see below).

It is an amazing thought that everything we see, touch, and smell is made up of only 90 building blocks: the 90 naturally occurring chemical elements. The new periodic table only displays those 90 elements + technetium and promethium.

The area occupied by each element relates to its abundance in the earth’s crust and in the atmosphere (on a log scale) and the colour indicates how long we shall be able to use these elements if we carry on as we are. Four elements are coloured black because they can come from mines where wars are fought over mineral rights.

31 of the elements are used in making smartphones (indicated by a phone symbol). All four conflict minerals are included amongst the elements in a phone and six will be dissipated within less than 100 years unless we do something.

Prof Cole-Hamilton presented the new Periodic Table and discussed selected elements with a view to understanding how we can continue to have the lifestyle we have and protect the 90 vital elements that make up our beautiful and diverse planet.

More details on the new Periodic Table including notes for teachers and learners, translations into most European languages and a link to a new Video Game 'Elemental Escapades - A Periodic Table Adventure' can be found at on the EuCheMS website.  

Revisit the webinar

The webinar was recorded using the Teams software and is now available to view whenever you want.

You can also access a copy of the powerpoint presentation used by Prof Cole-Hamilton here

Chemistry Challenge 2020 results announced

The results of the RSC Belgium Chemistry Challenge 2020 were announced at our first webinar event on the evening of 24 September 2020. Due to the COVID19 restriction, this year's Chemistry Challenge was also a virtual event that was undertaken remotely by students.

For the 2020 Challenge, we received some 50 entries from six international and European schools in the Brussels area and beyond for this testing challenge of young people's chemical knowledge and initiative. This year the more chemistry orientated questions in Section A and B were a little more accessible, which resulted in more prize winners than for previous years. A selection of our participants are pictured below!

And the 2020 winner of the Keith Price Prize for best overall performance in terms of chemical knowledge came from a school that has not won previously.

The RSC Belgium Chemical Challenge has three sections:

  • A chemistry multiple choice paper (Section A)
  • A structured questions on chemistry (Section B), and
  • A 'Thinking Matters' paper that is not chemistry based (Section C)

The top results were as follows:

Section A - Multiple choice

First prize for this section was shared by Maria Stanescu and Mia Williams from European School Brussels IV in Laeken (EEB4) and Riana Sadretdinova of St John’s International School in Waterloo (St John's) who each received a €50 award. There were seven winners of €25 second prizes: Ashling Neill from EEB4, Yosra Al Hayani of the ISF International School in Waterloo (ISF), Louis Baranger and Matteo Pourbaix, who both study at St John’s, Nefeli Giannaloo from the European School at Mol (ES Mol), and Sofia Mori and Martin Prucha both from the British School of Brussels in Tervuren (BSB). Third prizes of €10 went to Alia Meek of St. George’s International School in Luxembourg (St George's), Nicholas Smits and Issie Bentley from BSB, and Tyler McGee and William Dobney both at ES Mol.

Section B - Structured questions

In this section the first prize of €50 was awarded to Yosra Al Hayani from ISF with Martin Prucha of BSB picking up the second prize worth €25. Three third prizes of €10 were awarded to Nicholas Smits of BSB, Alia Meek from St George’s and Louis Baranger of St.John’s.

Section C - Thinking Matters

For this section the top prize of €50 went to Matteo Pourbaix of St John’s, with ESMol's Tyler McGee picking up a second prize of €25, and two third places worth €10 awarded to Alia Meek of St George’s and Nefeli Giannaloo ES Mol.

The Keith Price Award

With an excellent performance in both chemistry sections, Yosra Al Hayani from ISF, pictured below, also received the prestigious Keith Price Prize for the best best overall score worth an additional €100. This is the first time that a student from ISF has won our Chemistry Challenge.

Well done to everyone who took part in this year's Chemistry Challenge! Every student that entered the competition receives a certificate of participation. We will be running the Challenge again in 2021 and look forward to widening participation!

Sun shines on Norman Lloyd fundraiser

On Saturday 12 September RSC Belgium held an appropriately socially-distanced fundraising event for our Norman Lloyd Scholarships. The afternoon picnic event kicked off from 16h00 in blazing sunshine and continued into the early evening. The event was well-attended and supported with some EUR 870 raised for the fund on the day!

The venue for the fundraiser was Section Treasurer Julie Tuppeny's house in the countryside near Lasne, south of Brussels. Her house is a renovated old water mill and with gardens and other outside spaces at multiple levels that enabled us to organise a 'COVID-compliant' event.

Prior registration for the event was required and the number of participants was limited to comply with COVID19 regulations. But for a suggested contribution of EUR 25 per person to the fund, a sumptuous spread was provided with free drinks etc. Julie was the main caterer for the event but section secretary Tim Reynolds also provided his famous Timms aperitif and some blackberry ice cream to accompany Julie's Lemon pavlova. 

Members of the committee also provided drinks and prizes for a top-notch prize raffle. The raffle was drawn by Setsuko Lloyd, Norman's wife and a special friend of the section.

The Norman Lloyd Scholarships

The Norman Lloyd Scholarship Fund was established by RSC Belgium in memory of Dr Norman Lloyd one of our founding members and a great supporter of our activities. So far, the Fund has supported six first year Chemistry students at Cardiff University with scholarships worth £1000. The funds raised at this event and those from previous activities will ensure that the scholarships can continue.

If you were unable to come to the event, but would like to make a donation to the Norman Lloyd Fund, then you can do so by making a bank transfer to the RSC Belgium ING account BE91 3630 8144 4876 with the message ‘Norman Lloyd Fund donation’. Thank you.

Thursday, 13 February 2020

Towards a Hydrogen-based Economy

On the evening of 11 February 2020 a large audience of RSC Belgium members and friends gathered at the British School of Brussels to hear Prof Joris Proost from the Universite Catholique de Louvain deliver a talk entitled 'Towards the Hydrogen Economy: Challenges and Pitfalls'. This lecture followed on from our Cafe Chimique event in November 2019 where Prof Proost was originally hoping to contribute but had to withdraw.

Prof Proost took the audience through the issues around a transition towards a hydrogen-based economy and society. The global energy system requires a profound transformation to achieve the targets of the Paris Agreement and in this context, low-carbon electricity from renewable energy sources may become the preferred energy carrier. The share of electricity in all of the energy consumed by end users worldwide would need to increase to 40% in 2050 to achieve the decarbonised energy world envisaged by the Paris Agreement.

However, Prof Proost pointed out that the total decarbonisation of certain sectors, such as transport, industry and uses that require high-grade heat, may be difficult purely by means of electrification. This challenge could be addressed by hydrogen from renewables, allowing large amounts of renewable energy to be channeled from the power sector into the end-use sectors. Hydrogen could therefore be the missing link in the energy transition with renewable electricity used to produce green hydrogen (via water electrolysis), which can in turn provide energy to sectors otherwise difficult to decarbonise through electrification.

Prof Proost emphasised three characteristics of the use of hydrogen that as an energy vector compared to fossil fuels: 1/ it embodied a zero tolerance for carbon (vital to reach climate change targets); 2/ it represented a potential doubling of efficiency; and 3/ it was fully reversible.

Hydrogen sectors
Hydrogen is widely used in several industry sectors (refineries, ammonia production, bulk chemicals, etc.), with the vast majority of it currently being produced from natural gas by steam-methane reforming (SMR). Green hydrogen from renewables could replace such fossil fuel-based feedstocks in high-emission applications.

In the transport sector, fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) provide a low-carbon mobility option when the hydrogen is produced from renewable energy sources, and offer driving performances comparable to conventional vehicles. FCEVs are complementary to battery electric vehicles (BEVs) and can overcome some of the current limitations of batteries (weight, driving range and refuelling time) in the medium to high duty cycle segments. But in the longer run, electrofuels (e-fuels - liquid fuels produced from renewable power) can replace fossil fuels without the need to change end-use technologies.

The talk stimulated a lively question and answer session. Useful report for further reading on the subject is the IRENA report 'Hydrogen from renewable power: Technology outlook for the energy transition' that was published in 2018 and the IEA Report 'The Future of Hydrogen', published in 2019.

Hydrogen expert
Prof. dr. ir. Joris Proost holds a Master and PhD in Materials and Process Engineering from Louvain University (KUL) and after spending three years at Harvard University, he joined the Faculty of Louvain University at Louvain-la-Neuve (UCLouvain) in 2003, where he has been a tenured Full Professor since 2009. His current research interests focus on electrochemical process intensification, with a particular interest on developing new reactor and electrode technologies for renewable hydrogen production. Prof. Proost is currently the Belgian representative at the Hydrogen Technology Collaboration Program (TCP) of the International Energy Agency (IEA), for which he is involved as one of the sub-task leaders on Power-to-Hydrogen. He was also invited as a participant of the high-level strategic IEA H2 workshop in February 2019 in Paris, and acted as a Peer Reviewer of the resulting report that was launched mid-June 2019 at the meeting of the G20 energy ministers in Tokyo.

Wednesday, 12 February 2020

RSC Belgium 2020 AGM and Annual Dinner

The 2020 Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the RSC Belgium International section took place on the evening of 17 January 2020 at Les Amis Dinent restaurant in Wezembeek-Oppem from 19h30. This was followed by the section's Annual Dinner.

The meeting kicked off with the approval of the Minutes of 2019 AGM which were moved (Matt Andrews), seconded (David Terrell) and unanimously adopted. The meeting then recieved the secretary's report on the section's activities in 2019.

2019 activities
Tim Reynolds presented the report saying that 2019 was another very good year for the section with seven public lectures organised, including a Café Chimique, plus a major schools’ tour, a fund raising social and our two annual school outreach events: the Chemistry Challenge and annual Top of the Bench Eliminator. In addition, we supported a Memorial Symposium for our good friend Prof Istvan Marko. To complete the year RSC Belgium was represented once again at RSC Kent’s curling day. According to HQ, section membership currently stands at 115, a decrease of some 15 over the year.

The report was unanimously approved (proposed by David Terrell and seconded by Julie Tuppeny).

2019 finances
Julie Tuppeny presented the 2019 financial report and accounts. On 1 January 2019, the net assets of RSC Belgium Section were €10 311.51. The Annual Grant for 2019 received in June 2019 from RSC UK was €1 900.00 with an additional instalment for the Outreach Grant received on 25 October of €210, somewhat less than the requested €7 668.

Major items of expenditure are listed below. 
  • € 1 906.70 hotel cost for the Istvan Marko Symposium
  • € 905.00 to organise the Chemistry Challenge of which € 400 was prize money
  • € 1 578.00 to organise and run the Kitchen Chemistry tour
  • € 1 051.00 for the Café Chimique
For the Year ending 31 December 2019, the net assets of RSC Belgium International Section amount to €5 929.46.

The meeting moved (Tim Reynolds), seconded (Bob Crichton) and unanimously adopted the presented accounts and the Treasurer’s report.

5. Chairman’s Remarks (Bob Crichton)
The Chairman thanked the committee for their hard work and support during a very successful year. He gave specific thanks to Tim Reynolds for his work in making the Kitchen Chemistry tour a particular success.

Bob looked forward to working with the new committee in 2020.

Committee election
Two ordinary members were elected to the committee: David Terrell and Jane Downing.

Election to the committee is for a two-year term. Bob Crichton (Chair), Tim Reynolds (Secretary), Julie Tuppeny (Treasurer) and committee members Rita Woodward and Matt Andrews are mid-way through their current term on the committee.

At the first committee meeting of 2020 Bo Dahlqvist and Fabio Lucaccioni will be co-opted onto the committee. The membership of the 2020 committee can be found here.

Having reviewed the section rules (which state the section auditor could be any member of the section who was not a current member of the committee) and the financial audit requirements for the section reports to RSC HQ (no formal audit required) it was decided to review the need to appoint an auditor to the section at the first committee meeting of 2020.

With no further business to discuss the meeting adjourned at 19h55. The first meeting of the 2020 committee took place on 4 February 2020.

Annual dinner

The AGM was followed by the 2020 Annual Diner of the section, which was a resounding success.