Friday, 1 October 2010

Dispersants attract

Our first lecture event of the Autum 2010 season attracted a very good crowd to the Swoosh Lounge at the British School of Brussels on the evening of 28 September.

Dr David Ross of Huntsman, based in Everberg, gave a fascinating talk on dispersants: what they are, how and why we use them, and how skilled chemists design them for specific purposes.

In particular he focused on their use in a variety of applications - in particular the incredibly detailed formulations required to give modern DIY consumers paints and coatings with properties, in terms of coverage and useability for example, that were undreamt of only ten years ago.

Major challenge
One of the major challenges facing chemists working with dispersant design is the move to formulate with applications where the solvent is water. Water is seen as environmentally sound solvent, but to provide water based products that replicate the effects and properties of previous organic solvent-based formulations is not a trivial problem.

In an extended question and answer session the audience were able to ask some pertinent questions and recieved some interesting views - in particular on the efficacy (or otherwise) of the recent widescale use of dispersants in the recent BP oil crisis in the Gulf of Mexico.

Next meeting - Biorefineries
'Concepts for Future Biofuels Refineries' will be the topic of our next presentation by Prof. Franck Dumeignil from the Université de Lille. This takes place on Wednesday, October 27 in the Brel Theatre, British School of Brussels.

Prof Dumeignil is project coordinator for the EuroBioRef Project which is supported by €23 million funding from the EU's 7th Framework Programme. This project, which was launched on 1 March 2010, involves 28 partners from 14 countries and intends to develop a new highly integrated concept, moving from the current single feedstock, single product biofuel production to a refinery using multiple, non-edible, feedstocks, multiple processes and making multiple products, such as aviation fuel and chemicals.

With many years experience of the catalytic processes used to achieve some of these transformations, Prof. Dumeignil is well placed to discuss the matter. His lecture will review some aspects of the current know-how on biofuel production and describe some of the opportunities and approaches which will be used to drive the project forwards.

IMechE Fusion
Our colleagues in the IMechE are organising a visit to the Fusion Expo organised by ITER-Belgium and the Association “EURATOM-Belgian State” at 14:00 on Saturday 30 October.

The Fusion Expo is an exhibition on nuclear fusion and its potential as a possible sustainable future energy source. In view of the multitude of technologies required to build and operate the device, the ITER fusion device, currently under construction in the south of France, is probably the most ambitious scientific project ever initiated.

The exhibition is at the Palais des Academies in Brussels from October 25 until November 15. The IMechE has reserved a guided tour of this exhibition in ENGLISH. The tour should take about 90 minutes and is free of charge.

IMechE has extended an invitation to RSC members to join them at this event. If you wish to join the tour on 30 October, please reserve your place in advance by emailing Paul Bennington, the IMechE Benelux chairman, to confirm your participation.

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