Tuesday, 18 December 2018

Cheers to CO2

On the evening of Thursday 29 November RSC Belgium was delighted to welcome Dr César Alejandro Urbina Blanco from Ghent University to St. John’s International School in Waterloo to talk to us about some fascinating developments in the chemistry of using carbon dioxide (CO2) as a chemical feedstock. César is currently working as a Post Doctoral Researcher in the Laboratory for Chemical Technology at Ghent on sustainable chemistry and the utilisation of CO2.

César told the story of that little molecule responsible for the bubbles in your fizzy drink, which is also the main chemical culprit responsible for global warming and climate change. He described how CO2 is all around us, how we produce it directly or indirectly every time we switch on a lamp, buy a product or even breathe! Using fossil fuel for energy and as the main feedstock for the chemical industry has caused the release of unsustainable amounts of CO2 to the atmosphere.

So how do we solve the global CO2 problem without compromising our lifestyle? Chemistry, of course! César outlined the many ways in which chemists are now looking to turn CO2 back into valuable products from fuel to foam for mattresses.

Cesar is a passionate chemist and has been identified as a future leader by the American Chemistry Society. He gave an impassioned speech at the Science March in Brussels last year. A native of Venezuela, César studied Chemistry in Universidad Simón Bolívar in Caracas including a final year project at The Institute of Chemistry of Organometallic Compounds in Florence, Italy under supervision of Prof. Maurizio Peruzzini.

He completed his PhD in Organometallic Chemistry and Catalysis at the University of St Andrews in Scotland where he worked on the development of commercial olefin metathesis catalysts under supervision of Prof. Steve Nolan – now also at Ghent. César then moved as a Postdoctoral Researcher in the field of Green Chemistry to RWTH Aachen University in Germany with Prof. Walter Leiner and Jürgen Klankermayer, before coming to Belgium.

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