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.

Greenlight 4 Girls!

Greenlight 4 Girls (G4G) is a fantastic initiative that is aiming to boost the number of girls who continue in science, maths and ICT subjects as they progress through the educational system. The first Belgian G4G event takes place on Saturday 20 November at the International School of Brussels (ISB) and RSC Belgium will be involved.

The event is a one-day happening to show girls the fun in maths, science, engineering and technology. The main activity is a series of hands-on workshops conducted in English, French and Dutch. RSC Belgium will be providing one of the workshops - our topic: 'Culinary Chemistry'.

The fun takes place from 08h30 to 16h00 on Saturday 20 November at the International School of Brussels (ISB), Kattenberg 19, 1170 Brussels.

The day is designed for girls aged 11-15 years from Brussels and the surrounding areas. To take part pre registration is required via the G4G website. If you know any girls who will want to be take part, please tell them about the event soon and make sure they don't delay in registering as the maximum capacity for the event is 300 participants.

Once a student has registered, she will receive a confirmation e-mail and will be contacted again by 1 November to allow her to choose the workshops she wishes to attend. A final confirmation of each attendee's schedule will be sent out just before the event itself takes place.

Free and fun
The greenlight for girls - Science Day is a free event, hosted at ISB. The event is the first of its kind organised by the new Brussels social initiative greenlight for girls and aims to encourage 11-15 year old girls to take up careers in science, technology, engineering and math, by emphasising the link between science and fun.

The day unfolds in workshop form covering a wide variety of topics from digital music to DNA research. A special guest from the cabinet of EU Commissioner for the Digital Agenda Neelie Kroes will open the event, and the Belgian Applied Physics & Photonics scientist, Irina Veretennicoff, will give a closing speech. There will also be a "fun experiment lab" with activities and entertainment all day long. And a free lunch will also be available.

Please feel free to forward this information to any interested individuals. Also, let G4G know if you are interested to participate as a volunteer or sponsor.

More Information on the event and the G4G organization can be found via their own website and on the (A)Way Magazine website, or via popular social media such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.

For questions about the greenlight for girls organization or events, or to discuss speaking or sponsorship opportunities at greenlight for girls Science Day, please contact G4G directly.