DTU Chemistry demonstrates excellent research
DTU Chemistry had their 6th annual PhD Research Symposium at Pharmakon in Hillerød about 45 minutes drive northwest of Copenhagen on December 10th. It was an exciting day with 13 oral presentation and 27 poster presentations ranging from reservoir simulation to drug discovery. The event also included a guest speaker from Zealand Pharma. DTU is the largest engineering university in Northern Europe, and DTU Chemistry is their integrated inorganic chemistry, organic chemistry and physical chemistry department with activities ranging from oil reservoir simulation to synthesis of new cancer drug candidates. 21 new PhD students joined the department this fall, and their chairman is Erling H. Stenby, who for many years was the leader of the IVC-SEP (new AT CERE) group at DTU Chemical Engineering. Professor Stenby moved to DTU Chemistry about six years ago, the event was arranged and hosted by the ChemClub - at club for PhD students at DTU Chemistry.
The opening presentation was on simultaneous calculation of chemical and phase equilibria of closed systems by Christos Tsanas. Christos' algorithm used Lagrange multipliers for minimization of Gibbs energy, and involved two steps. In the first step the total numbers of moles and the number of phases are fixed, and a subset of equations solved for the Lagrange multipliers. In the second step these Lagrange multipliers are used to solve the complete set of equations. The stability of the phase(s) are tested, and phases are added if the system is found to be unstable, and the calculations repeated. Christos have successfully tested the algorithm on VL and VLL equilibria of reactive systems. Among the systems tested were MTBE synthesis (I believed that compound was no longer relevant?) and alkylation of m-Xylene to separate it using distillation. The days final oral presentation by Duncan Paterson on flash calculations in thermal reservoir simulation solved a similar problem, but did not account for reactions. Duncan's work allows the use flash calculation in reservoir simulation of heavy oil deposit in Canada were steam injection is used to make the oil moveable, at Cold Lake and Kearl in Alberta, Canada.
Deracemization, MIBK production and Alzheimer
Esben Thomas gave a very interesting presentation on deracemization using shaped-pulse dynamic stark control. His simulation involved separation of isomers of 3,5-difluoro-3',5'-dibromobipenyl. The associated experiments was done in collaboration with Aarhus University, and can result in purity of around 90%. Rouzana Thumbayil presented work on development of selective catalysis with metal nanoparticles in porous materials for one step production of MIBK. To my surprise I learned, that MIBK is increasingly used in paints, with annual production increasing by 10% to currently around 380,000 tons MIBK. In the eighties and nineties MIBK was widely used for washing printed circuit boards, and it was discovered MIBK has a negative effect on pregnant woman. Rouzana's catalyst is able to produce MIBK in one step from acetone and hydrogen, and she is comparing nanoparticles with Palladiun, Platin and Gold. The figure to the left shows a TEM of zeolite containing encapsulated gold nanoparticles. Nedjelko Seselj also presented catalyst related resutls, but related to fuel cells and using a graphene supported gold and platinum catalyst.
Arun Kumar talked about understanding the role of structural and chemical properties of the membrane protein presenilin-1 (PSEN1) in Alzheimer's disease. Almost 200 mutations in PSEN1 are believed to cause early-onset of Alzheimer's disease. His work is however, purely molecular dynamic simulations.
Solar energy, NOx removal and Graphene
Gianluca Levi used molecular simulation in direct dynamics studies of transition metal complexes for solar energy conversion. The work done in collaboration with the Department of Physics use the X-ray Free Electron Laser facility at Stanford to study reaction on femto-second time-scales. Peter Jakobsen gave an interesting presentation on use of ionic liquids for NOx removal - not in powerplants, but in other situations. The diagram to the right shows a catalytic cycle for the oxidation of NO in ionic liquids.
Arnab Halder talked about his bioengineered graphene based flexible biosensing platform, which he has developed for measuring blood glucose and cholesterol. The current versions are printed on a flexible substrate for use on the skin. The developed sensors had a linear response in the ranges of interest for medical usage, and have been sucessfully compared to hospital laboratory measurements.
Basic Medical Research at DTU
During the afternoon three medical related results were presented. Jorge Peiro talked about prodrugs sensitive to reactive oxygen species for the treatment of chronic inflammatory diseases and cancer. Prodrugs are compounds, which are converted to drugs at the action site inside the cells. Hence they don't have an effect on healthy cells. Kim Motensen talked about high-throughput screening technology for profiling of substrates for histone deacetylase enzymes in rational design of selective HDAC inhibitors. Finally Christian Kjeldsen talked about dynamic nuclear polarization NMR of enzymatic carbohydrate conversion. Equipment has been installed both at Skejby and Rigshospitalet, and clinical application will start early next year. The diagram on the lift shows spectra of a sample containing pyruvate-1 labelled with C-13. The top spectrum is 2048 scans without hyperpolarization, and the bottom a single scan after hyperpolarization.
Medical research dominated poster session
The poster presentations were dominated by medical related topics, such as Alina Kulakova's poster on "Protein-Excipient Interactions and Protein-Protein Internation in Formulation" or Gokce Engudar's poster on "Development of Transmembrane Ammonium Sulfate and pH Gradient Liposomes for Combined PET/CT Imaging", and by catalysis related topics, such as Irene Tosi's poster on "Zeolites Catalysts for the Hydrolysis of Glycosidic Bonds" or Bo Jessen's poster on "Developments of Catalytic Reactions to Prepare Bio-Based Polymer Building Blocks".
The PhD students at DTU Chemistry don't shy away form using advanced technology in their presentations, such as a video clip in an oral presentation or a video presentation as part of a poster.
Odor Emissions at IGAS
Regulation, measurement and reduction
Safepark participated in a half day seminar on regulation, measurement and reduction of odoremissions. The seminar was arranged by a Interest Group for Analysis of Gases (IGAS) and the chemical engineering section of IDA, the Danish Society of Engineers.The seminar was to start with an update on the ongoing revision of the Danish regulation of the area, but due to an ongoing national election, the employee form the Danish EPA could say nothing about the coming revision of the Danish regulation.
However, reading between the lines we came away with a clear message, that one focus area for the revision of the regulation will be a movement towards the international standards in area such as measurement units, time for averaging etc. The best current outlook is, that a new standard will be finished towards the end of this year or the beginning of next year.The second presentation was about the measurement of odor or smell. We came away with a clear impression, that this is more an art than a science.Limits of smell are set by a panel of smellers being exposed to air with increasing concentrations of the fowl substance and/or mixture. Beside the revision of the Danish regulation a revision of the European CEN regulation is also ongoing for more than two years. Problems being addressed in this revision is variation within a panel, variation between different panels, and variation between different laboratories. Anders Feilberg from the Engineering Department at Aarhus University have an answer to the use of panels: use modern equipment to measure individual substances. He showed that from the measurement of individual substances he was able to calculate a measure, which correlated well with panel measurements. At least one group at Aarhus University in Denmark is attempting to replace the old olfractometer with modern scientific measurements. Your can read more about Anders Feilbergs research here.
Infuser and SKOV focus on odor removal
Infuser is a start-up company based on work at University of Copenhagen. Thomas Rosenørn talked about their design custom systems for removal of odor problems. Schematic of their idea is shown here. Basically they use OH-radicals to convert the substances creating the odor problem to other substances or particles without this problem. They use a modular process design, which is easily adapted to different volumes of gas and gas compositions.
SKOV is another Danish company focusing on the removal of odors. Their main area of interest is pig farms,and 85% of their annual turnaround of ½ billion Danish kroner is export. Lise Borne Guldberg talked about their bio-filters. Their Farm Air Clean BIOFlex 2-stage system is using paper pulp filters, and has been verified to removed more than 90% of 11 identified substances from the air in pig barns.
Environmental work in practice
Finally two employees from the Municipality of Roskilde talked about odor problems from a restaurant in the center of Roskilde, which started operation in 2012. Shortly after people in nearby apartments complained about odor problems. The challenge for the municipal employees was, that they are not experts on odors or any other area for that mater. They handle citizens complains by entering into a dialog with the company. Measurements showed, that the odor level at the a nearby patio was more than 1000 units, while the regulation calls for a level of 5 units. A active carbon filter was eventually installed and it reduced the odor to 44 units. This resulted in fewer complains from citizens living in the nearby apartments. However the municipality insisted the odor level be reduced further, Adding additional active carbon resulted in a reduction to 7 units. The municipality luckily decided that 7 units was close enough to 5 units to close the case. Unfortunately the municipal employees did not know, that an odor level of 5 units could mean the measurement could be anywhere from 2 units to 11 units.
Certainly it appears that further research and development in the area of electronic noses is needed in order to create better justice for all involved parties: regulators, companies and citizens. Safepark have no activities in the area of odor management, but would be happy to put you in contract with either Infuser or SKOV. However, we encourage you to contact them directly using the website links provided in this article.
Safepark at Loss Prevention 2013 in Florence
Learn Safety practices in your university labs
Safepark attended the 14th International Symposium on Loss Prevention and Safety Promotion in the Process Industries (LP 2013) in Florence, Italy, which opened with a welcome reception on Sunday, May 12th followed by technical presentations all day Monday and Tuesday plus Wednesday morning.
Niels talked about learning safety assessment from accidents in a university environment Monday morning in the Verde room on the 2nd floor of this old Italian villa converted to a conference center.
The discussion reviled that not many university departments take safety assessment of experimental work in their labs seriously. Considering the recent events at a Texas Tech University chemistry lab and other recent events in Europe, as well as the encouraging results from industrial research labs both in Canada and the USA, this is sad state.
One can only hope the situation improve as US universities gear up to include mandatory process safety elements in all chemical engineering educations over the next years. The other presentation on how to improve CSB investigations reports was in the same room on Wednesday morning. Analysis not included in the presentation attached below indicate that the CSB over the years have shifted form making recommendations to companies to making more and more recommendations to authorities. In our view this is an undesired change, since it means tax-payers end up with higher bills for keeping chemical process industry operations safe. A poster titled "Why do we write accident report?" intended for the conference can be viewed here.
Next Loss Prevention Symposium in Freiburg
At the end of the symposium in Florence it was announced, that the next symposium will take place in Freiburg, Germany in 2016. This symposium will be organized by DECHEMA, and you can follow the developments at the symposium website www.lp2016.eu. Freiburg is located in the south-western corner of Germany with many possibilities for an extended family holiday in the area including visits to France, Luxembourg and Switzerland.
1st IWFM - International Workshop on Functional Modeling
Most safety professionals connect the term Functional Safety immediately with ISA ANSI S84.00.01 and related IEC standards 61508 and 61511 giving guidelines for the design of safety systems in most modern chemical plants. If one google Functional Safety the first page of result will include references to the IEC standards. Although the mentioned standards provide a good basis for the design of safety system in our process plants this is purely based on good engineering practice, and for the most part it miss the scientific underpinings.
Functional Modelling is somthing different
Funtional Modeling, which is a research area in the field of artificial intelligence or AI, attempt to create a scientific basis for designing safety systems, alarm systems and control systems. In doing this the questions asked are: What should be the control structure be to ensure mass- and energy balances don't give problems during operation of the plant? What should we be alarmed about? And which countermeasures should be provided to normalized the alarm situation? What safety barriers should be established to avoid worst case scenarioes?
At the International Workshop on Functional Modelling on November 6th & 7th, 2012 at the Technical University of Denmark in Kongens Lyngby just north of Copenhagen these questions and many others related to functional modeling will be discussed. AI allows for reasoning about events in the models, and hence about events in the plants the attempt to model the functionality of.
Find more information about IWFM at DTU in the workshop flyer next to this note. The IWFM series of workshops warmly welcome industrial viewpoints on functional modeling of safety systems.