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Tagged: Emma Sackville

Beer and Batteries in Bremen: 11th ECHEMS Meeting

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📥  Seminars & Conferences

Second year student Emma Sackville recently attended the 11th ECHEMS meeting in Bad Zwischenahn, near Bremen. Here's how she got on:

What does a statue of a chicken-on-a-cat-on-a-dog-on-a-donkey have in common with electrochemistry? Admittedly not much, but I was able to experience both of them when I visited Bremen in mid-June for the 11th EChems meeting. As the conference was on a Monday I made the most of the weekend to explore the town. A beautiful little city in North West Germany, with a UNESCO designated World Heritage Site for a town centre, Bremen was hosting a festival called ‘La Strada’ during my stay. Inexplicably this included people driving round the town square on spikey quad bikes and dancing with suitcases. Whilst I still can’t tell you what the festival was for/about it did lend a certain party atmosphere to the town; who says the Germans don’t have a sense of humour?!

From left to right: One of the performers at the La Strada festival riding his quad bike, The famous statue of the Town Musicians in Bremen, Dancing with Suitcases!

From left to right: one of the performers at the La Strada festival riding his quad bike, the famous statue of the Town Musicians in Bremen, dancing with Suitcases!

After a very enjoyable weekend soaking up the German atmosphere, I made the short train journey over to Bad Zwischenahn where the conference was being held.

First started in 2006, the EChems Meeting is held annually to bring together researchers working in electrochemistry and its application to topical scientific problems. The theme for this year was molecular electrochemistry for application in renewable energy; an area which was of direct relevance to my own PhD research looking at molecular electrocatalysts for energy conversion. We enjoyed excellent talks in a wide range of areas, from batteries to biofuel cells and everything in between. Amongst many excellent presentations, Tsukasa Yoshida gave a particularly memorable talk about solar cells where he compared them to artificial intelligence robots that could have children and grandchildren; I’ll never think of them in the same way…!

All the conference attendees in front of the Bad Zwischenahn Lake, Plenary speaker Francesco Paolucci. Photo credits to the EChems team

All the conference attendees in front of the Bad Zwischenahn Lake, Plenary speaker Francesco Paolucci. Photo credits to the EChems team

On the last day I caught up with one of the plenary speakers, Professor Francesco Paolucci, from the University of Bologna. Given my own work in water oxidation catalysts I particularly enjoyed his talk about nano-composites for use in the Artificial Leaf, and I chatted to him about his beer preferences and what he thinks the challenges are for electrochemistry.

What did you enjoy most about the conference?

Not the weather! No seriously it was very well organised and there were lots of speakers from areas that were very different to mine. I particularly enjoyed hearing from speakers related to applications and engineering as I don’t often hear about that area so it made for a very varied programme. In general I think one of the main points of the EChems meeting is to push research in the area of molecular electrochemistry; an area which seemed to be disappearing. This is really bad because the new generation just don’t know what has been done 30-40 years ago and so you are losing some of the know-how about procedures, protocols and theoretical interpretation of data. I think this is one of the things that the EChems meetings have been so successful with over the years.

What do you think the most important challenge for electrochemistry is?

Exactly what we’ve been talking about this week; for me energy related work is the most important challenge. So managing to split water and reduce CO2 is something that should be the main focus for most of the financial schemes in the next 10 years. In fact this is what’s starting to happen. On national levels we have projects that have been funded by the national government on CO2 reduction and water splitting – they’re big, important projects and I hope they continue.

And lastly, German or Italian beer?!

(laughs) What do you think?! If it were wine it’d be different but it’s got to be German beer!

Despite not being an electrochemist by training I really enjoyed the conference. I feel that it has broadened my knowledge of areas where electrochemistry is important, and for me really highlighted its relevance and application. I would like to thank the RSC again for its generous support for my attendance.

Emma's is working towards her PhD on "Molecularly defined electro-catalysts for energy conversion and biomass valorisation" with Uli Hintermair and Frank Marken.

 

Conference Report: 2014 IChemE Applied Catalysis and Reaction Engineering

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📥  Seminars & Conferences

On 17th – 18th Sept 2014, CSCT students Tamsin Bell and Emma Sackville attended the 2014 IChemE Applied Catalysis and Reaction Engineering Conference in Cambridge. This report was written by Emma.

A few weeks ago, Tami and I attended the Applied Catalysis and Reaction Engineering conference in Cambridge. This was a conference primarily for early career researchers, although there were a number of academics and industry members present, several of whom gave plenary lectures.

These lectures included a talk on the importance of reactor design by the eminent Prof. Freek Kapteijn; an insight into research in a multinational company by Dr. Adeana Bishop, who attended as part of Exxon Mobil; and an interesting talk from Prof. David Cole-Hamilton who spoke on the development of waste bio-oils for conversion to chemicals.

I had been given the opportunity to give an oral presentation, my first at a conference, and needless to say the experience was quite daunting! However after the initial nerves I actually quite enjoyed it and the talk was received well. My talk was entitled: "The Effect of Promoters on Iron Carbon Nanotubes Catalysts for the Conversion of Carbon Dioxide to Hydrocarbons". All of the other speakers were early career researchers, but the level of the presentations was extremely high. There was a wide range of topics on offer, with a focus on catalysis and reactors, which made for a varied and interesting program.

Tami was presenting her poster about her research in nanostructured alumina to support metal nanoparticles at the poster session, which took place primarily after the first day. Again, there were a wide range of topics covered and both of us had some interesting discussions with other attendees about our work.

Tamin presenting her poster

Tamsin presenting her poster

We were staying in the beautiful Jesus College, and had a great conference dinner in the great hall which was also striking – as you’d expect from a Cambridge college! After the conference ended on Thursday we spent the afternoon wandering round Cambridge itself. We even had a punting tour along the river, seeing the backs of several of Cambridge’s most famous colleges, and snuck into the beautiful St. John’s college before having a drink on a roof top bar overlooking the city and then heading home. Overall a really interesting conference in a beautiful city – although still not a pretty as Bath!