Thursday, 28 September 2017

NEWSLETTER #24 - SOCIETY OF AFRICAN EARTH SCIENTISTS










Volume 6, Issue 2, April-June 2017





CONTENT

  • Chair's Foreword*
  • Chemistry Applications in the Earth Sciences 
  • Earth Science Events
  • References and Selected Reading


CHAIR'S FOREWORD*

Welcome to the twenty-fourth issue of the newsletter of the Society of African Earth Scientists (SAES). 
   In the current issue we reflect on the role of  chemistry applications in the earth sciences

CHEMISTRY APPLICATIONS IN THE EARTH SCIENCES

More often, we are likely to encounter what we recognise to be the application of the mathematical and physical sciences to the earth sciences. The physical sciences are most apparent when we encounter problems such as the conservation of energy, mass or momentum.  But what bout the applications of chemistry?
   In the earth sciences there are the obvious applications of chemistry which we know popularly as “Geochemistry”. In geochemistry, scientists study the chemical composition, structure and processes of the earth. These include the chemical compositions of rocks and minerals and the movements of these elements into soil and water systems. A wealth of information buried in the liquid, gas and mineral deposits of rocks is studied by scientists to  make decisions about science and industrial applications. The information gathered is useful in enabling companies to safely dispose of toxic wastes as well as how to tackle potential geo-hazards and make use of our natural resources whilst minimising harmful impacts to our natural environment.
   In the area of renewable energy, we find that chemistry is playing an increasing role. We see this in particular with solar energy, whereby organic chemistry promises cheaper potential materials for the manufacture of solar cells.  We take the case of the MIT scientist, Andreas Mershin [1] who has discovered a method of effectively creating solar panels from agricultural waste. Mershin discovered a process that extracts the photosynthesizing molecules, called photosystem 1 from plant matter. Photosystem 1 contains chlorophyll, the protein that actually converts photons into a flow of electrons.  These molecules are then stabilized and spread on a glass substrate that is covered in a “forest” of zinc oxide Nano-wires and titanium dioxide “sponges”.  When sunlight hits the panels, both the titanium dioxide and the new material absorb  light and turn it into electricity. In essence, Mershin has replaced the layer of silicon in conventional photovoltaic cells with a slurry of photosynthesizing molecules.
   Other examples include the discovery in Nigeria by Justus Nwaoga of the department of pharmaceutical and medicinal chemistry of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka  of the photo-electric properties of organic cells  found in common pond weed (mimosa pudica) [2]. This area of research is supported in Ethiopia where there is research into organic solar cells  and the use of polymers [3].
   Probably most promisingly we are seeing the development of the storage capacity of batteries. Chemists at the University of Utah in the United States are predicting a bright future for a type of battery for storing electricity generated by wind and solar energy. “Using a predictive model of molecules and their properties, the team of scientists has developed a charge storing molecules that is around 1000 more stable than currently employed compounds [4].
  Examples like these show that chemistry is very much at the forefront of the advance of renewable energy in the earth sciences.


EARTH SCIENCE BOOK REVIEW

Fluid Mechanics by James A Ligget
McGraw-Hill International Editions, Singapore, 1994



The book  "Fluid Mechanics" gives a  comprehensive account of the subject with both control volume as well as field approaches being used. The basic equations are covered including continuity and Navier Stokes equations and the derivation of the Bernoulli equation from first principles. There treatment makes a light introduction to tensor notation featured in the appendix. There is a strong emphasis in the direction of applications on the analysis of  shallow flow water hydraulics, oceanography, wave mechanics and oscillation of large bodies of water and transport. The book is of great assistance to novices as well as offering veterans the essentials of practicing in the field. It includes an introduction to computational fluid mechanics and an interactive CD ROM that helps practitioners handle complex calculations with speed and precision, as well as interactive simulations and dynamic animations  of actual flow.



EARTH SCIENCE EVENTS

3-5 August 2017


WATREX 2017


Venue: International Convention Centre, Cairo, Egypt.


VISION: The foremost conference event on  water processes, waste water treatment and recycling


7-11 October 2017
International Conference on Water Management in Arid and semi Arid lands
Venue: Movenpick Resort, Dead Sea, Jordan
VISION: International conference


9-10 October 2017


AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT SUMMIT


Venue: Yar'Adua Conference Centre, Abuja, Nigeria

VISION: An international conference focussed on the goal of achieving socio-economic growth through community based and inclusive innovation, as informed by African Union Agenda 2063 and African Union Science and Technology Innovation Strategy for Africa 2024,

20-24 March 2018

Earth Sciences for Society

A joint congress organised by
Arab Geosciences Union, African Association of Women in the Geosciences, African Geoparks Network

Venue: Faculty of Sciences, Chouaib Doukkali University, El Jadida, Morocco

VISION: The "Geodynamics, Geo-education and Geoheritage Research Group" of the Geology Department, Faculty of Sciences, El Jadida (Morocco) in collaboration with the Arabian Geosciences Union (ArabGU), the African Association of Women in Geosciences (AAWG) and the African Geoparks Network (AGN) organize a jointly the 2nd ArabGU International Conference (AIC2), the 9th AAWG Conference (CAAWG9) and the 3rd International Conference on Geoparks in Africa and MiddleEast (ICGAME3). This joint congress is hosted by the Faculty of Sciences, Chouaïb Doukkali University, El Jadida (Morocco).



REFERENCES

1.  MIT News, Harnessing nature's solar cells, http://news.mit.edu/2012/biosolar-0203

2. Vanguard, Nigerian Develops Solar Cells from Weed, http://www.vanguardngr.com/2013/05/nigerian-develops-solar-cells-from-weed-mimosa-pudica/

3. African School on Nano Science for Solar Energy Conversion, Addis Ababa (Ethiopia) may 3-7, 2010: https://portal.ictp.it/energynet/african-school-on-nanoscience-for-solar-energy-conversion
4.     Sevov, CS, D. Hickey, et al., Physical Organic Approach to Persistent Cyclable Low-potential Electrolytes forBattery Flow Applications, Journal of the American Chemical Society, 2017, 139 (8), pp 2924–2927.


*Board of the Society of African Earth Scientists:
Dr Chukwunyere Kamalu (Chair - Nigeria), Ndivhuwo Cecilia Mukosi (South Africa),Osmin Callis (Secretary - Guyana/Nigeria), Mathada Humphrey (South Africa), Dr Enas Ahmed (Egypt).

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