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The 75th Chemical Conference touched all bases, technical and general.

electron reactions in the radiation chemistry of liquids were described by co-author Freeman, FCIC, and co-workers.

Chemists Have an Obligation to Seek Solutions to the Complex Problems Facing the Global Atmosphere

What are the effects of human activity on the atmospheric life-support systems of our globe? What role can chemists play in understanding the complex relationships among atmosphere, biosphere, hydrosphere and lithosphere? A full-day symposium on atmospheric pollution, co-organized by Otto Strasz, University of Alberta, and Harby Sandhu, Guest speakers stressed that making chemistry relevant to everyday lives and putting developments in a context the public understands will go a long way in helping the public realize what chemistry is all about.

From the opening remarks of Jay Ingram through the closing sentences of the final technical presentation, they came (in droves) they saw, they heard and they were mightily impressed. "They" were the delegates attending the 75th Canadian Chemical Conference and Exhibition held in Edmonton in June. "They" came from 17 countries (18 if you count Scotland and who dares not to) to hear over 900 technical presentations as well as a host of special symposia, guest speakers and award lectures. "They" totalled just over 1500 (including exhibitors), an exceptional attendance for the conference, especially so considering the state of the Canadian economy.

To open the conference, Jay Ingram, well known for his long association with the CBC radio show Quirks and Quarks, spoke about Why Chemistry Will Never Make The National. He called his message "harshly realistic". The importance of communicating scientific knowledge to the public is a given but the message is very often lost. He showed a clip from the Star Trek television series to illustrate his point. If people are familiar with the subject, then the clip would mean something to them. If not, they would be like the majority of people faced with science. Therefore, how can the profession establish a context in which people recognize an advancement when it is presented to them.

The rationale for doing an experiment is not that it will benefit mankind and transform life, Ingram explained, but often to help lead to future developments. "The public doesn't understand this; it wants to know what it means for them."

The authoritarian perception of science does not help either. The public does not like to feel it is being spoken down to. "The public cannot make a connection between themselves and science like they can with an athlete," Ingram said. "I'm not sure how you'll ever get over that hurdle."

Ingram discussed the role of the media and the editor as "gatekeeper" theory. That the public is dying for science is the view of some science writers, Ingram added, but then noted, "I'm not so sure anymore."

He explained that often the science is the story, not the scientist, but the media today is built around personalities. The two don't jibe. "The only hope is that with the fragmentation on television, and the decline of the major U.S. networks, science will find a speciality channel in whole or in part. We cannot think the media today will change."

In closing, Ingram reiterated that the public feels a lack of connection when presented with science and scientific developments. "We must approach it from the people's point of view. Link science to everyday lives. It's not always possible, but when it works, the results are spectacular.

"The whole story must be structured in a way that people feel it is relevant to them. Scientists dismiss fringe science, but the truth is that people feel they are closer to this."

One of the first award lectures was the Montreal Medal presentation by Geraldine Kenney-Wallace, FCIC, McMaster University, Electrons on the Pacific Rim: The Changing Role of Chemistry in the 21st Century. Kenney-Wallace spoke of her three-way involvement in research:

* As a researcher in her area of expertise;

* As a university president, overseeing research interests crossing all scholarly disciplines. Creative thinking knows no boundaries. "The divide between arts and science is an artificial divide," she stressed.

* As an advocate of the national need for research.

Kenney-Wallace declared that Canada is falling behind the other G7 countries and the Pacific Rim nations in scientific areas. She noted that Japanese industrial giant Toshiba invests over $8 billion annually in research, short- and long-term, "more than all Canadian research combined".

Her message centered around the need to add the human touch and "passion" to science. "There is no passion attached to the explanation of our work. The message to get out is that chemistry is ubiquitous. Chemistry is not a department; it touches all other disciplines."

Kenney-Wallace added that the more we contain chemistry, the more we miss the "exciting" new directions other fields -- physics, bio-medical -- are taking. "Why are we binding ourselves?"

She contrasted this with the Pacific Rim. "Huge amounts of intellectual and entrepreneurial action coupled with fiscal input have made the Pacific Rim the centre of science." Helping immensely is a society where knowledge is a value, where science is regarded with prestige and seen as part of the national need.

"What do they have that we need to get back?" Kenney-Wallace asked. The sense of the value of knowledge was the first thing she mentioned. "Research and science are not a job, but a life."

In the Far East, universities and industry work together; the universities are not seen as cartels.

Kenney-Wallace called the 1950s and 60s the "anomaly" of chemistry, that now we're back to normal. "We took that era of great development for granted. To go back, we need a major reshaping of our economy and society. What will chemistry and the molecular sciences attract in the future? That is the challenge. We need to take our own intellectual future back and get on with the exciting challenges that exist."

Our food is not toxic

There were four award lectures on the Monday. The second was Needle in a Haystack: The Search for Dioxin in Air, Water, Soils and Biota, given by Ray Clement, MCIC, Ontario Ministry of the Environment, winner of the W.A.E. McBryde Medal.

One of the hottest issues of public concern in recent memory, particularly in reference to the pulp and paper industry, Clement noted that there are 75 different dioxins and 135 different furans. The question is: How harmful is it? It does have effects, no doubt, Clement said, but, thus far, no one has determined definitely how harmful it is. Obviously, human testing is impossible.

The issue is so complex and so controversial that a lot of misinformation has been published. Clement gave an example of a food basket tested by a private laboratory. Results showed there was dioxin contamination, leading to headlines that our food is contaminated. However, Clement added, blanks also came back contaminated which meant that the contamination was in the lab. After cleaning the equipment according to MOE standards, new test results were clean. Our food is not toxic. "But you won't see that in the newspapers," Clement said.

The key to ultra-trace analysis is the number of separation steps, up to eight, Clement stressed. There are also 13 important quality control steps to take to ensure good samples to measure dioxin in drinking water.

Dioxin is a multi-media contaminant. There are low levels in air, water, food, fish and soil. To set meaningful guidelines, exposure from all these sources is needed.

Other award lectures on the Monday included the Union Carbide lecture and the R.U. Lemieux lecture.

A revolution in education

The Chemical Education Division sponsored a series on interesting sessions at the conference. On Monday afternoon, Revolutionizing the Chemistry Curriculum - Round II. Responding to the Call for Action, featured Nigel Bunce, FCIC, University of Guelph, as the first speaker. This was also an award lecture. Bunce was the Union Carbide Award winner. (His lecture, Development of a First Year Chemistry Course with Emphasis on Environmental Chemistry, will be published in an upcoming issue of ACCN.) Let's just say here that Bunce is very disappointed with first year chemistry courses for the most part, calling them dated, and in danger of making freshman chemistry a dead subject.

A dual presentation, by Grant Trump, MCIC, Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT) and Peter Bulkowski, MCIC, Petro-Canada, discussed the revamping of the chemical technology program at SAIT and industry involvement with it. Trump called it a partnership with industry. The advisory committee idea (industry co-operation/involvement) has been in place at SAlT for 40 years. "SAIT will be an innovative organization equipping people to compete successfully in the changing field of work by providing relevant, skills-oriented education." Trump explained.

Bulkowski minced no words. He said the program was being overhauled because of minuscule budgets, outdated equipment and "semi-petrified" courses. In Alberta there is a broad range of industries that are potential employers -- pulp and paper, mining, petrochemical, biotechnology and agriculture. Work facilities vary significantly. Interdisciplinary skills are needed. The new program is being introduced this autumn.

Hilary Arnold, Stanford University, spoke about A New Approach to Freshman Chemistry: The Frontiers of Chemical Science. The course at Stanford is designed to meet the needs of the most advanced chemistry students. The aim was to challenge students who had advanced chemistry in high school, attract prospective chemistry majors, expose students to the forefront of chemistry, provide advanced students with early laboratory experience and stress the application of chemical concepts to other disciplines and everyday life.

Arnold provided a specific example of a subject taught -- photon spectroscopy. She passed out simple spectrometers that students had made. She said that the course had attracted a lot of attention from other universities in the U.S.

Donna Vukmanic, Brock University, rounded out the session describing an Integrated Lab Course for Second Year Chemistry. Brock felt compelled to change its curriculum because too much time was being spent in the lab -- up to five afternoons per week; many students didn't understand the theory behind some experiments; many students had lost the desire to learn.

The objectives were to cover all the main branches of chemistry in the second year and to make learning more efficient. The approach: Labs were separated from lecture courses; four theory half-courses were created; three new integrated lab courses were developed.

Two of the labs cover all four areas -- organic, inorganic, physical and analytical -- and are required for all chemistry majors. One lab course consists of selected analytical, physical and inorganic chemistry experiments and is designed for students in pre-professional programs, joint majors and students from the environmental sciences program.

The lab courses' main objectives are to minimize the problems of poor preparation, provide the students with as much information as possible, to have all students doing the same set of experiments and to provide a well structured and organized approach conducive to learning.

A one-hour per week lecture covering the theory behind the experiment was introduced. Experiments were chosen which would help students see the interrelationship between the various chemical disciplines. A marking scheme was introduced which would reflect the students' lab performance, their ability to use the library, their ability to write scientific reports and their overall knowledge of experiments.

Vukmanic said the challenge is still to develop a more effective way to deliver the theory behind the lab experiments and to integrate experiments which introduce a variety of up-to-date concepts and techniques.

A word from the WISE

Chemical education sessions continued on Tuesday morning with one devoted to Attracting Women into the Chemical Sciences: Past, Present and Future Initiatives. The words women, science and engineering give rise to a splendid acronym -- WISE -- and quite a few departments have taken advantage of it or variations thereof. There were nine presentations in the session, chaired by Margaret Ann Armour, FCIC, University of Alberta.

Armour is part of this "wise" group, perhaps the WISEST, Women in Scholarship, Engineering, Science and Technology (WISEST) is a 10-year-old program at the University of Alberta. WISEST has developed programs to encourage young women to consider careers in science and engineering.

"The message needed to be sent is that 'Women can do it!'," Armour stated. "One of the major perceptions that must be changed is that we're not quite good enough."

A 10-year survey of grade point averages in the faculty of science at the university shows that women and men are basically equal. Among the programs sponsored by WISEST is a conference for grade six students which attracted 250 girls to the university for a 1-day event. A program designed for grade 11 students had 200 applicants for 50 positions. The students work with an actual research group at the university.

Armour noted that many of the initiatives discussed in the session had similar paths with differences both subtle and specific. She reminded delegates that it is as important to influence grandmothers as it is to influence 3-year-olds because of the influence a grandmother can have on a child's chosen career.

The WISE program at the University of Calgary started in December 1989 and made such a contribution to campus life, it was honored with a special achievement award by the students' union in May 1992. The drop-out rate among science students is high but critically so for females. WISE has worked hard to reduce the percentage dropping out. It has grown from a start of seven members to its present 250.

Activities have included publishing a newsletter, career sessions and inviting guest speakers to meetings. It has organized physics tutorials because first-year physics is often a major stumbling block for students.

The industry contribution was explained by Glenna Jeffries, Husky Oil, representing the Association of Women in Engineering and Science -- AWES. Jeffries said that with little or no exposure to science, women will not choose it as a career. This is one area where work needs to be done. Jeffries noted that the percentage of women entering the fields of science and engineering is not growing like it is for medicine and law.

One AWES program matches young girls to role models in non-traditional jobs. Jeffries also said that a dedicated effort and lots of hard work are needed to make the teaching of science "fun". This was a common thread through many of the presentations. How can we have a greater effect? Jeffries said the exposure of society to science and engineering is the clue. The focus now is on the student and teacher. Echoing Armour's comments, Jeffries said that maybe we need to look at parents and other individuals who may influence students.

Jeffries brought up one more valuable point. Current trends are moving away from the single career for life. How can we attract more women to science as their "next" career.

Jim Megaw, York University, minced no words in telling delegates about The Scarcity of Women in the Physical Sciences -- Reasons and Remedies. Using the CIC's own statistics, Megaw pointed out that women make up only 8% of the membership of the CSChE, 12% of the CSC and 28% of the CSCT. Women members of the Canadian Association of Physicists make up only 5% of the total membership.

"Changing an educational attitude is difficult, perhaps more so than familial/societal attitudes. The education system is failing us," Megaw declared. "I am convinced that science fairs have no educational value." They're fun, he added, but at the same time, they are also intimidating.

At the elementary school level, Megaw said that teachers need more training. "They are not qualified to teach science."

He is convinced students will take courses that give them the highest mark for the least work. "They need to be told what to take. Don't give them a choice. Students need to learn to study, to work hard. Whatever the faults of the educational system, it affects boys and girls equally."

Megaw noted that girls tend to respond to peer pressure more easily than boys. "They need a good role model because a bad role model can have a strong negative influence."

Perhaps his most important observation was that a higher percentage of girls will complete physics courses if they are in all-girl classes. These are a necessity.

Finally, Megaw called upon all practising physicists to give at least one talk a week to a high school. "Just be yourselves. Talk about the excitement of the job you do and how you enjoy it."

Science policy scrutinized

The first of the conference's panel sessions was dedicated to Science Policy: The Role and Contribution of Research to Canada's Competitiveness. Chaired by Bryan Henry, FCIC, president of the CSC, the panel featured Janet Halliwell, MCIC, ceo of the now-abolished Science Council of Canada, Hutch Holton, MCIC, director of North America research and Technology, ICI Chemicals and Polymers, and Robert Blackburn, assistant deputy minister, Department of Industry, Science and Technology Canada. Halliwell has just been appointed chair of the Nova Scotia Council on Higher Education and has moved to Halifax.

The main theme was a discussion of how well government and industry are doing in maintaining Canada's competitiveness. Leading off, Halliwell said that studies done by the Science Council had shown conclusively that innovation and the timely identification and application of new technologies are the keys to competitive success. And, the onus for this is at the level of the individual company and its management. It is at this level also where wealth and jobs are created.

The whole scope of business is changing. Halliwell highlighted eight trends, all of them global that Canadian business must pay attention to to remain competitive. The simple definition of a company has changed, Halliwell said. It is no longer solely a production unit, but needs to be a place where ideas for new products and processes can flourish.

For the Canadian chemical industry to flourish, Halliwell said it must move quickly to add innovative new product and process capabilities. It has some interesting challenges to face: environmental management -- process R&D to reduce wastes and pollutants; and product R&D -- to replace hazardous chemicals and to recycle plastics.

This means more R&D. For its part, government must "give priority to a more coherent, integrated, regulatory environment, an environment in which current barriers to effective operation are transformed into strategic levers for success."

The government's role should also include a policy that creates an investment climate conducive to the "evolution of the necessary innovative capacity."

The next speaker, Hutch Holton, addressed the topic Industrial Competitiveness of Industrial R&D in the G7 Countries. Canada only spends about $7 billion annually compared to the $360 billion spent by the other G7 members. However, Holton said that Canada does very well on that $7 billion. Using a number of indicators, Holton showed, contrary to what many believe, that Canada provides an attractive environment for industrial R&D, competitive with or superior to the other G7 countries.

Canada's major strengths include its after-tax cost of R&D, R&D cost per researcher, R&D:administration staff ratio, technological balance of payments (receipts). Canada is also strong in the areas of growth in R&D personnel, university enrolment per 1,000 population, non-industrial R&D availability and R&D professionals (% of total staff).

In terms of scientific papers published (peer review journals) per $1M R&D, Canada leads all other G7 countries. For citations, Canada ranks fourth but Holton said it is very close among numbers two, three and four. The U.S. leads "by a bit".

As for patents, Canada is low. Holton said the patent ranking is best for industry comparisons and that papers are used more in academia. Holton noted that the U.S. scored even lower than Canada in patents applied. This is not a good measure because patent policy is usually a company decision and it varies widely, Holton explained.

Holton said Canada is the most cost effective place to spend R&D dollars, "WE should be doing more to encourage spending."

Federal government representative Robert Blackburn told the audience that trade barriers are coming down and the Canadian chemical industry will have to act quickly to retain its market share and competitiveness. "Customer loyalty is gone."

He noted that the industry is not monolithic and that "selling fertilizer to Nebraska corn farmers is quite different from selling plastic car parts to GM and Ford."

The breakdown of tariffs will make the multi-nationals rationalize their production facilities. Canadian plants will have to be convincing to show they belong. "It comes down to the bottom line," Blackburn said.

He added that industry needs to be risk takers but feels too comfortable with tariffs and protective legislation. "Customers are crying for innovation but industry feels too fragile to spend large amounts." Canada cannot turn back the clock on GATT or the Free Trade Agreement despite some opinions. "One third of our production is sold offshore. "We need the world markets."

Today's branch plants must not become tomorrow's warehouses. Finding market niches, developing product mandates, specialization are the paths to follow. "It means narrowing the production scope," Blackburn said.

Long-term education and retraining will take money and if companies believe they cannot afford these things, then new partnerships may have to be formed, "even among competitors". "The government is doing more," Blackburn stated, "despite opinions. When government calls for industry to spend more on R&D, it is not a shift of burden. You need to do more because we're doing more because our competitors are doing more. Retreat is not an option."

It looks good, but the patient's dying

Some of the real fun took place in the question period. John Polanyi, FCIC, University of Toronto, told the panellists that "All the talks and charts show good news, but the patient is dying." Polanyi described two solitudes: the "1,350 participants in this meeting" working in science and doing research, and "industry". "We're trying to bridge this gap continually."

Polanyi estimated that 90% of the audience worked in universities and that the situation they now face and "one which has been documented" is that the base of science is so "woefully underfunded" that a twofold increase in spending is needed. "This means we are not attractive to scientists as a place to work. The feeling is that there is no will to improve the situation."

As for the second solitude, Polanyi said that the people who translate new ideas into new devices don't exist. Venture capital in Canada is more than $3 billion, but a close examination shows that only 25 to 28% is used to finance high-tech ventures and 25% is not spent in Canada. "Taking two sick patients and moving their beds closer won't do anything. If we can make the patients healthy, then the university:industry links will take place."

In her response, Halliwell said that there is no doubt that industrial R&D spending is "dismal". Foreign-owned companies are part of the problem, but only part. The industrial structure in Canada with its heavy emphasis on commodity goods will not serve us well on a competitive basis.

Bryan Henry noted that the terms of ceos of the Canadian Chemical Producers Association member companies last on average only 2.5 years. "No wonder we have no long-term management."

Graeme Strathdee, FCIC, Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan, said there is a need to look at personal motivation factors that will get things done. He asked for specific advice from the panel on what we, as individuals, can do. Blackburn answered that everyone must conceive of their roles in different ways, to "think horizontally, spread out their personal vision."

Holton called for industry and academia to work more closely together. "We're missing a great opportunity if we don't. Seek out those opportunities."

Halliwell said getting the economy in shape is the first and biggest challenge. "Youth is not stupid. As long as they see the lay-offs in industry, they're saying why should they enter this profession. Industry must work in the long- and short-term. It must think beyond the profit line every quarter."

Universities are not having an easy time of it either. Halliwell suggested priorities need to be re-examined. "What should they be?" The antagonism between fundamental research and economic objectives must be reduced. "There is a need to respect and understand the complexity of scientific work."

Blackburn brought in another point. Small companies often have no scientific staff, therefore it is difficult for them to cope with the emerging world. "It might be a challenge for a person with experience and links with science to help improve the fortunes of smaller companies."

This brought the observation that Canada needs to do more for smaller companies and ease the grant giving process. The decision to give a grant was called arbitrary in many instances. The work involved is also very complicated and many say it is not worth the effort.

In response, Blackburn said changes to the small business tax credit are in the works. The Federal Business Development Bank is involved in new programs and interested in technical companies. He agreed that the paperwork is overwhelming.

This was an excellent panel, a showcase of bright minds -- panellists and audience -- freewheeling, intelligent discussion. It is a shame attendance was so dismal, especially considering it was held over lunchtime when not much else was going on, and lunches could be purchased in the room. It was an ideal chance to leave the pure technical realm for a while and catch up on very relevant issues affecting the chemical profession. One can only hope future conference organizers will not be discouraged and will continue to provide as well-balanced a program as the Edmonton committee tried to do.

Professional status: To be or not to be

A second panel discussion was held on the Tuesday evening discussing the issue of foreign professional associations for chemists. This panel, as well as the entire issue of professional status, will be looked at in depth in the January issue of ACCN.

The panel looked at the two professional associations already established in Canada -- Ontario and Quebec, and heard from representatives from the two. The pros and cons of the issue were debated. The implications for the CIC were also discussed at length. As noted, more to come in January.

Our wine is safe too

The Analytical Chemistry Division session on chromatography on the Wednesday morning appealed to the imbiber in us all as the relationship between chemistry and wine was studied. The proper title was A Survey of Butyltin, Cyclohexyltin and Phenyltin Compounds in Canadian Wines. The paper was co-authored by D.S. Forsyth, D. Weber and K. Dalglish, Food Research Division, Health Protection Branch, Health and Welfare Canada. Forsyth was the speaker.

Recent work by the Food Research Division showed that tin species can be extracted from wine samples. Organo-tins are used in many applications -- pesticides, wood preservatives and as polyvinyl chloride (PVC) stabilizers. PVC liner material used in some commercial transport tanks contain extractable organic tin species. Imported wines sampled from these containers and Canadian wines blended with wines imported in PVC tanks had organic tin levels at least 10 times higher than wines shipped in stainless steel tanks.

The study included 200 wines, red and white, from 40 wineries in B.C., Ontario and Nova Scotia. B.C. and Nova Scotia extractable levels were lower than Ontario. However, it must be pointed out that none of the levels pose a risk to consumers.

Three types of PVC laminate material were studied, by color -- grey/white, yellow/white and grey/black. Butyltin concentrations in the latter were very high. The study allowed researchers to identify the source of the problem and to try to eliminate it by working with the producers and transporters.

Students honored

A special luncheon was held on the Wednesday to honor the CSC student chapters. Poster session winners were also honored. Organizers noted that the calibre of the presentations was very high. There were some words of advice for present and future presenters.

* Always be cognizant of the size of the poster; it should be readable and recognizable from a reasonable distance.

* Don't put everything that you know about the subject on the poster.

* Don't be afraid! You know the subject; it's your work.

Fuel for the future

Industrial chemistry was the focus of a timely session on the Wednesday -- Alternative Fuels, especially apt considering the site of the conference. Fritz Dautzenberg, ABB Lumus Crest, led off with a fascinating discussion of Fuel Options for the Future.

There are many challenges that refineries must face in the future. As vehicle emission standards are regulated lower and lower, the hunt is on for more environmentally friendly fuels. The first to make an appearance was reformulated gasoline introduced by ARCO. The other major petroleum companies soon followed suit with a product of their own. Benefits are lower aromatics content and benzene content of less than 2% by weight.

The new regulations will lead to increased refiner complexity. There will be major changes, Dautzenberg promised, especially in treating |C.sub.4~ and |C.sub.5~. This will require a lot of capital.

Catalytic distillation is expected to be the common choice for producing high octane gasoline blending compounds such as MTBE (methyl tertiary butyl ether) and TAME (tertiary amil methyl ether). MTBE capacity in Canada was 1 Mt/y in 1990: it is expected to be 2.5 Mt/y by 2000. One needs to make MTBE from field butanes. Dautzenberg said dehydrogenation output will equal refining output by the year 2000.

There is work being done to produce MTBE from synthetic gas in Germany. There have been interesting yields, but Dautzenberg cautioned that the process is still at the lab stage.

He said that it will be difficult for refiners to reach levels of less than 1% by weight benzene content. He noted that the CATSTILL|R~ process shows promise. This integrates alkylation of light reformate with FCC off-gas.

Turning to methanol, he called it a complicated fuel. A lot of capital is needed, then, good chemistry and clever engineering, then "you have to convince the automative industry that methanol is a good choice" and then, the EPA (U.S.) must approve." GM does have a variable fuel vehicle because methanol is not available at "every corner".

Dautzenberg said that a world-scale methanol production unit would cost $200 million, with 2/3 of the cost in the front end. He added that R&D opportunities in oxygenated fuels are numerous. "Reformulated gas is a logical intermediate step toward methanol as the next automotive fuel. Reformulated gas will be in the fore until 1995. By 1995, methanol will be an alternative. After 2000, hydrogen may appear as a fuel."

Robert Cumming, MCIC, Canadian Gas Association (CGA), provided delegates with an update on the use of natural gas for vehicles. Since 1983, in Canada, 31,350 vehicles have been adapted to run on natural gas. Worldwide, the figure is 856,000. "Natural gas is the lowest cost transport fuel to find, develop and produce in Canada," Cumming declared.

Benefits of natural gas include the potential to be the most environmentally benign fuel; there is substantial indigenous supply: a safe, efficient, well-developed underground transportation system is already in place.

There are still some concerns that Cumming said had to be remedied. There are 121 public refuelling station now and the perception is that there are too few. The cost of converting a vehicle to natural gas is more than $3,000. This is high and Cumming said work is underway to reduce it. On-board storage of natural gas is the most costly element of the system and it needs to be reduced. Questions about vehicle performance have to be answered. Advances in technology and a $12 million R&D effort to improve performance will help. Greater public awareness of the technology is still needed.

The CGA is pleased with recent breakthroughs in public transportation systems. Hamilton trials have been very successful. Now, Toronto, Hamilton and Mississauga all have dedicated natural gas vehicles for part of their fleets. Vancouver has some dual-fuel vehicles.

Home refuelling appliances are now being sold, more than 700 so far. These have proved very effective, especially for commercial applications. Their cost is about $3,500.

From natural gas to methanol, J.C. Amphlett, Royal Military College, discussed Methanol as a Source of Hydrogen-Rich Gas for a Solid Polymer Fuel Cell Power System. Canada is a world leader in solid polymer technology.

One of the problems in the development of the fuel cell was the safe and convenient storage and distribution of hydrogen. Methanol steam reforming to produce a hydrogen-rich gas can overcome the problem. What's needed for reformer fuel cell integration: gas conditioning, water management, heat management, fuel efficiency and pressure.

Carbon monoxide is a problem also. It must be less than 220 ppm, 100 ppm is desirable, 20 is ideal. Amphlett suggested three methods to remove CO: shift reaction -- but it will not bring CO down to the desired levels; gas membrane separation --at the moment, too expensive; selective oxidation.

Amphlett also told delegates about three projects using proton exchange membrane fuel cells for transportation applications. Vickers uses it for nuclear submarines. Ballard Power Systems (BPS) is working on a zero-emission transit bus and BPS and Perry Engineering are developing a two-person submersible.

GM and Daimler Benz also have projects going on passenger vehicles.

David Wilkinson, MCIC, substituting for Keith Prater of BPS, described the bus project which is located in Vancouver. Ballard's focus is on solid polymer fuel cell technology and the company's main thrust now is the bus project. Wilkinson said that BPS wants to take it right to the commercial stage, "not just demonstrate its feasibility".

Issues to consider in fuel cell commercialization include: costs; developing the appropriate products; developing the needed infrastructure; regulations; fuel; manufacturing; sales/distribution; maintenance. Another big factor is overcoming the risk aversion. "Always, with new technology, there is some fear, aversion," Wilkinson explained. "It takes time to instill confidence."

The bus project is not a hybrid system. Vehicles are fully powered by solid polymer fuel cells fuelled by gaseous hydrogen. The range is 150 km. Driver acceptance is equal to that of diesel buses, Wilkinson added. Funding for the project came from the B.C. and federal governments. Funding totalled $4.84 million.

More on hydrogen came from T.J. McCann, MCIC, Stanley Industrial Consultants, in his paper The Quiet Movement of a Hydrogen Fuel Economy. We are moving towards a higher hydrogen to carbon ratio in fossil fuel use and this trend will continue. Hydrogen's cleanliness is a major attraction. However, he cautioned that renewable hydrogen in bulk is still a long way off.

McCann provided examples of fuel hydrogen projects. Hythane is mixture of natural gas and 15% hydrogen. He also spoke about the Vancouver bus project. Spiking natural gas using water is something Quebec is considering.

Chinese sign with AOSTRA

A paper by W.J. Yurko, FCIC and R.W. Luhning, Alberta Oil Sands Technology and Research Authority (AOSTRA), Future Role of Oil Sands in World Energy, painted a bright picture for the oil sands and AOSTRA. It is estimated that the oil sands and carbonate formations in Alberta hold 2.6 trillion barrels of bitumen, more than 40% of the world's reported bitumen.

With an expected decline in conventional oil production in Canada, at a rate of 25,000 barrels per day over the next 10 to 15 years, the oil sands represent an important part of the oil industry's future. Luhning went over some of the numbers and also discussed new technology developed by AOSTRA and used worldwide.

The AOSTRA direct thermal processor (ATP) combines bitumen extraction and primary upgrading in one unit. Designed and patented by William Taciuk, UMATAC Industrial Processes, and assigned to AOSTRA, the ATP can be used in waste treatment. It was also used to commercialize Australian oil shale deposits. The trials were successful and AOSTRA and Southern Pacific Petroleum and Central Pacific Minerals of Australia have entered into a licensing agreement.

A new approach was sought for an in-situ recovery process for the massive Athabaska oil sands. Studies, begun in 1977, used horizontal wells drilled from underground mine tunnels. The studies led to a successful pilot plant and a 2000-barrel-per-day pre-commercial prototype operation began in 1990. There are eight industry participants as well as CANMET and on June 3, during the meeting, it was announced that the China National Petroleum Corp. had entered into a joint venture with AOSTRA, its first outside of China. It will invest $6.5 million.

Luhning said AOSTRA will continue its development of oil sands technology in conjunction with industry. A strong economy and jobs are the pay-offs.

AOX and the Athabaska

The Environment Division organized a general session on the Wednesday. Two of the papers dealt with another "hot" topic, pulp and paper mill effluent, although not dioxin. The papers, Adsorbable Organic Halide (AOX) in the Athabaska River and Chlorinated Phenols, Guaiacols, Catechols and Veratroles in the Athabaska River, were authored by Leigh Noton, Alberta Environment, and C. Ian Johnson and R. Dean Smillie, MCIC, Alberta Environmental Centre. Johnson was the speaker.

The first paper dealt with the results of four time-of-travel surveys of AOX in the river, conducted between 1990 and 1992. The major source of AOX in the river comes from a bleached kraft pulp mill. A chemi-thermomechanical pulp mill, municipal and natural sources made small contributions to the amount of AOX in the water.

The second paper was a continuation of the work done in the first presentation. Johnson discussed pulp and paper-related chlorophenolic compounds. All are the chlorinated residue of lignin, usually softwood lignin. Johnson noted that the work was a chemical survey, i.e., to study the behavior of chemical compounds in the river and how they behave -- break down, evaporate and/or join other compounds. It was not a study "aimed" at the pulp and paper industry per se.

The Environment Division sponsored another general session the next day and the topics included landfill. Diane Radnoff, MCIC, Gartner Lee Ltd., discussed The Use of Municipal Solid Waste Landfills for Waste Treatment and Resource Recovery. Landfills are not closed systems; they affect the people, air and water around them. The problems associated with landfills are well documented.

Radnoff gave a breakdown of municipal solid waste -- paper 34%, glass 7%, metal 6%, plastics 8%. A large portion of waste is biodegradable so, Radnoff said, landfills should be viewed as biochemical treatment centres and be optimized as such. If we can increase the rate of decomposition, we can eliminate some of the effects of landfill gas.

As a potential resource, landfills can be used as a power source or as a feedstock for methane production. If they are reclaimed, afterwards, the sites may be closed, redeveloped as upgraded to a state-of-the-art facility. Reclamation is not suitable for all sites, Radnoff added. Examples include hazardous waste sites, or places hazardous waste was deposited, or where methane is produced.

Industrial and hazardous waste is dealt with differently than municipal landfills. The waste is often placed in drums, solidified or treated. Treatment prevents biodegradability, therefore, it cannot be reclaimed. It usually leaves a site by leaching. This waste contains more inorganics, especially chlorides which are very soluble in water and have a very long leaching life span. Options for disposal include:

* engineered sites;

* treatment;

* do not landfill;

* locate so the leachate effects are not so severe;

* place residues where the leachate blends in with the natural environment, e.g., for chlorides, put them in an area where the groundwater is already saline and undrinkable.

When asked how long it takes before a regular municipal landfill can be mined, Radnoff said it depends on the amount of moisture in the waste. The more there is the faster the waste will break down, but new designs are for a drier landfill so no leachates enter the groundwater.

Radnoff's talk was followed by a panel discussion: What Should Landfills Be Designed to Do?. Panellists were Radnoff, Bob Chandler, Alberta Environment and Peter Crickmore, who, along with Chandler, was the organizer of the session. Crickmore acted as moderator and gave the other panellists and the audience some questions to ponder.

* What's best, one large or many small landfills? The NIMBY factor does not come into play if the landfills are in everyone's backyard.

* Should landfills be above or below grade? if below, should it be natural or excavated?

* Should they produce methane?

* Should they produce leachate?

* Should municipal landfills contain hazardous materials (hazmat)?

* Should materials be segregated?

* Should material be subject to compaction?

* Should landfills be designed to settle?

In response to the first question, Radnoff said the Ontario government has decided that each community must deal with its own waste. How realistic is this? Many communities near Toronto have no space. She added that the 3Rs must be promoted over landfills. In comparison, Chandler said that the Alberta government prefers regional landfills. "Local municipal landfills have proved to be unmanned and uncontrolled. No site is where people want it, except 30 miles away." He advised to bring locals into siting discussions early in the process.

As for above or below grade, Radnoff said neither had any clear advantage over the other. Chandler also had no preference. In Alberta, landfills must be kept above the water table so it becomes site specific. For below grade, excavation is best.

Whether or not landfills should produce leachate/methane, both agreed that producing both is a given. Methane production can be controlled by regulating waste conditions. If a site is to be optimized for methane production, be aware that leachate will be produced and prepare for it.

Radnoff noted that methane can be a money-maker, but this is very site specific. However, costs are high for this process and only big cities can afford to have them. What about the residue after the methane is taken out? Generally, there is nothing in the leachate worth recovering. It cannot be forecast what the leachate will contain over the years. If it is collected, it must be treated.

There seems to be no doubt that hazmat should be separated from other waste. "In Alberta, the two waste streams are separated," Chandler explained. "The design of a hazmat facility is different and higher fees are charged. If you direct hazmat to a municipal landfill, you're asking for problems."

As waste streams change, it may be worth it to combine the two. If the 3R programs work, the two will be similar in nature. Even non-hazmat will be around for a long time. What about materials considered harmless now but which may be found to be dangerous in the future. No one had the answer to this.

Concerning compaction, Chandler said if space is a problem then compacting is a necessity. However, if methane and leachate production are needed, compaction makes it difficult. Another way to save space is by shredding waste. This also promotes biological breakdown.

Should landfills be designed to settle? Settlement occurs on all sites anyway; it depends on the degree. If someone is building on a former landfill site, then the settlement factor must be included in the engineering plans.

Should development be permitted at all on a former landfill site, and if so, what type? What about if the site continues to emit methane? As towns grow, they are encroaching on former landfills, what to do? Radnoff said there is no solution yet. "Landfill mining can be used at some sites to recover land. The land may also be reserved as greenspace."

There does not appear to be any set distance that a developed cannot encroach on a landfill and maybe that needs to be investigated. This is all site specific. A role of regulators may be to establish a development procedure. Put the onus on developers to try to discourage them from developing landfill sites. Make the problem their problem.

Radnoff closed by saying that landfills have an effect on the environment for a long time and they cannot be engineered to control leachate for their life. "Should we be passing these problems on to our descendants? We can design a system to last lO to 20 years. What happens after that?"

One of the best

Conference chair Bill Graham, University of Alberta, had good reason to be satisfied once everything was over. Other than joint ACS/CIC or joint CSC/CSChE conferences, this was one of the largest Canadian chemical conferences held in the past 40 years and the biggest in western Canada. "I think, more than anything, I'm grateful to the membership for coming to Edmonton. They were not deterred by the recession."

This led to a financial success, but more importantly, the work done by Graham and the organizing committee led to technical and scientific success also. Graham gave credit to the symposium organizers for their organizational work and for ensuring the quality of topics and papers was of high quality.

Next year, it's off to Sherbrooke and organizers there are already working hard to match Edmonton's success. In the months to come, ACCN will look at various aspects of the Sherbrooke conference culminating with the complete program in the April 1993 issue.

Limited Coverage

The size of the conference with many concurrent technical sessions as well as the many other events connected with the meeting make it impossible to provide coverage of all that went on. We have tried to provide a general overview of the meeting with some selected sessions and many photos to try to give you the flavor of the event. Abstract books are available from the Publications Department, CIC, 130 Slater St., Suite 550, Ottawa, Ontario, K1P 6E2; Attention: Nola Haddadian. The cost is $15 per book.

KNP92: Symposium on Kinetics of Nonhomogeneous Processes

Great advances in understanding the kinetics and dynamics of changes in systems have occurred in recent years. Systems in nature and in engineering are nonhomogeneous: not all of their components are homogeneously distributed in space. The difficulty of theoretical treatment of nonhomogeneities caused natural scientists to take extreme measures to reduce them in experimental systems, for example by rapid mixing and optimized thermostating. Theoreticians minimized nonhomogeneities by approximations. The enormous increase in time resolution (speed) of electronic devices in recent decades has allowed system nonhomogeneities to be taken into account in experiment, theory, and modelling. The increased detail has shown unexpected similarities between diverse systems, and has led to the creation of a new, unifying field of study, Kinetics of Non-homogeneous Processes (KNP).

The first book about KNP was published by Wiley-Interscience in 1987, and the first conference was held at the Banff Center in 1989. The second conference, KNP92 was held as a three-day symposium within the 75th Canadian Chemical Conference. Organizers were more than pleased with the attendance and often, delegates were forced to stand as all the seats had been taken.

KNP92 linked together topics in anesthesiology, biophysics, chemistry, mathematics, physics, physiology, and zoology. Speakers came from Canada (Nova Scotia to B.C.), the U.S.A., England, France, Germany, and Japan.

The framework of the symposium was the set of 60-minute introductory lectures to the six sessions. Twenty-six contributed talks completed the structure. Questions and comments by the audience occurred throughout most of the talks; this is an important procedure in multi-disciplinary conferences, because missed information cannot be regained at the end of a talk.

The program began with an overview by David Campbell, Urbana. He classified non-homogeneous processes (nonlinear phenomena) into three categories: coherent structures; deterministic chaos; pattern formation. Examples of pattern formation are oscillating chemical reactions; of deterministic chaos are convection currents in fluids; of coherent structures are tidal waves.

Stuart Hameroff, Tucson, illustrated self-organization in living cells by way of their dynamic networks of protein polymers (microtubules, filaments, and connecting protein). Co-operative coupling of picosecond-nanosecond conformational states of microtubles are considered to be the basis of control, information processing, and self-organization in the cytoskeleton.

Living systems and chemical waves were brought together by Leon Glass, McGill, who spoke of waves of excitation in the cardiac myocardium. Reentrant waves that produce arrhythmias are believed to be similar to chemical waves such as the Belousov-Zhabotinski reaction.

Raymond Kapral, MCIC, Toronto, described spatial and temporal pattern formation in chemically reacting systems in terms of reactive lattice-gas automaton models: chemical kinetics of spiral waves and Turing patterns. He incorporated molecular fluctuations in the treatment of nonequilibrium spatio-temporal structures.

Michael Gorman, Houston, demonstrated pattern formation by nonhomogeneous processes in flames. His videos of chaotic dynamics of premixed hydrocarbon/oxygen flames showed fixed patterns, oscillating patterns, or complex ring-dances, depending on gas composition and flow rates.

The flames beautifully illustrated both stable and unstable structures. Nonhomogeneous distributions of structures induced by instability were discussed by Michel Remolssenet, Dijon. Molecules adsorbed on a crystal surface can be modelled by localized nonlinear structures on a two-dimensional lattice, with nonlinear coupling between first nearest molecules, and a periodic nonlinear substrate potential. The nonlinear Schrodinger equation connected the sixth with the first session of the symposium.

The contributed papers were all so good that it is difficult to pick highlights. The 37 chairs in the room were usually filled; sometimes there were people standing at the back. In this brief report a few papers are mentioned to illustrate the breadth of the unifying concepts of KNP.

Co-author Tuszynski and co-workers displayed coherent structures in binary systems, deterministic chaos in an anharmonic crystal, and patterns in critical systems. Langis Gagnon, Laval, applied the nonlinear Schrodinger equation to optical self-focusing theory.

Lionel Harrison, FCIC, UBC, modelled pattern formation on animal skins, such as zebras and giraffes. Stuart Whittington, Toronto, spoke of random knots in scroll waves and ring polymers. Roger Leblanc, FCIC, Trois-Rivieres, described the topography of Langmuir-Blodgett films, measured by a scanning tunnelling microscope.

William Laidlaw, FCIC, Calgary, brought the classic example of electrophysical oscillation of a mercury drop into fresh focus by explaining the multifold symmetries.

The Active Walkers Model of Lui Lam, San Jose, takes into account the fact that walkers modify the landscape as they become part of it. The AWM applies to electrodeposit pattern formation, evolutionary biology and earthquakes. Naeem Jan, St Francis Xavier, presented a model of damage spreading.

Solvent structure effects and spatial distributions of
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Title Annotation:includes related articles; Canadian Chemical Conference and Exhibition
Author:Rodden, Graeme
Publication:Canadian Chemical News
Date:Oct 1, 1992
Previous Article:Communicating science: the role of national societies.
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