Sept 26 meeting notes

October 1, 2008 at 11:40 pm 2 comments

Present: Look Tobin, Sarah Jablonski, Erin Smith, Cameron Kellett, Alan Shusterman + 2 newcomers Ida Peric, Kassandera Reuss-Schmidt

Sadly, I’ve lost the little scrap of paper that I was keeping notes on, but this is what I recall. If you’ve got something either add it or send it to me (these pages can always be edited).

Electronic waste. What happens to electronics after they go into the trash (or into “recycling”)? Most of us are old enough to remember some treasured family electronic bite the dust. Generally, these things get thrown in the trash, not repaired. The problem is going to grow substantially next year when TV broadcasts go digital (Feb 09) and people begin tossing out their old analog receivers. Do you know what compounds are in your electronics and what happens to them after they enter the environment? Are your electronics a valuable source of material? The Technology Solutions file of the ES&T journal (Sept 15, 2008, p. 6782-3) contains a short article describing recent efforts to harvest valuable materials from electronics. Another take on electronic waste is provided by the book, High Tech Trash by Elizabeth Grossman takes a broader and deeper view of the problem (the Reed library owns a copy of the book). And I also came across a National Geographic article with the same name that isn’t too long a read. Also see previous blog post on e-waste.

Jordan Katz seminar. We also heard a report from students who had attended this seminar the previous afternoon. The gist of the seminar was:1) avoiding serious problems from global warming required some kind of control over CO2 levels in the atmosphere; 2) global energy consumption forecasts suggest that 10-20 TW (that’s terawatts) of carbon-free power would be needed fairly soon (next few decades?); 3) the power needs to be in the form of fuel rather than electricity; and 4) the only real shot at solving this problem is to develop a solar-powered chemical reaction that produces fuels. To learn more, see CCI Solar – Powering the Planet and check out this previous blog post. (An aside: we also discovered that we didn’t know much about the role nuclear power might be able to play in meeting global energy needs.)

Bisphenol A (BPA). This subject produced an animated discussion of how BPA is used, why it is (and whether it should be) a matter of concern, and how companies are going about replacing it. For those who would like to know more, a good starting place might be this quotation from a previous blog post (Oct 4, 2007): “The on-line articles that were posted previously on this topic are especially interesting because they present 1) the industry view (Polycarbonate/BPA Global Group), 2) the view of scientists who are especially worried about endocrine disrupting chemicals (Our Stolen Future), and 3) the difficulties that government-supported panels have in making firm scientific conclusions.”

Thurs, Oct 2 Chemistry seminar (Rm. 301, 4:15). Alan encouraged students to attend this seminar titled “Nanotechnology and Applications for Water Purification” and to escort the speaker to lunch. The latter is easily achieved. You show up in the Chem building lobby between 11:45-11:55 and meet the speaker. Go to lunch. Save your receipts. Chemistry reimburses you. We can pay for up to 10 students (no alcoholic beverages).


Entry filed under: Meeting notes.

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