RACI Centenary Chemistry Congress

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Melbourne: 23 – 28 July 2017

Three Nobel Laureates, 2,500+ scientists and nine national, regional and international conferences all under one congress roof.

The RACI Centenary Chemistry Congress, celebrating the 100th birthday of the Royal Australian Chemical Institute (RACI), will be held from 23 to 28 July 2017 at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre.

Below are the media releases, media alerts and other news items released during the Congress.

We’ll be tweeting news and interesting content from the Congress from @RACI_HQ and using #RACI100. For more information about the Congress itself, visit the website: www.racicongress.com.

If you’d like more information on any of these stories, please contact

Better batteries for electric cars; smartphone testing for diseases & clean water; Nobel Laureate who transformed fuels, plastic and drugs; and more

Thursday 27 July 2017, at the RACI Centenary Chemistry Congress, Melbourne Convention Centre

Today at the Centenary Chemistry Congress

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The inventor of the nanocar; the man who unboiled an egg is now unfolding a $160 billion industry; confusing insects so they can’t mate; and more

Wednesday, 26 July 2017, at the RACI Centenary Chemistry Congress, Melbourne Convention Centre

Today at the Centenary Chemistry Congress

From a molecular motor to the nanocar and beyond: 2016 chemistry Nobel Prize recipient Ben Feringa is speaking in Melbourne and available for interview today and Thursday. More below.

The man who unboiled an egg: Colin Raston won an IgNobel Prize in 2015 for unboiling an egg. Now he and his team are taking the technology to market. And it’s set to transform the $160 protein folding industry. More below.

A pheromone-based alternative to insecticides; and cleaner, greener household products: Frances Arnold is confusing insects so they can’t mate (a bit like spraying bad perfume). And James Clark wants to take the fossil fuels out of solvents used in paint and cleaning products. More below.

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Solutions: Dr Alan Finkel’s opening address

Monday 24 July 2017, Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre

Dr Alan Finkel AO delivered the opening address to the Royal Australian Chemical Institute Centenary Congress in Melbourne. The speech was titled ‘Solutions’.

Solutions

It is a great honour to pay tribute to one of Australia’s most stable compounds: the Royal Australian Chemical Institute, in its centenary year.

Thousands of chemists, in high concentration, in my home town.

I grew up in the era when junior chemistry kits were the rage and children were encouraged to invent their own fun.

You could say that I was an inventive youth.

And one of the first things I discovered was that magnesium ribbons could be burned for entertainment, and zinc dust and sulphur powder could make rocket fuel.

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Chemical terrorism a stark reality; periodic table on a hair; how water and CO2 can replace toxic solvents; wood waste into green chemistry; and more

Tuesday, 25 July 2017, at the RACI Centenary Chemistry Congress, Melbourne Convention Centre

Nobel Peace Prize winner on eliminating chemical weapons

While the threat of countries using chemical weapons has diminished, “chemical terrorism is no longer a theoretical proposition or even imminent threat, but a stark reality,” according to His Excellency Mr Ahmet Üzümcü.

Winner of the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize, Mr Üzümcü is the Director-General of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).

In 2013, the OPCW along with the United Nations and 30 partner countries participated in an operation to remove all the chemical weapons declared by the Syrian Arab Republic.

Since then, the OPCW has remained engaged in Syria through an ongoing fact-finding mission to establish whether chemical weapons have been used in Syria.

They’re also keeping a close eye on North Korea, one of only four countries who haven’t yet joined the Chemical Weapons Convention, an international treaty outlawing the production, stockpiling or use of chemical weapons. The treaty came into force 20 years ago.

Limited availability for interviews – talk is at 2.30pm.

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Chemical-free is a myth says Chief Scientist; Dow CEO says business can save the world

Today at the Centenary Chemistry Congress

Chemical-free is a myth, says Chief Scientist

It’s a sad era for chemistry when you can buy chemical-free water, in a chemical-free plastic bottle, to wash down your chemical-free pills, from your chemical-free pharmacist,” says Australia’s Chief Scientist Dr Alan Finkel.

More below.

Tomorrow

  • Eliminating chemical weapons, His Excellency Mr Ahmet ÜzümcüDirector-General, Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (2013 Nobel Peace Prize winner)
  • Using carbs to fight superbugs—Wisconsin chemist Laura Kiessling on how we can use the carbohydrates that coat every living cell in the fight against antibiotic resistant superbugs
  • Sir Martyn Poliakoff (University of Nottingham) is in the Guinness Book of Records for the world’s smallest periodic table (carved into a hair from his head). He’s a star of the YouTube series The Periodic Table of Videos. And in his day job he’s working to use CO2, water and other supercritical fluids to replace toxic solvents in applications such as dry cleaning.

And from last night

Business can solve today’s intractable challenges says Dow CEO Andrew Liveris, but Australia is falling behind..

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Business can solve today’s intractable challenges says Dow CEO Andrew Liveris, but Australia is falling behind

Business can help make the world a better place by driving the solutions to problems like climate change, food security and rising energy demand.

“I firmly believe that the companies who will lead the 21st century will be the ones that invent solutions to these mounting global challenges,” said Andrew Liveris, speaking last night at the RACI Centenary Chemistry Congress.

For Dow that’s meant developing a paint that removes toxic formaldehyde from the air, innovative packaging technologies that reduce food waste, and new methods of desalination that allow us to put more of the planet’s water to use.

Last year the company was awarded 754 US patents – eight times the number they were getting a decade ago.

“More and more companies are seeing that we can do well by doing good,” Andrew said.

But we also need governments to set smart regulatory and policy frameworks that enable innovation to flourish, and that’s not happening enough in Australia he said.

According to the World Economic Forum, Australia ranks 25th in the world when it comes to “business capacity for innovation”. And we’re also falling behind in our competitiveness in teaching young people maths and science.

Andrew says our quality of life will go backwards “if all we are is a farm, a hotel and a quarry”.

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The ignorant versus the arrogant; growing bones; frog venom to TV screens; wood waste to solvents

Monday, 24 July at Melbourne Convention Centre
RACI Centennial Chemistry Congress: 3,500 chemists, three Nobel Prize winners, Trump and Obama insiders

The ignorant versus the arrogant – inside US politics

That’s how Obama insider and chemist Paul Anastas describes the US election result. He was appointed to the EPA by President Obama and now sees decades of environmental protection being rolled back. He’s angry. At the Congress, he’s talking about solving global challenges without creating new ones. For example, we need non-toxic solar cells, and biofuels that don’t compete with food production. He’s a pioneer of green chemistry, designing chemicals that are sustainable, non-hazardous and environmentally benign.

How seaweed and frog venom led to today’s OLED phone and TV screens

Andrew Holmes is President of the Australian Academy of Science and a chemistry pioneer whose discoveries led to plastic screens. Now he and his colleagues are working on plastic solar cells. He’ll discuss the impact of chemistry on Australia, and what’s next for plastic electronics.

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Growing bones; inside Chernobyl; Obama green chemistry adviser; Trump’s Aussie mate; from frog venom to TV screens

It’s a week of discovering how chemistry is changing our world—international and national speakers are in Melbourne and ready to talk. Here are some highlights and we’ll have daily alerts for you with more people and ideas through the week. Media are welcome.

This Sunday, 5pm

  • Meet Trump’s ‘Aussie mate’ Andrew Liveris—Australian-born, US-based chairman and CEO of Dow Chemical Company, who Trump has appointed to lead his American Manufacturing Council. Liveris is not doing any media interviews but you can see and report his talk at 5pm
  • Opening of the RACI Centennial Chemistry Congress: 2,500 chemists, three Nobel Prize winners.

Monday 24 July

  • How seaweed and frog venom led to today’s OLED phone and TV screens. Andrew Holmes discusses what’s next for plastic electronics and solar energy
  • Molly Stevens grows bones—Molly is a tissue engineer growing bones, cartilage, nerve and heart tissue for regenerative medicine and bio-sensing. Last December she announced a patch that could fix a broken heart
  • Obama White House insider, and father of green chemistry, Paul Anastas on how we need to design smarter to create a sustainable society. For example, we need non-toxic solar cells, and biofuels that don’t compete with food production
  • New solvents from wood—invented in York, made in Tassie. The world needs good solvents for everything from cleaning the house, to making drugs, and miracle materials like graphene. York University’s James Clark has invented a new solvent that’s now being made in Tasmania.

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What have we achieved in 100 years of chemistry? And what’s next?

9 conferences and 2,500+ chemists under one roof

  • What’s the role of chemistry in shaping the economy, now and in the future?
  • What is e-drug discovery and what will it offer medicine?
  • Can chemistry help save the planet through energy storage or cleaner production?
  • How will chemistry address the challenges of the 21st Century?

In two weeks, Melbourne will host the RACI Centenary Chemistry Congress, celebrating the 100th birthday of the Royal Australian Chemical Institute (RACI) and bringing nine national, regional and international conferences under one congress roof.

Visiting speakers include:

  • ‘Trump’s Aussie mate’ Andrew Liveris – Australian-born, US-based chairman and CEO Dow Chemical Company, who Trump has appointed to lead his American Manufacturing Council.
  • Nobel Prize for Chemistry (2005) winner Robert Grubbs (Caltech), who won for his work on a multistep reaction process and catalysts to help it. The benefits can be cleaner, cheaper and faster reactions.
  • His Excellency Mr Ahmet Üzümcü – Director-General, Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (2013 Nobel Peace Prize winner)
  • Frances Arnold (Caltech) – American scientist and engineer, and a pioneer of ‘directed evolution’, which uses chemical engineering to create useful biological systems such as highly reactive enzymes or microorganisms that convert biomass to alternatives fuels.
  • Martyn Poliakoff (University of Nottingham) – a green chemistry research leader working with supercritical fluids – gases compressed under so much pressure that they have properties of both gases and liquids. Martyn is also a star of the YouTube series The Periodic Table of Videos.

If you’d like to attend the conference, media passes are available—contact Suzannah Lyons on suzannah@scienceinpublic.com.au to register.

We’ll be tweeting news and interesting content from the Congress from @RACI_HQ and using #RACI100.

For more information about the Congress itself, visit the website: www.racicongress.com.