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Gerard B. Hawkins
Works at GBH Enterprises - Entrepreneuring Chemical Engineer, engaged in Catalysis and Process Technology Consultancy, process catalyst sales and technical services to the Petrochemical, Refining, Gas Processing markets.
Lives in The Americas
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Gerard B. Hawkins

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BMW Showcases 5 Series GT Hydrogen Fuel Cell Prototype,
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Signs of life in meteorites from Mars?

Gases in the red planet's rocks could sustain Martian microbes. 

This Martian meteorite weighing 320 grams was found in the Sahara desert in 2011. Scientists have recently detected methane in Martian rocks found on Earth, that may indicate the red planet once hosted life.

The surface of Mars is an inhospitable desert bombarded by cosmic rays – but could microbes be lurking beneath the dust? Earth’s subsurface is teeming with unconventional life, including methane-munching microbes. The discovery of methane inside meteorites from Mars, reported in Nature Communications, confirms similar microbial life could exist on Mars.

Methane is a sign of an active planet; either geologically (from chemical reactions inside rocks) or biologically (most of Earth's methane is produced by living organisms). Scientists have been searching for signs of methane on Mars for nearly 50 years. Back in 1969, Mariner 7 scientists thought the spacecraft had detected methane bubbling up near Mars' south pole, but later researchers realised that it was carbon dioxide ice.

Then in 2003 and 2004 telescopes and spacecraft appeared to detect large methane clouds in Mars' atmosphere – they vanished after a few months, sparking a debate about whether the clouds were seasonal, or the measurements flawed. Most recently, NASA's Curiosity rover detected a burst of methane in 2013, but scientists continue to debate whether the measurement is real, or if the methane came from inside the rover.

The big question of course, is whether the methane on Mars has ever supported life.

Now scientists have tackled the Mars methane mystery from a different angle. John Parnell from the University of Aberdeen and his colleagues extracted small samples of rock from six rare Martian meteorites (only a few dozen have ever been found on Earth) and analysed what gases were released when the samples were crushed. They found that methane, trapped in pores inside the meteorites, was one of the dominant gases.

“This doesn't prove that there is life on Mars either now or in the past, but it does tell us that there is a potential habitat available to life,” says Parnell.

All the Martian meteorites sampled were volcanic rocks, thought to be similar to the rock that covers much of Mars today. “This is a very interesting new way of looking at Martian meteorites,” says Conel Alexander, a geochemist from the Carnegie Institution of Washington. That methane would be present is not a great shock, he adds. “Similar rocks on Earth also contain methane and I suspect that as long as a planet or moon contains carbon and water (or other hydrogen-bearing material), some methane will be present.”

Parnell agrees: “The chemical reaction between water and rock to produce methane is straightforward and is likely to take place on any planet with subsurface water.” But the researchers were “relieved and excited” to confirm experimentally that Martian rock really does contain the gas, adds Nigel Blamey, a member of the team.

The big question of course, is whether the methane on Mars has ever supported life. Mars isn’t an active planet, which limits opportunities for methane to escape from rocks and make itself available for microbes as a source of energy and carbon. But in the past Mars is thought to have had a more active crust, making it more likely that methane could have pervaded the subsurface, diffusing along underground cracks. “If there ever has been life on Mars it would have been more likely in the past," says Parnell.

And any life on Mars would likely have left a chemical fingerprint. Life on Earth prefers the lighter, slightly more reactive carbon isotope: carbon-12. As a result gases on Earth tends to be depleted in this isotope, because living things have absorbed it in preference to the heavier carbon-13. It is likely that any life on Mars was also selective about the carbon isotopes it consumed. Later this year Parnell and his colleagues will attempt to extract a little more gas from the Martian meteorites to analyse their carbon isotope composition. “If we can see any evidence of this kind of isotopic fractionation it is likely to be a sign that life was once there,” says Parnell.
Source: Kate Ravilious.
Photo Courtesy: NASA
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Shale Revolution Accelerates Chemicals Industry 
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GAS DISPERSION - A Definitive Guide to Accidental Releases of Heavy Gases
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Coal-To-Gas Conversions And Retrofits For NOx Emission Control In Power Plant Operations
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Gerard B. Hawkins

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Hot Fun In The Summer Time

Now that the July 4th holiday weekend has come and gone, summer is officially in full swing.  Many of us have vacation or "stay-cation" plans which may include getting together with family or for some parents, getting away from family!  Whatever you do during these "hazy, crazy, lazy days of summer" it's important to keep summer safety in mind, whether at work or at home.  I thought it would be appropriate to share some excerpts from an article by Gina Shaw, featured in WebMD Magazine entitled "Top 7 Summer Health Hazards."  I strongly encourage you to read the article in its entirety and share it with your friends and family: http://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/features/top-7-summer-health-hazards.  And of course if your summer plans include thinking about a potential job change, we can "keep you safe" on that score as well! C>
 
Ryan Stanton MD, a Lexington KY emergency room physician knows that when the weather starts heating up, so do a host of health hazards that can quickly turn a festive day at the beach into a disaster. He tells WebMD the Magazine about what brings summer revelers into his emergency room most often -- and how you can enjoy the warm weather while escaping the same fate.
 
1 - Mower injuries - Every homeowner loves the sight of a pristine, neatly mowed yard. But in their haste to get that lawn in shape, some people forget to take precautions. To be safe: Wear closed-toed shoes -- preferably with a steel toe -- when you mow, along with goggles or sunglasses, gloves, and long pants that will protect you from flying debris. Keep kids away from the push mower and off the riding mower. Riding mowers are not just another ride-on toy. Get a professional to service your mower or learn how to do it properly.
 
2 - Boating accidents - "People's biggest mistake by far is drinking and boating. People get out there and drink alcohol all day in the sun, and you end up with the same accidents you have with driving -- with the added risks of falling out of boats, getting hit by propellers, and drowning." It's also easy to get lax about life jackets. "Kids need to have them on all the time," he says. When you are going to be out on a boat or at the beach with a child, basic lifesaving skills are a must, not a luxury.
 
3 - Dehydration Disasters - You've romped outdoors with the kids all day, and your water bottle ran dry long ago. Suddenly you feel dizzy and lightheaded, and your mouth tastes like cotton. You're dehydrated -- meaning you haven't taken in enough fluids to replace those you've been sweating out. People can get dehydrated any time of year, but it's much more common in the summer months, when they are active outdoors in the warm sun. Preventing dehydration and heatstroke couldn't be easier: Drink plenty of fluids, especially water, take regular breaks in the shade, and try to schedule your most vigorous outdoor activities for times when the heat isn't so strong, such as early morning or late afternoon.
 
4 - Sunburn Snafus - With all the skin cancer warnings, you'd think Americans would be getting fewer sunburns, not more. But you'd be wrong. Your risk for melanoma doubles if you've had just five sunburns in your life. "A sunburn is a first-degree burn, right up there with thermal burns," says Stanton. (Get into the habit of) practicing "safe sun" -- wearing sunscreen that protects against both UVB and UVA rays, long-sleeved shirts, and wide-brimmed hats, and staying out of blistering midday rays.
 
5 -Picnic Poisoning - Food poisoning puts about 300,000 people in the hospital every year, hitting its peak in the summer months. "Anything that has mayonnaise, dairy, or eggs in it and any meat products can develop some pretty nasty bacteria after only a couple of hours unrefrigerated," says Stanton.
 
6 - Fireworks Safety -  Many people love fireworks, but fireworks don't necessarily love them back. Nearly 9,000 individuals were injured by fireworks in 2009, according to the U.S. Fire Administration, and two were killed. The safest way to watch fireworks is at a professionally sponsored display. But if you can buy fireworks legally and want to set off a few at home, take these precautions: Keep a hose or fire extinguisher handy to put out small fires. Keep children away from fireworks. "Everybody loves to give sparklers to kids, but they burn very hot and can cause significant eye injuries," Stanton says. In fact, a sparkler can burn as hot as 2,000 degrees -- hot enough to melt some types of metals. "They can go off quickly and cause burns or just explode in your hand."
 
7 - Summertime Stings - You're out for a pleasant day of working in the yard and you dig up a hornet's nest -- literally. For most people, a bee or wasp sting is just painful, but for a few, it can be life-threatening. You may not know you're one of them until after you've been stung -- sometimes more than once. To stay free of bees (and other stinging insects, including mosquitoes) when outdoors, avoid heavy perfumes and scents (especially florals), wear light-colored clothing with no floral patterns (stinging insects are attracted to dark colors and flowers), and guard food and sugary drinks like sodas.
Source: Carol Wenom, CPC, CTS
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The Internet of Things Will Give Rise To The Algorithm Economy
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Chinese professor arrested for drug business: China's real-life Walter White

A chemistry professor at a university in central China's Wuhan has been arrested on suspicion of producing hundreds of kg of a psychoactive drug and selling it to overseas buyers, the local public security bureau announced on Tuesday.

Police gave his surname as Zhang, an associate professor at an unnamed but "famous" university in Wuhan.

China's real-life Walter White, the fictional chemistry teacher and methamphetamine producer in U.S. TV show "Breaking Bad", "found while acting as a visiting academic in Australia that some psychoactive drugs were in heavy demand, but hard to find there. He decided to make those drugs when he got back to China for profit," police said.

Zhang founded a chemical company in 2005 ostensibly producing medical coating and solvent. He recruited staff to produce drugs and sold them through mail order overseas, according to police.

Zhang's business came to light in November, when local customs agents checked overseas-bound parcels and found at least nine parcels from one mailer contained white powder.

The powder was found to be methylone, a psychoactive drug under heavy state restriction in China. Commonly used as a substitute for MDMA, methylone can lead people to lose control over their behavior and even cause death.

On June 17, customs and police raided Zhang's lab in Jiangxia District of Wuhan. Eight people were arrested and about 20 kg of drugs were seized.

From March to November 2014, Zhang's business sold at least 193 kg of drugs to buyers in Britain, Canada, the United States and Australia, making Zhang millions of U.S. dollars, police said.
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Facebook says renewables will power 50% of its data centers by 2018

Facebook is stepping up its commitment to renewable energy today. While announcing a new data center in Fort Worth (above), which happens to be entirely powered by wind energy, the social network also set a new goal of having 50 percent of its data centers relying on renewables by the end of 2018. That follows an earlier self-imposed goal to have 25 percent of its data centers powered by clean energy come the end of this year. Naturally, Facebook plans to have all of its operations powered by renewable energy eventually. It's also working together with Greenpeace -- which took today's announcement as a chance to shame Amazon for its data center energy usage -- to ensure that it's exploring new energy options properly. Facebook teamed up with Citi Energy, Starwood Energy, and Alterra Power to bring a 17,000 acre wind farm online for its new Fort Worth data hub, which should deliver around 200 MW of energy to Texas. Facebook plans to get that new data center online by the end of 2016.
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Pacific Ethanol finalizes US merger with Aventine Renewable Energy 
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Solutions for Minimizing Dust Explosion Risks
Prevent Everything from Coal Dust to ...
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Chemical Engineer - Managing Director, responsible for International Business Development
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  • GBH Enterprises - Entrepreneuring Chemical Engineer, engaged in Catalysis and Process Technology Consultancy, process catalyst sales and technical services to the Petrochemical, Refining, Gas Processing markets.
    Chemical Engineer - Managing Director, responsible for International Business Development, present
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Don Gerardo
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Passionate Chemical Engineer, Gemologist, Jewelry Designer, Martial Artist, and Scuba enthusiast
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The Americas
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Chicago - 5 Continents