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We [Heart] Science

Posted Friday 25th January 2013, 11:00pm
We [Heart] Science

I have been working on Poo Power! for a while now and I felt I was ready to join the Australian Science Communicators - a network of over 500 people working in science and technology communication across Australia and overseas.  I think being called by ABC Radio to explain anaerobic digestion on air late last year speaks for itself but I was approached today to do a couple of presentations for some AuSSI Vic registered schools.  I'm really excited about this but I'm sure talking about dog poo to school-aged children will get some laughs.

On a personal note, I'm a bit of a fan of The Big Bang Theory and I have a little giggle at the science jokes (but I don't get the Star Wars-Trek references... so does that make me a half-geek?).  Anyway, across my background reading for Poo Power! I have come across some chemistry equations and I was surprised how much I remembered from high school over 15 years ago.  For example in the blog post where I provided an overview of anaerobic digestion, there's this equation:

C6H12O6 → 3CO2 + 3CH4

This is a simplied version of the four stage process, but it shows glucose (sugar) converted into carbon dioxide and methane by the AD process.  Yes, it's quite mathematical as you can see it's a "balanced" equation with equal amounts of the various atoms on each side.  (I recall my Year 12 chemistry classes were more math than practical!)  

Then there is this little equation I also wanted to show you:

CH4 + 2O2 → CO2 + 2H2O + energy

In this equation, the bonds in the methane and oxygen come apart, the atoms rearrange and then re-bond to form carbon dioxide, water and energy.  Any guesses what's happening here?  Yep... it's the chemical reaction showing the combustion of biogas and you can see quite clearly the methane on one side and the carbon dioxide (a weaker greenhouse gas) on the other.

If you're interested in a little more chemistry of "AD" try here (intermediate) or here (advanced)... don't let it scare you. See if you can follow it and let me know how you go :)

Duncan.

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