Today it has been the first day in my stage as a member of the Relate programme in the research centre ENEA of Casaccia, Italy. As a young journalist interested in science, I am very aware that society needs to have more chances to know about science and also to be able to understand and have their own opinions. So that’s why we are here, to make science reach people, definitely a very challenging and encouraging project which will let us broaden our professional experience and knowledge.
The day in ENEA has been very busy and productive. First of all, we met with the responsible of the Relate programme in Rome, Fabiola Falconieri, who has been introducing us to all the work that is done here and also being our tutor. My own impression has been very good from the very beginning because even tough science it can be a complicated field, Fabiola and the rest of researchers are very nice and willing to help all of us, which I appreciate a lot.
After our first contact with the installations of ENEA this morning, we went straight away to the Thermodynamic Solar Plant. It was a very interesting topic, because we learnt how solar light produces heat that can reach up to more than 500 degrees, that then produces the steam needed make electricity. The plant itself was quite nice to see. One of the things which I find more interesting is that ENEA is working with the goal of being able in the future to produce the energy that will be useful to power the hole complex. I think is very good to promote the main theme and motivation of the laboratories, which is the sustainability.
After this, the second stop was waiting for us in the in the Seismic and Dynamic Test Halls. There we learnt the last techniques to protect buildings from the external impact that produce natural phenomena like earthquakes. The scientist in charge explained us how they make research with sensors that give data so they can analyze how the buildings react to the movement. Therefore, they can design techniques to protect them better. It was quite impressive for me that they have shaking tables where they can test and simulate this movement in situ. I also want to point out the fact that these pioneer techniques are very popular outside the country, which I think is very good for the promotion of the centre and will encourage more companies and governmental institutions to give it more funding and distribution.
Next to the second lab we visited the last laboratory for the day, the Semi-Aneocoich Chamber. This was a bit more technical subject but thanks to the explanations of the researcher we could manage to get the procedure. Inside the chamber they study how electromagnetic fields coming from antennas affect different devices and machines. The main reason of doing this work is because they test how different machines affect to one and other while working in the same space. I thought it was very impressive the effects that an electromagnetic field can have on some machines, and specially on military equipment which has to be very exact and accurate.
By the end of this visit I can say I am very excited to keep on learning during this week. I want to make the most of the great opportunity we have while working with researchers and spreading science in society. I am looking forward for the next step.
Today it’s been a very productive and interesting day. This morning I was very curious and nervous to find out more about this fascinating field within physics that is spectroscopy.
So after checking in ENEA facilities, our tutor Mauro Falconieri, was waiting for us, my colleague Imma and me, ready to introduce us to the labs of Spectroscopy and science of materials. But let’s go a little bit back on time. Before going to the lab I wanted to make clear on my mind what spectroscopy means and how I can explain it. After reading about the subject on the internet I would say in a standard language, that is the science that studies how substances react when they are being shoot by light and the exchange of energy that happens to them. To do this, spectroscopy uses beams of light, lasers and lamps among them, to shoot the light to the materials they want to study, mainly nanoparticles. After that, the sample gives a graphic of the different wave balances within the component after the shooting. Physicians can determinate reading this information properties like conductivity, thermal dispersion or optical properties.
Going back to this morning, when we got to the lab we first met the people working with our tutor, the researcher Rosaria D’Amato, and also the researcher Flaminia Rondino, that will be assisting our work during these days. Just after the first meeting with them, Mauro took us to the labs, one of the places that impress me more. As a journalist it’s a great opportunity to get to know the subject I have to write about for so close. Mauro explain us the main machines they use to study different materials and nanoparticles in their different spectroscopy projects. These different machines use different kind of lasers that adequate to the aim of each project.
After our intense introduction to the spectroscopy world we started speaking with Flaminia Randoni, who is a researcher working in ENEA specially for the project Nanohex, that involves 12 different organizations in 6 different countries. The project is developing cooling fluids to refrigerate machines for industrial use. It was very cool and exciting to see her working with the laser while she was giving us all kind of technical details. Her mission in the Nanohex project is to test different components for the cooling fluids to see which are the ones with the better thermal properties.
Flaminia is working now with the element Titanium (Ti), which she disperses in water or ethanol to be able to study it by means of spectroscopy techniques. It was quite impressive for me how accurate and exact it has to be the preparation of the set of lasers to be able to get the sample. We received a brief explanation about how the lasers that she uses work and how the beams of light have to merge to shoot perfectly the light to the Titanium dispersion.
Los of data and new information to process for today!:) But I hope spectroscopy will get clearer for me while we spend our mornings in the lab learning everyday more. Now it is also time to discover the beautiful city of Rome, to get the energy for another busy day in ENEA :)
It seems I just got here and is already the third day of our Relate Programme. Today I woke up and my head was going back to spectroscopy and all the explanations I received yesterday in the laboratories. I want to know as much as I can and make the most of the time here so I was very eager this morning to ask lots of questions to our research team and keep on learning.
Our morning started with Ruchika Bagga. She is a PhD student in India. Thanks to the International Center for Therotical Physics she has the opportunity to use the ENEA facilities to make progress in her research during 6 months. I think this kind of projects are very good for the students because they have the opportunity to learn and travel and have lots of new professional and personal experiences.
Ruchika explained us the aim of her project. She is developing manocrystals, that will give better properties to normal glass, giving it a better structure, because glass for its nature is amorphous and doesn’t have an structured shape. Along with the development of the nanocrystals she will use nanocomposites (made of Rare Earth components) that will facilitate the spectroscopy analysis with the lasers. I am every time more surprised of the amazing quantity of things that researchers can study with the spectroscopy technique. Ruchika is in the first stage of the investigation so the applications of this improved crystal are not proved yet.
Our busy morning has continued with Flaminia. This time she explained us more specific details about the Nanohex project. It was also very useful for us all the explanations to help us understand better the subject. For example we learnt that cooling fluids were already being done in the 50’s, but now are becoming very popular in the refrigeration of industrial equipment. Also I was wondering all the time why she started with Titanium for the trials. Flaminia made clear that the reason is because this component has proved in the past to work very well for nanofluids.
What Flaminia is specifically studying is the thermal diffusion of Titanium, for this reason the effect of shooting light to the component permits that she can study the thermal diffusion. This is related directly with the curve of the change of energy (inside the nanofluid when this reacts to the shooting)in time. But the most complicated part for me it’s to understand the interactions of the two lasers (the green one Ion Argon Laser, and the red one Helium Neon Laser). In this case one laser has a wave length of 636 nanometers and the other one 514. To make them interact she has to put a serial of glasses that refract the laser in a chain in a very specific way. In the end they merge in a prism that makes possible that the lasers are shooting at a certain angle and at the same height.
It’s very interesting for me that so many things have to be taken into account, for example by using formulas she could determinate at which angle the two beams of light had to be in order to shoot at the same point into the sample. So quite tricky, but this is just the first stage of the experiment, that’s setting up the lasers. Then after some weeks, Flaminia is planning to start with the measurements of the Titanium.
So like yesterday, my head is just thinking now about lasers and beams and interactions of light. And tonight I will keep on reading about the subject, so Flaminia will not get bored tomorrow answering more of my questions :) But now I’m already thinking about a new experience in Trastevere area, Il apperitivo is waiting for us tonight… molto delizioso! A domani Relaters :)
The Relate experience is being a very formative and productive experience. As the others days, today it’s been very busy, I have learnt many kind of details about the project Nanohex, which the department of Spectroscopy and science of materials is working on.
For a start we had a very interesting talk with the head of the department Mauro Falconieri. As I said before, the Nanohex project is studying a serial of cooling nanofluids for its industrial application. But which application they are going to have? And why are they studying them? And who is involved with it?
So the Nanohex involves 12 different fields of work, that imply 6 different countries. In this case, our laboratory is involved in the Nanofluid Characterization and Optimization, that is why they are testing which nanoparticles are the ones that have the better thermal dispersion properties. The two main focuses of the project are: the application of the nanofluids in data centres and in power electronics like trains. Mauro explained us that the conditions of this project are very demanding, because in the research project has to reach the level of giving solutions and facts to companies. That’s why companies like Siemens (for trains) or the Centre for Process in Innovation (for data centres) are also collaborating and being an active part in the research.
The cooling fluids to refrigerate systems in industries have been used for more than a 100 years but with the raise of nanotechnology the study of the nanofluids is being very popular. In this case, it has a direct effect on the functionality of the industrial equipment, because companies can reduce the energy they use and the costs by improving the quality of the cooling fluids (they need less amount and they are more efficient). I think this fact has a direct consequence on society and also nowadays with the sustainably of the planet and the climate change debate, every single thing that is being done to improve the conditions and minimize the effects will benefit all of us in the long term.
I think is very interesting that this kind of improved nanofluids could be very useful too for the equipment of space shuttles, because as Mauro explained us, they would mean a decrease of the weight of the machines traduced in less cost to send them into space.
But it is also very important to take into account that researchers have to take lots of aspects into account to determinate how efficient are these nanofluids. For this reason they have to study parameters like the corrosion they produce or the amount of time they can last working properly. In the ENEA facilities, there is another department where engineers study the corrosive and the thermal properties of different kinds of nanofluids. It was very interesting to see the software they use to control every single detail of the machines used for that, because they are working 24 hours non-stop and the software permit a very precise and instantaneous monitoring.
So another day more, and another day of lots of interesting minutes recorded that will help me to prepare my article. Tomorrow will be the last day of the Relate project, I still cannot believe it went so fast, but they say that is always a good and positive sign :) Tomorrow we will have to give a short speak about our experience and the briefing of our news piece, so more research is waiting for me tonight. Lots of luck to everyone. Energy Relaters!:)
Five days seem a lot, but when you are enjoying yourself it is nothing. The last day in ENEA arrived so fast and a mixture of feelings was rushing inside me. Satisfaction because all the things we had learnt and sadness that we had to leave after all the nice and great experiences all of us had shared together.
The Friday morning was dedicated to the personal presentations about our experiences in ENEA and the explanations on how our articles are going to be. It was very interesting to know better the subjects that all my mates had been working on. It’s amazing how much we have learnt in just one week. When I had to do my presentation I was a bit scared because all the researchers were with us and I wanted to give a good explanation of what spectroscopy is and means for me. But with the support of everyone in the room it was easy. About my article, I think it will be focused on the advantages that using nanofluids as cooling fluids can give to companies, always relating this fact to the sustainability of the planet and saving energy. I think that’s how I will be able to make my article interesting to the big audience. But of course, I will focuse it too on the important mission that ENEA has as is part of the Nanohex project, which is developing these nanlofuids at the moment.
Writing about science is such a challenge, because sometimes it can be very complicated. But I think both parts, journalists and scientists, have to help each other to make the science a popular field. The Relate Programme has proved to me that this is possible as everyone in ENEA was willing to help us and be an active part of it.
Relate has been so interesting and it has learnt me so many things, about science but also about all the friends I have made. I want to thank you Fabiola Falconieri for being so nice, guiding us in our work and taking so good care of us. And also my colleagues and friends, Greta, Inma, Antonia, Elvir, Ewelina and Agnieszka. It has been so nice to share the experience with them. I will always remember our trips to ENEA, having loud and funny conversations in the metro and the train, :) our long and fascinating walks around Rome, our funny moments, enjoying Italian food together … I would love to repeat it :)
Our mission now is to make a good piece of news. I am so glad of the opportunity I have had with this programme and I hope that many people have the same chance in the future. Thank you so much and I wish to all the Relaters the best of luck!:)