It was a busy and fruitful summer for the chemistry sector with outstanding meetings and events, including the IUPAC 23rd International Conference on Chemistry Education, held in Toronto, which drew delegates from 40 nations. Canadian high school chemistry students did our nation proud, bringing home two silver and two bronze medals from the highly competitive 46th International Chemistry Olympiad IChO 2014 in Hanoi, Vietnam. Last but not least, we applauded the news that Simon Fraser University chemistry professor Mario Pinto was appointed president of the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), a critical funder of scientific and engineering research across the country.
Outside of Canada’s chemistry sector the news has been grim. In West Africa, the Ebola virus continued its deadly sweep, felling physicians and healthcare workers as well as ordinary citizens. But there is good news about the outbreak — the worst in history — thanks to the Canadian company Tekmira Pharmaceuticals of Burnaby, BC. Tekmira has the virulent bug squarely in the crosshairs with its RNA interference (RNAi) and patented lipid encapsulation technology therapeutics — one of the stories that you’ll read in this issue.
We also wax poetic about GreenMantra Technologies of Brantford, Ont., which has developed a relatively inexpensive way of converting low-value plastic waste into commercial grade waxes. Waxes have been a relatively inexpensive byproduct of petroleum refining. However, changes in refining have made wax increasingly scarce and expensive. GreenMantra technology provides a viable alternative and the company is looking forward to expanding operations to a fullscale commercial plant in 2015.
Another story focuses on the petroleum industry itself, featuring Shell Canada’s Quest project, which will use carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) to reduce CO2 emissions from its Alberta oil sands operations. Set to launch operations in 2015, the project will annually remove one million tonnes of CO2 from the atmosphere — the equivalent of taking 175,000 cars off the road. Will other petroleum companies follow Shell’s lead?
Added to the lineup of feature stories is a cornucopia of Chemical News stories, from slimy hagfish biomimetics to a new polysaccharide platform for vaccines, nanometre-scale materials and a Canadian art mystery.
Hope you had a relaxing July and August and welcome back to the office, classroom or laboratory.