Late 2012 Overview

Dear friends and colleagues,

instead of the usual season greetings and the happy new year I decided to compile the most important information about my 2012 and an outlook to 2013 to let you all know where I stand and where I am going. I hope you enjoy the information but let me remind you, a lot had to be left out.

For me, 2012 was in many respects a real challenge but it also led to significant progress in different directions.

The holiday in Thailand with “children”

was once the last resort to some common free time with the girls, but now they’re up to the ears in their studies.
Jip is now 22 and to our astonishment turned to something very serious. She passed the entrance exam for an accounting study and all first year exams without difficulties. Very surprising, since in the past she was never really forced to work hard and  could solve everything with charm and appearance.

Jip on the left

Jip on the left

Jiap (20) has taken a sudden turn from the pierced Gothic to a disciplined college student and sends us regular samples of her computer graphics homework:

Jiap as college girl

Jiap as college girl

Course in The Netherlands

Short after our arrival back in Germany Rung and I went to Arnhem in The Netherlands, where I gave a three day course at Akzo Nobel (a replay of a course of November when the number of applications was too high). These courses are great fun.

Work on the Textbook “Chemical Thermodynamics For Process Simulation”

The next weeks were then filled with final work on the book “Chemical Thermodynamics For Process Simulation”, in my case the website chemthermo.ddbst.com. Ultimately, many detailed problem solutions are still missing but even so, there are already about 300 pages in Mathcad. I think the solutions are very readable and understandable, even for those who are not familiar with the software. In contrast, very few people are willing to decode programmed thermodynamics, either in FORTRAN, C ++, Basic, Excel or Matlab.
A good example here is the PC-SAFT calculation of CO2 partial pressure on CO2 polystyrene.

Two 3(4)-Day Courses in Oldenburg

Right after I taught two 4-day GVT courses (English and German) with external participants and members of the Master’s course “Process Development”. Meanwhile, I am the only speaker and Rung helps with the organization.
Especially the English course was very nice, a good combination of experts from 3 continents:   German language courses are generally more difficult, the participants are more rigid and have a somewhat not so positive attitude towards the present and future state of the world. I myself am very influenced by the optimism about the future of over 1000 TED Talks (www.ted.com, highly recommended!).

4 Weeks Full day M.Sc.-Course “Process Development”

Right after these courses the M.Sc. Course Process Development” started, the first time all alone and the first time as a block of 4 weeks every day from 9.00 to 16.00 or 17.00, with short breaks (except 3 half days at LTP). Exhausting but also very exciting with 14 highly motivated students.

The last week features assisted design projects in small groups. Topics were

  • modeling of a commercial room air conditioner in Aspen Plus (Refprop for Freon), then PC-SAFT with parameters regressed to Refprop result sand then search for an optimal working fluid (mixture) by varying the PC-SAFT parameters . Due to the short available time of 5 days, I could not be too “picky” about details (don’t break the spirit).
  • the acrylic acid from propane process based on available patent information,
  • a vacuum fermentation with real data from my colleague at our Thai hometown Korat (he also e-mailed with the students),
  • simulation of a benzene removal with NFM with real data of a SCG steam cracker (Rayong , Thailand).

Development of a Workshop-Course DDBSP/Aspen Plus and Teaching this Course in Riyadh

After the M.Sc.-block I felt quite exhausted and there was a pile of work that I had no time for during the work on the textbook, the two GVT courses and the 4-weeks process development course. Yet, I had agreed to provide a workshop for SABIC in Riyadh in April. As this was a new course, about 200 slides had to be prepared together with a significant part of the workshop examples. I taught the course together with my PhD.-student Brian Satola from Durban
Brian is an American and worked 4.5 years at Lyondell in Houston. His practical experience with process simulation was very useful.

This course is, in contrast to the thermo courses, heavily focused on practical workshops and I think there is a market for it. Especially it can be adapted to the requirements of individual companies.

2 Months with my Students from Durban

Then finally it was over and I felt a little dead … The next two months were occupied by teaching in Oldenburg , more work for DDBST and 2 of my students from Durban staying in Oldenburg for 3 weeks each. In this time I was finally able to work through some of the most pressing tasks that had piled up since before the holidays in December 2011.

6 Weeks in Durban, South Africa

Immediately after the second student left I went for 6 weeks to Durban (South Africa), where I worked day-in-day-out on publications etc.. Rung joined me for the second half of the stay. Look at the older blogs for details and photos.

DDBST User Meeting, DECHEMA Course in Oldenburg, Wintershall/Gazprom-Meeting, Something Unpleasant and My First CHEMCAD Introductory Course in Berlin

After returning to Germany, the yearly DDBST User Meeting took place. The meeting was very enjoyable, especially this time coworkers of DDBST took over the major part of the DDBST afternoon session and their contributions were very positively received.

In the week after there was the DECHEMA course in Oldenburg. My material and the explanations have grown in length and I will have to massively cut for the next courses.

After that a presentation at a meeting with participants from Wintershall and Gazprom, I had to get used to the synchronous translation but our Russian info-flyer was very well received.

Then immediately an unpleasant and destructive appointment with my dentist, I hope we find back to a more constructive  basis soon.

At the User Meeting I had received an invitation from Prof. Fricke of Chemstations Europe to lecture a 2-day CHEMCAD Introductory Course in Berlin. Other than expected, course material from previous courses was not available and this was a hell of a preparation. 10 days before the course the software license was available on my notebook and I had a tough but extremely interesting time and hardly slept more than 2 or 3 hours a night. Left for Berlin on the Saturday before the course but had only little time for club and friends due to ongoing course preparation.

The two days were great and I received requests for four courses in 2013.

Second Unpleasant Experience

Then finally the chance to plan a visit at the ophthalmologist. I had observed some strange effects in my right eye, actually a part of my field of vision was dark. Instead of the expected 5 weeks until the appointment then a frightening “How soon can you be here” with long operation the next morning definitely weakened my usual feeling of immortality. I looked and felt like a deer caught in the headlights.

3 weeks ill at home but I was much less productive than I had hoped. I had a large gas bubble in the eye and was not allowed to move rapidly, no sports and had to look down and sleep with the face down.

Xmas and New Year in Berlin

Due to the gas, no travel to the mountains and no flights. This killed the Thailand holidays but I compensated it with 2 beautiful weeks in Berlin and my first stay at an Airbnb-host. A big thank you again to my friends who made me feel so home and taken care of.

Years End

The stay in Durban and its aftermath has tilted my regular exercise, before that I was at 2-3 times per week 12km on the elliptical machine (where you can fill the boring time with audio books).

I only succeeded to publish 2 papers about fatty acid systems, mainly thanks to the very hard and motivated work of Patricia Belting, at least 7 manuscripts are still in front of me.

Alan Foster has submitted his thesis and received a well-earned “summa cum laude” and since last year he has a dream job.

The current project with South Africa ran out and there is no extension or call for new projects. Luckily there are sufficient funds on the research account in Durban for future stays. On the other side I need to find some  mode to cooperate with Jadran Vrabec in Paderborn. His research is very promising and I urgently want to gain some experience in molecular simulation.

Due to the eye operation, I could not visit my friends and colleagues in Thailand, especially at SCG Chemicals. I shouldn’t wait for another year to go there again.

The house in Thailand is doing well but it will be some time until I can use the retreat. Still 16 months to 60 but I think that number will not change me. The gas in my eye is only a small bubble now and everything seems to be perfect.

Plans For 2013

Looking back on 2012 I must say that there was too little time for the important basic work. Teaching courses is fun and l should not reduce that but I did way too little for DDBST and for the research in Durban. After a meeting with the dean I can probably reduce my position at the University of Oldenburg to only 3-4 months a year. This is what I already tried years ago but didn’t work. The 3-4 months would allow me to teach the “Process Development” block, which is rather close to my heart.

In addition I plan to apply for a “fractional” professorship in Durban (3 months per year) to intensify my research. Rung enjoyed Durban a lot this time and is excited by the idea to stay there longer periods in the year.

For further details about 2013, just consult the timeline.

There are probably so many things I forgot to mention but I hope I was able to give my friends and colleagues at least an idea about where I I am and where I am going.

With all the best wishes for 2013

Juergen Rarey

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