Year’s End Blog 2014

2014 …. the year  I turned 60 …

I had planned a lot of changes on my 59th birthday and could implement nearly all of them. My work at the University in Oldenburg is now reduced to 30%, which allows me to choose the place to live and work for a great part of the year.

Some minor maintenance work and repairs on Mr. Body were also on the list and resulted in some unpleasant stretches of time in January and June but with very good results. I am really thankful to my Doctor and her colleagues for the good work 🙂

My wife and I had spent NY2k14 in the beautiful flat of Jeremy & Soyoun in Sathorn Garden in Bangkok with the children and enjoyed the vibrant and beautiful city

1 - Jip 2 - Mark

and especially the countdown in front of New World. It was a crazy and at the same time very pleasant experience, last not least the following hours in our favourite club.3-WaxBangkok was a real family reunion, not only with the children but also my father.

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Mid-January I had to return to freezing Europe. The next weeks were filled with home renovation and courses, namely

  • one German and one English GVT-course in Oldenburg,
  • a four week block course “Chemical Process Development” (again very enjoyable thanks to all the highly motivated and clever students),
  • a CHEMCAD course at Chemstations, Berlin.

A further CHEMCAD course in Switzerland led to some sightseeing in the Swiss Alps (Me and Matterhorn, not photoshoped)

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and beautiful spring at Lago Maggiore and Lago Ortha

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Two further CHEMCAD courses, one in Berlin and one in Paris in a seminar room on Champs Elysees (thanks to Prof. Fricke, head of Chemstations Europe and his team), as they say: “location, location, location”. We stayed in a very nice apartment just minutes away and enjoyed the cafes and markets and more.

IMG_20140521_152939 IMG_20140524_152824 IMG_20140524_152840Looks like Paris is a place 2go←2

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Where do I get my energy from? Completely legal to buy (but illegal to drink without diluting it first 1:2.5 to match the European regulations):

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After all these courses and further day to day work for DDBST and University we left Europe for my longest absence ever, 3.5 months!

It started with one month in Thailand, filled with a mixture of dentals in Bangkok, short trips to the sea, to our home in Dankwian and a stay with colleagues and friends at SCG Chemicals in Rayong.

From there we went to Durban, South Africa, where we stayed in the beautiful places of Gina and Stephanie. We so much thank both for their hospitality and friendship. They made us feel at home 🙂

My day mostly started at the “Coffee Tree“, such a nice place and nice people. I cannot mention all the other pleasant people and places, Durban is very special.

This year the ICCT (International Conference on Chemical Thermodynamics) took place in Durban, I had sent in 4 contributions and they all got accepted plus I had to chair 3 sessions and be on a podium discussion. This was a little stressful to prepare but everything went well. It was good to meet so many colleagues from all over the world in person. I had the chance of talking to Peter Atkins on several occasions and liked his views a lot. Here are photos with our friend and colleague Attapong  “Man” Thirasak of SCG Chemicals and our friend and PhD student Brian Satola (Durban).

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 Following these busy weeks we decided to have a real retreat, time only for us two and booked a very nice beach hotel on Mauritius. It was a fantastic and relaxing time:

IMG_3066IMG_3030IMG_2424IMG_3506Back from Mauritius we had one more busy month in Durban, where I tried to finalize work or at least push it forward.

We returned to Oldenburg on a Saturday and on Monday the yearly DDBST User Meeting and UNIFAC Consortium Meeting started. The second day with a DDBSP workshop usually attracts clearly under 10 participants, this time the number doubled and I was able to reserve a seminar room from the plane. The meeting went fine but I still need to do some homework the participants asked for.

Wednesday was free and on Thursday I left for Berlin for the CHEMCAD Europe User Meeting, where I gave a presentation together with Burco Aker of PrimeUnit on a DDBSP-CHEMCAD interface with GUI that we had developed together (I still love coding).

Berlin was great but short, on Sunday morning I had to continue to the ProcessNet Thermodynamik Kolloquium in Stuttgart. This is always a great meeting to go, meet old friends and colleagues and find new ones.

There was a little time to recover and get some other work done after these meetings before giving a CHEMCAD course at a famous company near Frankfurt. I very much enjoyed the two days. Nice people who do interesting and competent work and the course was in parts more like a round table workshop. It was supposed to be a standard intro course but in the end I spent days developing new slides and examples for their specific needs.

A private work besides this was bringing “the cars” in shape for the winter. My father decided he does not want to drive anymore in Germany, so now I have the responsibilities for a 1992 Supra 3.0 Turbo and  a 1982 Monza 3.0E:

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End of November we then left for 70 days in Thailand, the very first time that we will not travel around the country but stay and live in our new home (which is nearly finished).

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It is absolutely great to be here. There is lots of nature around, the food and weather are perfect, I have a nice office with fast internet, nearly no distractions and get some serious work done.

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My daughters are now 22 and 24, the younger is on a college for graphic design and is just writing entrance exams for universities and the older studies marketing. Both seem to do very good and are very pleasant to interact with.

Scientifically the year was very busy. Besides the conference contributions I worked on a number of different topics and will have to strongly focus on publications.

  • A paper on a bio-inspired optimization algorithm (Krill-Herd) just got accepted by Fluid Phase Equilibria.
  • A review paper with many authors “Saturation vapor pressures and transition enthalpies of low volatility organic molecules of atmospheric relevance: from dicarboxylic acids to complex mixtures” for Chemical Reviews came back with positive reviews pointing out only minor issues.
  • A paper “Measurements of activity coefficients at infinite dilution in vegetable oils and capric acid using the dilutor technique” was published in Fluid Phase Equilibria
  • A paper “Excess enthalpies for pseudobinary mixtures containing vegetable oils at the temperatures 298.15 K, 353.15 K and 383.15 K” was published in Fluid Phase Equilibria.
  • … it somehow feels as if I forgot something 🙂

A serious effort this year was supervising an MSc. student at Shell. Shell chose the topic of a cubic equation of state with a predictive group contribution model for mixed solvent / mixed electrolyte solutions in a gE-mixing rule – uups… As someone said “life is too short to worry about electrolytes”.

It worked out quite nicely and to a significant extend because the student was very systematic, well organized, always went straight at solving the next problem and not tried to sneak her way around it. She had tons of good questions and in 6 months went from beginning to end. This implies that she could not dig very deep into each problem but  am sure she will be able when she has to. Within days of handing in her thesis she presented the work at the UNIFAC Meeting in Oldenburg and as a poster on Thermodynamik Kolloquium in Stuttgart and was offered and accepted a PhD. student position at my favorite #1 research group in Germany. Unluckily she missed the summa cum laude in Oldenburg by 0.01 (which was my fault 😦 ).

My colleague Prof. Apichat Boomtawan of SUT in Nakhon Ratchasima and I applied for a project funding within a Scientific exchange program and were positively reviewed. The Thai PhD.-student Artit Kongkaew will come to Oldenburg in early February 2015 and stay for up to 3 months. He will take part in the Chemical Process Development course and continue the design project with a German student from Oldenburg in Thailand..

There are many other things I currently work on. At DDBST I just compiled a data bank for customer contact, deliveries etc. in order to be able to improve our marketing and customer interactions. I am involved in the SkaSim Project, where we develop an improved chemical family based quality assessment and recommendation tool for predictive mixture models. I am currently running calculations on my Oldenburg office PC 24/7.

There is so much I forgot, especially the list of people, the environment I function in. Without them, little of this would be possible and I want to thank them with my full heart. They will know when they read this. And please excuse all the things I left out of this years end review.

2014 was so long and full and incredibly good, if only every year could be like this – never end ….

Finally, I wish you all delightful days at year’s end and a very happy 2015.

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