Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Our one of Batchmates passed away

Piumal, a final year mechanical engineering student passed away after suffering from serious cancer. We are very sorry about him. Our friends did lot of thing to save his life. But this is the world's nature. "May he attain to NIBBANA."*

*. This is a Buddist quote normally saying when somebody passed away.

Monday, July 30, 2007


1 image

2 image

The first image shows a picture of a NASA survey on MARS soil to check weather there are any water or other important material by sacrificing lot of resources.

The second image shows an African baby searching EARTH soil to find out some water to drink or something to eat.

How cruel our world!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

A bright future to our nation by developing process industry to its peak

A bright future to our nation by developing process industry to its peak

Process industrial sectors such as chemical process industry, pulp & paper, food, pharmaceutical, ammonia, sulfuric, caustic soda …etc are essential areas in an economy of any country. A country must convert raw materials into valuable & useful products rather than importing each & every thing in order to be a strong nation. Developed countries have very large scale process plants which convert their natural resources into commercial realities.

We had well established process industries in Sri Lanka. We had a Urea production facility a Sapugaskanda, a sulfuric production plant at Ranala, Paper production plant at Embilipitiya and several other mass scale production facilities which had the capability to contribute to our GDP at very high level. Those industries saved us lot of foreign exchange by producing most of essential industrial raw materials within our country. Unfortunately most of our mass scale production facilities including Urea & Sulfuric were closed down due to many reasons. Environmental issues, lack of research and developments, improper technological input, poor maintenance and many other reasons were behind those failures.

Present day Sri Lankan process industry has not been able to satisfy our people’s needs. While we are having enough raw materials, production facilities & skilled workforce we are importing paper from other countries. We have the potential of sulfur as an intermediate product of petroleum refinery & enough oxygen in our atmosphere; but we are importing sulfuric acid from other countries. Ammonia & sulfuric production facilities are essential parts of fertilizer manufacturing. It would save a considerable foreign exchange & it will cut cost of fertilizer. Ammonia is also used for the production of plastics, fibers, explosives, and intermediates for dyes and pharmaceuticals. Sulfuric acid has principal uses include ore processing, fertilizer manufacturing, oil refining, wastewater processing, and chemical synthesis. Even for the basic operation of treating water, we have to import alum. This was a main product of the Ranala sulfuric acid plant. These two base materials can change our economy rapidly. We are producing salt yet not satisfying all our needs. Even in that process we are pumping back the valuable brine solution (an intermediate product of salt processing) to sea without getting any use from it. But Dow Chemicals started its production from making bromine from brine solution in 1900s & now they are the second largest chemical company in the world with a turnover more than the GDP of our country. They started to use brine solution to make money in hundred years ago; but in 2007 we are neglecting it with out getting any use. Brine is electrolyzed in the “chloralkali process” to make bromine, sodium hydroxide, chlorine and hydrogen, as well as the hypochlorite and chlorate. These are very valuable & essential chemicals in an industrial world.

Today we are quite confident that we have oil resources and hopefully we will start exploring it. But in order to get maximum use of it we must process crude oil within our county using our resources and must maximize product yield which is not happening today. We do have some process industries in our country but most of them are based on raw materials imported from foreign countries. It is acceptable to import if we do not have any resources. Anyhow we are a nation rich with resources but we are not doing anything to get the maximum output from our resources. We are wasting our foreign exchange to import every thing including food items. We depend 60% on foreign sources to fulfill our fundamental food needs and spend more than 2 billion rupees a year on importing food item. We are an agro based society & we are having so many sources of food & potentials for proper food industry. Yet we are importing food items. We are still depending on petroleum based fuels for transportation, power generation & household uses. We must develop renewable alternatives such as Bio diesel, bio gas, ethanol, etc if we want to decrease our fuel cost & electricity cost. We do not have any food & energy security in country. That means in an emergency such as a world war we only have 14 days of petroleum storage & considerably small food sources within the country. Even though the war will be elsewhere we may be defeated first!

In order to develop process industry in Sri Lanka we need experts in that field. Some of developing countries do not have but we do have experts in every field. The Department of Chemical & Process Engineering established in 15th February 1972 in University of Moratuwa and today has a vision of “Delivering Chemical and Process Engineering knowledge, skills and innovation for a sustainable tomorrow.” Our department has produced more than 500 Chemical & Process engineering graduates. Most of them are aboard because of unavailability of an established process industry in Sri Lanka. However there are considerable number of experts in Sri Lanka who have made many a sacrifice to be involved in the development of our nation. Every senior lecturer of our department are having decades of industrial experience, foreign research experience & exposure. We are a community on whom our poor nation has invested multimillions to educate. But our people do not use our knowledge. Most of our intellectuals are involved in processes of foreign companies abroad. Our knowledge must be used to establish proper process industry. We do have solutions to increasing fuel prices, power crisis, waste management problems and many more burning problems. We are doing researches on alternative fuels, solid waste management, sustainable process development … etc. However they must become commercial realities in order to solve burning problems which we are facing every day. To become commercial realities planers and policymakers of the nation must seek advice from those who are capable of providing technical answers.

Recently our government increased fuel prices again. Some of our people blame government but it is not the correct response. We must ask government to support research and implementations on alternative fuels. Our people blame government because of increased living cost. It is useless. We want to force government to develop industrial & services sector in Sri Lanka to increase our per capita income. There is no solution to increasing living cost in absence of real solution. World is rapidly developing and living standards of many are uplifting day by day while we are a perfect picture for stagnancy. That is why we are suffering from increasing cost of living every day.

This worst case scenario is not completely a weakness of the technical background of Sri Lanka. It is due to improper technology management. Some of our industries achieved significant profit margins after changed hands from local ownership to foreign ownership. These foreign owners did not change the unit operation completely but changed the management procedures completely. They tuned past production lines to maximize efficiency and to be complaint with international standards.

As a final year Chemical and Process engineering undergraduate I was evaluating our nation’s present status with a technical view. According to theories and concepts delivered to us by our lecturers I can see a very bright future for my nation with extending our present day industry to new profitable areas & tuning it to compliance with international standards and achieve sustainable efficiency.

Sri Lanka is a country which is full of resources & intellectuals. Please use those resources & intellectuals to develop our nation. Otherwise, we will enjoy a place in the bottom of the pile and I do not think personally that we deserve that!

Friday, July 27, 2007



We organized a grand musical eve as a fund raising programme.

Visit our PRABHASHVARI home page for more information & to buy a ticket

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Unforgettable “Katha Baha” session

Today our student society organized a “Katha Baha” program. Today Dr. Dammika Welhenge presented his experiences in his carrier in chemical & petrochemical industry. He presented a cased study on the Amonia production plant as well as the sulfuric plant. These plants have closed down now because of many reasons. He discussed the importance of the Ammonia other chemical industries for the development of the country. He has taken very big effort to collect all missing evidence of these factories. He show some pictures those were taken during production period of Ammonia plant. This “Katha Baha” session was very important to every one.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Biodegradable Polythene using Cassava Starch

Non degradable polythene has been a heavy burden on environment. It causes decreasing soil fertility, clogging irrigation systems, affecting aesthetical beauty & destructive to wildlife & other biological system. So as chemical & process undergraduates we were delighted when we were given chance to engage with designing of biodegradable polymer.

Our country is basically agriculture based one. Because of too many reasons most of farmers loose profits from their yield. Same product comes into market in very large quantities in narrow time period. So farmers can not demand their product; unfortunately this scenario has been converted to grab the effort of farmers into intermediate traders’ wallet. We select cassava as the main row material in order to minimize the above tragic situation. When our research become a commercial reality it will help to give a high bid for farmers’ product.

We were given chance to select approach to the design project. We were given three alternatives to produce biodegradable polymer.

1. Using only starch

2. Using starch plus biodegradable polymer

3. Using starch plus non – biodegradable polymer (This alternative was given for worst case. That mans if we could not found any way to follow above two alternatives we would able to follow this option. )


Using only Starch

In environment lecture we were given a water bottle to observe which is made out of corn starch. Mervyn Dias from Plastic Packaging (Pvt) Ltd (PPCL) was introduced to us by our project coordinator. He discussed about his experiences in production of starch based polymers. These two junctures enhance our enthusiasm on this project & implies us to select total starch to produce our biodegradable polymer.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Developing University – School Interaction

_ Pictures will come soon _

Student society of Chemical Engineers Society Sri Lanka, ChESS organized a workshop for Advanced Level student of Embilipitiya area. This is organized in order to increase the interaction in between school & university community. We covered up industrial chemistry part of the Advanced Level syllabus. We present some of industrial chemistry practical using recorded video clips. All video clips were made up in university with our equipment & student. We did a presentation with a little video clip on bio gas generation additionally.

This program was totally funded by IRQUE project. So we were able to perform that workshop in ultimate condition with out warring about money. We gave them high quality education material. We additionally distribute some books on Bio Gas Generation which were given by Prof. Ajith de Alwis. Finally we gave them a MCQ paper with 15 questions related to areas which were covered up in work shop. Three Students with highest marks were gifted with special prizes.

This program was a success because of our unity, commitment of our lectures & our department staff. Every one in our department did their best towards this program. We scarify lot of our academic works to do this program. But finally we realize the value of our program by reading feed back forms.

industrial chemistry, industrial organic chemistry, continuing education workshops, educational video clips, educational video clips

Monday, July 16, 2007

Tetra Pak recycling

The idea to develop tetra pak came due to keen for new kind of packaging for Milk, fruit juice etc. The developers were able to make it reality in 1943. This is a cardboard packing in the form tetrahedrons. From that day it was developed in various way. Because of availability of various layers it needs extra care in recycling. This video will give nice idea on tetra pak recycling.

recycling packaging, recycling waste, recycling plastics,

Corn - based mineral water bottle

We know that there are so many mineral water bottles in market in various name. Most people thro' them everywhere after consuming water. The usual mineral bottles are non degradable so they will remain in soil for decades. This is a great environmental hazardous in present days. But Natureworks has been successful to develop corn based mineral bottle which is totally biodegradable. Prof. Ajith de Alwis showed one of this bottle in his solid waste management lecture. Actually it was brain stroming for us. We touched & test the bottle in our hands. It is same in every way to normal bottle. It did not emit any smell. Actually it is a greate innovation.

corn based plastic, corn beverage bottle, new innovation, new product innovation, new technology and innovation

Oxo-biodegradable polythene now in sri lanka

There is a factory now in sri lanka to make oxo-biodegradable polythene which can replace environmentally hazardous normal polythene. Plastic Packaging (Pvt) Ltd (PPCL) is the company which manufactures oxo – biodegradable. It can carry frozen food and heavy items. When you throw it away after using, it degrades fast and disappears within a short period under the heat, sunlight or in any other place where oxygen is available. Oxo-biodegradable polythene is water-proof, can be used in the rain and carry wet things such as ice cream, fish and meat.

The degradation time period of oxo-biodegradable bags can be shortened or lengthened depending on the percentage of additives, added to the chemical structure. However, according to the manufacturing process, oxo-biodegradable bags degrade within six to 12 months. Oxo-biodegradable bags are manufactured with a high quality additive called PDQ-H which is imported from the USA.

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Friday, July 13, 2007

Plasma arc decomposition of solid waste into non hazardous gasses & vitrified solids

This is somewhat high end approach to solid waste management. This is done using extremely hot flame generated by a plasma torch. This will be trusty way to get rid of some hazardous waste such as PCB (Polychlorinated biphenyls). The temperature of the flame is in a range of 10000 0F. Quite unbelievable temperature which is generated by special electrode consuming about three megawatts range electricity. But today prof. Ajith de Alwis said in Solid Waste Management lecture that the emitting gasses of this plasma reactor can be used to produce electricity which covers the consumption of electrical energy of reactor. In that case we only need a back up source of 3 megawatts electricity for considerably short time period. The rest of energy to run the plasma arc furnace can be obtained using emitting gasses. This is a good approach on solid waste management because this kind of high end technology will boost interest on environmental engineering & other related fields.

This video will give you a nice idea on plasma reactor which convert waste into valuble energy


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Monday, July 9, 2007

Magic of Chemistry

When we mix concentrated sulfuric with suger what will happen? See this video.

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Potential Electricity Generation from Biogas

Bio gas can be used as fuel for generators to produce elecricity or to use for other useful work such as water pumping. This two video shows such a project in Sri Lanka

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Prof. Ajith de Alwis

My blog is now reading by lot of our department past student who live & study or work in other countries. I am sure they would like to see our prof. Ajith de Alwis even from this little video clip. This video clip was extracted from one of video documentary on biogas project. He is doing a lecture on biogas for rural community.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Open Source Research Centre for Chemical & Process Engineering

There are a good field in computer science or engineering called "Open Source Software Development ". This make huge development in their field & make equal development in all over the world. Nowadays there are no difference in between European, Asian , African or any other regions software industry, all work together to achieve the cream of the cream of their industry.

Chemical & Process in also a field which can be developed further by doing R&Ds and continuous improvements. I think if there is open source research center which share their designs, experimental data & observation among each other, definetly there will be a boost in our industry.

As example we can do a research on environmental impact on solid waste in sri lanka & design a good systematic approach to get rid of it. We can freely published all information that we gathered & designed to all chemical & process engineers all over world. They can evaluate our work and they can add their comments & views. They also can contribute further on that research if they like to do so.

This will make rapid growth in our industry. If there is such a program developing countries can get maximum advantage, because our R&Ds are backing because of financial weaknesses.

We can not do this kind of effort with out financial strength. But we can ask founds from IChemE, World Bank, ADB, UN. This kind of effert do not want to make as opportunity to grab money. But we have to do something other than ordinary do to uplift our industry.

"Average Never Wins"

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Friday, July 6, 2007

Our Identity can be seen from Outer Space

Great Wall of China

Staten Island where Fresh Kills Landfill is situated

The Great wall of china is considered as a only man made which can be seen from outer space. But there are exceptions now. Now modern & developed world has create a another masterpiece which can be shown from outer space.

It is the Fresh Kills Landfill on the New York City borough of Staten Island which is the largest garbage dumping site in the world. It is 2200 acres in area & it is the bigest single source of methane which is a green house gas 25 times power than most common green house gas CO2.

It was open in 1948 and it is also the highest human-made hill. In fact in 2001 its peak was 25 meters taller than the Statue Of Liberty.

landfill, landfill sites, sanitary landfill, fresh kills landfill, landfill locations, waste management landfill, solid waste landfill, landfill information, landfill management, landfill statistics

Are Engineers money oriented?

One of my blog reader had put a comment on my site claiming that engineers are money oriented people. But we are also have sense on humanity and we are doing our best to server our nation. This is quite old social service done by our department, but this will show how chemical engineers helped our nation in the most tragic situation in Sri Lankan history, Tsunami.......

Our department worked as a group to distribute detergents & disinfections in to affected areas as soon as possible.

cleaning detergents, liquid detergents, emergency and disaster management, disaster planning




Thursday, July 5, 2007

Can she save this world behalf of us?

“When we plant trees, we plant the seeds of peace and seeds of hope." Prof. Wangari, Maathai, founder of the Green Belt Movement and 2004 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate.

We cut down trees for several needs. Although trees involved in our life cycle in numerous ways we do not mind on planting trees. But pioneers who see this world with a widen & perspective vision have started several campaigns to save this planet behalf of us.

United Nations Billion Tree Campaign is a brainchild of professor Wangari Mathai who is the first African woman won the Nobel Peace Prize. She is also the founder of Kenya’s Green Belt Movement which is focusing on environmental conservation, community development and capacity building. This movement have been planted more than 30 million trees in 12 African countries since its humble beginning in 1977.

Professor Wangari Mathai expressed her idea on her campaign by saying “People talk too much. We are no longer talking, we are working. The challenge now is to tell the world to go dig holes and plant seedlings. I've no doubt we will achieve our goal.”

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Success Story of DOW

Herbert Henry Dow

Although the beginning of DOW is dated back to 1897, the success story of DOW is very interesting. It was founded by dedicated chemical industrialist Herbert Henry Dow. He showed his capabilities of innovation by making an incubator for chicken eggs before he was 12. After several years his father and he innovated a small steam turbine for US Navy. After graduating from high school he enrolled into Case School of Applied Science (Now it is known as Case Western Reserve University). After he completed his education he began research on Brine. He found that several samples those were collected from Canton, Ohio and Midland, Michigan were very rich in bromine. At that time bromine was a essential chemical as ingredient in medicines and was used heavily in the photographic industry. In 1889, Dow won his first patent for his more cost-effective and streamlined process for extracting bromine from brine. In 1890 he began the Midland Chemical Company in Midland, Michigan with his enthusiastic friends. Herbert Henry Dow did not satisfy by simple R&Ds. He wanted to do complex researches on electrolysis to yield other chemicals from brine. But the financial backers on Midland did not approve of his dedicated research and fired him from the Company.

Herbert Henry Dow continued his researches in Ohio & finally he developed a process to extract chlorine and caustic soda from sodium chloride & established the DOW chemical company. After three years of dedicated business progress DOW was able to acquire Midland Chemical Company. Do you think the DOW began to success? No another threat came across DOW.

A government-supported German bromine cartel, Bromkonvention began to sell bromine which was the main product of DOW at a very low cost than DOW price. This was planed tactic to eliminate DOW from US industry. But the DOW Company did not vanish. The used their agents and brought all most all bromine and resell them in Germany. Finally German bromine cartel, Bromkonvention realized the truth & DOW won the battle.

Now DOW is the second largest chemical company in world. It is known as Chemical Companies’ Chemical Company.

The most interesting thing is in Sri Lanka; we reject Brine & pump it back into Sea without getting any use out of it. But DOW used it before hundred of years ago and now their in top tire of business world.

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Monday, July 2, 2007

Biography of a great environmentalist & political activist

Dr. Wangari Muta Maathai is a environmental & political activist in Kenya. She works for her society in order to uplift their quality of life & eliminate some of their myths which highly affect their society well being. She is working hard for a society which is in dark of myths & under development. Because her extra ordinary dedication she won Nobel Peace Prize. It was given for her dedication on "sustainable development, democracy and peace". She was the first ever woman who won such a price in African region. We can imaging her working environment by referring her saying.

"I have warned people against false beliefs and misinformation such as attributing this disease to a curse from God or believing that sleeping with a virgin cures the infection. These prevalent beliefs in my region have led to an upsurge in rape and violence against children. It is within this context, also complicated by the cultural and religious perspective that I often speak. I have therefore been shocked by the ongoing debate, generated by what I am purported to have said. It is therefore critical for me to state that I neither say nor believe that the virus was developed by white people or white powers in order to destroy the African people. Such views are wicked and destructive"

We can understand her society background which is being changed by herself.

What is our scenario? It is not worst like this. Our people Sri Lankan have good values & our society has the ability to change. Then why there are poverty, war, conflicts ... etc available with in the society? I think we do not have good leaders to show us the path. Majority of our political activists are not educated well. They do not love our motherland. They do not need to develop our nation. That is why we are under developing.

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi created a path to follow for Indians, Mohammad ali jinnah created a country for his people, Lee Kuan Yew influenced their people to develop. But for us? We need good leaders to uplift our nation. Most of educated and best people are not active in our society. Because of violence nature of our political environment most of best people are not involving in politics.

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Do you know about Cassava well?

Cassava (or Manioc) is well known food in Sri Lanka. It is a magnificent food item given by nature for poor people. Because to prepair cassava root for meal is very easy and do not need more ingredients except a spoon full of salt.
Most people think that cassava is not rich with nutrients. But it contains lot of starch & significant amounts of calcium (50 mg/100g), phosphorus (40 mg/100g) and vitamin C (25 mg/100g). The cassava roots do not contains protein, but cassava leaves contains protein.
Do you know that cassava can turn into ethanol which is a good alternative fuel for motor vehicles? Cassava based ethanol production researches have been conducted in various countries using pilot plant modules. It is proven that we can produce 185 - 200 lts of ethanol from 1 MT of cassava roots. The normal harvest of cassava is 29 MT root per hectare. So we can achieve a production of 5365 - 5800 ethanol from 1 hectare of manioc farm.
In Sri lanka we can see farmers suicide because of inability to sell their harvest. According to my humble knowledge turning cassava or some other starch based thing into ethanol is not a rocket sciences. We have fuel crisis, energy crisis & farmers burning financial problems to be solved. There are more alternatives for this kind of burning problems. We need only one thing to solve this problem. That is desire & kindness to help people. That is only factor that a scientist or an engineers driven to solve peoples problems.

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