Campus and Community

DEQ open laboratories once again show “what a chemical engineer can do”

The Department of Chemical Engineering once again opened its doors to secondary school students, in an event that included lectures, laboratory visits and experimental activities.

The Open Laboratories organised by the Department of Chemical Engineering (DEQ) were attended by over 500 students from 15 secondary schools, between 2nd and 8 May, at Alameda Campus.

With everyone with their glasses on, the first question came up: “What is the temperature of liquid nitrogen?” Among boiling kettles, foam overflowing pots, balloons bursting and colour changing light bulbs, students from Colégio São João de Brito began their tour in the South Tower and discovered the characteristics and possible uses of the substance that turns liquid at -196º C.

In the next room, with the door closed and the lights off, the ultraviolet lights revealed words and images, until then invisible, on passports, citizen cards and vehicle registration documents. Tonic water glowed in the dark (due to the presence of quinine) and coloured bracelets showed their fluorescence. This was followed by some industrial chemical engineering experiments using the semi-industrial equipment available at the School.

In addition to the laboratory activities there were also visits to laboratories and lectures. Técnico researchers and professors explained to visitors “what a chemical engineer can do”, said professor Dulce Simão, the event coordinator. To this end, several topics were addressed, such as: the development of artificial organs, bioplastics, greenhouse gases, green hydrogen, bio-oil production, humanitarian engineering or how to defeat superbugs and superfungi.

DEQ has been carrying out this activity since 2005. This year’s edition was organised in collaboration with the Chemical Engineering Group at Instituto Superior Técnico (NEQIST). More than 100 students from Chemical Engineering and Biological Engineering courses and nearly 30 professors, researchers and staff were involved in the organisation of this event.