Fusion: where two or three are gathered

As discussed in a previous post, Fission produces energy. Energy was compared to the excitement of God and what it does in the lives of those that are saved by the Holy Spirit. We can build on this idea when considering another energy producing process known as Fusion. Unlike Fission where (unstable) atoms split,  Fusion occurs when two atoms combine together. This forms a heavier atom and energy… a lot of  energy! So much energy that even the Sun and the stars use this process to power themselves!

The Sun is formed by fusion. Image credit to: https://thenypost.files.wordpress.com/2013/12/sun.jpg

You may be thinking, what kind of atoms could combine to create so much energy? maybe something as big and complicated as Uranium (as was used in Fission)… But no, rather they consist of the smallest element known to mankind- Hydrogen! When two hydrogen atoms come together, they react to form the second smallest element, Helium. The right conditions are needed for fusion to happen: high temperature and pressure. This is key!

The fusion process should remind us of what happens in Matthew 18:20: “For where two or three gather in My Name, there am I with them”. Imagine that when two of us, little humans, full of sin and not deserving of His love, come together under the right conditions: His Name, we have the big and mighty presence of God, the power of God and all that He can do in our lives, just like the amazing energy produced to power our Sun but more! In verse 19, Jesus Himself says that if two of us can agree about anything on earth, it will be done by the Father in Heaven, that is a lot of power!

You may not feel worthy, you may feel inferior but God has given us a lot of power especially when we come together!

Please find more information about Fusion here.



Carbon captured by Jesus!*- The Kingdom of God

*This title seemed appropriate given that Wikipedia says that the composition of the human body is made up of approx 18.5% Carbon (second most abundant element after Oxygen). As though to say, we are literally captured by Jesus! 😀

Carbon Capture is the removal of carbon dioxide (CO2). In nature, these types of system are preferably referred to as “carbon sinks”, such as the sea absorbing carbon dioxide to form carbonic acid and plants photosynthesising. “Carbon capture” refers more to the removal of carbon dioxide by some artificial means, so after burning fuels in an industrial power plant (post combustion removal), is just one example. This is important because the carbon dioxide released from these power plants contribute to the Greenhouse (or Blanket) effect causing Global Warming, so if carbon dioxide can be removed before entering the atmosphere then it is a really good thing.

There are numerous methods that scientists use/ propose for Carbon Capture and these can be found in section 4 of this review paper: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1364032114005450. For this blog post, we will stick to Polymeric Membranes and Solid Sorbents (these include zeolites, activated carbon and metal based sorbents (e.g. Calcium Oxide to form Limestone AKA Calcium Carbonate)).

The parable given by Jesus about the Sower in Matthew 13:3-9 is about four different types of people hearing and understanding the Kingdom of God. Essentially as Christians we must be sensitive to the Word of God- readily hearing and seeing (Matthew 3:16-17) and doing (James 1:22) the Word. For Jesus’ conclusion of this parable, please read Matthew 3:18-23. Lets explore this parable in a Carbon Capture context.

Behold a sower went out to sow (Matthew 13:3 ):

v.4 And as he sowed, some seed fell by the wayside; and the birds came and devoured them. This would obviously be the instance that no carbon dioxide is captured and there it goes out into the atmosphere, causing Global Warming.

Solid Sorbent: Activated Carbon. Image credited to: http://muthuvelcarbons.com/contact-us.php

v.5-6 Some fell on stony places, where they did not have much earth; and they immediately sprang up because they had no depth of earth. But when the sun was up they were scorched, and because they had no root they withered away. This is like Physisorption in Solid Sorbents (e.g. activated carbon and zeolites) where weak interactions are formed between the surface of these solids and the carbon dioxide molecules in the gas released from combustion (otherwise known as flue gas). This is all great if the surrounding temperature is low but when it gets too hot, the CO2 unbinds from the surface and is released (desorption). In reality this desorption is good for re-using the carbon dioxide (as in capturing COand releasing it for use), but means that low operating temperatures are required, which is not the case in power plants unless the flue gas is cooled.

Polymeric Membranes. Image credited to: Membranes 2012, 2(4), 727-763; doi:10.3390/membranes2040727

v.7 And some fell among thorns, and the thorns sprang up and choked them. Polymeric membranes are like this. As their ‘membrane’ name implies, they separate molecules by allowing particular molecules to pass through (permeability), generally with respect to their molecular size. Unfortunately, the channels which enable CO2 to pass through are also large enough for oxygen to fit (flue gas is composed of a variety of gases). Therefore, the resulting carbon captured gas is impure. The polymeric part (functional groups) on these membranes can work to increase selectivity of gas molecules by favouring some interaction with say CO2, however, generally as the selectivity increases, the permeability decreases.

Metal based solid sorbent: Calcium Oxide. Image credited to: “Wikimedia Commons”

v.8 But others fell on good ground and yielded a crop: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. There is not a perfect solution to Carbon Capture but one of the most effective methods of capture is through Chemisorption. Unlike Physisorption, strong bonds are made between the CO2 molecules and the solid surface (and even within the solid), to the point that a chemical reaction takes place. This happens for metal based solid sorbents such as calcium oxide, which forms limestone when reacted with carbon dioxide. The mechanism can take place at high temperatures and infact the loading of COis increased with temperature. Unlike in this parable, regenerability of the metal based solid sorbent is not so easy due to the chemical reaction, so we cannot easily recycle this solid to capture carbon dioxide several-fold (i.e it has a low number of cycles)!

We should hope that the way we are captured by Jesus is as strong as Chemisorption. That we are chemically bound and as one with Him. That even when the temperature of trials and temptations increase, our interaction with Him increases also! Let us hear His Word, be bound to His Word so it never leaves us.






Faith: the right material for high temperature conditions

There is not a person on Earth who feels they have never “gone through some fire” in life. For Christians, we call this “the testing of our faith” and it can mean that life has become too much to bear. Faith is defined as: “confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” (Hebrews 11:1). In essence, it is the very reason why we can believe in a God that we have never seen upfront and personal and have confidence that His Son Jesus, Our Hope and Saviour, will come back for us at the end of time.

We are also told that this same faith should be used as part of our spiritual armour in this world:- “take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one” (Ephesians 6:16). This means that other than just removing the problems we face (EXTINGUISHING the flaming arrows), it should act as a BARRIER of protection against the hot and unfavourable conditions applied by the evil one. Quite like what Thermal Barrier Coatings (TBC) do for aircraft engine blades.

Thermal Barrier Coating on a Nickel superalloy turbine blade. Image credited to: http://www.virginia.edu/ms/research/wadley/high-temp.html

Aircraft engine blades, made of superalloys, operate at high temperatures of around 1250 °C and for durations greater than 10,000 hours! (If you hadn’t noticed, the Ephesians verse does not mention how long the enemy would be firing flaming darts- we’d better hope we have a good shield). The diagram above shows an “input cooling air flow”, which is keeping the nickel superalloy substrate of the turbine blade cool. On the other hand, the “insulating Thermal Barrier Coating” is in direct contact with the expanded gases directly after combustion of the aircraft fuel (that high temperature mentioned before).

We as humans are like the superalloy, we do well at being us when our lives are going well and all is cool… But as people we are good thermal conductors and when the temperature gets too hot we start to creep, then crack and eventually rupture. We need our faith in Jesus Christ, the ONLY One who can offer us hope when life seems like hell and fire even when we can not see Him, we must sense Him. The only thing that can help us to use this shield of faith and believe in its effectiveness is a strong relationship with Christ (see bond coat in diagram). As we draw near to Him, He draws near to us (James 4:8a), our faith becomes stronger and hence our shield more effective at protecting us from the fiery arrows of the enemy.

Please visit this website: http://www.virginia.edu/ms/research/wadley/high-temp.html  for more information on TBCs.