Matthew Hopkins on international collaboration and his recent visit to Germany


July 20, 2018

International collaboration has the ability to build people-to-people relationships which helps to break down and solve global science problems. This notion has never been so relevant until recently completing my 5-week experience with our ACLNGF research partner Markus Richter and his Thermodynamik family at Ruhr Universitat Bochum (RUB), Germany. I say family in the most literal sense, because that is the essence, and approach, that this group has in producing incredibly high precision experimental data.

Within the first day of arriving I felt wholly welcomed into this group with no feeling of apprehension in asking questions, whether it be about the Bochum way of life or scientific endeavours. This was the catalyst in achieving the objective of the trip which was to develop a cryogenic instrument that permits research into solids drop out in LNG processes. I had the luxury of touring their laboratories and operating proven instruments which could be directly related to our proposed system. It provided a hands on experience with not only their cryogenic densimeter apparatus, but the people who created it, making the transfer of knowledge incredibly easy and efficient. Beyond densimetry, the Thermodynamik group exhibits the epitome of metrology in their high precision measurement of key thermophysical properties. These include but are not limited to, permittivity, sound speed and viscosity. This reference quality data is integral in tuning the equations of state which improve the accuracy of models consistently used by industry and researchers.

Amidst the output of high quality scientific data, academics, PhD’s and students alike make an effort to socialise outside of working hours. This is inclusive of a communal lunch hour every day in which the penalty for tardiness is a cake for the tea room. Between hot-pot dinners, summer festivals, backyard BBQ’s and beer gardens, my 5 weeks abroad was equally filled with as much enjoyment as learning. While wishing I could stay longer, this experience was able to develop multiple relationships that I will continue to cherish and utilise to provide high quality solutions for real LNG issues. Since returning home, I have been able to begin fabrication on the design developed overseas, achieving the main objective of this venture.

The events of this trip are a single example of the continued collaboration that ACLNGF and RUB have across multiple projects. In my personal experience, like many before me and I am sure many after, this special relationship has the unique ability to accelerate the progression of scientific achievement. I am very thankful to everyone who made this opportunity possible and I hope to return soon as new challenges arise.

Matthew Hopkins, PhD Candidate, The University of Western Australia

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