April 14, 2024

From beloved West African cuisine to Canadian street salt, corrosion examine opens new route

Chemistry professor Yolanda Hedberg and PhD college student Robert Addai in Western’s Materials Science Addition lab. Credit history: Christopher Kindratsky/Western Communications

What does a traditional West African dish have to do with road salt distribute throughout snowy Canadian streets each individual winter season?

The two subjects are equivalent passions for chemistry Ph.D. prospect Robert Addai, who works in Western’s Material Science Addition lab and scientific studies how metals corrode when they occur into contact with foods and street salts.

It all begun with fufu, a popular staple in his food plan increasing up in Ghana. A starchy food items that’s widespread in West African cuisine, usually fufu is designed by pounding cassava, a tropical root vegetable. That labor-intensive system can acquire several hours.

The preparation of fufu has evolved, the same way butter and other foodstuff staples have come to be almost exclusively device produced. Most people today now use a metallic “fufu pounding equipment” that gives the repetitive pounding motion in a arms-free of charge type, Addai explained.

“It is a delectable food items, but it takes a great deal of time. The devices also operates in the kind of friction, by pounding. My investigation is targeted on no matter whether metals are introduced from the device into the fufu,” Addai stated.

Addai steps the chromium, iron, manganese and nickel existing in samples of fufu, by testing a slurry of the foods in get in touch with with samples of two varieties of meticulously cleaned stainless metal. After breaking it down in a digester, he analyzes the remedy for trace quantities of metals making use of a specialized instrument to quantify metal ions. Soon after examining initial success, he located the maximum concentrations of iron adopted by manganese, chromium and nickel.

Addai tests fufu manufactured from powder, cassava flour, which is the most widespread preparation for individuals building the meals in Canada, as properly as some home made samples of classic fufu made by equipment.

His samples are tested soon after 30 minutes, 24 hours and just one week, considering the fact that fufu can be cooked for several lengths of time. The launch of metals improves with time, Addai has located. In some samples, there are potentially hazardous ranges of nickel and chromium, which have been connected to doable wellness results this kind of as respiratory and cardiovascular challenges, as perfectly as some types of most cancers.

Health and fitness issues at first sparked Addai’s curiosity. He desired to know if the metals in contact with food stuff relished by his friends and household were taking part in a function in prices of illness.

“There are a whole lot of persons, not only in Ghana, but all in excess of the world, especially in the diaspora who are suffering from cancer, heart illness and other health issues. Scientifically, we you should not constantly know the bring about. So I wanted to analyze this (food items preparing) from the start off to check if some of the health conditions are coming from this food,” he reported.

There are other considerations, way too, this sort of as the form of metallic applied to generate the fufu devices.

“They use recycled materials, that can comprise a lot of direct,” said chemistry professor Yolanda Hedberg, Addai’s supervisor. She conducts very similar exploration tests for the prevalence of metals in dairy items.

Addai’s deep dive into fufu led him to identical exploration on metal corrosion in an setting far from a Ghanaian kitchen area: an icy Canadian highway.

Hedberg needed a researcher to get the job done on a new job in the Substance Science Addition lab. Addai had the expertise and the willingness to jump in, Hedberg explained.

In addition to investigating metals in call with fufu, Addai is now searching at diverse manufacturers of street salt applied for melting and grip on the roadways in Canada’s coldest months. Despite straddling two seemingly disparate fields—from fufu to highway salts—Addai conducts the same sort of main exploration in both projects.

Last wintertime, Addai began running tests on the exact squares of stainless steel he employed for his cassava exploration. This time, they were laid out in a parking ton of Western Exploration Parks for a tiny pilot task. The steel was left outside for two months and monitored as it was sprayed weekly with nine distinct versions of road salt.

Addai will continue that perform future winter season, together with other scientists, to glance at the environmental effects of well-liked kinds of highway salt, including the variety utilized by Western’s amenities management workforce.

“We hope to advocate the ideal merchandise, to stability effectiveness with environmental influence,” he explained.

Addai reported it can often be tedious to hold out for the success of his experiments, lots of of which go through numerous stages and phases. It can take time to reach the phase of ultimate analysis.

But issues in analyzing the tiniest particles of fufu have not dimmed his enthusiasm for the subject—or the foodstuff.

Addai is traveling home to Ghana shortly and mentioned he are unable to wait around to take pleasure in the fufu produced by his loved ones, rather of the version he can make in Canada using cassava flour.

“I informed my spouse and children, have the fufu ready,” Addai claimed with a giggle. “It is the very first factor I want to do. I pass up it so much.”

Presented by
College of Western Ontario


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From beloved West African cuisine to Canadian highway salt, corrosion study opens new path (2023, May well 24)
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