What does a conventional West African dish should do with street salt unfold throughout snowy Canadian streets each winter?
The 2 topics are equal passions for chemistry Ph.D. candidate Robert Addai, who works in Western’s Materials Science Addition lab and research how metals corrode once they come into contact with meals and street salts.
It began with fufu, a typical staple in his food plan rising up in Ghana. A starchy meals that is frequent in West African delicacies, historically fufu is made by pounding cassava, a tropical root vegetable. That labor-intensive course of can take hours.
The preparation of fufu has developed, the identical approach butter and different meals staples have change into nearly completely machine produced. Most individuals now use a metallic “fufu pounding machine” that gives the repetitive pounding motion in a hands-free kind, Addai defined.
“It’s a scrumptious meals, however it takes a whole lot of time. The machines additionally works within the type of friction, by pounding. My analysis is targeted on whether or not metals are launched from the machine into the fufu,” Addai stated.
Addai measures the chromium, iron, manganese and nickel current in samples of fufu, by testing a slurry of the meals involved with samples of two varieties of fastidiously cleaned stainless-steel. After breaking it down in a digester, he analyzes the answer for hint quantities of metals utilizing a specialised instrument to quantify metallic ions. After reviewing preliminary outcomes, he discovered the very best concentrations of iron adopted by manganese, chromium and nickel.
Addai exams fufu constructed from powder, cassava flour, which is the commonest preparation for these making the meals in Canada, in addition to some home made samples of conventional fufu made by machine.
His samples are examined after half-hour, 24 hours and one week, since fufu will be cooked for varied lengths of time. The discharge of metals will increase with time, Addai has discovered. In some samples, there are probably dangerous ranges of nickel and chromium, which have been linked to potential well being results comparable to respiratory and cardiovascular points, in addition to some varieties of most cancers.
Well being considerations initially sparked Addai’s curiosity. He needed to know if the metals involved with meals loved by his family and friends have been enjoying a job in charges of sickness.
“There are lots of people, not solely in Ghana, however everywhere in the world, particularly within the diaspora who’re affected by most cancers, coronary heart illness and different sickness. Scientifically, we do not at all times know the trigger. So I needed to review this (meals preparation) from the begin to examine if a number of the ailments are coming from this meals,” he stated.
There are different considerations, too, comparable to the kind of metallic used to create the fufu machines.
“They use recycled supplies, that may include a whole lot of lead,” stated chemistry professor Yolanda Hedberg, Addai’s supervisor. She conducts comparable analysis testing for the prevalence of metals in dairy merchandise.
Addai’s deep dive into fufu led him to comparable analysis on metallic corrosion in an surroundings removed from a Ghanaian kitchen: an icy Canadian street.
Hedberg wanted a researcher to work on a brand new venture within the Materials Science Addition lab. Addai had the information and the willingness to leap in, Hedberg stated.
Along with investigating metals involved with fufu, Addai is now taking a look at totally different manufacturers of street salt used for melting and grip on the roadways in Canada’s coldest months. Regardless of straddling two seemingly disparate fields—from fufu to street salts—Addai conducts the identical sort of core analysis in each tasks.
Final winter, Addai started working exams on the identical squares of stainless-steel he used for his cassava analysis. This time, they have been specified by a car parking zone of Western Analysis Parks for a small pilot venture. The metallic was left exterior for 2 months and monitored because it was sprayed weekly with 9 totally different styles of street salt.
Addai will proceed that work subsequent winter, together with different researchers, to take a look at the environmental results of common varieties of street salt, together with the sort utilized by Western’s services administration workforce.
“We hope to advocate the very best product, to steadiness effectiveness with environmental affect,” he stated.
Addai stated it will possibly generally be tedious to attend for the outcomes of his research, a lot of which bear a number of phases and phases. It takes time to succeed in the stage of ultimate evaluation.
However challenges in analyzing the tiniest particles of fufu have not dimmed his enthusiasm for the topic—or the meals.
Addai is touring dwelling to Ghana quickly and stated he cannot wait to benefit from the fufu made by his family members, as a substitute of the model he makes in Canada utilizing cassava flour.
“I informed my household, have the fufu prepared,” Addai stated with fun. “It is the very first thing I wish to do. I miss it a lot.”
From beloved West African delicacies to Canadian street salt, corrosion research opens new path (2023, Could 24)
retrieved 25 Could 2023
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