Silvia Madeddu – ECR in Japan Part 2

This blog is for the 3rd and 4th weeks of Silvia’s trip to Japan as part of our ECR International Exchange Fund.  The first blog can be found here.

15 Oct – 30 Oct 2013: Memoirs of a Geisha

During the third and fourth week I analysed the first samples carbonated via gas-solid reaction. Thermogravimetric analysis (TGA) and X-ray diffraction (XRD) have been conducted respectively to identify and quantify the species formed. The quantification of the mineral carbonates with TGA was extremely challenging since the weight losses due to Mg(OH)2 dehydroxylation and Mg-carbonates calcination partially overlap. Nevertheless, it was possible to determine the temperature at which the highest carbonation rate occurred. Such temperature was chosen to run some tests on the Mg(OH)2 produced from the alkaline digestion of Mg-silicate minerals at The University of Sheffield. Furthermore, some preliminary tests were conducted using commercial Mg(OH)with the addition of different volumes of water, i. e. 0.5 – 2 ml H2O per 1 g Mg(OH)2, in order to verify whether the presence of H2O enhanced the capture of CO2.

During these two weeks I was also trained to use the Scanning Electron Microscope to study the morphology of the samples via Secondary Electrons Images (SEI). The first samples to be studied via SEM were the Mg-silicate minerals reacted with NaOH(aq) for different durations, i. e. from 1 to 6 hours, and containing different wt% of Mg(OH)2. The SE images revealed the different phases of the alkaline digestion reaction on the Mg-silicates surface, an example is shown in Figure 1. The study with SEM will be completed with the acquisition of element mapping via SEM-EDS.

The weekend between 19th and 20th October, Nagoya hosted the Matsuri Festival which celebrates the Three Heroes of Nagoya with a big parade, concerts and shows spread around the city. The parade was an incredible show. Some episodes of the history of the city were recreated live on the streets. Actors wore beautiful costumes, samurai fought with katanas and ninjas appeared among the crowd. Everything was perfectly choreographed, the streets were turned into theatre stages where I found myself thrown back in time in a world until then saw only in the movies.


The second day I was recommended not to miss the Oiran show. Without having any idea of what Oiran means I went looking for this show under a heavy rain. When I finally reached the location, I totally forgot of being soaked from head to toe, I just got lost looking at these beautiful creatures walking among a crowd of enchanted people.


The Oiran are considered the first version of the more popular Geisha, today it is possible to see them just in few occasions and one of these is the Nagoya Matsuri. They elegantly advanced on the red carpet, although wearing the most uncomfortable shoes and being surrounded by flashing cameras, their movements were fluent and perfectly executed. These graceful women incarnate an ancient and mysterious culture and seeing them live will just leave you astonished.