I became interested in clays
Since every member of my family had some education in science, I knew
I was going to study science after I graduated from high school. I looked
up to my sister who, at that time, was studying physics. She would often
come home and play with electronic toys. She would build a model portable
radio or galvanometer from scratch or from kits. I admired her greatly.
This first intrigued my curiosity towards science. However, when I went
to college, I was still unsure of my major. In my freshman chemistry
lab I enjoyed the beautiful colors and shapes of crystal made from different
solutions I prepared. It was then that I decided to become a chemist.
The shiny crystals on the beach attracted me whenever I went for a walk,
however my interest in geology and rocks was minimal at that time. I
was more drawn to how the chemical reaction took place. I developed interest
in clay sometime later in my life when I was hired to work for a company
that mines and sells clay (sodium bentonite) products.
I started working for this
company five years ago. I was fascinated, and a little confused because
many of the things I was learning were
new to me. My boss was very knowledgeable for he had years of hands-on
experience with sodium bentonite. He became my mentor. The more I learned
about the chemistry, properties, and various uses of sodium bentonite,
the more I often felt this clay is like a miracle dust! It has so many
uses and applications. Some of the traditional uses are drilling, slurry
trenching, foundry, etc. The sodium bentonite, unlike calcium bentonite,
swells in water to ten times its weight. It is found nowhere in the world
in such large deposits like it is in Wyoming. Occasionally it is also
referred as Wyoming bentonite. My chemistry background has been useful.
Most of my time is spent researching and developing new products that
will enable the customer to do the job efficiently and economically for
any particular application. In order to do this, first I try to understand
the goals of the customer, then accordingly, I design or develop a product
to satisfy the customer’s needs. Sometimes I have to devise a test
method to simulate the application to test the new product.
Thus my job is challenging and exciting. It keeps my curious mind busy.