The Triumph and tragedy Of Montreal

You may have heard of the dangerous hole in the ozone layer. Have you wondered how it came to be? And how countries are trying to plug it? That is the story of the Montreal Protocol.

The disaster of CFCs
We all use refrigerators. The most important part of it is the refrigerant – the
chemical that takes the heat away from it and leads to cooling. Up to the 1920s, most refrigerants were either explosive or toxic. In 1930, Thomas Midgley and Charles Kettering discovered that chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) did the job very well, and were safe and non-explosive.

Soon, CFCs were being manufactured on a massive scale as many other uses for them were found. However, safe disposal procedures were not instituted, and many tones of CFCs escaped into the atmosphere. As you may already know, CFCs react with ozone in the presence of sunlight and rob us of our protection from cancer-causing UV rays.

Countries begin to act
While some countries had begun phasing out CFCs, there would be a real impact only
if all countries cooperated. A conference of 20 countries was held in Vienna immediately after the ozone hole was revealed. Discussions then spread over the next four years, to decide how much each country would agree to do to eliminate CFCs. The final agreement was made at Montreal on September 16, 1987 (now celebrated as World Ozone Day), because of which it is called the ‘Montreal Protocol’. The treaty aimed to eliminate global production of CFCs by 1996, so that the ozone hole would recover by 2050.

Unfortunately, the Protocol was fiercely resisted by many industries and poor countries. CFCs were cheap to manufacture, and replacing them was costly. September 16th is celebrated as World Ozone Day to commemorate the signing of the Montreal Protocol.

The triumph of will
However, governments recognized the seriousness of the problems. They passed tough
laws which forced companies to abandon the use of CFCs. In 1992, the ‘Multilateral Fund’ was created, by which rich countries would provide money to poorer countries to switch to CFC alternativTriumph and tragedyes. Today the Protocol has been signed by all the 196 member countries of the United Nations.

The Protocol has provided for the monitoring of CFCs in the atmosphere regularly. The good news is that levels of all CFCs have stopped increasing, and levels of some have actually reduced. As of 1994, CFCs are no longer produced, except for special applications for which an alternative has yet to be found. In 1995, Rowland and Molino were given the Nobel Prize for Chemistry.

It shows that when we put our heads together, the worst of our problems can be solved. In fact, Kofi Annan, the former secretary general of the United Nations called the Montreal Protocol “the single most successful international agreement to date”!

The history of chemical photography

Today, with a digital camera, we can snap an image, upload it on the net and share it with our friend in a jiffy. But when photography started, it took hours to take a photograph, which would come out very blurred. Let’s take a trip backward in time, and see how photography began.

Photographs today
The physics of photography has never changed, ever since Mo Zi of China discovered it nearly 2400 years ago. He called it the ‘locked treasure box’. Light is let in through a tiny hole in the box (‘camera’ is the Latin word for room), where it falls on the opposite wall. There an image appears, of the thing being photographed. However, it depends on chemistry to actually record the image.

In a digital camera the image is recorded on a ‘camera sensor’ that has thousands of light-detectors which capture the amount and colour of light. Your photo is actually stored as an electronic code, which is decoded by your computer. Hardly chemistry at all.

How mom and dad took photographs
When a photo was taken, light reacted with silver iodide, causing it to break down into silver and iodine. Silver would deposit as dark spots on the film. Darker areas formed where more light fell, and vice versa. Depending on the layer, you’d have a silver spot matching the colour to which the layer was sensitive. This was called a ‘colour negative’ (they just called it a negative). Ask mom or dad; they might still have a few negatives from the old times.

Once photography was done, the ‘negative’ would be given to a ‘studio’ to process. In the studio, the technician would first put it in a ‘developer’ solution. The developer was a chemical called CD-4, which did two things. It made the conversion of silver iodide to silver go faster. It also reacted with the dyes, making them stick to the film along with the silver.

The negative was then converted to a ‘positive’. In this the negative was put in front of a light source, and projected onto photographic paper. (This is not very different from how a slide projector works). The photographic paper had light-sensitive dyes coated on it. When the photo was developed, it was washed and dried and finally ready to be given back to the customer. This was called the C-41 process. In those days, photos would take weeks before you could share them with friends, and photography was an expensive hobby.

How grandma and granddad took photographs
Life was simpler in their times, and also colourless. The nitrocellulose film used was coated with a single layer of silver iodide. When the photo was taken, it would come out in black and white. The negative was the exact opposite, dark in areas of more light and light where there was more light. Ask your grandma to show you negatives of their photos. You’ll see pretty weird images, in which pretty people might look quite ugly, the sun is a black disc and night looks like bright day!

About Shoe Polish

We love anything that shines, that looks good. In fact we are also concerned about the shoes that we wear. But have you ever given a thought on how the shoe polishes evolved and what is it that makes our otherwise dull shoe shine?

“Teddy bear Teddy bear turn around, teddy bear teddy bear touch the ground, teddy bear teddy bear polish your shoes, teddy bear teddy bear off to school”. This is a famous nursery rhyme that we all have learnt as kids. This rhyme stresses on the idea of polishing one’s shoes before going to school as polished shoes do look classy and good.

We love anything that shines, that looks good. In fact we are also concerned about the shoes that we wear. But have you ever given a thought on how the shoe polishes evolved and what is it that makes our otherwise dull shoe shine? Before getting onto the history, let us first know what shoe polish is!

What is shoe polish?
Shoe polish is a substance that is added externally to our shoes to make them look cleaner and help them shine better. It comes in the form of wax or cream. Shoe polish is made out of natural and synthetic products.

The history of shoe polish
The history of shoe polish takes us place to the year before 1900 when people polished their boots with a paste made out of ash, wax and tallow. Later around 1900, this product was improved by using different liquids and suspended solids like carbon dye, wax, gum Arabic, turpentine, naphtha and lanolin. These substances helped the shoe polish to stay in liquid form while the contents were inside the container but dry readily when it comes in contact with air.

In medieval period, people used a mixture of soda ash, wax, tallow and oil to soften and condition the leather and also make it waterproof. Around 1700s, shine was first added to the polish.

In 1800s, companies started coming up with polish products that helped in polishing other items like belts and so on.

In 1909, William Ramsay commercialized the first shoe shine polish and started selling it under the brand name of kiwi. During WWI and WWII there was lot of demand for shoe polish due to the excessive use of boots during the war period.

How are shoe polishes made?
Shoe polishes are made by melting the wax in an electric heater. The melted wax is held at a constant temperature and a mixture of various oils is heated separately. The heated mixture is then added to the wax along with distilled water and is heated. When the mixture reaches a temperature of 80 degree, turpentine oil is added. The mixture is then stirred and mixed continuously. Dyes are added if the polish is not a neutral colour. The mixed mass is then poured through a cooling chamber and is allowed to cool uniformly. The shoe polish is then packaged and sent to the market for sale.

What Is Derris?

Derris is the common name used to refer to a number of species of the genus Derris and the family Fabaceae, also known as the bean or legume family. These plants are also referred to by the names tuba or tuba root and poison vine. Derris plants are climbing vines that contain a poisonous chemical called rotenone. The plants are often cultivated for this poison, which is used commercially as an insecticide. Some species of Derris plants are also considered to be invasive weeds that prey on trees like acacia and eucalyptus.

These plants are often parasitic, using large trees as hosts, which they climb and simultaneously strangle. Their vines can reach lengths of up to 52 feet (16 meters). Derris plants have small, sparse leaves called leaflets that are covered in tiny hairs. They also typically have flowers, usually pink or white in color, which are used to create bridal wreathes in some parts of southeast Asia. In the wild, the vines also grow oval fruits that resemble bright green pea pods. When cultivated commercially, the plants seldom produce fruit.

Derris vines are native to eastern and southeastern Asia, and grow wild in Indonesia, Burma, Thailand, China, and India. The plants are also grown for commercial reasons in many of these countries, and are also cultivated for use as insecticides and pesticides in America and parts of Africa. When Derris grows wild, it is usually found along roadsides, riverbanks, or on the outskirts of forested areas.

The poison found in most parts of these vines is called rotenone (CAS No. is 83-79-4), a chemical that is also found in a number of other vine plants, such as the jicama and the barbasco. Due to the fact that it is not absorbed efficiently when applied to the skin or ingested, this toxin is relatively harmless to humans, although a large dose could be potentially fatal to a child. Rotenone is dangerous or fatal to many species of fish and insects because it deprives their cells of energy.

Due to its efficacy in killing insects, rotenone is often used as an insecticide. It is also sometimes used by fishermen to kill or temporarily immobilize fish and shellfish. The bodies of the stunned or dead fish then float to the surface of the water, making it easy for the fishermen to bring them in. This practice of using poison for fishing is illegal in many parts of the world due to its detrimental effects on the environment.

The Facts You May Not Know About Ammonium Chloride

Ammonium chloride consists of white crystals that are also available in more or less worked up rods or lumps. It is a combination of two necessary elements for plant growth — nitrogen and chlorine. This acidic salt is also used in many household products, including polishes and cleaners. In summary, the salt is functional to industry and human life.

Found at sites of volcanic activity, the compound occurs naturally in mineralogical form and bears the name sal ammoniac. The compound is formed from a reaction between an ammonia-based alkaline and an acid; this produces a pH-neutral salt, although solutions of ammonium chloride are in fact slightly acidic.

The salt can be manufactured industrially directly from ammonia and hydrochloric acid but that is often not the most favourable from an economic point of view. Ammonium chloride is obtained as a by-product in different chemical processes, particularly from the Solvay process for production of sodium carbonate from sodium chloride, ammonia, carbon dioxide and water. Another easily available raw material is ammonium sulfate.

The main global producer is Japan where 220 000 tons were manufactured in 1993, mainly as a by-product. Most of it was used as fertilizer in rice cultivation. Production for this usage is pretty exclusive for Japan. More pure ammonium chloride is prepared for more specific fields of application, including making fireworks and pyrotechnics, dyeing textiles and as a flux in metalwork.

Ammonium chloride increased crop yields by up to 40 percent over crops with no chloride added, according to a multi-year study reported on by W. E. Thompson of the Oklahoma State University Department of Plant and Soil Sciences. The chloride also significantly increased the time it took for nitrogen to disappear from unlimed soil and is also being studied for disease prevention.

A large number of personal care products contain ammonium chloride. These products include shampoos, body washes, hair color and liquid hand soaps. Cleansers with ammonia-based phosphates for cleaning may also contain ammonium chloride to help create lather and add viscosity to the liquid.

Additionally, ammonium chloride is an acidic compound that is used to treat cases of low chlorides in the blood or in cases where the body is too alkaline due to vomiting, diuretics or some stomach disorders.

Ammonium chloride tastes salty and is a little cooling. This makes it useful in food; above all it is popular in sweets (salt liquorice). 

Leaves of Carob Tree —— Source of Chocolate Substitute

Leaves of the plant that yields carob—the substitute for chocolate that some consider healthier than chocolate—are a rich source of antibacterial substances ideal for fighting the microbe responsible for listeriosis, a serious form of food poisoning, according to a report in ACS’ Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

Nadhem Aissani and colleagues explain that the increase in antibiotic-resistant bacteria has fostered a search for new natural substances to preserve food and control disease-causing microbes. They cite a need for new substances to combat Listeria monocytogenes, bacteria that caused food poisoning outbreaks in a dozen states with three deaths so far this year. Carob has attracted attention as a potential antibacterial substance, but until now, scientists had not tested it against Listeria. Carob may be best-known as a substitute for chocolate that does not contain caffeine or theobromine, which makes chocolate toxic to dogs.

In recent years, there has been great development in the search for new natural compounds for food preservation aimed at a partial or total replacement of currently popular antimicrobial chemicals. Carob (Ceratonia siliqua) offers a natural promising alternative for food safety and bioconservation. In this work, the methanolic extract of carob leaves (MECL) was tested for the ability to inhibit the growth of a range of microorganisms. MECL inhibited the growth of Listeria monocytogenes at 28.12 μg/mL by the broth microdilution method.

Their report describes tests in which extracts of carob leaves proved effective in inhibiting the growth of Listeria bacteria growing in laboratory cultures. Further, it offers a possible explanation for the antibacterial action. The results were promising enough for the scientists to plan further tests of carob extracts on Listeria growing in meat and fish samples.

Keratin Treatments: Danger or Delight?

Gone are the days when you could simply get away from a situation by saying that you are having a bad hair day. Today, with the advancements in hair treatments and techniques, there is absolutely no chance of having a bad hair day. Nowadays perfect hair is not restricted just for those who are in the glamour world or in the limelight always. Even a common person can have his/her hair in place with the help of such treatments.

For last few months, keratin hair treatments are making lot of buzz in the beauty industry. There are many speculations about this treatment. Let us find out how this treatment works and what keratin is.

What exactly is Keratin?
Keratin is a type of protein that is found in our hair, skin, nails and teeth. Keratin is formed by keratinocytes or living cells that are found in our hair, skin and other parts of our body.

When the keratin in our hair gets damaged due to several chemical treatments like colouring and so on, our hair starts looking frizzy, dull and unmanageable. By applying keratin solution back on the hair, the hair shaft gets a protective layer and turns smooth once again.

Keratin helps in changing the structure of the hair from inside the shaft and locks the hair from outside thereby making your hair strong and healthy.

Keratin is difficult dissolve as it contains a content called as cysteine disulfide. This gives the ability of forming disulfide bridges to the keratin. The disulfide bridges create helix shape and this is extremely strong in nature as sulphur atoms bond with each other in the helix and create a fibrous matrix making the solution difficult to dissolve.

What does Keratin Treatment do?
Keratin treatments smoothen dull and coarse hair and give your hair a shiny finish. The keratin fills the gaps that have developed in your hair cuticle. It is because of these gaps that your hair turns dull and dry. Once these gaps are filled, your hair turns smooth and silky. This keratin treatment smoothens the hair and makes it easy to be styled and managed. There are many types of keratin treatments that are available in the market. However, one thing that you need to consider is the level of a chemical called as formaldehyde.

The effect of keratin treatment lasts up to six months. However, it is important that you follow the instructions provided by the hair stylist to make sure that you get the best results.

The Mystery of Sodium Dodecyl and Laureth Sulfates

Every morning we wake up and the first thing that we do is brush our teeth. But have you ever wondered what do the tube of toothpaste and the bar of soap that we use contain? Well they contain a substance called as SDS. Let us find out more about this substance.

SDS is on your hands and in your mouth too! You wake up every morning and brush your teeth. But have you ever wondered what your toothpaste or a bar of soap contains? Well, they contain a substance known as SDS.

What is SDS?
Sodium dodecyl sulphate (SDS), also known as sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS), is a
substance found in toothpaste, liquid soaps and detergents and is used for different protein studies in Biochemistry. In its purified state, SDS is a white powder of medium molecular weight (M.W. or F.W. of 288.38, C12H25O4SNa). A modified form of SDS is sodium laureth sulphate (M.W. or F.W. 418.53, C12+2nH25+4nNaO4+nS). Both these compounds have a lot of scientific and household uses.

In the Lab
SDS is used during the protein purification process and is used for studying the
protein molecular weights by a technique called polyacrylamide electrophoresis (PAGE). Proteins are dissolved in a solution of SDS, which is an anionic detergent that binds one SDS molecule to every two amino acid residues in the entire protein molecule.

Sodium dodecyl sulphate (the CAS number is 151-21-3) is a detergent that promotes a linear or a straightened, non-globular configuration of the native proteins. Cross-linking disulfide covalent bonds in the protein are broken by the use of mercaptoethanol (2-thioethanol) or dithiothreitol. These chemical treatments permit different types of proteins, which are characterized and defined according to their specific molecular weight.

In the Home
SDS plays an important role in homes as they have foaming characteristics that are used
in toothpastes, liquid hand soaps and liquid detergents.

Toothpastes commonly contain SDS that helps separate, free and remove food and debris in and around the teeth and gums helping prevent tooth decay and pyorrhea of the gums. Hand washes, liquid soaps and some laundry detergents use SDS to remove dirt and debris.

History Of Hair Dye

Who said that when you grow old, you will turn ugly with grey hair, wrinkles and all? Today, with so many advancements in the cosmetic industry, you can actually look beautiful even if you grow old. You can actually stay as 18 till you die. When hair turns grey, people dye their hair with the shades of their preference. But have you wondered how this hair dye made a debut.

How it all started?
Since ages, people have been colouring their hair using extracts from plants and minerals.
Some of these natural agents contain pigments like those of henna, black walnut shells while others contained natural bleaching agents. It was later discovered that these agents caused reactions that changed the colour of the hair.

Archaeologists found evidence that in places like Neanderthals, people used various things to change the colour of both hair and skin. Ancient Gauls and Saxons dyed their hair with different vibrant colours to show rank and to instil fear in enemies on the battlefield. Babylonian men sprinkled gold dust on their hair. The very first mixtures could only darken the hair, but later different methods were found to bleach the hair blonde, often by exposing the painted hair to sunlight for hours. Throughout history, various means were used to produce a full spectrum of hair dye colours.

Discovery of hair dye
In the 1800s, chemists found a substance called as para-phenylenediamine (PPD, the CAS number is 106-50-3) and
discovered its use in the creation of a synthetic dye. At the same time, it was found that hydrogen peroxide was a gentler and safer chemical as compared to the other chemicals for hair bleaching. These two discoveries paved way for chemist Eugene Schueller, who created the first commercial chemical hair dye, which he called as “Aureole.” This product was later known as “L’Oreal.”

The double-process for dying hair blonde soon followed, and in 1932 hair dye was refined by chemist Lawrence Gelb who created a hair dye that actually penetrated in the shaft of the hair. His company was called as “Clairol.” Later, in 1950, he introduced the first one-step hair dye product that actually lightened the hair without bleaching it. This became a huge hit in the modern era of hair dye and brought in the ability for hair to be coloured at home.

Since then people have been colouring their hair and the demand for a good hair dye hasn’t diminished. Today, we have a galore of hair colour options and different companies offering different products. Truly, today we are definitely spoiled for choice.

Study Shows Why Common Explosive PETN sometimes fails

The explosive PETN has been around for a century and is used by everyone from miners to the military, but it took new research by Sandia National Laboratories to begin to discover key mechanisms behind what causes it to fail at small scales.

“Despite the fact explosives are in widespread use, there’s still a lot to learn about how detonation begins and what properties of the explosive define the key detonation phenomena,” said Alex Tappan of Sandia’s Explosives Technology Group.

Explosives are typically studied by pressing powders into pellets; tests are then done to determine bulk properties. To create precise samples to characterize PETN at the mesoscale, the researchers developed a novel technique based on physical vapor deposition to create samples with varying thicknesses. That allowed them to study detonation behavior at the sub-millimeter scale and to determine that PETN detonation fails at a thickness roughly the width of a human hair. This provided a clue into what physical processes at the sub-millimeter level might dominate the performance of PETN (pentaerythritol tetranitrate).

The idea is that by understanding the fundamental physical behavior of an explosive and the detonation process, researchers will improve predictive models of how explosives will behave under a variety of conditions.

Right now, “if we want to model the performance of an explosive, it requires parameters determined from experiments under a particular set of test conditions. If you change any of the conditions, those models we have for predictions don’t hold up any more,” said Rob Knepper of Sandia’s Energetic Materials Dynamic and Reactive Sciences organization.

The tests use less explosive than what’s inside a .22-caliber bullet, and researchers wearing safety glasses and ear protection can stand next to the experiment in a protective enclosure, Tappan said.

It adds new information for a very old explosive. “What we brought to the table is a new experiment that allowed samples to be made that are small enough to measure this critical thickness property,” Tappan said. “Other research been done on PETN in a different form or when it had a binder added to it. This is the first time these data have been done on the critical detonation geometry for pure, high-density PETN.

“What we brought to the table is a new experiment that allowed samples to be made that are small enough to measure this critical thickness property,” Tappan said. “Other research been done on PETN in a different form or when it had a binder added to it. This is the first time these data have been done on the critical detonation geometry for pure, high-density PETN.”

X-rays and Vincent Van Gogh’s Painting

With a sophisticated X-ray analysis scientists have identified why parts of the Van Gogh painting “Flowers in a blue vase” have changed colour over time: a supposedly protective varnish applied after the master’s death has made some bright yellow flowers turn to an orange-grey colour. The origin of this alteration is a hitherto unknown degradation process at the interface between paint and varnish, which studies at the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility ESRF in Grenoble (France) and at Deutsches Elektronen-Synchrotron DESY in Hamburg (Germany) have revealed for the first time.

The results are published in an upcoming issue of Analytical Chemistry, the first author of which is Geert Van der Snickt, who received a PhD in Conservation and Restauration from the University of Antwerp (Belgium) for this work. The research team was led by Koen Janssens from Antwerp and also comprised scientists from TU Delft (Netherlands), the French CNRS, the Kroller-Müller Museum in Otterlo (Netherlands), the ESRF and DESY.

The cadmium yellow (cadmium sulphide, CdS) used by Van Gogh was a relatively new pigment, of which it has recently been discovered that in unvarnished paintings, it oxidizes with air (to cadmium sulphate; CdSO4) making the pigments lose colour and luminosity. “We identified this process a few years ago, and the observation that instead of a slightly off-white, transparent oxidation layer, the pigments in this painting were covered with a dark, cracked crust intrigued us very much,” says Janssens. “The removal of the orange-grey crust and discoloured varnish was not possible without affecting the very fragile original cadmium yellow paint on these parts,” adds Leeuwestein.

To identify what had happened, the museum took two microscopic paint samples – each only a fraction of a millimetre in size – from the original painting and sent them to Janssens for a detailed investigation. The scientists studied the samples using powerful X-ray beams at the ESRF and at DESY’s PETRA III, revealing their chemical composition and internal structure at the interface between varnish and paint. To their surprise, they did not find the crystalline cadmium sulphate compounds that should have formed in the oxidation process. “It emerged that the sulphate anions had found a suitable reaction partner in lead ions from the varnish and had formed anglesite,” explains DESY scientist Gerald Falkenberg. Anglesite (PbSO4) is an opaque compound that was found nearly everywhere throughout the varnish. “The source of the lead probably is a lead-based siccative that had been added to the varnish,” adds Falkenberg.

UA scientists first to look at structure of vital molecule

Molybdenum plays critical roles in all living beings from bacteria to plants to humans. But as vital as this metal is, no one understood the importance of its structure until the Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry’s Joel Weiner and his team jumped on the case.

It does not act alone but is found attached to certain proteins, called molybdenum enzymes, by a very large organic molecule. The organic molecule that holds the molybdenum in place in a protein is extraordinarily complex. and “expensive” for the cell to make, b But the structure of this molecule should make sense to scientists now, thanks to Weiner and his research team.

For starters, the research group found that the molecule occurs in nature in two forms based on their appearance – flat or distorted. Weiner’s team was able to show that the distorted form and flat form have very different functions. The distorted molecule plays a role in the transfer of electrons to the molybdenum, whereas the flat molecule prepares and co-ordinates positioning of the enzyme so it can be part of a biochemical reaction.

The distorted form is found in proteins involved in metabolic, respiratory and cardiac diseases. The flat form occurs in a protein required for brain development, and defects in this protein cause death in infancy. Understanding of this flat form could help lead to treatment of this defect.

It all started for Weiner and his research group in the Department of Biochemistry about three years ago. Although scientists worldwide had known the overall structure of molybdenum in proteins for many years, no one understood why it is so complicated. It was a summer student, Matthew Solomonson, who noticed that one of the structures holding molybdenum was very flat while the other group was distorted. As curiosity-based research goes, the summer student and Weiner’s research team wondered if it was significant. The answer is yes.

“When you bring in a new student it’s really good because they have a fresh way of looking at things,” says Weiner of Solomonson who is now a grad student at the University of British Columbia.

Now the team will use protein-engineering techniques to change the protein environment around the molybdenum.

A Catalyst That Is Cheaper Than Platinum

In the continuing search for cheaper, more efficient catalysts for cleansing diesel engine exhaust, researchers report a new class of mixed-phase oxides that under laboratory conditions exceed the performance of expensive commercial platinum-based catalysts.

A team of scientists from the U.S., China, and South Korea, led by materials scientists Kyeongjae Cho and Xianghong Hao at Nanostellar Inc. in Redwood City, Calif., report that Mn-mullite(Sm, Gd)Mn2O5—manganese-mullite materials containing either samarium or gadolinium—converts the toxic diesel engine exhaust product nitric oxide to the more benign nitrous oxide.

Researchers have put a lot of effort into the search for metal-oxide catalysts. For example, scientists reported the development of a strontium-doped perovskite oxide catalyst that outperforms platinum catalysts. However, various factors, including lack of thermal stability, have bedeviled efforts to industrialize them.

James E. Parks II, who leads an emissions and catalysis research group at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, says the work “shows the benefits of using theoretical simulations to better understand the catalytic processes occurring on new materials.”

Chang H. Kim of General Motors Global R&D, whose team developed the perovskite catalyst, notes the new catalyst’s good NO-to-NO2 conversion abilities but cautions that like other potential catalysts, this material will have to withstand the rigors of real-world conditions.

The researchers investigated the catalyst’s mechanism using infrared Fourier transform spectroscopy as well as density functional theory calculations. They found that its catalytic activity is localized at Mn–Mn (Manganese) dimers on the rough, defect-riddled, or “stepped” mullite (its CAS number is 1302-93-8 )surface.

Yasutake Teraoka, a materials science professor at Japan’s Kyushu University, praised the research. “The development of nonplatinum catalysts for NO oxidation is very challenging,” he says. Parks also points out that the catalyst might find use in so-called lean-burn engines, which use much less fuel than traditional internal combustion engines. Emissions control systems in these engines are costly and limit their commercialization, he says. The new work, he notes, “may provide a solution for cost-effective lean gasoline emission control.”

Meet Ceramics

You must have noticed a set of smooth plates, cups and bowls at home that your mother keeps safely. She must have even told you to be careful while using it. Chances are there that these pieces of crockery are made of ceramic.

Ceramics are heat-resistant inorganic non-metal compounds. These compounds are hard and brittle, making it useful for different purposes.

The first ceramics was used to make pottery. Today, crockery and flowerpots are made from this. Those shiny, smooth expensive tea cups and decorative flower vases you see are mostly made from ceramics. They were made by mixing clay and cements and hardening it by heating it to a high temperature.

Ceramic is used to make roof and wall tiles as well. Yes, those sparkling tiles in your bathroom are most likely ceramic tiles.

How are they made?
Ceramic is made from natural materials like clay. Heating this clay to a high temperature results in strong chemical bonds being formed among the flakes of clay. The heat drives out any water present in the clay, which makes the clay hard.

Then a binder like bone ash is added to give more strength to the ceramic produced. The colour of the clay used gives the unique colour to the ceramic that is made. Porcelain and Bone China are two popular Chinese ceramics known around the world. Bone China contains 50% of bone ash and is a little more brittle than Porcelain. And that’s why you mother warned you to be careful with ceramic crockery.

Ceramics can consist of two or more elements. Complex compositions of ceramic include feldspar, a ceramic mineral used in graphite. It is made by mixing clay and cements and hardening it by heating it to a high temperature

Advanced ceramics
Today advanced ceramics are available. These are ceramics that include silicon carbide (the CAS number is 409-21-2 and its formula is CSi)and tungsten carbide. These ceramics are not only tough and flexible, but have high resistances to scratches and corrosion. That’s why they find applications in sports bicycles, tennis racquets and automobiles.

Ceramics today have become part of everyday life. From creating artificial bones and crowned teeth to ceramic knives and ceramic ball-bearings, they are used for a variety of purposes.

Battery team gets a charge out of lignin

Creating energy from wood waste has progressed from novel idea to renewable energy work in development. Researchers from Poland and Sweden are using a waste product from the paper making process to develop a battery. That material is lignin. Olle Inganas, professor of biomolecular and organic electronics at Linkoping University in Sweden and Grzegorz Milczarek, a researcher at Poznan University of Technology in Poland, have completed a study that shows how it is done. They maintain that the insulating qualities of lignin derivatives can be combined with the conductivity of the polymer polypyrrole to create a composite material that effectively holds an electric charge.

Lignin acts as the insulator and polypyrrole as a conductor, holding an electric charge. Lignin is the substance found in plants, and it is stripped out of wood as a waste product during the paper-making process. In the researchers’ paper, “Renewable Cathode Materials from Biopolymer/Conjugated Polymer Interpenetrating Networks” published in Science, the authors provide more details on lignin and their methods.

“Brown liquor, the waste product from paper processing, contains lignin derivatives. Polymer cathodes can be prepared by electrochemical oxidation of pyrrole to polypyrrole in solutions of lignin derivatives. The quinone group in lignin is used for electron and proton storage and exchange during redox cycling, thus combining charge storage in lignin and polypyrrole in an interpenetrating polypyrrole/lignin composite.”

A clear advantage of their discovery would be in the ready availability of a natural material such as lignin as opposed to dependence on metal oxides such as those used in lithium-ion batteries. The researchers themselves, however, emphasize that their work needs further and extensive study; they recognize this is not at a stage for industrial-style development.

These rechargeable batteries are still limited, according to the researchers, because they slowly lose their electric charge as they sit idly. Milczarek also found that various lignin derivatives perform differently in the cathode, depending on how they are processed. With continued investigations, it may be possible to optimize the batteries. Another implication to a “wood” battery may be in cost, versus existing batteries, as there would not be a reliance on precious metals.

“The advantage of using a renewable material for charge storage is the enormous amount of this material that is already being produced on Earth by growing plants, which contain about 20 to 30 percent lignin,” according to Inganas. “It is also a low-value material, currently being used for combustion. Lithium-ion batteries, on the other hand, require metal oxides and some of those materials, such as cobalt, are rather rare.”

According to the International Lignin Institute, after cellulose, it is the most abundant renewable carbon source on Earth. Between 40 and 50 million tons per annum are produced worldwide as a mostly non-commercialized waste product.

A New Aerogel Made of Cellulose and Silica Gel


Gels are familiar to us in forms like Jell-O or hair gel. A gel is a loose molecular network that holds liquids within its cavities. Unlike a sponge, it is not possible to squeeze the liquid out of a gel. An aerogel is a gel that holds air instead of a liquid. In addition, it is not flammable and is a very good insulator—even at high temperatures. One prominent application for aerogels was the insulation used on space shuttles.


For example, aerogels made from silicon dioxide may consist of 99.98 % air-filled pores. This type of material is nearly as light as air and is translucent like solidified smoke. Because of their extremely high inner surface area, aerogels are also potential supports for catalysts or pharmaceuticals. Silica-based aerogels are also nontoxic and environmentally friendly.


However, one drawback has limited the broader application of these airy materials: silica-based aerogels are very fragile, and thus require some reinforcement. In addition to reinforcement with synthetic polymers, biocompatible materials like cellulose are also under consideration.


The researchers at Wuhan University (China) and the University of Tokyo (Japan) have now developed a special composite aerogel from cellulose and silicon dioxide(also known as Amorphous silica, the formula is SiO2). They begin by producing a cellulose gel from an alkaline urea (the CAS No. is 57-13-6) solution. This causes the cellulose to dissolve, and to regenerate to form a nanofibrillar gel. The cellulose gel then acts as a scaffold for the silica gel prepared by a standard sol–gel process, in which a dissolved organosilicate precursor is cross-linked, gelled, and deposited onto the cellulose nanofibers. The resulting liquid-containing composite gel is then dried with supercritical carbon dioxide to make an aerogel.


The novel composite aerogel demonstrates an interesting combination of advantageous properties: mechanical stability, flexibility, very low thermal conductivity, semitransparency, and biocompatibility. If required, the cellulose part can be removed through combustion, leaving behind a silicon dioxide aerogel. The researchers are optimistic: “Our new method could be a starting point for the synthesis of many new porous materials with superior properties, because it is simple and the properties of the resulting aerogels can be varied widely.”

All About Natural Mosquito Repellents

We have always known mosquito repellents to carry pungent and irritating smell. In fact, many of us are even allergic to the smell because of the chemicals involved in these repellents. However, we do have natural mosquito repellents that are not pungent and are user friendly… Let us explore more…

Mosquito repellents are not advisable to be used in case there is a pregnant woman in the house. This is because of the presence of DEET in the sprays.

How do mosquitoes work?

Mosquitoes although are small in size, have complex methods of detecting hosts. In fact, different types of mosquitoes react to different stimuli. Most mosquitoes are active at dawn and dusk, but there are some types of mosquitoes that seek hosts even during the day. You can avoid being bitten by making sure that you are not attracting mosquitoes. By using attractants to lure mosquitoes elsewhere like using a repellent, and avoiding actions that bring down the effectiveness of the repellent.

Know the Mosquito Attractants

Mosquitoes get attracted by different things. Here is a list of items and activities that can attract mosquitoes. You can avoid mosquito bites by using natural mosquito repellents to lure mosquitoes away from you.

Dark Clothing
Most of the mosquitoes use vision to locate their hosts from a distance. Dark clothes and
foliage are initial attractants for the mosquitoes.

Carbon Dioxide
Mosquitoes generally get attracted to those people who give off more carbon dioxide when
you are hot or have been exercising. A burning candle or other fire is another source of carbon dioxide.

Lactic Acid
When you release more lactic acid when you have been exercising or after eating certain
foods like salty foods or high-potassium foods, mosquitoes are likely to attack you more as compared to others.

Floral or Fruity Fragrances
Besides perfumes, hair products, and other products like scented sunscreens, make sure you
watch for the subtle floral fragrance that comes from fabric softeners and dryer sheets. Mosquitoes get attracted to such fragrances.

Skin Temperature
The exact temperature depends on the type of mosquito. Many mosquitoes are attracted to
people with slightly cooler temperatures of the extremities.

Mosquitoes get attracted by perspiration because of the chemicals it contains and also
because of the increase in the humidity around your body. Even small amounts of water like moist plants or mud puddles will draw mosquitoes. Stagnant water also allows mosquitoes to reproduce and breed.

Make your own natural repellents

Getting offended by the pungent smell of the mosquito repellents? Well, here is an easy way to make your own natural mosquito repellent. These natural products will effectively repel mosquitoes. However, you will be required to apply it more frequently like at least every two hours. This is because of the differences between types of mosquitoes. Products that contain multiple repellents tend to be more effective than those containing a single ingredient.

You can prepare your natural mosquito repellent by using different plant oils and applying them directly on your body. Here are some of the oils that you can mix to prepare a natural mosquito repellent:

Citronella Oil
Lemon Eucalyptus Oil
Cinnamon Oil
Castor Oil
Rosemary Oil
Lemongrass Oil
Cedar Oil
Peppermint Oil
Clove Oil
Geranium Oil

You can also use oils from Verbena, Pennyroyal, Lavender, Pine, Cajeput, Basil, Thyme, Allspice, Soybean, and Garlic plants. Another plant-derived substance, pyrethrum, is an insecticide. It comes from the flowers of the daisy Chrysanthemum cinerariifolium.

However, you need to remember that ‘natural’ does not automatically imply ‘safe’. Many people may be sensitive to plant oils. Some natural insect repellents are actually toxic. Therefore, although natural repellents provide an alternative to synthetic chemicals, please remember to follow the manufacturer’s instructions when using these products.

Global Supply Of MMA May Less Than The Demand In 2014

According to the prediction of Mitsubishi Synthetic Co. in  Japan, because of the rapid growth of the global MMA (methyl methacrylate) demand and supply growth is not synchronized, it can be expected that in 2014 the situation of production falls short will appear and the supply gap will reach 200,000 tons.

It is reported that a joint venture between Mitsubishi Synthetic Co. and Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (SABIC) in the Middle East that plans to produce MMA 250,000 tons per year will be put into operation in late 2014 or early 2015, by then the tight global supply situation will be relieved. However, as the global economy resumes growth, demand for MMA will further expand, the possible resurgence of the tight supply situation may appear in 2 to 3 years. From 2018 to 2020, global MMA supply growth will continue to lag behind demand growth.

It is understood that the in 2011 global MMA supply and demand were in the basic balance, the demand was about 3.3 million tons, of which the Asian demand was 1.8 million to 1.85 million tons, China accounted for 400,000 tons.

In recent years Asia MMA demand growth was significantly higher than the region’s economic growth, demand and economic growth in Europe and North America were essentially flat. Methyl methacrylate is mainly used in the production of poly (methyl methacrylate) (PMMA), as well as paint, the electronics industry accounted for about 40% of the PMMA aggregate demand. The rapid development of the electronics market will further promote the the PMMA surge in demand for, In addition, the automotive industry, solar industry is also pushing the PMMA growth in demand.

German Researchers Produced Methanol From Carbon Dioxide

According to the Xinhua news, carbon dioxide that produced by the burning of fossil fuels is considered as the “culprit” of global warming. However, German researchers found that with the help of a metal catalyst, carbon dioxide and hydrogen can be generate methanol with industrial use under a mild condition. At present, the industrial production of methanol from hydrogen and carbon monoxide under high temperature and pressure and heterogeneous catalysis.

The researchers of Germany RWTH Aachen University reported on a German journal Applied Chemistry, in their experiments, they found that due to a homogeneous catalytic effect of a metal catalyst ruthenium (CAS No. is 7440-18-8) - phosphine complexes, carbon dioxide and hydrogen generated methanol in the pressurized solution. A carbon dioxide molecule and three hydrogen molecules can generate methanol (CH4O, CAS number is 67-56-1 )and water after their reaction. The researchers said that using this method that converting carbon dioxide and hydrogen into methanol is an exploration of new ideas, they will continue to find a more suitable catalyst.

People who participated in this research also believe that, using carbon dioxide which is a greenhouse gase that people want to reduce emission to produce methanol is  is an ideal processing idea. However, this process has a very high demand on catalyst, the researchers will continue to find a more suitable catalyst.

Saudi Arabia Controled 85% Of the Methanol Market In Middle East Solely

A recent survey shows that in the entire Middle East and African markets, as the major methanol-exporting countries, Saudi Arabia has the share of the production of methanol that is high as to 85%. At the same time, Saudi Arabia is also the region’s largest methanol consumer. In the next 10 years, the country’s methanol production will have further increase and the export volume will continue to increase.

From 2006 to 2011, the Saudi’s macro-economy had a good performance, and its oil reserves was lucrative and abundant. In order to diversify the economy, the government provided adequate and cheap raw materials to many manufacturers, which provided a good basis for the development of the methanol (CH4O and CAS number is 67-56-1)industry.

In 2010, Saudi Arabia had slightly adjusted the raw material structure of the methanol, improved the production capacity of coal-based methanol, lowered the production capacity of natural gas based methanol, and achieved the rapid growth of the coke oven gas methanol capacity. About 40% of methanol had also been transformed into formaldehyde (the CAS number is 50-00-0), which was used in the production of a variety of products such as plastic, plywood, paints, explosives, and permanent press textiles.