Why Is Castile Soap So Appealing?

Castile soap (CAS No. 8029-38-7) is made with fat of purely vegetable origin, rather than animal fats such as tallow. Many stores sell it, and it is a specialty of several regions in Europe, where it is made with various traditional ingredients. It is also possible to purchase a castile soap base for the purpose of blending your own soaps. This type of soap has historically been highly prized and viewed as a high quality soap which is gentle on the skin and useful for a range of other applications.

This soap is said to be named for the Kingdom of Castile, a region in what is now known as Spain. Evidence seems to suggest that castile soap actually originated in Northern Italy, and spread outwards from there, although this soap is so ancient that it is a bit difficult to pin down the precise details of its history. In Castile, the soap was made with olive oil only, and some people differentiate between capitalized Castile soap, made with olive oil, and lower case castile soap, made with other vegetable oils.

Although olive oil is the traditional base oil, castile soap can be made with coconut, hemp, avocado, almond, walnut, and many other vegetable oils. The composition of the soap will vary slightly, depending on which base oil is used. In pure form, castile soap is white, hard, and odorless. Many soapmakers also make a liquid version of castile soap, which is odorless and pale cream to white, often thickening in cool weather.

Once the base is made, castile soap can be scented with various floral ingredients, blended with oatmeal and other coarse materials to assist with exfoliation, or treated in other ways to create soap with specific purposes. Castile soap is often used as a hand soap in fine hotels, and the soap can also be used as a general body soap, a shampoo, or a general cleaner. Castile soaps can be used to wash clothes, scrub floors, bathe pets, and in a variety of other situations when something needs to be cleaned.

This type of soap is often highly prized because it is made with natural ingredients, appealing to people who want to be environmentally conscious. It is also very gentle, suitable for people with sensitive skin along with delicate surfaces and fabrics ranging from soft stone to silk. Some people like to blend their own castile soap, using soap base and essential oils.

Super Thin and Strong Graphene-based Circuits

Integrated circuits, which are in everything from coffeemakers to computers and are patterned from perfectly crystalline silicon, are quite thin—but Cornell researchers think they can push thin-film boundaries to the single-atom level.

Their materials of choice are graphene, single atom-thick sheets of repeating carbon atoms, and hexagonal boron nitride, similarly thin sheets of repeating boron and nitrogen atoms. Researchers led by Jiwoong Park, assistant professor of chemistry and chemical biology, have invented a way to pattern single atom films of graphene and boron nitride, an insulator, without the use of a silicon substrate. The work is detailed in an article in the journal Nature, published online Aug. 30.

The technique, which they call patterned regrowth, could lead to substrate-free, atomically thin circuits—so thin, they could float on water or through air, but with tensile strength and top-notch electrical performance.

As it turns out, researchers’ patterned regrowth, which harnesses the same basic photolithography technology used in silicon wafer processing, allows graphene and boron nitride to grow in perfectly flat, structurally smooth films—no creases or bumps, like a well-knitted scarf—which, if combined with the final, yet to be realized step of introducing a semiconductor material, could lead to the first atomically thin integrated circuit.

Simple really is beautiful, especially in the case of thin films, because photolithography is a well-established technique that forms the basis for making integrated circuits by laying materials, one layer at a time, on flat silicon.

The research team, which includes David A. Muller, professor of applied and engineering physics, is working to determine what material would best work with graphene boron nitride thin films to make up the final semiconducting layer that could turn the films into actual devices.

The team was helped by already being skilled at making graphene—still relatively new in the materials world—as well as Muller’s expertise in electron microscopy characterization at the nanoscale. Muller helped the team confirm that the lateral junctions of the two materials were, indeed, smooth and well connected.

Is Melamine Dangerous?

Melamine is an organic compound that is often combined with formaldehyde to produce melamine resin, a synthetic polymer that is fire resistant and heat tolerant. The resin is a versatile material that has a highly stable structure. Its uses include whiteboards, floor tiles, kitchenware, fire retardant fabrics and commercial filters. Melamine can be easily molded while warm but will set into a fixed form, which makes it suitable for certain industrial applications.


This type of resin is made by mixing melamine with formaldehyde, and sometimes urea, under heat and pressure. The substances begin to polymerize, and are forced into a mold to create the desired shape. Under pressure, melamine releases water, which could make the plastic unstable if it is not removed. The materials finish polymerizing and create a finished product.

Melamine resin is known as a thermoset plastic because it is fixed after molding. If exposed to enough heat, it will decompose. For this reason, this type of dishware should not be exposed to high temperatures such as those in an oven or microwave. This type of resin also is difficult to recycle.


Foam products also can be made out of melamine. This foam has a distinctive structure composed of stacked bubble shapes that are extremely hard and therefore can easily clean a wide variety of substances. Melamine foam is marketed under a variety of commercial names, including several sponge-like products that are known for removing scuffs and dirt from a wide range of surfaces.

Heat Resistance

Formaldehyde also plays a role in a wide range of flame-resistant materials. These include textiles that are used in upholstery and the uniforms worn by firemen. Thermal liners and heat-resistant gloves and aprons also are made using melamine.

Melamine became a subject of health concerns in the early 21st century, when it was determined to be the cause of death for some children and many pets. It was discovered that milk producers in China had added this compound to milk products in order to raise their nitrogen content, thereby raising their protein levels according to the simple testing procedures that are commonly used. The melamine content of these products, however, was greater than what had been considered to be safe levels. China then took steps intended to eliminate the addition of melamine to milk products.

Organocatalyst Splits Water

To facilitate the splitting of water, chemists usually use costly precious-metal catalysts deposited on electrodes. In one half of the electrochemical system, water is oxidized to liberate O2. In the other half, the protons generated can readily combine to give H2. The electricity needed to drive the overall reaction would ideally come from a solar cell.

Borrowing from biological systems, where metal-free, flavin-based enzymes are important catalysts for reduction and oxidation processes, a team led by Ksenija D. Glusac of Bowling Green State University has now shown that N-ethylflavinium ion catalytically oxidizes water to form O2. The researchers propose that O2 evolution occurs via formation of a flavin peroxide intermediate on the electrode surface, analogous to the mechanism of water oxidation with transition-metal oxide catalysts.

In the quest to find better catalysts for splitting water into oxygen and hydrogen, chemists have discovered that a small organic molecule related to the vitamin riboflavin (the CAS number is 83-88-5) can substitute for transition-metal catalysts traditionally used in electrolysis. The research, reported at the American Chemical Society national meeting in Philadelphia on Aug. 20, could lead to a simple, low-cost way to generate H2 to power fuel cells.

Speaking in the Division of Energy & Fuels, Glusac acknowledged that the flavinium catalyst has its limitations. The catalyst requires a high oxidation potential of 1.9 V, and it recycles only 13 times on average before becoming inactivated. But Glusac told C&EN she considers the flavinium ion a prototype.

“The water-oxidation reaction is of key importance to solar-fuel technology,” observes Thomas E. Mallouk, director of the Center for Solar Nanomaterials at Pennsylvania State University. “The discovery of a metal-free, molecular water-oxidation catalyst is unprecedented. Although the oxidation potential of this molecular catalyst is too high to be practical, the discovery suggests it may be possible to design more easily oxidized organic molecules to catalyze water oxidation.”

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.”

Understanding Maillard Reaction

When you cook meat, have you wondered why the meat changes colour at different stages of cooking? This is because of the Maillard reaction. Wondering what is Maillard reaction? Well, let us find out.

Meet the Maillard Reaction
When we cook meat, the Maillard Reaction occurs and the amino acids in the meat react with the reducing sugars to form colours and flavours.

When meat is cooked, it changes colour and the flavours also change. This phenomenon is taken for granted by many cooks, but it is actually the result of chemical reactions that are caused when the temperature of the meat is increased. These chemical reactions were first studied by a French scientist by the name Louis Camille Maillard as part of his PhD thesis in the year 1912, so the reaction is known as the Maillard reaction.

Reaction with Amino Acids
Amino acids make up the group of chemicals which form the monomers for the important polymers which are known as proteins, so there are a lot of them that are available in a steak or joint of meat, for example. The important part of the amino acid is the amino group which is a nitrogen atom that is attached to two hydrogen atoms (-NH2).

Cooking Meat Starts the Reaction
The two chemicals exist side by side in meat, and these chemicals hardly react till the meat is heated. Then, the reaction speeds up greatly, with the amino group from the amino acid displacing the double-bonded oxygen. The nitrogen forms a double bond with the carbon, and a molecule of water is formed. A new molecule is called as isomers. These are called as Amadori compounds.

From this point a series of alternative reactions can occur, producing a range of different compounds, including two important flavour compounds known as furfural and hydroxy methyl furfural (HMF). The brown colours come from other products of the Maillard reaction called as melanodins.

The Maillard reaction forms colours and flavours in food that are appreciated by those who eat them. Some leaner, white meats do not have many reducing sugars, so they do not develop such a brown colour and have fewer flavours.

So the next time you cook meat and if it turns brown, you are sure to know the reason

The Function of New catalyst of Glass Alternatives

University of Oregon chemists have identified a catalyst that could dramatically reduce the amount of waste made in the production of methyl methacrylate, a monomer used in the large-scale manufacturing of lightweight, shatter-resistant alternatives to glass such as Plexiglas.

David Tyler, Charles J. and M. Monteith Jacobs Professor of Chemistry, will present his findings Tuesday at the national meeting of the American Chemical Society, Aug. 19-23 in Philadelphia, Penn.

Global production of methyl methacrylate was 4 million metric tons in 2010. Each kilogram produced also yields 2.5 kilograms of ammonium hydrogen sulfate, a corrosive byproduct that is not usable. Disposal of ammonium hydrogen sulfate is extremely energy intensive, consuming 2 percent of the energy used in Texas annually.

With the identification of a working catalyst, Tyler will focus his research on how to accelerate the conversion to methyl methacrylate (its CAS No. is 80-62-6). The industrial standard for a practical catalyst is conversion of acetone cyanohydrin into methyl methacrylate in the span of a minute or two, Tyler said.

Tyler’s team has identified a catalyst that doesn’t produce ammonium hydrogen sulfate. The university is securing a provisional patent for the catalyst. “There were some really fundamental chemical reasons why previous catalysts didn’t work with this process,” Tyler said. “We’ve found a catalyst that overcomes all of those objections.”

A Special Type Of Yogurt For ‘Anti-hunger’

Promising results were reported here today from a proof-of-concept clinical trial of an “anti-hunger” ingredient for yogurt, fruit shakes, smoothies and other foods that would make people feel full longer and ease the craving to eat. Scientists described the ingredient, a new version of a food additive that has been in use for more than 50 years, at the 244th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society.

The potential new tool in the battle of the bulge is methyl cellulose, a white powder that dissolves in cold water to form a thick solution that turns into a “gel” or gelatin-like material upon heating.

Methyl cellulose provides a pleasant texture and holds together the ingredients in hundreds of food products like baked goods, sweet and savory snacks and ready meals.

Carsten Huettermann, Ph.D., who presented the report, said that this is the first use of methyl cellulose as a satiety ingredient in food.

“This ingredient would make people feel full after eating smaller amounts of food,” Huettermann explained. “With that sense of fullness and hunger-satisfaction, they would not crave more food. In our first study, we saw that fewer calories were consumed at the following meal after eating our new product. Our next step now is to investigate in further studies the mechanism of action and whether this may have an impact on weight management.”

The updated methyl cellulose, named SATISFIT-LTG, showed promise for doing that in a controlled clinical trial that Huettermann discussed at the meeting. He is with Dow Wolff Cellulosics in Bomlitz, Germany, which manufactures methyl cellulose. Volunteers who consumed SATISFIT-LTG experienced a reduction in the sensation of hunger that lasted until the consumption of a following meal in which the volunteers could eat as much as they wanted (two hours after eating SATISFIT-LTG) and a statistically significant reduced intake of calories at this meal. The consumption of SATISFIT-LTG resulted in a 13 percent decrease in calorie intake.

Huettermann explained that conventional versions of methyl cellulose (its CAS No. is 9004-67-5) pass through the stomach rapidly and do not work as a satiety ingredient. SATISFIT-LTG, however, forms a gel at body temperature, and the gel lingers in the stomach before passing into the small intestine.

The scientists are developing SATISFIT-LTG as a potential ingredient in cold foods, such as smoothies and yogurts, and Huettermann said that work will continue based on the promising clinical trial results.

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.

The science behind soda water

We all love to have a sip of our favourite soft drink when we are thirsty, especially in summers. And we also love to have a little fizz in it. This fizz is the bubbly effervescence that is produced by adding pressurized carbon dioxide gas to water. It’s also called carbonated water or just soda water.

The first soda
Joseph Priestley was the first person to invent soda water. He suspended a bowl of water over a beer vat in a brewery and patiently waited to see what happened. Soon the bowl of water was fizzing with carbon dioxide released from the fermentation of beer. And that was how soda was born. However, it was only in the later part of the 19th century that soda water was introduced as a popular soft drink.

Flavoured soda drinks
Eugene Roussel, a Frenchman in Philadelphia, was the first person to popularize flavoured soda soft drinks. He set up a small counter in the perfume shop that he owned and offered customers glasses of orange, cherry, lemon, teaberry, ginger, peach and root beer flavoured soda water. And since the people who started producing soda water were chemists, this product was easily available in medical shops in the United States.

The chemistry of soda
When carbon dioxide is mixed in water it forms carbonic acid. To this, salts like sodium bicarbonate (food grade, the CAS number is 144-55-8) are added to reduce the amount of acidity in the drink. Sodium and other metallic salts are used to neutralise the acidic flavour of the drinks.

Today, soda water is made by sending pressurized carbon dioxide through water. The high pressure allows more carbon dioxide to dissolve than it would normally be possible. The soda is then packed into an airtight bottle. When this pressurized bottle is opened, the gas rises to the top bubbling. And if you shake the bottle before opening, the soda will spill out splashing all over, when opened.

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.”

US Duties on Vanadium Nitride from Russian Revoked

The U.S. International Trade Commission ruled in a unanimous decision Wednesday to revoke anti-dumping duties on imports of ferrovanadium and nitrided vanadium from Russia.

“The (ITC) today determined that revoking the existing anti-dumping order on ferrovanadium and nitrided vanadium from Russia would not be likely to lead to continuation or recurrence of material injury within a reasonably foreseeable time,” the agency said in a statement. Steelmaker Evraz Group SA, the main participant in the trade case on the Russian supplier side, applauded the ruling. “Evraz agrees with the decision by the (ITC) to revoke the Russian ferrovanadium anti-dumping duty order.

The commercial importance of vanadium was establishedduring the first third of the century. Discovery of high-gradedeposits in Namibia, Peru, and Zambia, along with additional development of the deposits on the Colorado Plateau in theWestern United States, did much to ensure a sufficient supplyof vanadium. Metallurgical progress was also being made during this period in the production of ferrovanadium.

Six countries recovered vanadium from ores, concentrates,slag, or petroleum residues. China, Russia, and SouthAfrica were the leading nations in vanadium production. Infour of the five foreign countries, its production wasprimarily a byproduct of iron mining and processing.

In 2000, all U.S. production of this chemical was from various industrial waste streams. Fewer than 10 firms, primarily in Arkansas, Louisiana, Texas, and Utah, processed materials such as vanadium-bearing iron slag, fly ash, petroleum residues, and spent catalysts to produce vanadium pentoxide (its CAS No. is 1314-62-1), ferrovanadium,and vanadium metal. Recycling of it was negligible; only small quantities of vanadium-based catalysts and vanadium-aluminum alloy were recycled.

Vanadium (its CAS number is 7440-62-2 and the formula symbol is V ) consumption in the United States decreased for the third consecutive year. Metallurgical applications in which vanadium was used as a minor alloying element with iron, steel,and titanium remained the dominant use and accounted for more than 90% of domestic consumption. The largest non metallurgical use was in catalysts.

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) estimates that the reserve base is more than 27 million metric tons, a sufficiently large supply that by itself can satisfy the market forseveral hundred years at the present rate of consumption. Additionally, the expected increase recovery of vanadium fromspent catalyst, fly ash, and petroleum residues will extend the viability of the reserve base significantly.

New Process Doubles Production of Alternative Fuel

A new discovery should make the alternative fuel butanol more attractive to the biofuel industry. University of Illinois scientist Hao Feng has found a way around the bottleneck that has frustrated producers in the past and could significantly reduce the cost of the energy involved in making it as well.

“The first challenge in butanol production is that at a certain concentration the fuel being created becomes toxic to the organism used to make it (Clostridium pasteurianum and other strains), and that toxicity limits the amount of fuel that can be made in one batch. The second issue is the high energy cost of removing butanol from the fermentation broth at the high concentrations used by the industry. We have solved both problems,” he said.

In the study, funded by the Energy Biosciences Institute, Feng’s team successfully tested the use of a non-ionic surfactant, or co-polymer, to create small structures that capture and hold the butanol molecules.

“This keeps the amount of butanol in the fermentation broth low so it doesn’t kill the organism and we can continue to produce it,” he said. This process, called extractive fermentation, increases the amount of butanol produced during fermentation by 100 percent or more.

But that’s only the beginning. Feng’s group then makes use of one of the polymer’s properties—its sensitivity to temperature. When the fermentation process is finished, the scientists heat the solution until a cloud appears and two layers form.

“We use a process called cloud point separation,” he said. “Two phases form, with the second facing the polymer-rich phase. When we remove the second phase, we can recover the butanol, achieving a three- to fourfold reduction in energy use there because we don’t have to remove as much water as in traditional fermentation.”

A bonus is that the co-polymers can be recycled and can be reused at least three times after butanol is extracted with little effect on phase separation behavior and butanol enrichment ability. After the first recovery, the volume of butanol recovered is slightly lower but is still at a high concentration, he said.

According to Feng, alternative fuel manufacturers may want to take another look at butanol because it has a number of attractive qualities. Butanol has a 30 percent higher energy content than ethanol, lower vapor pressure, and is less volatile, less flammable, and mixes well with gasoline, he noted.

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.

European Air Pollution Concerns

The European Environment Agency has reported that 11 of the member states of the European Union (EU) have exceeded the emission limits set by the Convention on long-range transboundary air pollution (LRTAP), which set emmission ceilings to be achieved by 2010. Although emissions have reduced in the last 20 years, Denmark and Spain both exceeded three ceilings (for nitrogen oxides (NOx), non-methane volatile organic compounds (NMVOCs) and ammonia (NH3). Germany exceeded its ceilings for NMVOCs and NOx. Seven other countries exceeded the NOx ceiling and one the ammonia ceiling.

However, more legislation is needed in areas of high pollution, such as China, say researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry in Mainz, Germany. If not, they predict that by 2050 the air quality worldwide will be as bad as in urban areas of southeast Asia.

Back-to-the-future Process Yields ‘Miracle Wood’

A back-to-the-future technology, first used more than 100 years ago, has put a new form of wood on the market – a veritable “miracle wood” that resists the moisture-induced bowing, swelling, cupping, shrinking and cracking that have been downsides of natural wood for thousands of years. The new “acetylated wood” is the topic of a story in the current edition of Chemical & Engineering News (C&EN). C&EN is the weekly newsmagazine of the American Chemical Society, the world’s largest scientific society.

Alexander H. Tullo, C&EN senior editor, explains that production of acetylated wood relies on a process much different from pressure treatment, which infuses insect- and rot-resistant chemicals into wood. Instead, the acetylation process uses heat, pressure and a substance termed acetic anhydride to permanently expand the cell walls in wood into a fixed position that resists water absorption. That absorption of moisture from the air, ground or rainfall underpins the familiar bending, bowing, rotting and other problems with natural wood.

The article points out that acetylation technology has been available for more than a century, and acetylated wood pulp has been used to make photographic film, cigarette filters, coatings for playing cards and other products. It is getting a second life thanks to technological advances made since similar products failed to get off the ground in the 1930s. Manufacturers such as Eastman Chemical and Accsys Technologies attribute its new success to the growing desire for green products. The new wood has similar properties to modern construction materials like aluminum and PVC but a much smaller carbon footprint. And although it costs about three and a half times more than untreated wood, Eastman’s technology manager for acetylated wood says its durability makes it worth it for customers.

Generics Sector Grows by 21% During H1 in Brazil

According to Investimentos e Noticias, the Brazilian drug sector overall, including branded drugs, grew by 7.89% in the first half of 2012 compared to the same period last year. According to the Brazilian generic wholesaler association Abradilan, the sales volume of generic drugs in the country grew by 21% in the first half.

Brazil has witnessed considerable growth in the generic sector in the first half, achieving 20.95% growth in terms of units compared to the same period of 2011. In relation to the first quarter of 2012, generics grew by 10.29%, and in June 2012 generics growth was set at 18.98% year-on-year (y/y). Abradilan distributes drugs in 82% of cities across the country, and represents wholesalers in 77% of the 71,000 pharmacies across the country, distributing drugs in 82% of pharmacies in the south-eastern region, 74% in the north-eastern region, 84% in the centre east, and 33% in the north of the country.

Brazil’s generic industry is booming and becoming a sustainable option for one of the top pharmaceutical markets in Latin America. Brazil has a long history of generics implementation, starting in 1991 when the first law to introduce copies of branded drugs defined by their active pharmaceutical ingredient was proposed. But it was only in 1999 that generics were actually introduced into the country under former president Henrique Cardoso’s government through a law authorising the commercialisation of generic drugs across the country. IHS Global Insight expects the surge in generic sales to continue, which will lower the growth in value-based drug sales and health spending going forward.

The Brazilian generic industry is forecast to flourish in the short-to-medium term, placing itself as one of the strongest generics markets in the Americas, followed by Mexico. The sector is further boosted by the fact that the country is getting ready to produce new-generation generics, i.e. generics of products whose patents are expiring this year, for example Pfizer (United States)’s antipsychotic Geodon (ziprasidone, the CAS number is 146939-27-7) and immunosuppressor, Sirolimus (rapamycin , the CAS number is 53123-88-9).

Generics are now growing at twice the market rate in the country, and are considered a sustainable alternative in Brazil as they provide an important solution to the health needs of the low-to-middle classes, being 52–85% cheaper than their branded counterparts. The generics sector in Brazil is constantly gaining more importance and Brazil is quickly becoming one of the top generics markets in Latin America. A total of 17,000 generic products are registered in Brazil, representing 25% of total pharmaceutical sales in the country. According to Pro Genericos, the average price of generics in the country is 50% lower than branded drugs, creating savings of up to 22 billion real (USD10.8 billion) over the last 12 years.

PVC at London Olympics Destined for Reuse Or Recycling

London’s Olympic organizers were very conscious of the legacy that the games of the 30th Olympiad would leave behind, both in terms of the emotional and cultural imprint of the event on the country, as well as the bricks-and-mortar legacy of venues purpose-built for the Olympics. Beijing’s 2008 games were truly a spectacle, with innovative and striking architecture playing a huge role, but four years on, some of the most iconic structures, including the Bird’s Nest Olympic stadium have settled into disuse and disrepair.

The decision to stage shooting at a temporary venue, versus investing in existing brick-and-mortar sites so they could host an Olympic-sized competition, was not without controversy, but in any case, the resulting designs, which rely heavily on polyvinyl chloride (PVC), are being touted by the vinyl community, including the European Council of Vinyl Manufacturers.

The ECVM noted that more than 142,000 sq m of PVC fabric were in the Olympic Park and external sites. A cradle-to-grave sustainable approach to the material was also taken, reflective of London’s efforts to put on the greenest games ever.

PVC used at the Olympics includes at least 30% recycled content, and is manufactured in accordance with the ECVM Industry Charter, which means it meets standards for effluent discharges and vent gases, and does not contain lead, mercury or cadmium stabilizers, among other substances.

Solvay Vinyls is helping the Olympic Games meet its sustainability commitments, according to the company, thanks to its VinyLoop recycling technology for PVC composites. Serge Ferrari, a global supplier of architectural tarpaulins and a VinyLoop partner, has delivered 80% of the PVC-coated technical textiles used by the London Olympics.

Some of the PVC-coated textiles temporary used at London 2012 venues will be re-employed in soccer stadiums currently under construction in Brazil for the 2014 FIFA World Cup. Others will be converted in gym mats for schools with the remainder recycled at VinyLoop’s Ferrara plant.

Jo Carris, learning legacy ambassador of the Olympic Games, said: “The PVC policy focused attention on the use of PVC across the project and highlighted that the functional properties of PVC make it the most appropriate material in certain circumstances.”

Brazil Used Sugarcane Bagasse To Produce Plastic

With volatile oil prices and growing concerns about greenhouse gas emissions, the chemical industry is looking for renewable alternatives to diversify its sources of raw materials. Sugarcane ethanol has emerged as an important ingredient to substitute for petroleum in the production of plastic.

According to the Science and Technology Daily, it is reported that Sao Paulo Research Foundation of Brazil and the University of Sao Paulo are actively promoting the production of Polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA) by using sugarcane ethanol or the bagasse ethanol. PHA is a type of biodegradable plastic, which can be generateed by the fermentation in plant residue.

Another form of bioplastic is polyhydroxybutyrate (or PHB), manufactured by PHB Industrial S/A using 100% Brazilian technology. This bioplastic, which goes by the branded name Biocycle, is produced entirely from sugarcane bagasse, making it completely biodegradable and compostable. Biocycle can be used in autoparts, cosmetics packaging, toys, credit cards, cutlery, agricultural parts and more.

Sugarcane polyethylene ( CAS:9002-88-4 )replaces 30 percent or more of the petroleum that would otherwise be used to manufacture the plastic. Each metric ton of bio – polyethylene produced avoids the emission of 2 to 2.5 metric tons of carbon dioxide on a lifecycle basis.

These so-called “bioplastics” have the same physical and chemical properties as regular plastic (the most common type is known technically as PET) and maintain full recycling capabilities. Use of bioplastics is still developing. But a number of leading companies have established themselves as major players in this emerging area.