What Is Aqua Regia?

Sometimes you may have seen an old gold ornament at home that has got spots or other signs of age. Your parents may take it to a ‘polisher’ to get it cleaned and polished. But did you know that the polisher actually removes a layer of gold?

You may have seen the video on aqua regia – the chemical that can dissolve gold. Gold is a ‘noble metal’. That means it will not react with anything ordinarily. It was so named because it can dissolve the so-called royal, or noble metals, although tantalum, iridium, and a few other metals are able to withstand it. But in jewellery it is actually alloyed with copper or silver, which tarnish over time.

Aqua regia (Latin for “royal water”) is a highly corrosive, fuming yellow or red solution. The chemical is very powerful and can dissolve gold within minutes. That’s because the nitric acid and the hydrochloric acid in it act together (They cannot dissolve gold by themselves). The nitric acid converts a tiny amount of gold metal to gold ions. These ions react immediately with the chloride ions from the hydrochloric acid. This causes even more gold atoms to turn into gold ions, and the reaction speeds up.

You should not clean gold ornaments with aqua regia. Aqua regia dissolves gold, even though neither constituent acid will do so alone, because, in combination, each acid performs a different task. Sadly, many people use it, claiming to be ‘gold cleaners’ or ‘gold polishers’. However, they are not being honest with you. They dip your gold ornaments for a little while in a solution of aqua regia, rinse them with water and give them back to you. The gold looks new and polished.

In truth, the aqua regia (the CAS number is 8007-56-5) has actually eaten up a few top layers of the gold. It is so thin that you won’t notice. But in a day’s work, ‘polishing’ hundreds of ornaments for unsuspecting people, a ‘polisher’ may remove quite a few grams of gold. He can then precipitate the gold using sodium bicarbonate.

To clean gold jewellery, all you really need is hot water, some soap and a toothbrush. That’s because most stains on gold jewellery are just dirt, which will go off with soap (But don’t do this if there are gemstones in the ornament, for soap water can leave stains on them). If they persist however, it is best that you take your ornaments to a professional jeweller for polishing.

Understanding Antibiotic Resistance

Scientists at the University of Bristol, together with collaborators at the University of Aveiro, Portugal, have solved the structure of an enzyme that breaks down carbapenems, antibiotics ‘of last resort’ which, until recently, were kept in reserve for serious infections that failed to respond to other treatments.

Increasingly, bacteria such as E. coli are resisting the action of carbapenems by producing enzymes (carbapenemases) that break a specific chemical bond in the antibiotic, destroying its antimicrobial activity.

Carbapenemases are members of the group of enzymes called beta-lactamases that break down penicillins and related antibiotics, but it has not been clear why carbapenemases can destroy carbapenems while other beta-lactamases cannot.

Using molecular dynamics simulations, Professor Adrian Mulholland in the School of Chemistry and Dr Jim Spencer in the School of Cellular and Molecular Medicine, showed how a particular type of carbapenemase enzyme reorients bound antibiotic to promote its breakdown and render it ineffective.

“The recent appearance and spread of bacteria that resist carbapenems is a serious and growing problem: potentially, we could be left with no effective antibiotic treatments for these infections. The emergence of bacteria that resist carbapenems is therefore very worrying.”

In a study published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society (JACS), the scientists combined laboratory experiments with computer simulations to investigate how one particular type of carbapenemase recognises and breaks down antibiotics. In beta-lactamase (the CAS number is 9073-60-3 or 9001-74-5) that cannot break down carbapenems, this rearrangement cannot happen, and so the enzyme cannot break down the antibiotic. Knowing this should help in designing new drugs that can resist being broken down.

Dr Spencer said: “Combining laboratory and computational techniques in this way gave us a full picture of the origins of antibiotic resistance. Our crystallographic results provided structures which were the essential starting point for the simulations and the simulations were key to understanding the dynamic behaviour of the enzyme-bound drug.

“Identifying the molecular interactions that make an enzyme able to break down the drug, as we have done here, is an important first step towards modifying the drug to overcome bacterial antibiotic resistance.”

Chemist develops spray to detect poison oak’s toxic oil

The last time Rebecca Braslau got a bad case of poison oak, she found herself pondering the chemical structure of urushiol, the toxic oil in poison oak and its relatives, poison ivy and poison sumac (all species of Toxicodendron).

“I thought: I’m a chemist. I should be able to do something about this,” said Braslau, a professor of chemistry and biochemistry at the University of California-Santa Cruz. Now her lab has developed a spray that can be used to detect urushiol on clothes and equipment, and potentially on skin, allowing people to wash off the oil before it causes an itchy, blistering skin rash.

Exposure to tiny amounts of urushiol is enough to cause this allergic reaction in susceptible people, and about 70 percent of U.S. adults are clinically allergic to urushiol or would become allergic if exposed enough times. Although Braslau said she doesn’t think there are toxicity concerns with any of the components of the spray, toxicology tests would be required before it could be approved for use on the skin.

“Of course, it would be great if we could deactivate the oil, but just being able to see it is useful because then you can wash it off,” she said. “People can keep getting exposed from items with the oil on them. About 10 percent of firefighters have to take time off work due to poison oak, and some of that is from exposure to oil that gets on their equipment.”

Chemically, urushiol belongs to a class of compounds known as catechols, which have a characteristic ring structure. Urushiol has a long greasy tail or “sidechain” attached to the ring, and different mixtures of urushiols with slightly different sidechains are found in the various Toxicodendron species.

Braslau’s spray detects the catechol ring structure. It contains a mixture of compounds, including a “profluorescent” compound in which the fluorescence of a dye molecule is quenched, and reaction with urushiol allows the dye to light up.

The formula has been patented, but Braslau said more work is needed to make it into a marketable product. She is also interested in developing it into a technique to detect catecholamines, which include physiologically important molecules such as dopamine and epinephrine.

Braslau’s work on this project has not been funded by any major grants, aside from a small starter grant from her university. Her lab is continuing to do some work on it, mostly experimenting with different dyes. Developing it into a commercial product, however, will require an investor willing to fund additional research, she said.

How To Prevent Apples Turning Brown?

     You start eating an apple, and just then you friend calls you up about homework, and you’re speaking for hours together. When you come back to your apple, it’s gone brown all over. What happened?

Rusting in apples

The brown colour is because your apple has rusted! That’s because apples are rich in iron, which is present in all their cells. When you cut an apple, the knife damages the cells. Oxygen from the air reacts with the iron in the apple cells, forming iron oxides. This is just like rust that forms on the surface of iron objects. An enzyme called polyphenol oxidase (that’s present in these cells) helps make this reaction go faster.

If you cut a browned apple into two again, you’ll notice that the insides are still white. That’s because the cells inside were intact, and did not let oxygen enter right inside.

Lots of other fruits and vegetables also turn brown when cut. These include bananas, pears and even potatoes.

Keeping an apple from turning brownThere’s no harm in eating an apple that has turned brown, for the iron oxide will not affect you. But when you’re making a fruit salad or apple pie, the browning may make it look unattractive. Here are some things you can do to stop or slow the browning:

  1. Cut and keep the apples under water. This prevents air from reaching the iron. But it may cause some vitamins to leach into the water.
  2. Rub the cut apples with lemon juice. The acid in the lemon juice stops the polyphenol oxidase from working.
  3. If you’re making apple pie, you can dip the apples in boiling water for a few seconds and take them out. This is called blanching, and it stops the browning enzyme.
  4. You can add some salt to the apples; the salt stops the enzyme. Do this if you don’t mind the salt-and-sweet taste that will result.
  5. Keep the apple pieces in an airtight jar, or wrap them in cling wrap very tightly. This also stops air from getting to them.

And finally, the method we like the most. Turn your apple into apple juice. The iron oxide gives it the special golden-brown colour, and it’s a tastier way to consume an apple!

What Are Blood Collection Tubes?

When you have to take a blood test, do you notice that the lab person collects your blood into a special tube marked ‘heparinised’? Let’s find out why a special vial is needed.

How blood clots
When you prick a finger, you notice blood comes out. If you leave it alone, the blood soon
dries into a thick, brownish ‘clot’. How does this happen?

If your blood didn’t clot, so much blood would come out of the prick that you would become very ill. But blood has its way of self protection. When there is an injury, the damaged tissue sends special chemical signals to the body. These signals are received by a kind of blood cells known as platelets. The platelets rush to the site of the prick.

Platelets are tiny storehouses of various chemicals, which do many things. Some of them signal to those cells which will start the healing process. But several of these chemicals (together called ‘clotting factors’) cause the activation of a molecule called thrombin. This is an enzyme present in blood that converts fibrinogen to fibrin. Fibrinogen is a protein that is dissolved in blood plasma. When thrombin acts on it, it becomes fibrin, which is insoluble. Fibrin molecules get deposited at the prick, and in a short time, completely seal off the wound. No more blood leaks now.

Many of the clotting factors need Vitamin K to work properly. Lack of vitamin K in the body causes unstoppable bleeding. Cabbages, grapes and green leafy vegetables are rich in vitamin K.

Heparin and other ‘anticoagulants’
When you give blood for a blood test, the blood will clot in the vial. This makes it
unsuitable for testing. Therefore, lab technicians use special vials that are coated with anticoagulants (Coagulation is the scientific name for clotting).

One such chemical is heparin (its CAS No. is 9005-49-6). This is a complex polysaccharide produced by white blood cells. When heparin is mixed with blood, it interferes with the action of thrombin. This prevents it from converting fibrinogen to fibrin.

Apart from use in blood tests, heparin is also used to treat people who have abnormal clotting within their blood vessels. It is used when open heart surgery is being done to keep the blood flowing, and also in other heart disease conditions.

Coagulation in the lab
Try this experiment in your biology lab. Take a glass slide, and put a drop of heparin* on
one side. Ask your teacher to prick your finger, and with a capillary, suck up some blood. Mix one drop with the drop of heparin, and on the other side of the slide, put a drop of plain blood. Leave the slide for a few minutes, and then watch under a microscope. What do you see?

A simpler path to a catalyst

Researchers at ETH Zurich developed a new synthesis procedure for a catalyst. This procedure may be used for the large-scale production of, for instance, plastics from renewable resources in an environmentally friendly and efficient manner.

It started with an idea of Ive Hermans, Assistant Professor at the Institute of Chemical and Bioengineering: The chemist and his co-workers were looking for a new synthesis procedure for an important catalyst for the chemical industry. To date, the synthesis of the catalyst occurs in a very complex and error-prone procedure. The ETH researchers discovered a far more convenient two-step procedure, which is more suitable for large-scale production.

The catalyst in question is a zeolite, a powdery, porous, particulate material. Like all catalysts also this substance can accelerate a certain reaction and/or steer it towards a desired product. Hermans and his co-workers wanted to develop a catalyst that facilitates oxidation reactions and can thus be used for the preparation of so-called lactones from ketones.

The use of a catalyst for such reactions has many advantages. “The preparation of lactones, for instance, is time-intensive and expensive, as acids are formed as side-products”, says Hermans. By using a tin containing zeolite as a catalyst instead, it becomes possible to use hydrogen peroxide as an oxidation reagent so that water is the only side-product. This method has not been implemented industrially so far, due to the time-consuming synthesis procedure of the special zeolites: the process requires 40 days. In addition, the procedure is difficult to control and can easily fail. Experiments have shown that the newly prepared zeolite contains more tin than conventionally prepared catalysts. Due to that, the catalyst is significantly more efficient.

In cooperation with an industrial partner, the ETH researchers want to optimize the preparation procedure for large-scale applications. In the future, the catalyst could be used for the industrial synthesis of starting materials required for important plastics. One example would be the preparation of polylactic acid from renewable resources. Polylactic acid is being used in plastic packing materials or foil. “The demand for plastics made from renewable resources will strongly increase as soon as crude oil – the basis of many plastics – will become more rare and expensive”, explains Hermans. “With our catalyst, it is possible to produce such products on a large scale in a much more environmentally friendly way. “

What makes sugar explode?

Imagine you are at the breakfast table and about to put some cereal in the milk. Now as you reach for the sugar from the bowl, the spoon clinks against the bowl and – BOOM? Sounds impossible? Could be. Read on to find out more.

The fact
Sugar (the chemical name is D(+)-Sucrose) won’t really end your breakfast with a bang, but
what’s crazy is that sugar actually can be dangerous; not to the consumer, but to the people who operate the refinery. That’s the place where sugar is prepared and packaged.

The little-known danger associated with refining sugar came suddenly into focus on Feb. 7, 2008, when the Imperial Sugar Company refinery in Port Wentworth, Ga., suddenly exploded. Fire officials believe that an accumulation of sugar dust within the refinery ignited and caused the incident. Sugar dust? How exactly can sugar explode? Let’s solve the mystery.

Sugar: A Natural Explosive
Though you may not normally think about it, one of sugar’s properties is that it is
flammable – means it can catch fire. A flaming marshmallow is a good example of burning sugar.

Any organic material can burn. But for an explosion to take place, especially in the case of volatile dusts like sugar, a few other factors must be involved.

Imagine you’re in an enclosed room coated with a thick layer of sugar dust. You smack your hand down on a table top, disturbing some of the sugar dust and dispersing it into the air. If you are unwise enough to light a match, and you could see the ensuing explosion in slow motion, you’d notice that what appears to be a single, instantaneous burst is actually a series of chain reactions. The sugar dust particle ignited by your lit match ignites another particle and so on. The entire process is fueled by the oxygen in the room, and since the dust is suspended in the air, it interacts with the oxygen more easily than when it’s settled on the table. This is also why marshmallows don’t explode; the D(+)-Sucrose inside the dense confection doesn’t have much oxygen to interact with.

The force of the blast depends on the enclosed room. The chain reaction produced from the ignited sugar dust particles produces energy. This produces compression and expands the volume of the air. When this buildup occurs faster than the flame burns – as can be the case indoors – you have an explosion. The first explosion is called the primary explosion, and the force created by a primary explosion can unsettle even more sugar dust, causing a secondary explosion. The two can happen in quick succession, and the second blast is often the more powerful. First a boom, then a KABOOM!

So even though now you can eat your breakfast in peace, remember that even something as minute as sugar dust can be dangerous. So be safe.

How do artificial flavors work?

All the snacks and chocolates that you love to feast on have something in common. If you read the packaging carefully you’ll see the text ‘Contains Artificial Flavors’. If you ever wondered what that means, read on.

First of all, how do we smell and taste things?

Smell is a very direct sense. Anything that we smell contains some sort of chemical that evaporates and enters our nose and comes in contact with sensory cells in the nose.When chemicals come in contact and activate our taste buds, we taste them.

Artificial flavors in action
Mimicking a natural flavor isn’t that easy because natural flavors are normally quite
complex, with dozens or hundreds of chemicals interacting to create the taste/smell. But it turns out that many flavors – particularly fruit flavors – have just one or a few dominant chemical components that carry the bulk of the taste/smell signal. Many of these chemicals are called esters. For example, the ester called ‘ Octyl Acetate is a fundamental component in orange flavor. The ester called ‘Isoamyl Acetate’ is a fundamental component of banana flavor. If you add these esters to a product, the product will taste, to some degree, like orange or banana. To make more realistic flavors you add other chemicals in the correct proportions to get closer and closer to the real thing. You can do that by trial and error or by chemical analysis of the real thing.

Creating flavours that don’t exist in nature
There are hundreds of chemicals known to be flavoring agents. It’s interesting that they
are normally mixed to create “known” tastes. People make artificial grape, cherry, orange, banana, apple, etc. flavors, but it is very rare to mix up something that no one has ever tasted before. But it can and does happen occasionally. Juicy Fruit gum is a good example!

So next time if you read ‘Contains Artificial Flavors’, you’ll know that chemistry was involved in helping create it!

High-quality Products From Rubber Residues

Each year throughout the world, up to 22 million tons of rubber are processed and a large portion of it goes into the production of vehicle tires. Once the products reach the end of their useful life, they typically land in the incinerator. In the best case, the waste rubber is recycled into secondary products. Ground to powder, the rubber residues can be found, for example, in the floor coverings used at sports arenas and playgrounds, and in doormats.

But until now, the appropriate  techniques for producing high-quality materials from these recyclables did not exist. Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Environmental, Safety and Energy Technology UMSICHT in Oberhausen recently succeeded in optimizing the recycling of rubber waste materials. They have developed a material that can be processed into high-quality products, like wheel and splashguard covers, handles, knobs and steerable castors.

The new plastic compounds are called elastomer powder modified thermoplastics or EPMT for short. They are comprised of rubber residues crushed into elastomer powder that are blended with thermoplastics. EPMT can be easily  processed in injection molding and extrusion machines, and in turn, these products are themselves recyclable. The physical and mechanical material properties of the substance – like elasticity, breaking strain and hardness – can be individually modified, according to the customer’s wishes.

The crushing of rubber waste is more environmentally-friendly and resource-efficient than producing new rubber products – an important aspect in view of the rising costs of energy and raw materials. The researchers are capable of producing 100 to 350 kilograms of EPMT per hour. Spurred on by this success, Wack and both of his colleagues founded Ruhr Compounds GmbH. In addition to the production and the sale of EPMT materials, this Fraunhofer spin-off offers custom-made service packages

The widest array of industries will benefit from the expertise of these professionals: processors of thermoplastic elastomers can obtain EPMT and further process it into products. Industrial companies whose work involves elastomers – such as  the industrial and construction sectors, or car-makers and athletics – could recycle these products, make EPMT from them, incorporate them into their existing products and thereby close the materials cycle.

In the “Re-use a Shoe” project, sports gear maker Nike has been collecting used sneakers for a while now, recycled their soles and under the label “Nike Grind”, reprocessed them as filler material for sports arenas and running track surfaces. The EPMT compound of the Fraunhofer researchers enables Nike to place new products on the market. 

Why Do Plants Need Fertilizers?

Plants are also considered as living beings of nature just like humans, animals and other living stock. Just like how we humans need extra vitamin, calcium and other supplements apart from our normal intake of nutrition to stay healthy, plants need fertilizers to grow and stay healthy. In order for the plants to grow, they need a number of chemical elements. Let us find out how fertilizers work.

Important Elements That Plants Need
Plants need carbon, hydrogen and oxygen, which are available in plenty from air and water.
Besides these, they need nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium, sulphur, calcium, magnesium, boron, copper, iron, cobalt, manganese, molybdenum and zinc as add on for their growth.

Nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium are considered as building blocks for cells in the plants as without them the plants cannot grow and will not be in a position to build cells.

How Do Fertilizers Work
In some cases, plants find it difficult to find all the macronutrients from the soil itself
and this hinders with their growth. Nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium are found from the decay of plants that have already died. Nitrogen is found from dead to living plants and is the only source found in the soil. Fertilizers provide all the important elements in a readily available form.

Also when the fertilizers are added to the plants, they have to just synthesize them as opposed to making an effort to break them down into the desired form. As a result the synthesizing is quick and the plants grow faster and better.

Each bag of fertilizer has numbers written on them. These numbers indicate the amount of available nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium in each bag.

So next time if the plants in your garden don’t bear flowers, you know what you are suppose to do.

The Facts About Kohl Pencils

Women decorate their eyes with kohl and it definitely looks good as it lends a definition to the eyes and makes them look more beautiful. But have you ever thought how this kohl evolved? Let us discover…

Have you noticed Jack Sparrow, the famous pirate character from “The Pirates of Caribbean”, being played by Johnny Depp? Jack Sparrow outlines his eyes with dark kohl and his look in the film is definitely distinct and leaves a mark on the audience. Almost every actress faces the camera with kohl applied on her eyes? Kohl helps in defining the eyes and sans this application, our eyes look empty and sad.

Women decorate their eyes with kohl and it definitely looks good as it lends a definition to the eyes and makes them look more beautiful. But have you ever thought how this kohl evolved? Let us find out.

The kohl finds its roots to ancient times. The word “kohl” literally means to brighten the eyes. The kohl was used by the Egyptians around 4000 B C E. Both men and women used to make a paste of lead sulphide and antimony sulphide and apply it around their eyes. The Egyptians believed that by applying kohl to their eyes, they could guard their eyes from eye disease, ward off evil spirits and also protect their eyes from the sun.

The Egyptians also believed that kohl helps in highlighting their eyes and attention was paid to their eyes. Kohl helps in adding depth and intensity to one’s eyes.

How are Kohl pencils made?
Different countries practice different methods to prepare kohl. In Egypt, women lighten the lead sulphide using white carbonate of lead. Kohl is then made from the soot of sunflower seeds, almond shells and by perfuming it with frankincense.

Another way of preparing kohl practiced by the Egyptians is by pounding lead sulphide with gum and frankincense. This mixture is then mixed with goose fat and cow dung. The mixture is then burnt. Lead oxide gets released when the mixture is burnt. The by-product obtained from burning the mixture is then mixed with milk and fresh rainwater. This is again pounded with mortar. The result is fine black coloured powder. The powder needs to be as soft as velvet to be around the soft skin of your eyes.

In India, lamp black and lead are the main ingredients used during the preparation of kohl. Kohl contains many heavy metals, lead and antimony.

Today, kohl is available in many forms. You get kohl in the form of liquid and are called as eyeliner; you get kohl in the form of pencils and also in paste form. People buy the form which they are comfortable with. Companies press this powder in between soft cedar wood and give it a form of kohl pencil. For eyeliner, this mixture is liquefied and is filled in opaque bottles. They come with a small brush as an applicator. For wax based kohl, wax is mixed with the powder and this lends a smoother finish compared to the rest.

Definitely, eyes speak a million words than our mouth. So go ahead, give your eyes that dramatic look and make sure you grab attention.

Winemaking Waste Could Become Biofuel Starter

Grape pomace, the mashed up skins and stems left over from making wine and grape juice, could serve as a good starting point for ethanol production, according to a new study.

Due to growing interest in biofuels, researchers have started looking for cheap and environmentally sustainable ways to produce such fuels, especially ethanol. Biological engineer Jean VanderGheynst at the University of California, Davis, turned to grape pomace, because winemakers in California alone produce over 100,000 tons of the fruit scraps each year, with much of it going to waste.

To determine how much ethanol they could produce from pomace, VanderGheynst and her team processed pomace from the Sutter Home Winery in St. Helena, Calif., under various fermentation conditions. The researchers found that pomace from white grapes yielded the most ethanol. Winemakers only squeeze the juice out of these grapes and don’t ferment the pomace, so much of the fruits’ sugar remains. Meanwhile, red grape pomace has been fermented over long periods, so less sugar remains for ethanol production. But the scientists found that adding dilute acid to the red grape pomace boosted ethanol yields.

On average, the researchers found, grape pomace produces less than half as much ethanol as corn does by dry weight. To squeeze the maximum ethanol out of the grape waste, researchers would need to develop techniques to convert the grape’s cellulose into ethanol, says lead author Yi Zheng, a chemist at the biotechnology company Novozymes, in Denmark. But, he thinks pomace could still be a feasible feedstock because the material is readily available. Ethanol producers could make grape pomace more economically viable if they combined ethanol production with manufacture of other pomace-based products, such as fertilizers or animal feed, he says.

New Research Of Self-assembling Polymeric Copper Catalyst

Few recently discovered chemical reactions have proven as powerful as the copper-catalysed Huisgen 1,3-dipolar cycloaddition between azides and alkynes—a transformation better known as a ‘click reaction’. The process gets its nickname from the robust, reliable way that the azide and the alkyne organic functional groups ‘click’ together.

From materials science to biochemical applications, this dependable method for joining molecules together has been exploited widely in the decade since its discovery. Now, Yoichi Yamada, Shaheen Sarkar and Yasuhiro Uozumi at the RIKEN Advanced Science Institute in Wako have developed a new form of heterogeneous copper catalyst that promises to make the click reaction more efficient than ever.

Heterogeneous catalysts do not dissolve into the reaction mixture; they remain as a solid inside the reaction flask, offering a catalytic surface on which the reaction can take place. The key advantage of these catalysts is that they can easily be recaptured for re-use at the end of a reaction, often by simple filtration. Their disadvantage is that they are less intimately dispersed with the reactants than catalysts that dissolve, slowing the reaction.

The researchers overcame this disadvantage by embedding their copper within a self-assembled two-component polymer. The polymer backbone is made of a material called isopropylacrylamide, which has a hydrophobic sub-section and a hydrophilic sub-section. Overall, the material acts as an ‘amphiphilic sponge’: it readily draws in reactants and substrates regardless of their hydrophobicity, Yamada says.

The re-usable catalyst should find a host of applications, Yamada says. “The catalyst will be applied to the synthesis of pharmaceutical compounds and functional organic materials.” The next step for the researchers is to incorporate the catalyst into a ‘flow system’, in which the catalyst is immobilized within a cartridge through which substrates and reagents are continually pumped, generating a continuous steady stream of product.

The second polymer component is an imidazole, an electron-donating material that stabilizes and activates the copper to accelerate the click reaction. “The catalytic copper species within the sponge instantaneously react with substrates and reactant to give the products and to regenerate the catalyst,” Yamada explains.

The material’s performance is the best yet reported for a heterogeneous click catalyst, he adds. The best previous materials had turnover numbers below 1,000 before the catalyst would become deactivated, whereas the team’s catalyst had a turnover number of 209,000. The catalyst’s turnover frequency was also fast, turning reactants into product at a rate of 6,740 conversions per hour.

How Do Fire Extinguishers Work?

A fire extinguisher is almost a necessity in places such as societies, hospitals, malls and auto rickshaws. As the word goes, fire extinguisher is used to extinguish fire. But do you know how this thing works? Let’s find it…

What are fire extinguishers?
A fire extinguisher is a device made to protect us from fire. They are made of metal and are filled with different materials like water, foam or powder. There are many types of fire extinguishers. The body and the basic model stay the same. What differs is the material filled in them.

It is very important to choose the right fire extinguisher to make sure that you fight the fire properly.

Class A types are made of water and are meant for ordinary materials like paper, cardboard, cloth and so on; The types of Class B are for flammable liquids like kerosene, petrol and so on; Class C fire extinguishers are meant for fire triggered due to electrical objects like wire, circuit and so on; Class D are meant for burning metals and are normally found in chemical laboratories.They are excellent when it comes to extinguishing fire caused by magnesium or sodium.

For home and general places like hospital fire extinguishers of Class A, B and C are generally used.

How do fire extinguishers work?
Fire extinguishers are filled with compressed gas. When you release the valve, the compressed gas is released at a high pressure and the gas extinguishes the fire. Usually sodium bicarbonate or baking soda or potassium bicarbonate pressurized with nitrogen is filled in the fire extinguisher. When you open the valve, the powder decomposes because of the compressed nitrogen and releases carbon dioxide that extinguishes the fire.

Carbon dioxide is a non-flammable gas and helps in putting out the fire easily. Carbon dioxide is heavier than oxygen and hence when you spray it on fire, it displaces the oxygen and the fire stops.

In case you come across any minor fire incident, make sure you put the fire extinguisher to use and contact the fire department in case it is a major one.

The Analysis Of Cable Industry

The cable industry is trying to exclude station promos from a new law that says TV commercials can be no louder than the programs they accompany.

The Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation Act, or CALM Act, requires that TV commercials be no louder than the programs they accompany. It’s up to the Federal Communications Commission to set and enforce the new rules.

The wire and cable industry comprises 40% of the entire electrical industry, which is expected to double in size over the next five years. The industry is growing at a CAGR of 15% as a result of growth in the power and infrastructure segments. It is expected to grow at similar rate for the next five years. The government’s emphasis on the power sector reforms and infrastructure will further drive growth. Nevertheless, the cable industry still can’t get its head around the idea that TV viewers should be able to watch the tube at the volume of their own choosing.

The wire and cable industry will eventually focus on supplying cables for specific applications pertaining to the industry needs. India has a lot of potential in the mining, power, oil and gas, metro railways, cement industry , steel industry and other sectors. Different kinds of cables like extra high voltage cables, elastomer cables, etc, are now being used for special applications such as mining/oil sector, shipbuilding /crane cables/elevator cables, cables for solar power plants, to harness power for new generation motor vehicles, windmill solutions, security systems and other types of data cables (antimony ingots are used in alloy,ternealloy,cable and printing industry).

This field requires and teaches freshers and professionals to be techno-commercially inclined. Ideally, electrical/mechanical engineers for manufacturing, electrical engineers for EPC related sales for special applications, managers with operations knowledge for implementation of world class manufacturing techniques, managers with knowledge of creative/application based marketing, MBAs who can use various strengths of companies and make use of adjacent opportunities, as well as fresh graduates who have the zeal to outperform and change customer outlook. The sector also provides tremendous entrepreneurial opportunities in trading, contracting and manufacturing.

Remuneration depends on the particular company, based on its own outlook. It also depends on the institute from where the candidates are sourced. Pay packets offered are on a par with market standards and is not a limiting factor for the right candidates. The remuneration for a fresher may range between rupees two lakh and five lakh per annum.

What Are the Facts of Zeolite?

Minerals can combine and show up in nature in a number of different forms. They can bind together to create unique compounds or be found in their pure form in different geographical or environmental locations. Zeolite is a product that contains a clinoptilolite zeolite molecule that is shaped in the form of a honeycomb and has a naturally negative charge that is used to remove metal toxins from the body.

Zeolites are not so easy to immediately identify because of the fact that they resemble simple rocks and crystals. It is a category of mineral which carries a specific set of characteristics. These minerals are porous and have the capability to absorb, be used as molecular sieves, and have catalytic and ion-exchange properties. When you look at a zeolite up close using a microscope you will notice that whatever it looks like, its surface will be covered in tiny holes or pores.

Natural zeolites can be found in one of two different places. The first is where volcanic rock and ash have mixed together. When this mixture interacts with water that has a high pH level, making it alkaline water, zeolites are formed in rock-like formations. In shallow marine basins, zeolites can also crystallize, though this process takes thousands of years. The water is full of minerals that will alkalize over time and eventually form the microporous zeolite framework.

Since zeolite structures can be designed to filter a particular sized substance, zeolite is used as a sieve or filter to purify or trap impurities. Zeolites are found in machines that make medical-grade oxygen and purify water. In the petrochemical industry they are altered through ion-exchange and become a hydrogen form of zeolite that are powerful acids and can cause acid-catalyzed reactions used in the separation of crude oil.

Zeolite (CAS No. 1327-44-2) has found use in a number of different fields and applied in various situations in them. Because of the tiny pores that they are made up of, they are perfect for trapping or filtering various elements and ions. In the home, they are commonly found as part of water filters. Chemsist also use zeolites to trap or filter certain molecules, since only very small ones can pass through a zeolite’s pores. They are also used in soil purification and to trap solar rays in order to collect heat.

Zeolite molecules are formed from hardened lava that reacts with salt over thousands of years and is completely safe to use. Zeolite is not approved by the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) to treat cancer or any other serious medical condition. However, the FDA has placed Zeolite on the list of generally recognized safe products.Zeolite should be used at your own risk.

Vanilla As A Natural Mosquito Repellent

After they mate, female mosquitoes need to feed on blood to provide the necessary nutrition to allow her eggs to mature. Mosquito bites are not only itchy and irritating, but mosquitoes can also potentially carry dangerous diseases such as West Nile virus. It is important to protect yourself from mosquito bites, and many tout vanilla as an effective, natural mosquito repellent.

According to the University of Wisconsin, two published studies and one informal study tested the efficacy of vanilla as a natural mosquito repellent. All found little to no repellent activity in vanillin, which is the primary component of vanilla bean extract.

The two published studies cited by the University of Wisconsin tried adding vanillin to some commercially available mosquito repellents. While ineffective as a mosquito repellent on its own, vanillin proved to be useful in increasing the efficacy of other repellents.

Much of the evidence regarding the effectiveness of vanilla as a mosquito repellent is anecdotal. Some outdoor enthusiasts maintain that vanilla is the most effective repellent they have ever used. However, most major medical studies, including a 2002 study reported in the New England Journal of Medicine, indicate that plant oil-based repellents are far less effective than those containing N,N-Diethyl-meta-toluamide, or DEET.

Because scientific studies indicate that natural remedies such as vanilla are not effective at repelling mosquitoes, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that you use products containing DEET, Picaridin, IR3535, or oil of lemon eucalyptus for maximum mosquito bite prevention.

Manufacturers are looking for more reliable sources of flavor and fragrance ingredients. They now face price-swings and supply disruptions caused by natural disasters, poaching and other problems in the far-flung places where fragrant natural plant oils originate. Major flavor and fragrance houses thus are turning to biotechnology companies that use genetically engineered microbes to produce ingredients that mimic natural flavors and fragrances.

The microbes can produce vanillin, for instance, which is the stuff of vanilla, and picrocrocin, normally extracted from saffron, which costs about $900 a pound. Microbial production has another advantage aside from reliability, Bomgardner notes: It reduces the cost of such otherwise rare and expensive ingredients.

Besides, according to University of Wisconsin, catnip oil proves to be an effective mosquito repellent in studies. However, commercially available mosquito repellents still provide more protection.

What Are The Uses Of Menthol?

Menthol is an organic compound made synthetically or obtained from peppermint or other mint oils. It’s used in a large number of products and features certain therapeutic qualities. They can be stored for up to three years, provided they are not exposed to high levels of heat or humidity.

The compound was first isolated from peppermint oil in 1771 in the West, but it may have been in use in Japan for much longer. Most of menthol’s uses are related to its stimulation of the skin’s cold receptors. This property makes it produce a cooling effect when inhaled or applied to the skin. Similarly to the capsaicin chemical found in hot peppers, which stimulates heat receptors, menthol does not actually change the skin’s temperature, but merely produces the sensation of temperature change.

Menthol has antiseptic properties, which means it can be effective in killing germs and preventing infection. Because of this, it is often added to oral hygiene products, such as toothpaste, dental floss and mouthwash. It can kill the germs that cause bad breath and leave the mouth with a cool feeling. Menthol can also be used to lessen the pain of a toothache.

Practitioners of homeopathic medicine believe that menthol can interfere with the effectiveness of these remedies, and some even go so far as to advise against the use of mint toothpaste. The idea may be rooted in the fact that African American smokers have both a higher incidence of cigarette-related cancers and a higher preference for menthol cigarettes than smokers of other backgrounds. There is no evidence these two statistics are causally related, however, and all types of cigarettes pose significant health risks.

Menthol’s cooling properties work to ease the pain of sunburn. It can also be used as a topical cream to reduce itching. Some shampoos, lotions and lip balms contain menthol. The chemical can be used to alleviate congestion in the nasal passages and in the chest. It thins the mucus and loosens it, making it easier for the body to expel it. Menthol is also effective at easing the pain of a sore throat. Cold relief products such as Vicks VapoRub, certain cough drops, and some types of facial tissue contain menthol.

Menthol has very low toxicity, although poisoning is possible if large quantities are consumed. Any ill effects from its use are extremely rare. Many people around the world enjoy its cooling sensation in gum, candy, lip gloss, and other products.

Omkar Expands Its India API Production

India’s Omkar Speciality Chemicals forays into API business and has acquired LASA Laboratory on Oct 18,2012. Recently, the company is again expanding its API and intermediate manufacturing in Badlapur, Maharashtra, this time with an investment of nearly $5 million in an API plant.

API is the largest segment of the specialty chemicals industry.  The growth of API market in India is likely to add pressure on the production capacities. This will result in an increased scope and revenue for OSCL. Increased restrictions on the production cost have forced the API manufacturers from developed countries to shift their manufacturing base to the emerging economies like India, China and Eastern European countries like Hungary and Poland. This has helped emerging countries to make their global presence felt in the API market.

The acquisition of Lasa Labs in April 2012 has enabled OSCL to gain a portfolio of 10 APIs like Albendazole, Closental and Flucanazole. Though most of the APIs are generic, they still offer incremental market opportunity for OSCL. For instance, Albendazole is estimated to have a global annual demand of about Rs 1.7 billion.

The company will invest 25 crore ($4.67 million) to expand the production capacity to 1,950 metric tons from 1,700 metric tons now at one facility, an expansion it says will be online in 8 or 9 months, the Business Standard reports. “There is tremendous pressure from customers as well, both domestic and global, for supply of products,” Chairman Pravin Herlekar tells the newspaper.

Herlekar said the company also is looking at building capacity with some acquisitions. “Having a stronghold in Hyderabad, a hub of pharmaceutical and biotech industry, we are considering having a manufacturing base here via the inorganic growth route,” he said.

The company next month will bring online additional capacity at another plant in that area. It now will be able to produce up to 2,800 metric tons of intermediates (such as 3-Fluoro-5-(trifluoromethyl)benzonitrile, the CAS number is 149793-69-1) for anti-cholesterol, anti-depression and cardiovascular drugs. The company in April acquired Lasa Labs, which has a plant that makes APIs for the veterinary drug industry.

Pharma industry in India is growing at a reasonable pace. This is on account of population growth and the changing life styles of people. The drug for applications on anti-diabetic, anti-cholestrol, anti-hypertension, anti-asthematic, etc., has been constantly in demand. Interestingly, the Indian pharma industry is expected to do well on the back of growing global demand for generics drugs.

Rilpivirine Used For HIV

The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) requires a complicated treatment regimen to keep in check. Rilpivirine (TMC278, trade name Edurant) is one of the drugs that can be used as part of a treatment program. It is a non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor (NNRTI) made by the New Jersey based Tibotec Therapeutics.

As of 2011, HIV was not curable, but it could be controlled through drugs. The virus can replicate itself enough, in the absence of antiviral drugs, to cause acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). Rilpivirine targets one of the enzymes that the virus produces for this process. It is suitable as a primary treatment for new HIV diagnoses.

It was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in May 2011. Edurant is approved for people living with HIV starting antiretroviral therapy for the first time. It is not approved for people living with HIV who have already used antiretrovirals.

Edurant works by blocking HIV’s reverse transcriptase enzyme. After HIV’s genetic material is deposited inside a cell, its RNA must be converted (reverse transcribed) into DNA. NNRTIs stop this process and prevent HIV from infecting the CD4 cell and producing new virus particles. HIV mutates easily and gains resistance to the antiviral drugs, so rilpivirine is never used alone. Instead, it forms part of a treatment regimen that includes other drugs. This combination of drugs might be able to prevent the amount of viral particles in the body from increasing and therefore halt the progression of the disease.

Several medicines, such as the antibiotic rifampin, the steroid dexamethasone or the herbal product St. John’s wort are not safe to take with this drug. Patients who have also suffered from depression or mental illness should inform their doctors prior to taking the drug. Kidney, liver or heart trouble are also important for a doctor to know before he or she can prescribe the drug.

The Rilpivirine (4-Aminobenzonitrile is one of its intermediates) dose is one 25 mg tablet taken by mouth once a day. It should be taken with a high-fat meal (e.g., breakfast and dinner). Some medicines, such as antacids, can interfere with the action of this medication, so these should be taken at different times to the drug.

Side effects such as gastrointestinal issues are possible, and these can be severe. It can cause depression or mood changes. Be sure to contact your health care provider immediately if you are feeling said or hopeless, feeling anxious or restless, or have thoughts of hurting yourself (suicide) or have tried to hurt yourself.