ChemWeb Newsletter

Not a subscriber? Join now.March 19, 2018

contents
publishers' select

A HIGH-INTEREST CHEMWEB MEMBER BENEFIT

Free Selected Full Text Articles

ChemWeb members now have access to selected full-text articles from Chemistry publishers, including Wiley, Elsevier, Springer, Taylor & Francis, and the Royal Society of Chemistry. Members can download a selection of articles covering a broad range of topics direct from the pages of some of the most respected journals in Chemistry. Explore some of the latest research or highly cited articles. Not yet a ChemWeb member? Membership is free, and registration takes just a minute.



overview

This week, the Alchemist fastens his top button to take a look at cold batteries, learns how to test water quality in the developing world, puzzles over a complex uranium mineral from the Czech Republic, discovers that an optical approach can spot the early stages of disease, and finds that cattle power is nothing to be sniffed at. Finally, a corrosive award for science in Ohio.




A new system for testing water quality in developing countries has been developed by scientists in Spain. The system is affordable, simple to manufacture, and easy to maintain. Crucially, for real-world use, it is also portable. The team from the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid point out that non-potable water and poor sanitation are the leading causes of child mortality worldwide. The new system combines an optical turbidimeter, a filtering device, and a bacteriological incubator. It would be relatively easy to add a meter for detecting dissolved salts, a pH meter, and a chlorine meter. The whole system could be powered by a solar cell.





A uranium-containing mineral known as ewingite, originally found in a damp mine wall in the Czech Republic has a structure almost twice as complex as any previously known mineral. The complexity of a mineral is measured in terms of bits per unit cell. Most minerals have a complexity of just over 200. Most complex minerals rank at around 1000 bits but these account for a mere 2.5% of known minerals. Ewingite packs almost 13000 bits into its unit cell. The mineral has the formula: Mg8Ca8(UO2)24(CO3)30O4(OH)12.138H2O and Peter Burns of the University of Notre Dame and colleagues who have studied its structure are intrigued to know whether it would have existed naturally until humans opened up this mine. The mine, incidentally, is in the same region that provided radioactive materials for Marie Curie's pioneering scientific experiments.





An optical, and non-invasive, method of detecting metabolic changes associated with the earliest stages in disease has been developed by a team at Tufts University. The approach involves the fluorescence of two important coenzymes - nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NADH) and flavin adenine dinucleotide (FAD). The team looks at three parameters: the ratio of FAD to NADH, the fluorescence "fade" of lasered NADH, and the organization of the mitochondria as revealed by the spatial distribution of NADH within the cell. According to team leader Irene Georgakoudi, "Taken together, these three parameters begin to provide more specific, and unique metabolic signatures of cellular health or dysfunction."





If it smells like it, it probably is it, but in this case, that's a good thing! New technology is being developed in Canada to convert manure from farm animals into a renewable, source of natural gas (methane) that might be added to the existing energy mix to heat homes and power industry. David Simakov of the University of Waterloo and colleagues say the potential could be huge given how much of a problem animal waste is around the world. Manure from cows and pigs is perhaps the most troublesome but could be the most useful in gas production, potentially addressing global warming in two ways - reducing direct carbon emissions from unused waste and avoiding reducing our reliance on fossil fuels.





This year's prestigious 2018 Willis Rodney Whitney Award goes to Srdjan Nesic, director of the Russ College of Engineering and Technology’s Institute for Corrosion and Multiphase Technology at Ohio University , for his research into one of the less well-known areas of chemical science corrosion. The award acknowledges Nesic's exemplary work in the field, the advances he has made in fundamental scientific understanding, the practical solutions that work has provided, and his role in education.





A battery with organic electrodes that works well at the chilly temperature of -70 degrees Celsius could be used in the extreme environment of the Earth's polar regions or in outer space, according to researchers writing in the journal Joule. Conventional lithium ion batteries have a relatively balmy lower operating temperature of -20 degrees Celsius but even then they only operate at 50% capacity; at -40 it's just an eighth of full capacity. Yong-yao Xia of Fudan University in Shanghai, China, and colleagues used polytriphenylamine (PTPAn) for their cathode and 1,4,5,8-naphthalenetetracarboxylic dianhydride (NTCDA)-derived polyimide (PNTCDA) anode and an ester-based electrolyte that has a lower freezing temperature than the conventional esters used in lithium batteries.