Here is the latest American Chemical Society (ACS) Office of Public Affairs Weekly PressPac with news from ACS’ 34 peer-reviewed journals and Chemical & Engineering News.
This information is intended for your personal use in news gathering and reporting and should not be distributed to others. Anyone using advance ACS Office of Public Affairs Weekly PressPac information for stocks or securities dealing may be guilty of insider trading under the federal Securities Exchange Act of 1934.
Please cite the individual journal, or the American Chemical Society, as the source of this information.
Researchers in Japan are reporting development of a new type of ice that may provide a more efficient, environmentally-friendly method for putting out fires, including out-of control blazes that destroy homes and forests. Their study appears in the current issue of ACS’ Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research, a bi-weekly journal.
Toshihisa Ueda and colleagues note in the new study that firefighters have used water and carbon dioxide as fire extinguishing agents for decades. That knowledge led the scientists on a quest to see if carbon dioxide hydrates, frozen crystals made of water and carbon dioxide bonded together, may serve as promising fire-suppressing materials.
Such icy chunks occur naturally in some parts of the world, including hydrates containing methane. Methane hydrates are a potential new source of natural gas, and are renowned as the “ice that burns.” They burst into flame when ignited.
To test their idea, the scientists used a special reactor to produce tiny pellets of carbon dioxide hydrates in the laboratory. They compared the fire-suppressing performance of these hydrates to similar-sized pellets made of normal ice (frozen water) and dry ice (frozen carbon dioxide) after sprinkling them onto several small, carefully controlled fires. The hydrates extinguished flames faster than the other two substances, they say. The hydrates also used less water than ordinary ice and released less carbon dioxide than dry ice, they note. Grinding the pellets into smaller pieces boosted their flame-fighting efficiency, the researchers say. - MTS
Journal: Analytical Chemistry
Journal Article: “Targeted Capture of Pathogenic Bacteria Using a Mammalian Cell Receptor Coupled with Dielectrophoresis on a Biochip”
Scientists in Indiana are reporting development of a new biosensor for use in a faster, more sensitive test for detecting the deadliest strain of Listeria food poisoning bacteria. That microbe causes hundreds of deaths and thousands of hospitalizations each year in the United States, particularly among people with weakened immune systems. Their study appears in the current issue of ACS’ Analytical Chemistry, a semi-monthly journal.
Arun Bhunia and colleagues note in the new study that fast, highly effective tests already are available for five of the six known species of Listeria. These tests use antibodies that signal the presence of the bacteria. However, no rapid, sensitive tests are available for detecting Listeria monocytogenes, the deadliest of the species, the researchers say.
The scientists describe development of the biosensor using so-called heat shock proteins — which the body produces in response to stress — instead of the antibodies used in other tests. They showed that their new sensor was faster and more sensitive at detecting the deadly bacterium than antibody-based tests. It had a microbe capture rate up to 83 percent higher than antibody-based tests. The new biosensor will reduce the likelihood of false-positive results for Listeria monocytogenes and may lead to improved tests for detecting other types of dangerous pathogens, the researchers say. - MTS
Researchers in The Netherlands are reporting development of a new plastic with potential for use in the first easy-to-recycle computer circuit boards, electrical insulation, and other electronics products that now wind up on society’s growing heaps of electronic waste. Their study appears in ACS’ Macromolecules, a bi-weekly journal.
Antonius Broekhuis and colleagues note in the new study that so-called thermoset plastics are widely used in consumer electronics due to their hardness and heat resistance.
These plastics, however, contain additives and reinforcement materials that make them almost impossible to recycle. So-called thermoplastics, in contrast, are softer and can be remelted easily. As a result, thermoset plastics often end up in landfills or incinerators, where they can contribute to pollution. Scientists have long-sought a simple, inexpensive process to make these plastics recyclable, but they have been largely unsuccessful until now.
Broekhuis and colleagues describe development of a new type of thermosetting plastic that can be melted and remolded without losing its original heat-resistance and strength. The scientists showed in laboratory tests that they could melt granules of what they term a “self-healing” polymer and reform them into uniform, rigid plastic bars. They also showed that the plastic could be remolded multiple times, setting the stage for a new generation of recyclable plastics. - MTS
Journal of the American Chemical Society
“A Fast Photochromic Molecule That Colors Only under UV Light”
Researchers in Japan are reporting development of a new so-called “photochromic” material that changes color thousands of times faster than conventional materials when exposed to light. The development could lead to a wide range of new products including improved sunglasses, more powerful computers, dynamic holograms, and better medicines, the researchers say. Their report appears in the Journal of the American Chemical Society, a weekly publication.
In the new study, Jiro Abe and colleagues note that photochromic materials are most familiar as the invisible layers found in the lenses of many high-end sunglasses, which change color when exposed to sunlight. For years, researchers have explored the possibility of using these unusual materials for optical data storage in computers and as “molecular switches” for more controlled drug delivery. Conventional photochromic materials, however, tend to be relatively slow-acting (tens of seconds to hours) and unstable, which prevents their use for many advanced applications, the scientists say.
The scientists describe development of a unique photochromic material that shows instantaneous coloration upon exposure to ultraviolet light and its disappearance within tens of milliseconds when the light is turned off. The decoloration speed is thousands of times faster than conventional materials. The material is also more stable and longer-lasting, they note. In laboratory studies, the scientists showed that the new material could instantly change from colorless to blue in both solid form and in solution when they exposed the molecules to ultraviolet light, and quickly back to colorless when the light is turned off. The development opens the door to futuristic technologies “with unprecedented switching speeds and remarkable stabilities,” the article notes. - MTS
Those highly publicized efforts to produce ethanol fuel from wheat straw, corn cobs, and other crop waste — rather than food crops — appear to be stalling as biofuel companies face mounting difficulties bringing it to the marketplace. That’s according to an article scheduled for the April 27 issue of Chemical & Engineering News, ACS’ weekly newsmagazine.
Journal: Chemical & Engineering News
Journal Article: “Cellulosic Scale-Up”
This story will be available on April 27.
C&EN senior business editor Melody Voith explains in the magazine’s cover story that the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) in 2007 selected six “cellulosic ethanol” projects for up to $385 million in grants. The project’s goal was to reduce America’s reliance on foreign oil and make ethanol cost-competitive with gasoline by 2012. But construction has started on only one of the projects, with two cancelled outright, the article notes.
The biggest roadblock involves difficulty in scaling-up production from the small quantities of bioethanol that can be produced in the lab to the millions of gallons needed for commercial use. Other hurdles: Obtaining sufficient raw materials for commercial-scale production, financing construction costs in the hundreds of millions of dollars, and securing stable markets for bioethanol. Nevertheless, DOE managers express confidence that the emerging bioethanol industry can surmount these problems.
The American Chemical Society’s Office of Public Affairs (OPA) has created a new pressroom blog to highlight prominent research from ACS’ 34 journals. The blog includes daily commentary on the latest news from the weekly PressPac, including video and audio segments from researchers on topics covering chemistry and related sciences, including nanotechnology, food science, materials science and the environment. The pressroom blog will also cover updates on ACS’ awards, the national meetings and other general news from the world’s largest scientific society.
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PressPac information is intended for your personal use in news gathering and reporting and should not be distributed to others. Anyone using advance PressPac information for stocks or securities dealing may be guilty of insider trading under the federal Securities Exchange Act of 1934.
The American Chemical Society — the world’s largest scientific society — is a nonprofit organization chartered by the U.S. Congress and a global leader in providing access to chemistry-related research through its multiple databases, peer-reviewed journals and scientific conferences. Its main offices are in Washington, D.C., and Columbus, Ohio.