A classic experiment proving amino acids are created when inorganic molecules are exposed to electricity isn't the whole story, it turns out. The 1953 Miller-Urey Synthesis had two sibling studies, neither of which was published. Vials containing the products from those experiments were recently recovered and reanalyzed using modern technology.
The apparatus used for Miller's original experiment. Boiled water (1) creates airflow, driving steam and gases through a spark (2). A cooling condenser (3) turns some steam back into liquid water, which drips down into the trap (4), where chemical products also settle.
[Credit: Ned Shaw, Indiana University]
New graphene-based material clarifies graphite oxide chemistry
A new "graphene-based" material that helps solve the structure of graphite oxide and could lead to other potential discoveries of the one-atom thick substance called graphene, which has applications in nanoelectronics, energy storage and production, and transportation such as airplanes and cars has been created by researchers at The University of Texas at Austin.
Terahertz Goes Nano
A report in Nano Letters describes a breakthrough in modern microscopy: the achievement of extremely high-resolution imaging using light in the Terahertz (THz) region (wavelengths between 30 and 1000 �m).
Researchers at the University of Washington have updated a traditional Chinese medicine to create a compound that is more than 1,200 times more specific in killing certain kinds of cancer cells than currently available drugs, heralding the possibility of a more effective chemotherapy drug with minimal side effects.
Engineering nanoparticles for maximum strength
Individual nanocrystals are remarkably strong. But under stress, complex nanostructures quickly fail because of internal strains. New research on hollow nanospheres shows that engineering can greatly increase the strength of complex nanoparticles. The results could lead to stronger nanostructures and large-scale alloys as well.
Scientists in the United Kingdom and Russia are
reporting identification of a long-sought chink in the armor of the
parasite that causes African sleeping sickness, a parasitic disease
that kills at least 50,000 people each year. Their study appears in
the current edition of ACS Chemical Biology, a monthly journal.
In the study, Michael Ferguson and colleagues cite
an "urgent" need for new treatments for the disease, which is spread
by the tsetse fly and also affects cattle � a precious possession that
represents a bank account on four feet to impoverished people in
sub-Sahara Africa. Current treatments for African sleeping sickness,
Ferguson says, are not only difficult to administer, but also
expensive and toxic.
Their research identified the first compound to
impede a key step in an essential biochemical pathway in the sleeping
sickness parasite. Blocking this pathway disrupts the production of a
key glycolipid that anchors protective proteins to the surface of the
parasite. The analysis also revealed notable differences between
pathways of parasitic and human cells, which could reveal insight into
possible therapeutic targets. - JS
World's smallest hand-held instrument for
detecting health and safety threats
Chemists have developed the
world's smallest mass spectrometer, the Mini 11, which could be
used to detect hidden explosives or bioterrorism agents.
Credit: American Chemical Society
Researchers in Indiana are describing development
of the world's smallest complete mass spectrometer (MS), a miniature
version of a standard lab device - some of which would dominate a
living room - to identify tiny amounts of chemicals in the
environment. The hand-held MS, about the size of a shoebox, could
speed the detection of bioterrorism agents, hidden explosives, and
other threats, the researchers say. Their study is scheduled for the
current issue of ACS' Analytical Chemistry, a semi-monthly journal.
R. Graham Cooks, Zheng Ouyang, and colleagues note
that scientists have developed several different versions of portable
mass spectrometers over the past few decades. However, the
instruments' large size, weight, and inability to analyze a wide
variety of different target molecules have limited their practical
The scientists responded to the need for a small
but sensitive MS by developing the Mini 11. About the size of a small
shoebox, it weighs only 9 pounds (half the weight of other portable MSs), and can be operated by remote control. Laboratory tests showed
that the Mini 11 could accurately identify the chemical composition of
three commonly used commercial drugs within just one minute using
tandem mass spectrometry. Unlike previous portable mass specs, this
new instrument is capable of analyzing a wider variety of molecules,
including large proteins, the scientists say. - MTS
Newly approved pesticide stirs controversy over
Even though the U. S. Environmental Protection
Agency (EPA) has given final approval for use of a new pesticide,
regulators in California and other states are taking a closer look at
the substance's potential adverse health effects before allowing the
chemical to be used, according to an article scheduled for the Oct. 27
issue of Chemical & Engineering News, ACS' weekly newsmagazine.
In the article, C&EN Associate Editor Britt E.
Erickson notes that EPA first considered approving the pesticide,
methyl iodide, in 2006 as a replacement for methyl bromide - which is
now being phased out because of environmental concerns that it may
damage the ozone layer. Although methyl iodide appears unlikely to
have that effect, it is toxic to nerve cells and may carry a risk of
thyroid damage, cancer, and other adverse health effects.
At least one environmental group and some
scientists opposed EPA's approval of the pesticide, alleging that EPA
had been secretive during the review process, failing to fully
consider the chemical's health effects, and they pointed to an
apparent conflict of interest involving the pesticide's manufacturer.
States like California and Florida had their own concerns about the
pesticide's safety and decided to do their own risk assessments before
allowing use of methyl iodide. Florida finished its assessment and
approved the use of methyl iodide last July, but not before requiring
additional safety measures beyond those required by EPA. California's
assessment is still ongoing, the article notes.
Food chemists have removed
gas-producing sugars in products containing soy - a find that
could be music to consumers' ears.
Credit: US Department of
Soybeans may drop off the list of musical fruit.
Scientists in Singapore are reporting victory over some consumers' No.
1 complaint about soy products - the "flatulence factor" caused by
indigestible sugars found in soy. In a study scheduled for the
November 12 issue of ACS' bi-weekly Journal of Agricultural and Food
Chemistry, they describe a method for significantly reducing the
amount of flatulence-causing carbohydrates in soy yogurt while raising
the levels of healthy antioxidants known as isoflavones.
In the study, Dejian Huang and colleagues note that
soy yogurt has a global market share of only 1.9 percent, even though
it has a number of health advantages over dairy-based yogurt. That's
partly because of the flatulence-causing compounds in soy. "It would
be desirable to remove the flatulence-causing raffinose and stachyose
from the soy yogurt to improve consumers' preferences. The objective
of this study was to develop a new soy yogurt enriched with isoflavones with reduced levels of flatulence-causing
oligosaccharides," the scientists said.
The researchers grew soybeans in the presence of a
fungus that produced enzymes capable of degrading the undesired
sugars. "We have demonstrated for the first time that germinated black
soybeans under fungal stress can be fermented into a soy yogurt which
features a low amount of flatulence-causing oligosaccharides but with
a significant level of isoflavones," says Huang. - AD
Toward non-invasive disease diagnosis with
A new electronic "reader"
could provide disease diagnosis from a small amount of a patient's
saliva or blood.
Credit: American Chemical Society
Scientists are reporting development of a device
that could serve as the electronic "reader" for a coming generation of
"wellness cards," specimen holders used to diagnose disease from a
drop of a patient's saliva or blood. The research, done by scientists
in Utah, Iowa, Arizona, and Minnesota, is presented in two papers
scheduled for the November 1 issue of ACS' Analytical Chemistry, a
In those studies, Marc Porter and colleagues
describe using the same technology at the heart of miniaturized hard
disk drives to create the new rapid-screening sensor. Using a
phenomenon known as giant magnetoresistance (GMR), the device can
detect samples on much smaller areas compared to older technologies,
the papers note.
As a test, Porter demonstrated the GMR sensor could
detect as few as 800 magnetic beads with microscopic dimensions.
"Several laboratories have begun to transition GMRs from the data
storage domain to that of the bioanalytical sciences," the paper
states. "We believe that, by leveraging advances made in the magnetic
recording industry (for example portable digital music players), a
robust, field-deployable, assay device capable of sensing
single-binding events is just over the horizon." - JS
LEDs may help reduce skin wrinkles, researchers
LEDs may help reduce skin
wrinkles, researches report.
Credit: American Chemical Society
Researchers in Germany are describing a potential
alternative to Botox and cosmetic surgery for easing facial wrinkles.
Their study, scheduled for the November 5 issue of ACS' Crystal Growth
& Design, a bi-monthly journal, reports that high intensity visible
light from light emitting diodes (LEDs) applied daily for several
weeks resulted in "rejuvenated skin, reduced wrinkle levels, juvenile
complexion and lasting resilience." LEDs are the miniature lights used
in an array of products, from TV remote controls to traffic lights.
In the study, Andrei P. Sommer and Dan Zhu point
out that high-intensity visible light has been used in medicine for
more than 40 years to speed healing of wounds. That light actually
penetrates into the skin, causing changes in the sub-surface tissue.
Until now, however, scientists have not known the physicochemical
nature of those changes.
They report identifying how the visible light works
- by changing the molecular structure of a glue-like layer of water on
elastin, the protein that provides elasticity in skin, blood vessels,
heart and other body structures. Figuratively speaking, the light
strips away those water molecules that are involved in the
immobilization of elastin, gradually restoring its elastic function
and thus reducing facial wrinkles. "We are justified in believing that
our approach can be easily converted to deep body rejuvenation
programs," the researchers state. - AD
Spinning natural proteins into fabrics for new
Natural protein from cow's blood
may lead to improved sutures and bandages for treating wounds.
Credit: American Chemical Society
Scientists in Israel are reporting the first
successful spinning of a key natural protein into strong nano-sized
fibers about 1/50,000th the width of a human hair. The advance could
lead to a new generation of stronger, longer-lasting biocompatible
sutures and bandages to treat wounds. The study is scheduled for the
November 10 issue of ACS' Biomacromolecules, a monthly journal.
Eyal Zussman and colleagues point out that
researchers have tried for years to develop wound repair materials
from natural proteins, hoping that such fibers would be more
compatible with body tissue than existing materials. Scientists
recently focused on producing these fibers through "electrospinning,"
a high-tech weaving process that uses electrical charges to draw out
nano-sized fibers from a liquid. But the approach has achieved poor
results until now.
In the new study, the scientists describe a new
method for producing electrospun polymers using bovine serum albumin
(BSA), a so-called "globular" protein found in cow's blood. BSA is
similar to serum albumin, one of the most abundant proteins in the
human body. The method involves adding certain chemicals to a solution
of BSA to loosen the bonds that hold these highly-folded proteins
together. That results in a thinner, more spinnable protein solution.
Using electrospinning, the process resulted in strong fibers that are
easily spun into suture-like threads or thick mats resembling
conventional wound dressings. This approach is being followed by the
groups of Zvi Nevo and Abraham Katzir at Tel-Aviv University, the
researchers said, noting that the new method also can be applied to
other types of natural proteins. - MTS
Alternative fuels may drain dwindling water
As the search for new fuels intensifies,
researchers in Texas report that switching to certain alternative
fuels to power cars, trucks, and SUVs may require the use of much more
water than conventional petroleum-based gasoline and diesel. The
findings suggest that producing alternative fuels could strain already
limited water supplies in some regions of the country. Their study is
scheduled for the October 15 issue of ACS' Environmental Science &
Technology, a semi-monthly journal.
In the study, Carey King and Michael Webber point
out that as the need for alternative transportation fuels increases,
it is important to understand how fuels based on raw materials other
than petroleum could affect other essential resources, such as water.
While petroleum-based fuels have had a small impact on U.S. water
reserves, alternative fuels could put a much larger dent in our water
The scientists analyzed the amount of water
withdrawn (used and returned directly to its source) and consumed (not
directly returned to its source) during the production and use of
different fuels. They found that vehicles running on electricity and
hydrogen produced with electricity withdraw up to 20 times more water
and consume more than five times more water than those using
petroleum-based gasoline. But not all fuels are created the same -
hydrogen and electricity can also be derived from renewable energy
sources that use no water, they note. The authors suggest that
additional research could determine viable areas where fuels can be
mined, farmed, refined, and consumed to minimize regional impacts
while maximizing water resource and energy sustainability. - KSD
Squeezing more synthetic fuel from abundant
supplies of coal
Scientists in Italy are reporting that a new
process could eliminate key obstacles to expanded use of coal
gasification to transform that abundant domestic energy resource into
synthetic liquid fuels for cars and trucks. The study is scheduled for
the November 19 issue of ACS' bi-monthly journal, Energy & Fuels.
In the study, Maria Sudiro and colleagues note that
coal is the only conventional energy source with the potential for
meeting global energy demands in the near future. World coal reserves,
they note, are 25 percent greater than crude oil and the United States
alone has enough coal to supply its own energy needs for centuries.
However, existing processes for converting coal into much-needed
liquid fuels are uneconomical and release too much carbon dioxide, a
greenhouse gas, and other air pollutants.
Based on laboratory simulations and comparisons
with conventional coal gasification, their system was 70 percent more
energy efficient, yielded 40 percent more fuel and released 32 per
cent less carbon dioxide. "The new process configuration can represent
a valuable alternative route to obtain syngas both for electric power
generation and for synthetic fuel production," the report states. -
Scientists have discovered a new family of
superconductors - materials that carry electricity more efficiently
than copper and other metals - whose properties rekindle enthusiasm
about the possibility that these exotic materials could have practical
applications in ultra-efficient electrical motors, power-generating
stations, and other areas. The latest developments are chronicled in
an article scheduled for the Oct. 20 issue of Chemical & Engineering
News, ACS' weekly newsmagazine.
In the C&EN cover story, Senior Editor Mitch Jacoby
notes that traditional superconductors, the first examples of which
were discovered almost a century ago, must be cooled to very low
temperatures with expensive liquid helium. In the mid-1980s, however,
scientists discovered so-called high-temperature superconductors,
which could be cooled more economically with liquid nitrogen. But even
then, the cost of cooling the conductors, as well as the difficulty in
forming the materials in wires and other practical shapes, ruled out
practical large-scale applications, such as municipal power systems.
Jacoby describes the discovery earlier this year of
new superconductors whose compositions include iron and arsenic that
still must be chilled below liquid-nitrogen temperatures but could
lead to HTSCs that work at much higher temperatures. Until now,
researchers thought that this high-temperature behavior was limited to
superconductors composed of copper oxides, the article notes. The
discovery has reignited an international scientific race to discover
additional HTSCs that require less cooling - perhaps even no cooling -
and that could have many practical applications, the article notes.
"Grandma's penicillin" also may help high blood
Chicken soup, that popular home remedy for the
common cold sometimes known as "Grandma's Penicillin," may have a new
role alongside medication and other medical measures in fighting high
blood pressure, scientists in Japan are reporting. Their research is
scheduled for the October 22 issue of ACS' biweekly Journal of
Agricultural and Food Chemistry.
Ai Saiga and colleagues cite previous studies
indicating that chicken breast contains collagen proteins with effects
similar to ACE inhibitors, mainstay medications for treating high
blood pressure. But chicken breast contains such small amounts of the
proteins that it could not be used to develop food and medical
products for high blood pressure. Chicken legs and feet, often
discarded as waste products in the U.S. but key soup ingredients
elsewhere, appear to be a better source.
In the new study, Saiga and colleagues extracted
collagen from chicken legs and tested its ability to act as an ACE
inhibitor in the laboratory studies. They identified four different
proteins in the collagen mixture with high ACE-inhibitory activity.
Given to rats used to model human high blood pressure, the proteins
produced a significant and prolonged decrease in blood pressure, the
researchers say. - MTS
Toward an effective treatment for a major
Scientists are reporting a key advance toward
developing the first effective drug treatment for spinal muscular
atrophy (SMA), a genetic disease that involves motor neuron loss and
occurs in 1 out of every 6,000 births. SMA is the leading cause of
hereditary infant death in the United States. The study is scheduled
for publication online Oct. 8 by ACS Chemical Biology, a monthly
Mark E. Gurney, Jill Jarecki, and colleagues note
that SMA is caused by a defective gene, SMN1, which fails to produce
sufficient amounts of a key protein, called SMN (survival motor neuron),
needed for normal motor neuron development. Scientists have screened
more than 550,000 compounds in the search for a new SMA drug. Recent
research pointed to a group of compounds called C5-quinazolines that
can boost SMN2 activity, a uniquely existing back-up gene for SMN1. In
doing so, they showed promise for treating SMA by producing increased
amounts of the needed protein.
In the new study, researchers identified exactly
how these promising compounds work, a key step in moving forward
toward medical use. They found that the substance targets a normal
cellular protein, DcpS, involved in mRNA metabolism whose inhibition
causes increased SMN expression. The finding could help guide the
development of the first effective drugs for treating SMA and also
lead to second generation drugs targeting this enzyme, the researchers
say. "The results outlined in the paper and carried out in
collaboration with Families of SMA, deCODE chemistry & biostructures,
Invitrogen Corporation, and Rutgers University represent a new
understanding of the physiological mechanisms that can increase SMN
expression and will allow us to move forward in advancing potential
treatments for it, says Jill Jarecki, Ph.D., Research Director at
Families of SMA. - MTS
Byproduct of steel shows potential in CO2
With steelworks around the world emitting huge
amounts of carbon dioxide, scientists are reporting that a byproduct
of steel production could be used to absorb that greenhouse gas to
help control global warming. The study is scheduled for the October 15
issue of ACS' Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research, a bi-weekly
Professor Mourad Kharoune and colleagues point out
that production of one ton of steel releases up to one ton of CO2.
With global steel production standing at 1.34 billion tons in 2007,
that adds up to a substantial contribution of carbon dioxide. Kharoune
suggests a new method to sequester, or capture, carbon dioxide so that
it does not contribute to global warming � using steel slags, which
are complex mixtures of compounds produced during the separation of
the molten steel from impurities.
In the study, Kharoune suggests that electric arc
furnace (EAF) and ladle furnace (LF) slag suspensions could be used
for greenhouse-gas sequestration. According to the report, the ladle
furnace slag suspension's capacity to sequester emissions was 14 times
higher than that of the EAF suspension, possibly due to the LF's
higher content of a rare mineral called portlandite. - JS
First evidence that a common pollutant may
reduce iodine levels in breast milk
Researchers in Texas are reporting the first
evidence from human studies that perchlorate, a common pollutant
increasingly found in food and water, may interfere with an infant's
availability of iodine in breast milk. Iodine deficiency in infants
can cause mental retardation and other health problems, the scientists
note. The study also provides further evidence that iodine intake in
U.S. mothers is low and that perchlorate may play a key role.
In a study scheduled for the November 1 issue of
ACS' semi-monthly Environmental Science & Technology, Purnendu
Dasgupta and colleagues note that perchlorate occurs naturally in the
soil and is also manufactured as a rocket fuel and explosive
ingredient. Past studies showed that perchlorate can inhibit iodine
uptake. However, scientists did not know its effects on iodine levels
in the milk of nursing mothers.
To find out, the researchers collected breast milk
samples from 13 breastfeeding mothers and measured their content of
iodine, perchlorate, and thiocyanate, another iodine inhibitor found
in certain foods. The study showed that if these breast milk samples
were fed to infants, 12 of 13 infants would not have an adequate
intake of iodine. It also showed that nine of the infants would have
ingested perchlorate at a level exceeding those considered safe by the
National Academy of Sciences. "Even though the number of subjects was
not large, in terms of the number of total samples analyzed, this is
the most extensive study on the topic," the researchers say, adding
that the low iodine levels are "disconcerting." - MTS
Freeing protein-based drugs from bacteria's
In a finding that could speed the development of
new protein-based drugs for fighting diabetes, hepatitis, and other
diseases, researchers are reporting progress toward preventing or
destroying an unusual structure that reduces the production yield of
bioengineered drugs. The article is scheduled for the Oct. 13 issue of
Chemical & Engineering News, ACS' weekly newsmagazine.
In the article, C&EN Associate Editor Jyllian
Kemsley notes that genetically-engineered E. coli bacteria are
increasingly used to produce protein-based drugs for a variety of
diseases. However, these proteins are often not usable because they
become trapped in large, insoluble clumps called "inclusion bodies."
Current methods to extract proteins trapped in these clumps involve
breaking down the clumps chemically and refolding the proteins, a
process that is inefficient and sometimes destroys the desired protein.
In the article, Kemsley describes new research
insights into the structure and formation of these unusual clumps that
could lead to their prevention. Scientists, for instance, have
discovered evidence that inclusion bodies form due to interactions
between molecular structures called beta-sheets and that clumping
could be prevented by preventing beta-sheet interactions.
New material could speed development of hydrogen
Researchers have designed a
material made of graphene sheets for hydrogen storage that could
advance development of hydrogen powered vehicles.
Image by Oak Ridge National
Researchers in Greece report design of a new
material that almost meets the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) 2010
goals for hydrogen storage and could help eliminate a key roadblock to
practical hydrogen-powered vehicles. Their study on a way of safely
storing hydrogen, an explosive gas, is scheduled for the Oct. 8 issue
of ACS' Nano Letters, a monthly journal.
Georgios K. Dimitrakakis, Emmanuel Tylianakis, and
George E. Froudakis note that researchers long have sought ways of
using carbon nanotubes (CNTs) to store hydrogen in fuel cell vehicles. CNTs are minute cylinders of carbon about 50,000 times thinner than
the width of a human hair. Scientists hope to use CNTs as miniature
storage tanks for hydrogen in the coming generation of fuel cell
In the new study, the researchers used computer
modeling to design a unique hydrogen-storage structure consisting of
parallel graphene sheets - layers of carbon just one atom thick -
stabilized by vertical columns of CNTs. They also added lithium ions
to the material's design to enhance its storage capacity. The
scientists' calculations showed that their so-called "pillared graphene" could theoretically store up to 41 grams of hydrogen per
liter, almost matching the DOE's target (45 grams of hydrogen per
liter) for transportation applications. "Experimentalists are
challenged to fabricate this material and validate its storage
capacity," the researchers note.
Scientists are reporting
construction and testing of a nanotech device that responds to
on-off stimuli and resembles flippers on a pinball machine.
Image by Harold J. W. Zandvliet
With nanotechnology yielding a burgeoning menagerie
of microscopic pumps, motors, and other machines for potential use in
medicine and industry, here is one good question: How will humans turn
those devices on and off? In an advance toward giving humans that
control, scientists in The Netherlands are reporting use of an
external electrical signal to control an atomic-scale mechanical
device that looks like the flippers on a pinball machine. Their report
is scheduled for the Oct. 8 issue of ACS' monthly journal Nano
In the study, Harold J. W. Zandvliet and colleagues
point out that efforts to build ever-smaller mechanical devices have
made scientists recognize the difficulty of exerting control over
these nanomachines, which are too tiny for any conventional
on-off-switch. They describe construction and successful testing of a
device, "grown" on a wafer of germanium crystal, that responds to
Researchers say the device - so tiny that billions
would fit on the head of a pin - resembles the arms or flippers on a
pinball machine. The signals for the arms to move back and forth come
from the tip of a scanning tunneling microscope. "By precisely
controlling the tip current and distance, we make two atom pairs
behave like the flippers on an atomic-sized pinball machine," they
state. "Our observations prove unambiguously that it is possible to
control an atomic scale mechanical device using a simple electrical
signal. A better understanding of similar devices can shed light on
the future possibilities and opportunities for the application of
Potentially toxic flame retardants highest in
Scientists report that California
residents have higher-than-average blood levels of a possibly
toxic flame retardant called PBDEs, which are used in upholstered
furniture and electronics.
Image by Arlene Blum
In what may be an unintended consequence of efforts
to make furniture safer and less flammable, residents of California
have blood levels of potentially toxic flame retardants called PBDEs
at levels nearly twice the national average, scientists from
Massachusetts and California are reporting. Their study, the first to
examine regional variations in PBDE levels in household dust and blood
within the U.S., is scheduled for posting online Oct. 1 by ACS'
semi-monthly journal Environmental Science & Technology.
In the new study, Ami Zota and colleagues note that PBDEs (polybrominated diphenyl ethers) are widely used as flame
retardants in upholstered furniture and electronics. The materials are
released into the environment as dust particles, where they can
accumulate in homes as well as human blood and tissue. Although their
exact effects in humans are unclear, studies in animals suggest that PBDEs may cause thyroid, developmental, and reproductive problems.
Since California has among the most stringent furniture flammability
standards, the researchers suspected that state residents may have
higher levels of PBDE dust exposure than others in the United States.
To find out, the scientists compared data on PBDE
concentrations in house dust from 49 California homes with
concentrations reported from 120 Massachusetts homes and several other
areas. The researchers also compared data on blood levels of PBDEs in
California residents to blood levels in residents of other regions.
They found that PBDE levels in California homes were four to 10 times
higher than other U.S. areas. They also found that blood levels of
some PBDEs were significantly higher in California residents than the
rest of the country. "These findings raise concern about pending
regulations and performance standards that encourage the widespread
use of chemical flame retardants, which are toxic or whose safety is
uncharacterized," the article states. - MTS and AD
Fungus fights air pollution by removing sulfur from
Researchers in Iran are publishing what they
describe as the first study on a fungus that can remove sulfur - a
major source of air pollution - from crude oil more effectively than
conventional refining methods. The finding could help reduce air
pollution and acid rain caused by the release of sulfur components in
gasoline and may help oil companies meet tougher emission standards
for fuel, the scientists say. Their study is scheduled for the Oct. 1
issue of ACS' Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research, a bi-weekly
Jalal Shayegan and colleagues point out that existing processes for
refining so-called "heavy," or high-sulfur, crude oil convert sulfur
to hydrogen sulfide gas at high temperatures and pressures. However,
they leave behind some kinds of sulfur-based compounds, which wind up
in gasoline and other fuels. Scientists long have known that certain
microbes can remove sulfur from oil. But nobody had tried using these
microbes in so-called biodesulfurization of heavy crude oil until now,
In the new study, the scientists describe isolation
and testing of the first fungus capable of removing sulfur from heavy
crude oil. The fungus, called Stachybotrys, removed 65-76 percent of
the sulfur present in certain heavy crude oil from two different oil
fields. The process does not need high temperatures and high-energy
consumption because it occurs slightly above room temperature, they
Water shortages pose challenges and opportunities
Just as a credit crunch is reshaping the global
economic landscape, an often-unheralded shortage of clean water is
confronting business and industry with a range of profound new
challenges and opportunities, according to an article scheduled for
the October 6 issue of Chemical & Engineering News, ACS' weekly news
The cover story, written by C&EN Senior Business
Editor Melody Voith, points out that big industrial companies, such as
Dow Chemical, General Electric, Nalco, and Ashland, must manage
day-to-day operations in ways that conserve and reuse water. Once
regarded as a cheap and inexhaustible resource, clean water
increasingly is in short supply around the world, Voith explains,
noting that lack of clean water is "a growing risk" to industry.
"There is just no replacement for good, clean water
- and it is getting harder to come by," Voith states. At the same
time, companies that supply water purification and conservation
technology are taking advantage of new opportunities. The articles
explain how companies are investing in new technologies to meet the
evolving demand for water treatment chemicals, services, and