Palladium + Synthetic petroleum + Wheel made of 'odd matter' freely rolls uphill

#1
C C Offline
Why chemists can’t quit palladium
https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-022-01612-3

INTRO: It’s hard to find a place on Earth untouched by palladium. The silvery-white metal is a key part of catalytic converters in the world’s 1.4 billion cars, which spew specks of palladium into the atmosphere. Mining and other sources add to this pollution. As a result, traces of palladium show up in some of the most remote spots on Earth, from Antarctica to the top of the Greenland ice sheet.

Palladium is also practically indispensable for making drugs. That’s because catalysts with palladium atoms at their core have an unmatched ability to help stitch together carbon–carbon bonds. This kind of chemical reaction is key to building organic molecules, especially those used in medications. “Every pharmaceutical we produce at some point or another has a palladium-catalysed step in it,” says Per-Ola Norrby, a pharmaceutical researcher at drug giant AstraZeneca in Gothenburg, Sweden. Palladium-catalysed reactions are so valuable that, in 2010, their discoverers shared a Nobel prize.

But despite its versatility, chemists are trying to move away from palladium. The metal is more expensive than gold, and molecules that contain palladium can also be extremely toxic to humans and wildlife. Chemical manufacturers have to separate out all traces of palladium from their products and carefully dispose of the hazardous waste, which adds extra expense.

Thomas Fuchß, a medicinal chemist at the life-sciences company Merck in Darmstadt, Germany, gives the example of a reaction to make 3 kilograms of a drug molecule for which the ingredients cost US$250,000. The palladium catalyst alone adds $100,000; purifying it out of the product another $30,000.

Finding less-toxic alternatives to the metal could help to reduce environmental harm from palladium waste and move the chemicals industry towards ‘greener’ reactions, says Tianning Diao, an organometallic chemist at New York University. Researchers hope to swap palladium for more common metals, such as iron and nickel, or invent metal-free catalysts that sidestep the issue altogether.

Several times in the past two decades, researchers have reported finding palladium-free catalysts. But in what has become a recurring pattern for the field, each heralded discovery turned out to be a mistake... (MORE - details)


Is synthetic petroleum the missing link in the route to net zero? (chemistry)
https://www.chemistryworld.com/features/...85.article

EXCERPT: . . . Of course, the impetus to develop synthetic petroleum stems primarily from our need to replace fossil fuels and move to net zero carbon energy sources. While technology for battery-powered cars is now well established, ‘I don’t think there’s any realistic expectation of long-haul or heavy aircraft flying on batteries at this point,’ says James Oyler, president of Genifuel Corporation, a US-based company producing synthetic petroleum. Plus, petrochemicals are still used to produce everything from textiles to fertilisers, accounting for 12% of global oil demand.

At one time biofuels were hailed as the solution, but as Anna Krajinska from the Brussels-based cleaner-transport campaign Transport & Environment points out, there just isn’t enough capacity, particularly with growing pressures on food production. ‘If we then scale up the use of those crops, for production of fuels for shipping or aviation, that situation is only going to get worse [and] when you take into account the additional indirect carbon dioxide emissions, from land use change, for example, [biofuels are] no better for the environment than using fossil-based fuels.’

Instead, the energy sector is re-examining some very old technologies for producing liquid fuels that might plug the gap, one of those being the process developed by German chemists Franz Fischer and Hans Tropsch in 1925. They reacted syngas, a mixture of hydrogen and carbon monoxide, at high temperature and pressure to create long waxy linear-chain alkenes, which could then be cracked to form the required chain length for aviation fuel (around eight to 16 carbon atoms). This requires a catalyst, usually cobalt or iron, and was done in huge reactors.

Over the last decade BP and Johnson Matthey have been working together to improve the Fischer–Tropsch process and to use alternative, sustainable feedstocks such as municipal solid waste or biomass, rather than the conventional coal or gas. Their new reactor and catalyst design provides a step-change in performance, according to BP chemist James Paterson. The key is controlling transport of the gases to the catalyst as well as controlling heat transfer in this highly exothermic reaction. The new design stacks 60–80 catalyst carriers in a radial arrangement.

‘We have evolved the catalyst,’ says Paterson. They have selected 8–10nm cobalt particles embedded in a support. ‘If they’re too big … you end up with a lot of bulk cobalt, which is not on the surface, and then if too small, you end up with a lot of edges and corners, which doesn’t help the carbon–carbon bond formation,’ he explains. The new system has improved selectivity – meaning that at least 90% of the molecules formed have more than five carbon atoms in their chains, maximising the more useful products.

Their improved system is more economical, allowing it to run in smaller reactors... (MORE - missing details)


Wheel Made of ‘Odd Matter’ Spontaneously Rolls Uphill (physics)
https://www.quantamagazine.org/wheel-mad...-20220615/

INTRO: In a physics lab in Amsterdam, there’s a wheel that can spontaneously roll uphill by wiggling.

This “odd wheel” looks simple: just six small motors linked together by plastic arms and rubber bands to form a ring about 6 inches in diameter. When the motors are powered on, it starts writhing, executing complicated squashing and stretching motions and occasionally flinging itself into the air, all the while slowly making its way up a bumpy foam ramp.

“I find it very playful,” said Ricard Alert, a biophysicist at the Max Planck Institute for the Physics of Complex Systems in Dresden, Germany, who was not involved in making the wheel. “I liked it a lot.”

The odd wheel’s unorthodox mode of travel exemplifies a recent trend: Physicists are finding ways to get useful collective behavior to spontaneously emerge in robots assembled from simple parts that obey simple rules. “I’ve been calling it robophysics,” said Daniel Goldman, a physicist at the Georgia Institute of Technology.

The problem of locomotion — one of the most elementary behaviors of living things — has long preoccupied biologists and engineers alike. When animals encounter obstacles and rugged terrain, we instinctively take these challenges in stride, but how we do this is not so simple. Engineers have struggled to build robots that won’t collapse or lurch forward when navigating real-world environments, and they can’t possibly program a robot to anticipate all the challenges it might encounter.

The odd wheel, developed by the physicists Corentin Coulais of the University of Amsterdam and Vincenzo Vitelli of the University of Chicago and collaborators and described in a recent preprint, embodies a very different approach to locomotion. The wheel’s uphill movement emerges from simple oscillatory motion in each of its component parts. Although these parts know nothing about the environment, the wheel as a whole automatically adjusts its wiggling motion to compensate for uneven terrain.

The physicists also created an “odd ball” that always bounces to one side and an “odd wall” that controls where it absorbs energy from an impact.  The objects all stem from the same equation describing an asymmetric relationship between stretching and squashing motions that the researchers identified two years ago.

“These are indeed behaviors you would not expect,” said Auke Ijspeert, a bioroboticist at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne. Coulais and Vitelli declined to comment while their latest paper is under peer review.

In addition to guiding the design of more robust robots, the new research may prompt insights into the physics of living systems and inspire the development of novel materials... (MORE - details)
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#2
Kornee Offline
(Jun 16, 2022 06:55 PM)C C Wrote: Why chemists can’t quit palladium
https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-022-01612-3

INTRO: It’s hard to find a place on Earth untouched by palladium. The silvery-white metal is a key part of catalytic converters in the world’s 1.4 billion cars, which spew specks of palladium into the atmosphere. Mining and other sources add to this pollution. As a result, traces of palladium show up in some of the most remote spots on Earth, from Antarctica to the top of the Greenland ice sheet.

Palladium is also practically indispensable for making drugs. That’s because catalysts with palladium atoms at their core have an unmatched ability to help stitch together carbon–carbon bonds. This kind of chemical reaction is key to building organic molecules, especially those used in medications. “Every pharmaceutical we produce at some point or another has a palladium-catalysed step in it,” says Per-Ola Norrby, a pharmaceutical researcher at drug giant AstraZeneca in Gothenburg, Sweden. Palladium-catalysed reactions are so valuable that, in 2010, their discoverers shared a Nobel prize.

But despite its versatility, chemists are trying to move away from palladium. The metal is more expensive than gold, and molecules that contain palladium can also be extremely toxic to humans and wildlife. Chemical manufacturers have to separate out all traces of palladium from their products and carefully dispose of the hazardous waste, which adds extra expense.

Thomas Fuchß, a medicinal chemist at the life-sciences company Merck in Darmstadt, Germany, gives the example of a reaction to make 3 kilograms of a drug molecule for which the ingredients cost US$250,000. The palladium catalyst alone adds $100,000; purifying it out of the product another $30,000.

Finding less-toxic alternatives to the metal could help to reduce environmental harm from palladium waste and move the chemicals industry towards ‘greener’ reactions, says Tianning Diao, an organometallic chemist at New York University. Researchers hope to swap palladium for more common metals, such as iron and nickel, or invent metal-free catalysts that sidestep the issue altogether.

Several times in the past two decades, researchers have reported finding palladium-free catalysts. But in what has become a recurring pattern for the field, each heralded discovery turned out to be a mistake... (MORE - details)

That cautionary tale jogged a distant memory. Substitute a few key words in especially intro part of the following 50s TV gunslinger ballad:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tgvxu8QY01s
Get it?
Reply
#3
C C Offline
(Jun 17, 2022 06:58 AM)Kornee Wrote: That cautionary tale jogged a distant memory. Substitute a few key words in especially intro part of the following 50s TV gunslinger ballad:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tgvxu8QY01s
Get it?

Will be quite a Boone boon if they ever find a paladin palladium replacement.
Reply
#4
Kornee Offline
(Jun 17, 2022 11:06 PM)C C Wrote:
(Jun 17, 2022 06:58 AM)Kornee Wrote: That cautionary tale jogged a distant memory. Substitute a few key words in especially intro part of the following 50s TV gunslinger ballad:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tgvxu8QY01s
Get it?

Will be quite a Boone boon if they ever find a paladin palladium replacement.
The Boone -> boon is one I never thought of. Mostly had in mind the "where do you roam.....far, far from home" angle. Palladium's troublesome ubiquity.
And, though it doesn't rhyme "a fast gun for hire in a savage land" -> "a fast catalyst to tire chemists in a savage peer review academia land".
Or something along those lines. Just uncanny. Big Grin
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