Groundbreaking chemical engineering is always happening behind the scenes. The things we use every day, from automobiles to medicine, all rely on the research conducted by chemists.
What are some recent advancements in chemical compounds that could create impacts for years to come?
- Bacteria that Make Boron-Carbon Bonds
Synthetic biology, the science of “teaching” existing organisms to make the chemical compounds necessary for some of the most complex pharmaceutical, agricultural, and industrial chemical processes, is gaining steam. A recent research study undertaken by a California Institute of Technology Professor of Chemical Engineering, Bioengineering, and Biochemistry has revealed a way to teach bacteria to produce molecules with boron-carbon bonds. Up to this point, boron-carbon bonds were only made through traditional chemical engineering processes. By starting with a specific protein (cytochrome C) then mutating its encoding DNA, researchers were able to eventually produce bacteria that were up to 400 times more productive than synthetic methods of production for boron-carbon molecules.
- Late-Stage Synthesis Modification
A team of chemists at The Scripps Research Institute have developed a process that could streamline the production of pharmaceuticals and have broader implications across other chemically-dependent industries. The technique, known as ligand-accelerated non-directed C-H functionalization, allows chemists to modify a drug molecule at a very late stage of synthesis, which could be particularly impactful for drug development programs. The technique involves both metal atoms (usually palladium) and a ligand molecule (in this case, 2-pyridone), which react with one another to allow chemists to modify existing functional groups to suit their purposes.
- Phosphorus Sulfur Solution to Protect Lithium Batteries
Lithium batteries are both highly combustible and highly corrosive. Researchers at the University of Waterloo recently developed a battery using lithium metal anodes that has potential for use in Electric Vehicles. Because of their volatility, lithium batteries – though they provide am extremely high charge – haven’t yet been used in vehicles. To overcome the existing challenges of lithium batteries, the team at UW added a chemical compound made of phosphorous and sulfur to the electrolyte liquid that carries the electrical charge. The compound in turn reacted with the lithium metal, creating a super-thin “protective” layer on top of the metal anode itself. High-performance batteries may be the next big frontier in chemistry, and this discovery could possibly be the breakthrough electric vehicle manufacturers have been waiting for.
The field of chemical engineering is moving forward at breakneck speed. Thanks to data sharing as well as the continuous improvement of global chemical procurement logistics, researchers everywhere have more tools in their arsenal than ever before.
Noah Technologies is a chemical supplier that specializes in research-grade and high-purity chemicals. At Noah Tech, our full-time chemists are always happy to offer knowledgeable guidance whether you need a special one-off product or a continuous industrial supply. From metal powders to rare inorganic chemicals, our extensive list of products is growing every day.
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