New Op­por­tu­ni­ties With New Mol­e­cule

Chemical Industry Digest - - New Developments -

Re­searchers

at the Univer­sity of Cal­i­for­nia, Los An­ge­les (UCLA) have dis­cov­ered a chem­i­cal re­ac­tion that seems to ef­fec­tively con­vert highly sta­ble alka­nes into more valu­able com­pounds. Non­clas­si­cal car­bo­ca­tions — ions with fewer elec­trons than pro­tons, and thus a pos­i­tive charge — con­trib­uted to the sur­pris­ing re­sults. The re­ac­tion some­day might play a role in turn­ing pe­tro­leum waste into feed­stock’s for phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals.

While it is far from per­fect, it seems that this ap­proach may be com­ple­men­tary to other ap­proaches.

The re­searchers dis­cov­ered that be­cause the charge is shared among mul­ti­ple atoms — the non-clas­si­cal model — the mol­e­cule has more flex­i­bil­ity to un­dergo a di­verse ar­ray of re­ac­tions, in­clud­ing those needed to break apart the strong bonds of alka­nes.

Re­searchers are us­ing chem­i­cal re­ac­tion to use meth­ane and other light hy­dro­car­bons as build­ing blocks for com­plex mol­e­cule syn­the­sis and to con­vert poly­eth­yl­ene into new poly­mers with dif­fer­ent prop­er­ties.

Fur­ther work in this will in­volve de­vel­op­ing cheaper pre­cur­sors and sim­pler cat­a­lysts that will al­low use of these chemistries in a broad range of prac­ti­cal ap­pli­ca­tions. The over­all process for this may take ten years.

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