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January 15, 2018 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 96, ISSUE 3


From the web

New Year’ #ChemResolutions

Credit: Dorea Reeser/C&EN
Credit: Dorea Reeser/C&EN

Our online social community let us know what they hope to accomplish in 2018.

In 2018, I aim to publish three peer-reviewed papers, help judge a few science fairs, and promote outreach at local science festivals. I’m also going to study up on frustrated Lewis pairs, peptide representation, and reaction data capture.
Michael Tarselli via Facebook

The prefix Dr. should [be added] before my name.
Sudhakar G via Facebook

For now, just build an electrospinner to help make some cool filters.
Michelle Harasimowicz via Facebook

This year my #chemresolution is to make that last molecule so I can finish my dissertation and graduate.
@cdunne11 via Instagram

Go to conferences! #ChemResolution and keep applying for that prof job!
@c3sapoGo via Instagram

#chemresolution is to finish analyzing data, publish, write dissertation, and graduate!
@panelitalechita2018 via Instagram

My #chemresolution is to continue learning all the science stuff I like, tak[e] several webinars, finish a couple of courses of science and gastronomy, and start my own business.
@lilichely via Instagram

My #chemresolution is to learn as much as I can about active constituents in natural products and see if we could have new potential drugs.
@lichenlady94 via Instagram

My #chemresolution is to be employed again. Working to be employed in one of the STEM jobs that are reported to be out there. Been looking for two-plus years in the greater Chicagoland area with no success.
@debmorenophoto via Instagram

Tomorrow my analysis practice in [inorganic] chemistry will start. My #chemresolution is to pass it although most people make psychological pressure about it. It’s just a little step in the whole study, but something important for me. Have a happy new year.
@mtlaworlds via Instagram

Letters to the editor

Wastewater alchemy

Credit: Shutterstock/C&EN
Credit: Shutterstock/C&EN

Thanks for the timely article (C&EN, Nov. 27, 2017, page 30). Very much enjoyed it. Some comments:

1. I think you gave short shrift to the decades-old concept of energy from municipal wastewater via biogas (a mix of mainly CO2 and CH4) derived from waste digesters. This is pretty much a no-brainer and was common even when I worked as a sewage plant operator during my undergrad years in the early 1960s. The plant where I worked for three years generated something like 50–60% of its overall electrical demand by burning the essentially untreated digester biogas in a small, on-site diesel-generating facility. This technology is generally regarded as safe and effective and can be implemented at relatively modest cost if digesters are already on-site.

2. Mississippi State University folks have been working for some years to use municipal wastewater as a source of biodiesel via fermentation with special (naturally occurring?) organisms. Not sure where this is these days, but I believe the work, which started more than 15 years back, has been successfully piloted. I have no idea of the techno economics, however.

3. Recovery of metals from certain industrial wastewaters has already been common, especially by commercial producers and processors of precious metals, salts and solutions, and platinum-group metal (PGM) catalysts. The concept is many decades old and as practiced by one of my former employers simply allowed the plant process wastewater to contact metallic aluminum in a bed of wastewater contained within two large wooden vats in series. The average contact time was at least several hours and maybe as much as several days. As the aluminum metal dissolved, the PGM content was precipitated for later filtration and conventional hydrometallurgy/smelting for recovery, separation, [and] purification of the PGM content. I am told that this concept, called sedimentation by some, is employed by multiple PGM processors. There may be newer and more effective technologies, but it is likely hard to beat the cost of scrap aluminum as a source of reducing equivalents.

I especially like the idea of developing new technologies to get value from some of the many other chemicals commonly found in wastewater. The world needs more of such innovation. As you noted, widespread acceptance is a significant challenge. This was something Air Products encountered in the 1980s when first commercializing pipeline-quality methane obtained from landfill gas.

James F. White
Richland, Wash.



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