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Reactions: Life-cycle considerations of sustainable iron production, and a chemistry periodical for the general public

March 28, 2024 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 102, Issue 10


Letters to the editor

A thumbnail of the page with the red mud story. The photo on the page shows a red section among fields of green.
Credit: C&EN


It’s always fascinating to read about new routes to the sustainable production of iron. Two sustainability stories by Prachi Patel in C&EN make the case for two prospective iron-making advancements involving the use of the red mud by-product from aluminum production(Feb. 5, 2024, page 7) and the alkaline electrolysis of iron oxides(Feb. 26, 2024, page 7). Props to both teams for their inventiveness. The issue of concern here is not about the science but rather about the purported sustainability of both processes. There are substantial head-end energy demands. Holistic exergoeconomics would include the costs of drying the red mud and getting from crushed ore to iron oxide powder. Both are incredibly energy-demanding operations. For example, drying on the industrial scale is one of the most energy-intensive operations in the commercial sector. I would have appreciated more discussion of these pesky energy trade-offs along with the achievements with plasma chemistry and electrochemistry.

Mark R. Antonio
Old Saybrook, Connecticut


Chemistry periodical for the general public

Since the American Chemical Society has education of the general public about chemistry as one of its missions, and since ACS already publishes a number of periodicals, why not a periodical for the general public, written at a high school level? Such a publication could highlight breakthroughs in chemistry research in a way people without a chemistry degree could understand.

To me, Chemical & Engineering News appears to be written at a sophomore college level for someone that has already taken a chemistry class. The proposed publication would take into account that many high school graduates did not take, or did take but forgot most of, chemistry in high school. I think there would be potential interest in chemistry and related sciences in this population if presented right.

David Shobe
Lawrence, Kansas



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