The Sceptical Chymist | Man in the mirror (on the moon)


In the words of my news editor, I’ve had a day geeking out on chemistry, and it’s been great. Two papers in Nature this week about newsworthy chemistry (it’s all newsworthy, I hear you cry….).

I’m not sure which was my favourite – as someone who did their masters degree doing organometallic synthesis in ionic liquids, I loved the latest application of the erstwhile green solvents – to support a liquid mirror on the moon. (News story here and paper here.) And the accompanying News and Views article focuses on ionic liquids, rather than going to the moon (which my news piece hangs on). It was a bit of a leap of imagination for whoever thought about using ionic liquids in this way, but a great new application for them. I’m impressed. Of course, we have to colonise the moon first – a minor point.

The second news story from a second paper was about another subject I have delved into in the past – biofuels (see feature). This latest research effort uses acid-hydrolysis to turn fructose into 5-hydroxymethylfurfural, and then a ruthenium/copper catalyst to turn that into 2,5-dimethylfuran (DMF). DMF has the potential to be a far, far better biofuel than ethanol. All that is required now is the funding to develop the processes.

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