Cheap catalyst coaxes hydrogen from the lawn
Sunlight and a cheap catalyst can unlock significant amounts of hydrogen from grass. "This really is a green source of energy," says Michael Bowker.

Scientists have shown how sunlight and a cheap catalyst can unlock significant amounts of hydrogen from fescue grass.

The method, now demonstrated for the first time, could potentially lead to a sustainable way of producing hydrogen, which has enormous potential in the renewable energy industry due to its high energy content and the fact that it does not release toxic or greenhouse gases when it is burned.

“This really is a green source of energy,” says coauthor Michael Bowker, a professor at the Cardiff Catalysis Institute. “Hydrogen is seen as an important future energy carrier as the world moves from fossil fuels to renewable feedstocks, and our research has shown that even garden grass could be a good way of getting hold of it.”

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A.A. Fesquet was a chemist and an engineer who worked right here in Philadelphia, PA.  The Othmer Library Archives is lucky in that it has two beautifully illustrated notebooks of his from when he studied at the Ecole Centrale des Arts et Manufactures in France from 1854 to 1856.  These notebooks are beautiful to look at, Fesquet’s handwriting is gorgeous and he fills the notebooks with wonderful pen and ink drawings of scientific equipment. I especially love the swirls that he uses to illustrate gas exchange.

Notebook record can be found here.

For more of the notebooks, check out our new Analytic Chem. Notebooks, 1854-1856 Board on Pinterest.

Here are some nice pictures of small water clusters from Kenta Mizuse’s thesis, Spectroscopic Investigations of Hydrogen Bond Network Structures in Water Clusters.

Notice that n=6 is the minimum number of water molecules necessary for a 3D structure, and for one with 3 nearest neighbors (in clusters for n<6 each molecule has just 2 neighbors). Water molecules typically prefer to have 4 nearest neighbors (just like carbon and silicon!), but higher coordination numbers are possible.

As n gets bigger, the variety of possible cluster geometries grows (one might even say explodes) combinatorially. I will probably post more pictures from this book as I read it.

Helium: Floating Nobility

For more cute chemistry cartoons, visit www.justlovechemistry.com

Atomic number: 2
Atomic weight: 4.003 amu
: Noble gas

Helium is a colorless, odorless gas named after Helios, the Greek God of the sun. This is because helium was discovered due to mysterious lines in the emission spectrum of sunlight. Why did we discover helium only after observing space, when it’s such a common element here on earth? It’s because helium is a noble gas that reacts with virtually nothing. Scientists just didn’t notice it. Poor helium didn’t have much of a presence.

Helium is very light, so it is used to fill floating things like balloons and airships. It replaced hydrogen because, although hydrogen is technically lighter, it is catches on fire easily. In contrast, helium is a noble gas that is too lazy to react with other elements. You wouldn’t want to ride an air balloon that might explode (read: Hindenburg disaster).

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[ 27.04.16 • 2/100 DAYS OF PRODUCTIVITY ]
It’s not that I’ve only been productive for 2 days but it’s just that I’ve only had time to post for 2 days :’) my exams are in a week so I’ll probably only post around that time :0


18/5/16 3:56 PM // studying chemistry for my igcse exam tomorrow. Kinda worried that I won’t study thoroughly as chemistry is a subject in which once you understand the topic, you don’t really need to revise a lot, so I decided to go through the syllabus and do some more past papers. I’ve already done like 10 last week. Just made a stupid mistake: did the specimen paper for the core syllabus instead of the extended one 😩. Good practice, though.

Today I did my economics igcse and it was actually comparable to my mock exams. I did a lot better than I expected in my mocks so I do hope I can obtain an equally high score.

Oh, and also, I’ll be answering all the asks in my inbox tomorrow so don’t worry if I haven’t answered your ask yet ☺️