From the Editor

Roberta Staley
Winter 2017

Happy New Year! And what an auspicious year it will be. Not only is it the nation’s 150th birthday but the Canadian Society for Chemistry will be presenting the 100th Canadian Chemistry Conference and Exhibition (CSC 2017), hosted by the University of Toronto May 28-June 1.  

To help celebrate this event, the crew at the Canadian Chemical News (ACCN) is hard at work on a special anniversary issue honouring the important historical role that chemistry and chemists have had in the development and prosperity of Canada. 

The issue that you are reading now is, you will note, the Winter 2017 edition. ACCN is now being published four times a year, with the publication dates coinciding with the seasons. You may also notice a slightly reduced page count. That’s because many of our regular departments have moved online. Visit cheminst.ca/magazine to read all the latest Society News, as well as additional Chemistry News stories that supplement those in the print issue. 

We have maintained our usual lineup of three, in-depth features. “The new switcheroo” describes an innovative polymer compound that enhances the application of forward osmosis, making it more cost effective for cleaning industrial wastewater. This innovation, which involves the use of a switchable solute, has been under development for the past 10 years by green chemistry guru Philip Jessop, a professor at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ont. 

Our cover story, “Target on methane,” details the history and complex legislative landscape pertaining to this greenhouse gas, which is far more efficient at trapping heat in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide, thus boosting its global warming potential. 

In “Bright future,” we look at a new company called Phantin created by the University of Toronto’s Cheng Lu and chemistry professor Cynthia Goh, who are currently scaling up production of a remarkable coating they created for solar panels to boost efficiency.  

Our Chemistry Briefs section encompasses several innovations, including the creation of DipTreat, which uses blotting paper treated with seed extracts of the tropical plant Moringa oleifera to attract and kill E. coli, thereby cleaning contaminated drinking water. We also explore how advanced imaging technology, called cryo-electron microscopy, is being used to study prions, the misfolded proteins that wreak havoc on the brain in those stricken with Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. Finally, ACCN looks at research inspired by the fascinating ability of organisms such as fish and amphibians to produce peptides and glycoconjugates that allow their bodies to deal with freezing temperatures. This motivated Robert Ben of the University of Ottawa’s Department of Chemistry to look at a new class of small-molecule ice recrystallization inhibitors to develop a faster way to ensure that blood — frozen for use in places like a battlefield — is available for transfusion as soon as it is needed. 

We look forward to seeing you in person at CSC 2017.