It’s a delight to be back as interim editor at the Canadian Chemical News. Replacing the inimitable Jodi Di Menna will be a challenge, and everyone here wishes her the very best as she explores new horizons within the scientific community.
This summer issue of ACCN is rich, varied and timely, with input from readers and columnists on topics as diverse (and divisive) as the shift in focus at the National Research Council to the need to formally license chemists.
ACCN news editor Tyler Irving’s Chemical News section embraces the quirky to the practical, and everything in between. He writes about GreenCentre Canada’s agreement to commercialize a new class of iron-based catalysts developed by Atlantic chemists that will lead to greener processes for pharmaceuticals and polymers. There is also a story of a remarkable advance by University of Toronto chemists and physicists who have captured — with femtosecond accuracy and atomic resolution — real-time images of molecules undergoing structural transitions.
It is the quirky that is often the most interesting. ACCN has excerpted a chapter from Tyler Hamilton’s book Mad Like Tesla, which profiles Louis Michaud of Ontario, who is pursuing a dream of turning waste energy into electricity-generating tornadoes. More than a story of an oddball inventor, the story highlights how lateral thinking and creativity spur scientific breakthrough. This issue features yet another maverick — Alberta’s Neil Camarta. After 35 years with Big Oil, Camarta has come out of early retirement and returned to his chemical engineering roots, commercializing a molten salt-based process to produce cleaner, cheaper hydrogen for the oil sands industry.
Innovation is at the forefront in the complex world of bottle recycling. Significant advances are being made in the area of polylactide (PLA) bioplastics made from biomass, which theoretically makes these plastic containers compostable. However, education is needed to ensure that the public learns to differentiate petroleum-based plastic from bioplastics, to prevent them getting mixed up at recycling plants. The creative solution? Create plant-derived plastics that are chemically indistinguishable from their oil-based cousins, allowing a seamless integration into existing recycling streams.
Finally, ACCN announces that Irving has brought home yet more silver to adorn his trophy shelf, being presented with the inaugural Award of Journalism Excellence in Engineering from the national Engineers Canada Awards Gala. Irving was recognized for the article “Nature’s Industrialists,” published last year in ACCN. We are incredibly proud of Irving’s latest achievement.