Lords of the Ring

PETROCHEMISTRY

Was the structure of benzene really illuminated by a chemist’s dream of a snake devouring its own tail? Historians of science are skeptical of this persistent chemistry legend. But there is new interest in devouring when it comes to benzene, a naturally occurring toxin often associated with petroleum production, storage and transport. To eliminate this...

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Mighty enzymes

BIOCHEMISTRY

David Zechel of Queen’s University.  Is it possible for chemists to make the perfect molecule? David Zechel, associate professor at Queen’s University Department of Chemistry in Kingston, Ont., says there is one — glyphosate. “It is probably as close as chemistry can come to creating a silver bullet in terms of a molecule that is...

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Simply the Best

HISTORY

In chemistry, as in every branch of science, major breakthroughs happen rarely. Knowledge creation more typically comes from the incremental advances of diligent scientists toiling in obscurity.

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Sparks of Genius

EDUCATION

Chemistry research in Canada pre-dates Canada itself. In the 1840s, decades before confederation, British ex-pat Henry Holmes Croft became the first chemistry professor at the University of King’s College, the precursor...

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Petrochemical Heartland

HISTORY

Hewers of wood and drawers of water is the oft-repeated narrative used to describe Canada’s historical reliance on natural resources. It is true that Canada has been, and continues to be, dependent upon the land’s natural bounty: oil and gas, coal, hydropower, fish, forestry, silver, copper, gold, diamonds, molybdenum, potash and rare earth elements. Yet,...

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Safeguarding the central science

COMMUNITY CONNECTIONS

At the time of confederation in 1867, chemistry was already well on its way to becoming a mature and powerful scientific discipline that would usher in profound changes in our world, from life-saving medicines and food production technologies to the kaleidoscope of materials that underlie the electronic marvels around us. The Canadian Chemical News asked three...

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New Prescription

PHARMACEUTICALS

Humanity’s search for medicinal agents undoubtedly extends into our prehistoric past. Only since the 19th century, however, has this endeavour taken on the full trappings of scientific investigation. While plenty of diseases continue to afflict us, a huge portion of the world’s population now enjoys an unprecedented quality of life in terms of health, for...

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Responsible Care

COMMUNITY CONNECTIONS

Between November 1995 and June 1996, 109 Haitian children inexplicably developed acute renal failure, hepatitis and pancreatitis, leading to coma and death. Of the 87 youngsters who remained in Haiti for medical care, 85 of them died. Eleven were transported to the United States for intensive care; of these, three perished. A multi-national Acute Renal...

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The Greening of Chemistry

GREEN CHEMISTRY

Ask most people in the chemistry community and they'll tell you green chemistry seems to be everywhere these days. Depending on the context, this is either mentioned with pride...

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Target on methane

PETROCHEMISTRY

A high-efficiency incinerator at Cenovus Energy’s terminal near Edmonton destroys all noxious hydrocarbon emissions as tank cars are loaded with crude oil.  Photo credit: Questor Technology Decades before climate change became an environmental crisis, Canada’s petroleum industry disposed of then-unmarketable natural gas, or methane, simply by burning it. In Alberta’s Turner Valley oilfield in the 1920s,...

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