industrial and engineering chemistry - ACS Publications

industrial and engineering chemistry - ACS C. 9+. Renorts on the...

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molybdenum-nickel-iron (Hastelloy). bomb, which is the most recent t,ype of Readers w i l l flnd t w o innovations incendiary to fall on German instsllaAn atom may be thought of. as a Introduced in t h i s issue: (1) t h e nucleus around which revolve, sometions, is difficult to extinguish. “Month’sHeadiines”,events during what in the manner of planets around t h e past m o n t h of Interest t o chemThree wholly unrelated but equally the sun, from 1 to 92 electrons. They ists, ohemical engineers, and ex-illuminating queries can be posed on utives, as reviewed by t h e Edltors, move in one to seven different orbits or this development: (1) Would Thurman page 483; a n d (2) “Last-Minute shells. Ordinarily one shell is filled with Arnold, Wendell Berge et al., consider Flashestrom t h e Editor’s Desk”, o n page 126 of t h e advertising seotlon. electrons before the next one begins, althe idea patentable? (2) Would the though in the case of certain %ansition” chemist serve the war effort better by driving a jeep? (3) Was not this chemelements there are vacancies in the shell next to the outer one. In nickel, for example, there are only ist’s “flash of genius” a rather novel way of solving a pro8 electrons in tlie third shell instead of the 10 it could hold, duction headache? For the time being, Hitler has more cause to worry about why Permanente experienced difficuttiea despite the fact that there are 2 electrons in the fourth and outermost shell. With inner shells completely filled, a metal in distilling off pure magnesium, than does Kaiser’s technical is more subject to corrosion. staff, for quantities of goop bombs have been sold. Because of the vacancies nickel is very resist’ant to corroAn interesting yarn came out in connection with the goop sion, but i t is too expensive for many applications and so is bomb publicity. The principle, a solidified or jellied oil ignited alloyed with copper which is lower in cost. The atom of by a metal mixture, was perfected in World War I by Arthur copper has one more electron than that of nickel. I n the Ray, then working in CWS. The chemical group kept it alloy these extra electrons tend to fill the vacancies in the “hush-hush” until a Representative put it into Congresshid nickel atom. However, as long as any vacancies remain in Record. Walooked it up, and on page 1023 of the Record for the nickel, the aUoy still resists corrosion as well as pure nickel. 1918is the story of the bomb, called in those days “Mark 11”. Finally, when the proportion of 60% copper-40% nickel is The metal used was thermite and the contraption was set reached, all the nickel vacancies have been filled. Further off by discharge of a service cartridge. increasing the proportion of copper makes the alloy less resistant until pure copper is reached, which corrodes much more 20th Century Alchemy. Methylolurea transmutes orthan pure nickel. I n the alloy of nickel with molybdenum dinary wood into a whole new range of usefulness, now and iron a similar effect occurs, says Uhlig. available for war purposes and offering many postwar apVast quantities of valuable metals are lost annually by corplications, according to a recent D u Pont announcement. rosion. Such studies as these are highly important because It permits construction, for example, of doors, windows, and knowledge of the exact way in which corrosion occurs may (Continued on page 8) drawers that will not swell, stick, lead to more effective ways of overcoming it.


I. & E. C.

Reports on the Chemical World Today


contract, or become loose. It reconstitutes wood to order, even makes it strong enough to substitute for st,eelin certain machinery parts. It enables industry to create in a few days woods harder than the ebony that. takes a century to grow naturally. Poplsr becomes harder than hard maple which, in turn, can he made harder than ebony. Transmutation of wood enables more avsilnhle, chceper species of woods to compete in fields hitherto open only to costlier, scarcer varieties from afar. Du Punt chemists developed this trcatment from research that has paralleled studies conducted for years by Forest Products Laboratory. Color also may he imparted permanently to the wood by mixing a dye with the impregnating chemical. Veneers sufficiently treated become self-honding. They require no adhesive to he formed into plywoods, since heat and pressure fuse the product into a hard, dense substance. Even sswdust, shavings, and othcr wood wastea may he molded into artioles, and dyes or pigments may be incorporated. Other cellulosic materials lend themselves to the treatment.

New Synthetic Rubber. Hope that the problem of hest build-up in tires made of synthetic products may he solved was indicated in the recent announcement by Mathieson Alkali Works of a new rubber that, withstands elevated temperatures. Chief component is butadiene; hut the copolymer is under secrecy orders, for the Germans a p parentiy are still worrying ahout heat hnild-up in their tires, and revelation of the composition would be of de6nite comfort to the enemy. Details are scanty but officials of the company say that the copolymer can easily be made from available raw msterih. The amount of copolymer added is ahout t.he samc percentage as styrene in GRS. Tests reported by independent laboratories show that the new- ruhher has geater resistsnce to heat, moisture, oil, kerosene, and less permeability to gases than GRS. Present capacity of the plant to produce the new polymer is reported to he about 25 tons per day by misinformed newspapers. Mathieson is now producing in small pilot-phnt lots and hopes to get government approval for a plant to turn out 25 tons per day. Mathieson is now in two new fields--synthetic rubber and fertilizer. Cotton Strip-Tease. Allocation of war-employed chcmicala has postponed many ideas to our brave new world of tomorrow, but few plans wc have listened to come closer to Utopia than the new scheme for causing King Cotton to lose its foliage a t the will of the chemist. Fruition is postponed by chemical scarcities until war's end. I n action, the planter will decide that cotton is rcady for picking. He will call the local airport, and a gently bovcring helicopter will appear over tho ficld to spread Aerodefotiant (manufactured by Amcrican Cyanamid) at the rate of 30-100 pounds per acre. I n a few days the leaves will fall from the plant and expose the ripe bolls. Another advantage is gained through defoliation, hecause cotton bolls heretofore shaded by leaves are permitted to lose undesirable moisture. Then will come the mechanical picker, and, n.ith clanging of gears and no sweet,, the crop is picked. (cmuinued on page 10)

1. & E. C. Renorts on the Chemical World Today

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Future of IWOctane Plants. Eighty-two per cent of the ultimate capacity of 100-octane p h t s in the United Statcs \vill.he privately owned. Prohalily no other major war industry has so rmall a proportion of governmelit purticipation in plnnt construction. In terms of investment, private companies will have obligated approximately 550 million doliars of their own money in the expansion of 100octanc facilities between Pcarl Herbor and the end of 1944. Government investment in the m m e period will come to approximatel.v 210 million. Three fourths of the government outlay, which came from Defense Plant Corporation, was for equipment for small refineries. Petroleum Administration for War has proceeded from the outset on the principle of apportioning responsibility for war production a~ far as possible among both large and small refiners. In all, 181 difierent companies are engaged in the present 100-octane program. R-hilc productiun figures on 1OOdctdne renitin sccict, it,csn be said that in the first two years after Pearl Htirbor the output was multiplied several times; indeed, production is nearly nine times as great BS it was in the pre-Pearl Harbor period and si-ortly will be twelve times as great. Sixty-five per cent. of tiris increase came from such measures as converting prewar catalytic cracking equipment, employing new types of blcnding agents, increasing tetraethyllead content, and technological improvements which made for grcater efficiency in the refineries. This was achieved without governnient financing. A large expansion on 07- and 91-octane gasoline production (fur training purposes) vas attained also. Because of the flexibility of modern petroleum r & i equipment, the postwar outlook of the industry is far diflercnt from that of many war industries whose plant facilities will he largely "white elephants" in peacetime. I n this category, of course, munitions and explosives are outsbnding examples. Expansion in both colnmcrcial and private flying is expected to provide a continuing market for large quantitics of aviation fuel. Many of the new catalytic cracking. units can he converted easily to peaectimc use to increase both the quantity and quality of postwar motor fuel. To a certain extent thc same is true of facilities for making the blending agents used in 100-octane gasoline. The problem will give a numher of headaches, but the petroleum industry ;ippears to have heen on sound ground when it determined to finance a large pmt of the 1Woct.ane produrtion facilities.

I. 8i E. C. Renorts on the Chimlcal World Today

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Swords into Plowshares. The U. S. Department of Agriculture is said t o be making a determined bid t o obtain permission to reconvert the ferrosilicon plant a t Wenatchee, Wash., into production of triple superphosphate. Present operations are expected t o end shortly as a result of the cutback in magnesium. Advocates of the plan insist that the huge electric furnaces are specially adapted for treatment of phosphate rock. They further present as arguments that the plant is located near phosphate rock deposits, and that West Coast farmers have been short of triple phosphate. One plan being discussed is to move the plant closer to raw material supplies (Idaho and Montana), but the question is, will enough power be available? I n some quarters this bid of the Department of Agriculture is viewed as the forerunner of a major policy of seeking idle government-owned plants for production of agricultural products. War Production Board is said to be against converting the Wenatchee plant during the war period; although sufficient ferrosilicon can now be turned out a t eastern blast furnaces, the coal situation is so precarious that it is desirable t o maintain the Wenatchee plant a t least in standby condition. Those opposing the Department of Agriculture’s plan point out that the furnaces a t Wenatchee are not specially adaptable to volatilizing phosphorus, and that the principal value of the plant for such a purpose would be restricted largely to the electrical equipment up to, and including, the bus bars. Veteran Employment. With discharges from the armed forces totaling some 1(~0,000a month, employment of veterans is an immediate problem-not one merely with postwar significance. Recognizing the moral and legal obligations of private industry, as well as other desirable economic angles tied to full employment for returning veterans, the National Association of Manufacturers’ Committee on Veteran Employment, headed by Harry L. Derby, president of American Cyanamid & Chemical Corporation, has prepared a practical check list, for management. It is intended solely for in-plant use by individual companies and, by the nature of the points it highlights, will serve to provoke the fullest consideration of ways and means by which industry may maximize veteran employment. Questions apply equally to ex-service men and women. Marketing Surpluses. Easily understandable is the necessity for creating huge reserves while a global war is being fought. A nation which for months saw its armed forces go down to ignominious defeats solely because of “too little and too late” should in no way criticize the allout production program requested b y military officials. Few individuals had any comprehension of what America could turn out under the pressure of a war for survival. Now the specter of surplus stocks is beginning to plague industry. Manufacturers of drugs and pharmaceuticals have only unhappy memories of what happened after World War I. There are differences of opinion as to how serious surpluses are at this point. National Wholesale Druggists Association (Continwd on page 22) has suggested a program based on

I. & E. c. Reports on the Chemical World Today three principles: (1) Where feasible, surpluses should be turned over to Lend-Lease and to relief and rehabilitation agencies for distribution among populations in liberated areas; (2) supplies not so distributed should be offered to manufacturers of the products for marketing through regular distribution channels; (3) the Federal Food and Drug Administration should inspect all repackaged materials sold from surplus government stocks to protect the public health. Several legislative proposals have been made to set up a federal administrator with the authority to determine how and when war-developed properties and surpluses should be sold. Attorney General Biddle stepped into this ring when he appeared last month before the Senate Military Affairs Committee. These proposals may lead to dangerous results, according to Biddle. He pointed out that some pending bills would have Congress stipulate that war properties may be sold only where such sales would not “unduly dislocate’’ markets or inflict “substantial injury” on industry, “The purpose of these declarations of policy,” he testified’ “is to prevent indiscriminate dumping of surplus war property on the market. That is doubtless a desirable objective. But the language I have quoted may lead to dangerous results.” The Attorney General made a Countersuggestion that the administrator be instructed simply to dispose of property on the basis of a “fair return” t o the Government. This “fair return” would be based not alone on original cost but on the value of property in the prevailing market, on the basis of its general usefulness. At the moment, a t least, there is little unanimity of thinking in Washington on the subject of ways and means of disposing of war plants and surpluses. Yet, unless such properties and materials are dealt with in a forthright manner, fair to Government, the public, and manufacturers, the present deluge of postwar planning is just so much talk and little else. The problem is fast being recognized as Washington’s number one headache.

Ride for Life. This is in the “now it can be told” department. When A. L. Elder was appointed penicillin coordinator, an immediate task was to inspect, correlate, and report on the activities in the various establishments producing the drug. The Army, anxious to obtain action, asked Elder how long it would take him to complete the investigational trips to the producers. Apparently the estimate was too long, and Elder was asked what the Army could do to expedite matters. Upshot of the conference was a private plane for Elder, manned by the Army, which enabled the chief of the penicillin program to inspect, in various parts of the continent, sixteen plants in fourteen days. The time saved by this prompt action was invaluable in rushing output. No one who heard Robert D. Coghill a t the A.C.S. meeting a t Cleveland (Chem. & Eng. News, April 25, page 588) on the blessings conferred by this drug will doubt that any price-in gasoline or planes can be too great in speeding this drug to mankind. For our “department of inconsistencies”, sadly are we forced to report that many of the important young scientists engaged in the penicillin program are now being drafted.