Author Topic: Found Some Chemicals ...  (Read 2860 times)

Calilasseia

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Found Some Chemicals ...
« on: December 14, 2016, 07:31:42 AM »
In the challenge puzzle for 12.xii.2016 (see one of my other posts for my individual take on date formats :) ) I found two chemical names - borate and bromate. Which was serendipitous, as I'd been reading a chemistry blog before starting the puzzle!
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yelnats

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Re: Found Some Chemicals ...
« Reply #1 on: December 14, 2016, 01:03:01 PM »
Shouldn't the blog have had SPOILER in the header?

Les303

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Re: Found Some Chemicals ...
« Reply #2 on: December 14, 2016, 02:37:52 PM »
Yelnats , did you have a little trouble reading that date format?
Mate , a SPOILER is not necessary once the puzzle is closed.

Alan W

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Re: Found Some Chemicals ...
« Reply #3 on: December 14, 2016, 03:08:50 PM »
Les, I think yelnats was suggesting, jokingly, that the chemistry blog Calilasseia was reading should have had a spoiler label.

But actually it seems that some borates are preservatives, which would prevent spoiling.

In any case a 12/12 date leaves little room for misinterpretation.
Alan Walker
Creator of Lexigame websites

Les303

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Re: Found Some Chemicals ...
« Reply #4 on: December 14, 2016, 03:12:39 PM »
Doh , you guys are way to clever for me. :-[

yelnats

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Re: Found Some Chemicals ...
« Reply #5 on: December 14, 2016, 10:05:09 PM »
Seems like I am the straight man of this comedy duo

Les303

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Re: Found Some Chemicals ...
« Reply #6 on: December 15, 2016, 10:15:17 AM »
 ;D

2dognight

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Re: Found Some Chemicals ...
« Reply #7 on: December 15, 2016, 10:35:55 AM »
Pity Les isn't called Oliver  :laugh:

Les303

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Re: Found Some Chemicals ...
« Reply #8 on: December 15, 2016, 10:55:51 AM »
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wIbeGQp0cm4

Here's a link to couple of old L&H classics.

Calilasseia

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Re: Found Some Chemicals ...
« Reply #9 on: December 15, 2016, 03:06:47 PM »
Fun part is, the chemistry blog didn't mention either of the names I found. Though it did cover some far more, shall we say, lively substances, such as dioxygen diflouride and a group of chemicals known as azidotetrazolates. Both of which are, according to Derek Lowe, good reasons to reach for your running shoes if someone actually synthesises them.

Apparently, dioxygen difluoride will decompose explosively if you forget to store it at around 90 Kelvins - about the same temperature as liquid methane. It will react violently with water, and a host of other substances that are usually considered innocuous or inert at such cold temperatures. Back in 1963, someone called A. G. Streng submitted a paper to Journal of the American Chemical Society, covering his experiments with this delightful reagent. The paper makes hilarious reading if you know your chemistry, and typical samples of his reporting are as follows:

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Being a high energy oxidizer, dioxygen difluoride reacted vigorously with organic compounds, even at temperatures close to its melting point. It reacted instantaneously with solid ethyl alcohol, producing a blue flame and an explosion. When a drop of liquid 02F2  was added to liquid methane, cooled at 90K., a white flame was produced instantaneously, which turned green upon further burning. When 0.2 cm3 of liquid 02F2 was added to 0.5 cm3 liquid CH4 at 90K., a violent explosion occurred.

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Liquid dioxygen difluoride reacted vigorously when added to solid anhydrous ammonia at temperatures close to 110K. It caused explosions when added to ice at 130-140K. and reacted also with traces of water when dissolved in HF containing H2O, at 195K.: the brown color of the solution disappeared and O2 gas escaped.

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A rapid addition of chlorine to dioxygen difluoride cooled to about 140K. caused a violent explosion.

However, when small portions of Cl2 were added slowly to O2F2 cooled to 130K., a violet intermediate product did form, together with ClF3. Here, the first step was most probably the fluorination of Cl2 to ClF

O2F2 + Cl2 → O2 + 2ClF

After ClF was formed, it reacted further with O2F2, as described below.

The study of the reaction of O2F2 with ClF showed that if the reaction is carried out without special precautions at temperatures above 140K., the two substances react violently with heat evolutions following the equation

O2F2 + CIF → O2 + ClF3 + 30.1 kcal.

The ClF abstracts the fluorine from O2F2, forming ClF3 and liberating O2. Simultaneously, due to the heat of reaction 3, a part of the O2F2 decomposes to O2 and F2.

Basically, much of the paper contains phrases such as "bright flames were observed" or "a violent explosion destroyed the apparatus". :D

This scientist must either have been dressed in full Iron Man garb when performing these experiments, or had some truly amazing cojones. I love the way he described how, upon experiencing an explosion mixing dioxygen difluoride and liquid chlorine, he added the two together more slowly the second time. Most of us would consider the first explosion to be good enough reason not to persist, but Streng was made of sterner stuff. It's almost as if he managed to secure a grant to exorcise the pyromaniac schoolboy from his soul, as the prime motivation for conducting these experiments - they're the sort of experiments a 7 year old might think of when asked to say something about chemistry. "Hey, let's see how big a bang we can make!"

The best of the lot was his reaction with hydrogen sulphide. Which apparently delivered a similar amount of "kapow" to the detonation of nitroglycerine. Working in his lab sounds like evil fun for suicidal pyromaniacs, and a good reason for the rest of us to head for the fallout shelters. It probably won't surprise anyone to learn that military funding was behind this paper, in the form of funding from the US Navy when it was pursuing its own independent rocket propellant research. One of the first lessons you learn very quickly, is that rocket propellant research involves as much Earth Shattering KaboomTM as explosives research (yes, that's a Bugs Bunny reference in case you were wondering).

As for the azidotetrazolates, well, it won't surprise anyone to learn that yet more people with German surnames were in on this lab party. In the form of Herren Klaptke und Stierstorfer. These Bavarian gentlemen apparently receive lots of funding by uniformed types, to pursue research into speciality explosives. For those who wonder what on Earth an azidotetrazolate is, it's a compound involving one carbon atom bolted, via suitably quivering bonds itching to fall apart at the drop of a hat, to no less than seven nitrogen atoms. I've attached a little image showing how this lot is arranged, and if it looks as if it's going to party hard in terms of flying shrapnel, you're not mistaken. Various salts of this compound were made, including some that blew up and destroyed various pieces of apparatus, despite being refrigerated to 90 Kelvins and kept in the dark. A few milligrams of these compounds is all it takes to blow out the windows of the lab. Yes, that's milligrams. If anyone askes you whether it's a good idea to make rubidium azidotetrazolate, heed well the words of these gentlemen in their paper, when they say, with characteristic understatement, that the sensitivity to detonation thereof is extreme enough to make it "troublesome to handle" (read: it'll blow your face clean off simply because you looked at it the wrong way).

This was just the starting point for some of their recent fun and games, however, which invoved bolting two azidotetrazolate groups together, to make something even hotter to handle, in the form of C2N14. Which is apparently powerful enough to level buildings if you make the mistake of making one gram of it. Yep, this is a "conventional" explosive that makes nitroglycerine look downright wimpy. Fortunately, no one will be dropping it in bombs, because it's too dangerous to handle outside speciality labs. You couldn't let typical conscript soldiers play with this, because they would blow themselves up with it long before it even reached the front line, let alone saw the opportunity to be sent winging its way to an enemy. Apparently the lab in question is looking for ways to produce the same bang per buck, but in a manner that can be handled by grunts without "friendly fire" catastrophes on an epic scale.

Needless to say, it's become something of a clich, that if you want some seriously dangerous chemistry done, you find some German chemists to do it. German chemists have a history of working with hideous toxins, explosives and corrosive horrors, right the way back to Bunsen (of Bunsen burner fame) himself. He worked (unprotected, I might add) with a veritable chemical Who's Who of nasties back in the 19th century, but despite some episodes that would have modern Health & Safety bods prolapsing in terror, managed to live to the ripe old age of 88. Bunsen was a perennial source of colourful anecdotes, courtesy of his, shall we say, highly individual approach to the business of chemistry (which involved tasting things that the rest of us would not consider in the slightest to be orally compatible). For example, when isolating the toxic metal beryllium, he discovered that a fly had landed on his sample, and not wanting his sample mass to be ruined by the fly's activity, chased the fly around the lab until he had caught it and killed it, cremated its remains, and then recovered the missing beryllium from the ashes. However, I cannot help but commend a scientist whose remarks upon the commercial activities of a former student, thus:

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I cannot make the man out. He has certainly much scientific talent and yet he thinks of nothing but money-making, and I am told that he has already amassed a large fortune. Is this not a singular case? ... Working is beautiful and rewarding, but acquisition of wealth for its own sake is disgusting.

« Last Edit: December 15, 2016, 03:15:01 PM by Calilasseia »
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Les303

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Re: Found Some Chemicals ...
« Reply #10 on: December 15, 2016, 05:10:06 PM »
Cal , I am very impressed with that post as it is easily the longest one that I have ever seen on the forum although I must admit that I only got as far as the second paragraph before I had to move on as the topic doesn't really interest me.
I find it incredible that you were able to include all that information before the session timed out & I had always assumed that there would be a word limit for a post so thanks for showing me that is obviously not the case.


Calilasseia

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Re: Found Some Chemicals ...
« Reply #11 on: December 16, 2016, 12:17:10 PM »
It may amuse you to know that elsewhere, an exposition on certain scientific papers I posted ended up being spread across 8 posts, covering 56 papers in detail, and amounting to 836K of text. I don't anticipate doing that here, I usually come here for R&R. :D
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birdy

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Re: Found Some Chemicals ...
« Reply #12 on: December 16, 2016, 02:58:07 PM »
Well, I read the whole thing - though I do not claim to understand the chemistry! - and found it very interesting.  It appears that we will not have to worry about the compounds being a terrorist tool for the same reason that the military haven't been able to use it.  It might be useful in getting RID of some terrorists if we could slip the plans to them, though.