environmental chemistry

Demonstrating the Glass Transition of Polylactic Acid with a Rattle

Polylactic acid (PLA) exhibits a glass transition from hard and brittle to soft and rubbery when immersed in boiling water. PLA-based structures containing a small metal object can be used as rattles when they are shaken. The sound of the rattles change when they are heated above or cooled below their glass transition, enabling them to be used as demonstrations.

Seashell Chemistry

Placing dry ice in limewater is a great demonstration to accompany discussions on a variety of chemical topics, including the impact of ocean acidification on marine organisms that depend upon the formation of CaCO3.

Algae Connections to Chemistry Classrooms

This timely post is a perfect fit for the theme of Chemists Celebrate Earth Week 2023! Algae is a rich topic with many possible connections to the chemistry classroom. Algae needs to take in light, carbon dioxide, and various simple nutrients and, though it can sometimes get out of control, can produce oxygen, diatomaceous earth, and other products. It can even fluoresce pink! 

PFAS Guided Inquiry Activity

This PFAS Analysis guided inquiry activity introduces students to "Forever Chemical" pollutants in the environment as they apply their previous knowledge related to electronegativity, polarizability and bond strength to PFAS molecules. 

A Visit to Natural Fiber Welding: Demonstrating Green Chemistry in Action

The theme to the 2022 National Chemistry Week, observed October 16-22, is “Fabulous Fibers: The Chemistry of Fabrics”. A visit to Natural Fiber Welding, Inc. in Peoria, IL, revealed how that company is using ionic liquids to solvent weld cellulose fibers together to produce more durable yarn which can then be made into more durable fabric. The production method and “greenness” of the product is discussed, from the cellulose itself to the recycling of the solution used in the welding process. Macroscopic demonstrations of the fiber solvent welding process are also described.