The unknown, mysteries and the pursuit of perfection are some of the makings of a good book. They are an unbeatable combination.
They also describe the workings of the chemical industries. This month's column explores chemical reactions, chemical production and good e-books.
Mysteries about organic chemical reactions can be solved at the CASREACT ," Chemical Reactions Database (www.cas.org/CASFILES/casreact.html). You can search for reactions, products, reactants or reagents and learn about reaction conditions, yields and catalysts.
Solving inorganic chemical reaction mysteries through the Web might be more elusive. No single comprehensive inorganic chemical reaction resource seems to exist. However, the ChemNet directory's inorganic chemistry category, www.chemnet.com/dir/Chemical_resources/Chemistry/Inorganic_chemistry, lists more than 300 inorganic chemistry-related links.
Specific inorganic chemicals can be researched through the chemical search engine at ChemIndustry.com (www.chemindustry.com). You might be able to find inorganic chemical information at the Defense Technical Information Center within the "chemistry" subject category at www.dtic.mil/dtic/subcatguide/chemistry.html.
Much of the understanding of inorganic chemical reactions points back to the basics. The "Making Sense of the Basics" page, at www.chemtopics.com/unit02/reaction.pdf, might be helpful.
Several good tutorial resources provide instruction and review. One is "Chemical Reactions" (http://courses.dsu.edu/intchem/help/rxns/nprxntype.pdf) from the "Independent Study Intermediate Chemistry Course Site" (www.courses.dsu.edu/intchem/chemisty.htm) by Dr. Richard Bleil (www.homepages.dsu.edu/bleilr), associate professor of chemistry at Dakota State University, Madison, S.D. The site includes a 23-slide set that covers chemical equations, types of reactions, thermodynamics and stoichiometry.
Steve Marsden's "Chemistry Resources for Students and Teachers," www.chemtopics.com, includes lectures on reactions. It also has links to a variety of demonstrations and laboratory exercises. An "Introduction to Chemical Reactions" page, www.chemtopics.com/unit02/unit2.htm, is included. Another resource, the "General Chemistry Tutorials" page, at http://gaia.fc.peachnet.edu/tutor, also addresses the basics of chemical reactions. A third, the CHEMTUTOR site at www.chemtutor.com, provides expert help explaining the full run of chemistry basics, including reactions.
Taking a simplified approach, chemical production begins with chemical reactions and proceeds through separation of the product, further processing to achieve the desired form for packaging, and distribution. The "Chemcyclopedia" site at http://pubs.acs.org/chemcy can help you search for specific commercially produced products from different vendors. You can link to a vendor's Web site and compare the details available. An alternative source, the ChemIndustry.com Web site directory (www.chemindustry.com/chem2ask.asp), lists more than 26,000 chemical suppliers in 64 categories.
I cannot explore all the intricacies of chemical production within this column, but I can include some links relating to production output, as well as to training in some common unit operations. Figures for chemical production in the United States from 1985 to 2001 are linked conveniently through Dr. Robert J. Lancashire's (Department of Chemistry, University of the West Indies [UWI]) "Chemical Production Figures for the USA" site at www.chem.uwimona.edu.jm:1104/lectures/top50.html. Commercially available on-site short courses in unit operations such as those from the University of Wisconsin (http://epdweb.engr.wisc.edu/onsite/courses/chem9.html) and printed engineering technologies training courses from the "Education Direct Business and Industrial Training" site (www.icslearncorrespondence.com) might be useful in studying the elements involved in production. The printed courses include Unit Operations and Equipment (#5178) such as Evaporation and Crystallization (#6048), Drying (#5376) and Filtration (#5878). For additional links, you might want to look at my previous columns compiled at http://ontheweb.dyns.net, which provides links to these and other unit operations.
Many good books now are available on the Internet. Although not the only source, one of the earliest providers, Project Gutenberg (www.gutenberg.net/index.html), is all about universally available free electronic books (e-books or e-texts) ," fine literature that is republished digitally. A "Help and FAQ" site (www.gutenberg.net/helpex.html) is available for guidance. Books are stored as Zip files and can be downloaded for reading. Commercial e-book sites such as the "Qvadis" site (www.qvadis.com/exlibris/ebooks.html) and the "fictionwise" site (www.fictionwise.com/home.html) offer free e-books.
Hodel isChemical Processing's Internet columnist. Contact him at email@example.com.