5 Chemical processes that Changed the World

Chemical processes drive the universe. Plants grow and produce fruits. Humans digest, grow, heal, and reproduce. All of these are chemical processes. For a long time, many great minds have devoted their lives to decode various chemical processes and to find a new one. A lot of them succeeded and shaped the world into what it is right now. We have looked back and seen 5 chemical processes that changed the world.

Polyethylene

Look around you and identify how many objects are made of plastic. What started as an accidental discovery has become an indispensable part of our lives. Polythene or Polyethylene is the most commonly used plastic today. Broadly categorized into High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE)and Low-Density Polyethylene(LDPE), most plastics have good resistance to chemicals like acids, bases, oxidizing and reducing agents. These high molecular weight hydrocarbons are good electrical insulators and highly ductile with low friction. However, since it is not readily biodegradable, we must limit our usage and act responsibly. It accumulates in landfills and affects marine life when plastic waste reaches the oceans. It is high time that we start recycling and reusing things that we are blessed with before this boon becomes a ban.

Ammonia Synthesis

 We have all been taught about the Haber Bosch Process and come across it multiple times. But have you considered why this process is so crucial that the process for ammonia synthesis remains virtually unchanged over the past 100 years? Ammonia has essential applications, with a critical being in the production of fertilizers on a large scale. With the increasing world population, the demand for food is always on the rise. Hence, we depend on this process to manufacture nitrogen fertilizers for the basic needs of survival. Yet, it does not come without its limitations. Despite the extensive use of nitrogenous fertilizers, nitrogen usage in the industrial process is far from efficient, causing environmental pollution.

Pasteurization

Go back in time 100 years, and the notion of keeping food fresh longer than even a day would have seemed not just ridiculous but also quite dangerous: there’s not a more specific way to make yourself ill than by eating food that’s turning bad. Before industrialization, dairy cows were kept in urban areas to limit milk production and consumption to reduce disease transmission risk via raw milk. As urban densities increased and supply chains lengthened to the distance from country to city, raw milk became a disease source. For example, between 1912 and 1937, some 65,000 people died of tuberculosis from consuming milk in England and Wales alone. This problem was solved by pasteurization, which is a mild heat treatment of liquid foods where products are typically heated to a temperature below 100 °C.

Nuclear Fission and Fusion Process

Nuclear energy doesn’t always come to mind when people think about “clean” energy, but it should. From clean electricity production to accessing water, here are some problems you didn’t know nuclear power could solve:

Emissions: Nuclear reactors produce clean power 24 hours a day, seven days a week. In 2018, it made a record 807.1 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity and provided 55% of America’s carbon-free power.

Water Scarcity: Almost one-third of the world doesn’t have access to clean drinking water, with more than a couple billion people living in countries affected by water scarcity. The existing desalination plants rely heavily on fossil fuels. An increase in power plants will lead to a rise in emissions. Nuclear reactors could play a significant role in providing low emission energy to get us closer to obtaining worldwide water security.

Saponification

Why do we need Soap? Why water isn’t enough alone? Why that oily and greasy leftovers on dishes don’t get thoroughly washed off by water alone? The answer is polarity. Water is polar, while oil is non-polar. Polar and non-polar don’t mix with each other under normal conditions.

For this reason, greasy and oily substances don’t get dissolved in water. This is where Soap comes in. A Soap molecule has a polar and non-polar part in it. One gets dissolved in the oily leftover, and the other part gets dissolved in water flowing. Problem Solved!!!!!

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