As can be observed above, the effects of alcohol as shown in the blood alcohol concentration indicates that the higher the concentration the greater the risk of discomfort, unconsciousness and possibly death at the worst.
Living with the Monster Near the end of a half-mile-long hallway connecting the four reactors of the Chornobyl Nuclear Power Plant, graph bars and squiggles flash on a monitor. Only a few yards away rises the concrete-and-steel sarcophagus sheathing the … Continue reading →
Most farm crops are less affected by acid rain than are forests. The deep soils of many farm regions, such as those in the Midwestern United States, can absorb and neutralize large amounts of acid. Mountain farms are more at risk—the thin soils in these higher elevations cannot neutralize so much acid. Farmers can prevent acid rain damage by monitoring the condition of the soil and, when necessary, adding crushed limestone to the soil to neutralize acid. If excessive amounts of nutrients have been leached out of the soil, farmers can replace them by adding nutrient-rich fertilizer.
Modern understanding of acids and bases began with the discovery in 1834 by the English physicist Michael Faraday that acids, bases, and salts are electrolytes. That is, when they are dissolved in water, they produce a solution that contains charged particles, or ions, and can conduct an electric current Ionization. In 1884 the Swedish chemist Svante Arrhenius (and later Wilhelm Ostwald, a German chemist) proposed that an acid be defined as a hydrogen-containing compound that, when dissolved in water, produces a concentration of hydrogen ions, or protons, greater than that of pure water. Similarly, Arrhenius proposed that a base be defined as a substance that, when dissolved in water, produces an excess of hydroxyl ions, OH-. The neutralization reaction then becomes: H+ + OH-⇄H2O
A number of criticisms of the Arrhenius-Ostwald theory have been made. First, acids are restricted to hydrogen-containing species and bases to hydroxyl-containing species. Second, the theory applies to aqueous solutions exclusively, whereas many acid-base reactions are known to take place in the absence of water.
The first three demonstration plants of the Department of the Interior’s program to develop methods for converting saline water to fresh water were completed during 1961. The plants at Freeport, Tex., and San Diego, Calif., use distillation processes; that at Webster, S.D., electro-dialysis. Plants are still to be completed at Roswell, N.Mex. (distillation process), and at Wrightsville Beach, N.C. (freezing process). The plants at Webster and Roswell are for converting local brackish water to potable water; the other three convert seawater. Meanwhile, Congress authorized $75 million for saline water research over the next six years, a big increase from previous government spending. Several private companies are working on conversion techniques, such as freezing and electro-dialysis, too.
The Interior Department‘s helium conservation program also got under way during 1961. Under the program, the government can buy up to $47.5 million worth of helium a year from private companies participating in the program. Contracts were signed with several gas-producing and pipeline firms, which will build plants to extract at low temperature the very small amounts of helium found in natural gas. In addition, Kerr-McGee Oil Industries is building a private plant in Arizona for recovering helium for sale on the market; this plant is not connected with the government program.
Chemical production has been growing more rapidly in many foreign countries—especially some European nations and Japan—than in the United States. As a result, overseas producers have been competing more aggressively with U.S. firms in their home markets, in the less-developed areas, and even in the United States itself.
At the same time, the rapid growth in demand overseas, lower labor and operating costs in many foreign lands, and the establishment of larger coherent market areas through such organizations as the European Common Market and the European Free Trade Association has led American firms to step up their international operations. Most major U.S. chemical firms — and many smaller ones, too—have organized international subsidiaries, built plants abroad, acquired foreign firms, or formed joint ventures overseas with foreign producers and investors. During 1960, according to the Department of Commerce, U.S. chemical companies invested nearly $250 million abroad, including $86 million in Europe and about $70 million in both Canada and Latin America.
Government antitrust lawyers have often opposed merger activity in the chemical industry. During 1961 the Federal Trade Commission ordered Union Carbide to rid itself of the polyethylene film business it had acquired in merging with Visking Corp. Visking was the largest U.S. producer of polyethylene film when Carbide took it over in 1956; Carbide is the largest U.S. maker of polyethylene resin. Carbine has appealed the decision.
Less drastic was FTC’s ruling regarding Hooker Chemical Corp.’s acquisitions in phenolic resins. The Commission permitted Hooker to keep Durez Plastics and Chemicals, acquired in 1955, but forced it to sell the less significant phenolics business it bought later from Monsanto.
In what could prove to be a precedent-setting case, the Justice Department has charged that a joint venture set up by two chemical companies violates antitrust laws. The charge centers on Penn-Olin Chemical Co., owned by Pennsalt Chemicals Corp., and Olin Mathieson Chemical Corp., which started producing sodium chlorate at Calvert City, Ky., during 1961.
The twelve-year court battle over Du Pont‘s 23% interest in General Motors Corp. moved to a close when the Supreme Court ruled that Du Pont must dispose of its 63 million GM shares within ten years to comply with antitrust laws. The U.S. District Court in Chicago must now set a plan under which Du Pont can divest itself of the stock.
ICI is building a $16 million polyethylene plant near San Lorenzo, Argentina, and Hooker Chemical Corp. has formed a joint venture to make phenol in that country. Two synthetic rubber operations for Argentina also are in the planning stage.
On the other hand, practically all U.S. investment in Cuban chemical operations was lost during 1960 through government intervention and confiscation. Included was Freeport Sulphur’s $75 million nickel and cobalt concentrates project at Moa Bay, as well as several smaller plants, owned by other companies, producing such products as industrial gases, drugs, paint, and fertilizers.
Chemical mergers have been getting close scrutiny by government antitrust lawyers. Charges of monopoly and restraint of trade were leveled against Hooker Chemical Corp. in the phenolic resins field because of its acquisition of Durez Plastics and Chemicals in 1955, and against American Cyanamid Co. in the melamine resins field growing out of its acquisition of Formica Co. in 1956. Both firms deny the government allegations.
Also making headlines during the year were the drawn-out hearings on the drug industry by the Subcommittee on Antitrust and Monopoly of the Senate Judiciary Committee, headed by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D., Tenn.). The Kefauver committee charged drug companies with setting high prices, profiteering, restraint of trade, and misleading advertising. Industry spokesmen flatly denied these charges, citing in their defense high research outlays, constant threats of product obsolescence, and sharp competition. Although the long hearings had no immediate impact on drug industry operations, administration officials made plans to tighten controls on some phases of the industry’s practices and on the introduction of new drugs.
Several products made their commercial debut during 1961. Du Pont completed plants to make a new type of plastic film—from polyvinyl fluoride— for use in construction and to produce its new Dycril light-sensitive plastic printing plate. American Viscose is building a plant at Newark, Del., to make its new Avicel microcrystalline cellulose for use in low-calorie foods. Enjay Chemical started producing development quantities of an ethylene propylene copolymer rubber that is resistant to ozone.
Atlas Chemical Industries is building a plant near Wilmington, Del., to make glycerol and glycols from molasses (or other carbohydrate raw materials) by a new process. Glycerol has heretofore been made either from petrochemicals or as a by-product of soap manufacture. Armour and Co. and Pittsburgh Plate Glass Co. formed a joint company to test methods for recovering potash by solution mining in western Canada. In this method, hot water is pumped into the ground to dissolve the potash, which is then recovered from solution above ground. Similar methods have been used to recover salt and sulfur, but potash previously has always been mined directly.