Corncob Destructive Distillation: Hemicellulose to Xylose to Furfural

Chemistry, Manufacturing
What does corncob destructive distillation produce? A most interesting product—furfural. What is it? What is it good for? What is Furfural? Furfural is an interesting organic compound, possessing a five member ring structure with a heterocyclic atom (oxygen) and several functional groups built in. It is an ether, a diene, and an aldehyde. What is the Reaction? Corncobs¹ are rich in hemicellulose. Hemicellulose can be broken down to produce the five-carbon sugar—xylose, C₅H₁₀O₅. Xylose can react further to produce the heterocyclic aldehyde furfural, IUPAC² name furan-2-carbaldehyde. Corncobs (hemicellulose) → C₅H₁₀O₅ → furfural (see diagram) The steps can be combined. The resultant reaction process is termed destructive distillation. Corncob Destructive Distillation The corncobs may be dried and chopped into tiny bits the size of a grain of corn or smaller. These…
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Cement Production Aggravates Carbon Dioxide Levels

Chemistry, Manufacturing
The greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide, has been present in our atmosphere for thousands of years. Although plants consume CO₂, the supply is excessive. To label some sources as natural and some as man-made is futile. Here we discuss how producing cement aggravates carbon dioxide levels. To Illustrate Much of mankind spends considerable time in temperatures around the 80 to 100 degree range. If that temperature increased by 30 to 40 degrees, health and welfare would be endangered. Some carbon dioxide is necessary for proper ecosystem function. But as carbon dioxide increases, the planet's welfare is called into question. So what represents the percentage carbon dioxide due to cement production? Limestone to Lime There are many materials containing a limestone (calcium carbonate, CaCO₃). While this ingredient is used in producing cement,…
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Chemicals to Peel Tomatoes?

Food, Manufacturing
The advertisement for Hunt’s Tomatoes says they use no harsh chemicals to peel their canned tomatoes. This statement does not openly suggest other companies use harsh chemicals, but it implies that they do. In fact, it is a common practice to use chemicals to peel tomatoes. Hunt, though, declares they use steam. To Tell the Truth My curiosity aroused, I decided to look into the matter. Technically, Hunt is telling the truth. Nonetheless, the use of lye in the peeling of fruits and vegetables is not new or unusual. Although 70% of tomatoes are peeled using hot water or steam, approximately 30% are peeled using lye. 'How To' Peel Tomatoes These facts are found in the publication by the University of California, Davis¹ entitled, Peelability and Yield of Processing Tomatoes…
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Aluminum Foil: One Shiny Side?

Manufacturing
[caption id="attachment_2492" align="alignright" width="440"] Aluminum Foil[/caption] Ever wondered why ordinary household aluminum foil comes with a shiny side and a dull or matte side? Think maybe there’s some special reason for a shiny side? Or for the matte side? Life is complex—but aluminum foil is not. Here’s the explanation. Made from Sheet Aluminum foil is made by repeatedly thinning aluminum sheet—finer and finer—using highly polished rollers. It is possible to do this only to a point. That point is just slightly before reaching the desired thickness. Although it is possible to obtain the foil that is shiny on both sides, that foil would not be thin enough for practical, inexpensive use. Two are Better Than One If manufacturers tried to continue the process still further, without adjustment, the product would…
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