Monday, May 17, 2021

Chemical distributor Brenntag was hit by DarkSide ransomware group

Via both the New York Times and Bleeping Computer, chemical distributor Brenntag was hit by the ransomware group that hit Colonial Pipeline: 

Chemical distribution company Brenntag paid a $4.4 million ransom in Bitcoin to the DarkSide ransomware gang to receive a decryptor for encrypted files and prevent the threat actors from publicly leaking stolen data.

Brenntag is a world-leading chemical distribution company headquartered in Germany but with over 17,000 employees worldwide at over 670 sites.

Best wishes to Brenntag, and to all of us. 

Buffalo NY sulfuric acid plant told to stop operations due to SO2 emissions

Via the Associated Press, this interesting news: 

BUFFALO (AP) — The owners of a chemical plant in Buffalo are disputing a shutdown order issued by the state over sulfur dioxide emissions.

The New York Department of Environmental Conservation on Saturday directed PVS Chemical Solutions to cease operations at its plant in the Seneca-Babcock neighborhood after high sulfur dioxide emissions were detected at nearby athletic fields.

“Until PVS can prove it can operate without emitting potentially harmful SO2 into this community, either by altering operations or scaling back production, it should remain shuttered,” DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said in a statement.

In its own statement, the Detroit-based company said the shutdown “is not justified in any way" and said it has safely processed sulfuric acid at the plant for 40 years. The company added it was given no warning about the closure order during discussions with the DEC as recently as Friday.

PVS said it “will tone down operations while we work with the DEC through the courts to remedy this situation," the Buffalo News reported.

Complaints about sulfur dioxide odors led the DEC to put an air monitoring trailer near the athletic fields last year, and the agency issued notices of violation after excess levels were detected, according to the newspaper.

I honestly was surprised to find an actual manufacturer of sulfuric acid in the United States, but there you are! 

Friday, May 14, 2021

Have a good weekend

 

Well, we made it to another weekend. Hope you're had a good week, and hope your weekend is restful. See you on Monday. 

NYT obituary of the inventor of the Post-It Note, Dr. Sheldon Silver

Via the New York Times, a delightful obituary of the chemist who invented the adhesive of Post-It Notes: 
Spencer Silver, a research chemist at 3M who inadvertently created the not-too-sticky adhesive that allows Post-it Notes to be removed from surfaces as easily as they adhere to them, died on Saturday at his home in St. Paul, Minn. He was 80.

His wife, Linda, said that he died after an episode of ventricular tachycardia, in which the heart beats faster than normal. Mr. Silver had a heart transplant 27 years ago. Dr. Silver worked in 3M’s central research laboratory developing adhesives. In 1968, he was trying to create one that was so strong it could be used in aircraft construction.

He failed in that goal. But during his experimentation, he invented something entirely different: an adhesive that stuck to surfaces, but that could be easily peeled off and was reusable. It was a solution to a problem that did not appear to exist, but Dr. Silver was certain it was a breakthrough...

...Dr. Silver did not choose engineering or astrophysics. Instead, he graduated from Arizona State University with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry in 1962. He earned a Ph.D. in organic chemistry from the University of Colorado, Boulder, four years later. While there, he met Linda Martin, an undergraduate who was working part time in the chemistry department. They married in 1965.

He soon joined 3M as a senior chemist working on pressure-sensitive adhesives. During his 30 years at the company, he rose to the rank of corporate scientist. And while he worked on other projects involving branch block copolymers and immuno-diagnostics, none were part of popular successes like Post-it Notes...

Do read the whole thing, especially the wonderful bit about the 3M corporate golf course, as well as the connection to Lisa Kudrow.  

(what will be the modern version of a corporate golf course be? frisbee golf course? ax throwing room?) 

Job postings: chemistry sales specialists, Waters, United States

From the inbox: 

Best wishes to those interested. 

Thursday, May 13, 2021

33 new positions at Organic Chemistry Jobs

Common Organic Chemistry is resolving some technical difficulties, but has ported over the list to Google Drive for now. There are 33 new positions for May 11.

Don't forget to check out the Common Organic Chemistry company map, a very helpful resource for organic chemists looking for potential employers. 

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Japanese chemical plant explosion

From Powder and Bulk Solids: 

Four people were injured in an explosion Tuesday at the Sakai Chemical Industry Co. Ltd. chemical plant in Iwaki, Japan.

Officials told Kyodo News that the blast happened at about 7:45 a.m. and that three people received burns and one experienced minor injuries during the incident. An English language report noted that the facility manufactures zinc oxide and zinc powders used in the cosmetics and paints industries.

Fire and law enforcement agencies have opened an investigation into the cause of the explosion, according to Reuters.

Interesting - I wonder why there was an explosion with zinc? Insufficient inerting? Zinc dust collecting?  

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

The 2021 Faculty Jobs List: 337 research/teaching positions and 65 teaching faculty positions

The 2021 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List (curated by Andrew Spaeth and myself) has 337 research/teaching positions and 65 teaching assistant professor positions.

Want to help out? Here's a Google Form to enter positions.

In 2020-2021, we will be adding teaching professor positions, targeting positions that demonstrate an intention to renew permanently, 3 year terms and a promotion ladder and/or are titled "assistant teaching professor" or "associate teaching professor." We are adding community college positions if they explicitly offer tenure.

On May 12, 2020, the 2020 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List had 557 research/teaching positions and 80 teaching faculty positions.

To see trending, go to Andrew Spaeth's visualization of previous years' list.

Want to talk anonymously? Have an update on the status of a job search?  Go to the seventh open thread. 

Don't forget to click on "load more" below the comment box for the full thread. 

Postdoctoral position: medicinal chemistry, Sathyamoorthi Laboratory, University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS

From the inbox: 

The Sathyamoorthi laboratory at the University of Kansas seeks a postdoctoral fellow with experience in the stereoselective synthesis of complex molecules. If interested, please email Professor Sathyamoorthi with your CV, prior research summary, and contacts for three references (ssathyam@ku.edu).

Best wishes to those interested.  

The Academic Staff Jobs List: 120 positions

The Academic Staff Jobs list has 120 positions.

This list is curated by Sarah Cady and @nmr_chemist. It targets:
  • Full-time STAFF positions in a Chem/Biochem/ChemE lab/facility at an academic institution/natl lab
  • Lab Coordinator positions for research groups or undergraduate labs 
  • and for an institution in Canada or the United States
Want to help out? Here's a Google Form to enter positions.

Want to chat about staff scientist positions? Try the open thread.

Sunday, May 9, 2021

The craziest nuclear story you will read today

Via Science magazine, this remarkable story: 
Thirty-five years after the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine exploded in the world’s worst nuclear accident, fission reactions are smoldering again in uranium fuel masses buried deep inside a mangled reactor hall. “It’s like the embers in a barbecue pit,” says Neil Hyatt, a nuclear materials chemist at the University of Sheffield. Now, Ukrainian scientists are scrambling to determine whether the reactions will wink out on their own—or require extraordinary interventions to avert another accident.

Sensors are tracking a rising number of neutrons, a signal of fission, streaming from one inaccessible room, Anatolii Doroshenko of the Institute for Safety Problems of Nuclear Power Plants (ISPNPP) in Kyiv, Ukraine, reported last week during discussions about dismantling the reactor. “There are many uncertainties,” says ISPNPP’s Maxim Saveliev. “But we can’t rule out the possibility of [an] accident.” The neutron counts are rising slowly, Saveliev says, suggesting managers still have a few years to figure out how to stifle the threat. Any remedy he and his colleagues come up with will be of keen interest to Japan, which is coping with the aftermath of its own nuclear disaster 10 years ago at Fukushima, Hyatt notes. “It’s a similar magnitude of hazard.”

The specter of self-sustaining fission, or criticality, in the nuclear ruins has long haunted Chernobyl. When part of the Unit Four reactor’s core melted down on 26 April 1986, uranium fuel rods, their zirconium cladding, graphite control rods, and sand dumped on the core to try to extinguish the fire melted together into a lava. It flowed into the reactor hall’s basement rooms and hardened into formations called fuel-containing materials (FCMs), which are laden with about 170 tons of irradiated uranium—95% of the original fuel.

...The concrete-and-steel sarcophagus called the Shelter, erected 1 year after the accident to house Unit Four’s remains, allowed rainwater to seep in. Because water slows, or moderates, neutrons and thus enhances their odds of striking and splitting uranium nuclei, heavy rains would sometimes send neutron counts soaring. After a downpour in June 1990, a “stalker”—a scientist at Chernobyl who risks radiation exposure to venture into the damaged reactor hall—dashed in and sprayed gadolinium nitrate solution, which absorbs neutrons, on an FCM that he and his colleagues feared might go critical. Several years later, the plant installed gadolinium nitrate sprinklers in the Shelter’s roof. But the spray can’t effectively penetrate some basement rooms...

...The resurgent fission reactions are not the only challenge facing Chernobyl’s keepers. Besieged by intense radiation and high humidity, the FCMs are disintegrating—spawning even more radioactive dust that complicates plans to dismantle the Shelter. Early on, an FCM formation called the Elephant’s Foot was so hard scientists had to use a Kalashnikov rifle to shear off a chunk for analysis. “Now it more or less has the consistency of sand,” Saveliev says....

Keeping this site secure and stable has got to be a huge task - the engineering challenges must be enormous, and the difficulty of getting good information is daunting. 

Friday, May 7, 2021

Have a good weekend

 

We've made it into May! That is remarkable. I hope you had a good week, and will have a great weekend. See you on Monday. 

The race for lithium extraction in America

Via the New York Times, an interesting article on lithium mining in the United States: 
Some of those investors are backing alternatives including a plan to extract lithium from briny water beneath California’s largest lake, the Salton Sea, about 600 miles south of the Lithium Americas site.

At the Salton Sea, investors plan to use specially coated beads to extract lithium salt from the hot liquid pumped up from an aquifer more than 4,000 feet below the surface. The self-contained systems will be connected to geothermal power plants generating emission-free electricity. And in the process, they hope to generate the revenue needed to restore the lake, which has been fouled by toxic runoff from area farms for decades.

Looks like they're using ion exchange beads for the extraction - makes sense.  

Thursday, May 6, 2021

57 new positions at Organic Chemistry Jobs

Common Organic Chemistry is resolving some technical difficulties, but has ported over the list to Google Drive for now. There are 25 new positions for May 5, and 32 for April 28. 

Don't forget to check out the Common Organic Chemistry company map, a very helpful resource for organic chemists looking for potential employers. 

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

The 2021 Faculty Jobs List: 334 research/teaching positions and 65 teaching faculty positions

The 2021 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List (curated by Andrew Spaeth and myself) has 3334research/teaching positions and 65 teaching assistant professor positions.

Want to help out? Here's a Google Form to enter positions.

In 2020-2021, we will be adding teaching professor positions, targeting positions that demonstrate an intention to renew permanently, 3 year terms and a promotion ladder and/or are titled "assistant teaching professor" or "associate teaching professor." We are adding community college positions if they explicitly offer tenure.

On May 5, 2020, the 2020 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List had 557 research/teaching positions and 80 teaching faculty positions.

To see trending, go to Andrew Spaeth's visualization of previous years' list.

Want to talk anonymously? Have an update on the status of a job search?  Go to the seventh open thread. 

Don't forget to click on "load more" below the comment box for the full thread. 

Postdoctoral position: inorganic materials chemistry, Rabufetti group, Wayne State University, Detroit, MI

From the inbox: 

The Rabuffetti group has an open postdoctoral position in inorganic materials chemistry. This research project aims to establish principles to guide the discovery and design of luminescent thermometers for applications that range from biosensing to sustainable energy conversion. The project involves two major tasks: (1) solution-phase synthesis of thermosensitive, light-emitting nanocrystals; and (2) systematic investigation and understanding of their temperature-dependent luminescence response.  

Required qualifications:

  • Ph.D. in inorganic, physical inorganic, or materials chemistry.
  • experience in solution-phase synthesis of nanocrystals.
  • experience with photoluminescence data collection and analysis (time-resolved, variable-yemperature).
  • excellent command of analytical techniques such as elemental analysis, transmission electron microscopy, and powder X-ray diffraction.
  • willingness to learn and bridge knowledge/experience gaps.
  • strong written communication skills.

Interested candidates should send Prof. Rabuffetti (far@wayne.edu) (1) a one-page cover letter detailing relevant research experience, research interest, goals and expectations for the position, and preferred start date; and (2) a curriculum vitae including a list of publications and contact information for three references.

Best wishes to those interested.  

The Academic Staff Jobs List: 118 positions

The Academic Staff Jobs list has 117 positions.

This list is curated by Sarah Cady and @nmr_chemist. It targets:
  • Full-time STAFF positions in a Chem/Biochem/ChemE lab/facility at an academic institution/natl lab
  • Lab Coordinator positions for research groups or undergraduate labs 
  • and for an institution in Canada or the United States
Want to help out? Here's a Google Form to enter positions.

Want to chat about staff scientist positions? Try the open thread.

Friday, April 30, 2021

Have a good weekend

 

Well, we've made it another week. I've gotten my second vaccine shot, so I'm happy. Have a great weekend, and see you on Monday. 

Lonza recruiting Nestle workers to work on Moderna vaccines

From Reuters: 
Drugmaker Lonza Group , under pressure to find workers to help speed production of Moderna Inc's  COVID-19 vaccine, is recruiting temporary employees from food giant Nestle \to staff Swiss plants making ingredients for the shot, state broadcaster RTS said on Tuesday, citing sources.

Moderna last week blamed projected second-quarter delays in shipments of its vaccine to countries including Britain and Canada on production bottlenecks. read more Switzerland's Lonza is the key supplier of ingredients needed to produce the messenger RNA vaccine.

Lonza, which has declined to comment on any delays, previously said three new production lines slated to produce Moderna vaccine in Visp, Switzerland, could take months to reach "cruising speed".

Now, the French-language Swiss broadcaster said Nestle employees have been enlisted after the intervention of the Swiss government to help fill vacancies.

Pretty cool that Lonza is thinking outside the box to get the job done. Best wishes to them, and to all of us.  

Pool chemical shortage reported

From the Tampa Bay Times: 
...Prices for trichlor tablets, one of the most popular and convenient ways to keep pool water sanitized, has increased dramatically since Hurricane Laura caused a fire last August that destroyed one of the nation’s largest makers of the tablets, BioLab, in the Lake Charles region of Louisiana.

The shortage destroyed a huge amount of dry chemicals used to make trichlor (short for trichloro-s-triazinetrione) tablets, as well as granular chlorine preferred by some pool owners and the quick-boosting granular product known as pool shock.

Prices for bulk containers of the trichlor tablets have doubled for pool service companies since the fire, and some have said suppliers are refusing to sell more than two buckets of tablets to any individual purchaser. Retail prices for do-it-yourselfers have increased sharply as well.

Best wishes for readers who have swimming pools this summer.  

Thursday, April 29, 2021

Job posting: Content Architect, ALEKS Chemistry/McGraw-Hill Education, Irvine, CA

From the inbox: 
McGraw-Hill Education, providers of leading intelligently-adaptive assessment and tutoring services in STEM fields, is seeking an energetic and highly creative Chemistry Content Architect to join its elite ALEKS Chemistry team.  This team is tasked with imagining and building the future of data-driven adaptive educational technology in all subfields of chemistry, developing awesome new tools to rock mid-21st century college chemistry instruction.
 
In this role you will:
  • Assist in a major expansion of ALEKS Chemistry content to support organic chemistry instruction, as well as assist in the continued improvement of ALEKS Chemistry content that assist instruction in  general, introductory, and GOB chemistry. 
  • You'll design chemistry instructional and assessment content that fits within the ALEKS AI paradigm and course curricula, and work closely with ALEKS platform design specialists, software engineers, and quality-control teams to get it into production.  
  • You may direct and manage the work of junior ALEKS Chemistry colleagues and/or academic consultants.
  • Assist McGraw-Hill product implementation managers in delivering best-in-class implementation support to instructors using ALEKS products.
  • Help design other aspects of ALEKS Chemistry products, including designing curricula that match instructor needs, creating innovative and effective instructional materials, and designing new problem types, answer-input tools, and grading algorithms. - - You will also participate in market research and new product development planning with senior management.
  • Be actively involved with the chemistry education community, attend meetings and conferences, gives presentations and talks, and generally keep abreast of developments in the field of chemistry education, and provide expert perspective and advice on these to senior management.
Education requires a Ph.D. in organic chemistry (from a first-rank institution), with a 5 years of teaching experience (non-TA). Salary is 90-120k. Click here for more details. 

Additional comments: "...We do intend to try to break interesting new ground in organic chemistry instruction, and we have a large and steadily growing customer base who are eager for our product. The work is substantial, but I think the intellectual challenge is stimulating, and the group dynamics very positive."

Interested? E-mail Christopher Grayce at christopher.grayce@aleks.com

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

C&EN coverage of the Xiaorong You conviction

From C&EN's Craig Bettenhausen, coverage of the Xiaorong You case:  

Xiaorong (Shannon) You, formerly a senior R&D chemist at Coca-Cola and Eastman Chemical, was convicted last week in Greeneville, Tennessee, of stealing trade secrets related to bisphenol A (BPA)–free beverage can liners. Prosecutors say You took intellectual property valued at $120 million from Coca-Cola and seven chemical companies, intending to give it to a Chinese polymer firm in exchange for an ownership stake and cash payments.

You, 59, was a principal engineer for global research at Coca-Cola from December 2012 through August 2017, when Coca-Cola fired her. She went to work for Eastman the following month. Eastman fired her in June 2018 and recovered a hard drive at her home containing trade secrets from Eastman, Coca-Cola, AkzoNobel, BASF, Dow, PPG Industries, Toyochem, and Sherwin-Williams.

During You’s employment at Coca-Cola, the beverage maker was testing BPA-free can liners from several chemical and coatings companies. Some were epoxies made without BPA, like Sherwin-Williams’s valPure V70, which uses tetramethyl bisphenol F. Others were based on polyolefins and other types of plastic.

Because she was deemed a flight risk, she's been in prison since February 14, 2019. That's a long time to be in prison, and it seems likely she'll be spending even more time. 

Chemical Activity Barometer up 0.7% in March

From the American Chemistry Council: 

WASHINGTON (April 27, 2021) – The Chemical Activity Barometer (CAB), a leading economic indicator created by the American Chemistry Council (ACC), rose 0.7% in April on a three-month moving average (3MMA) basis following a 1.1% increase in March and a 0.9% gain in February. On a year-over-year (Y/Y) basis, the barometer rose 12.0% in April (3MMA).

The unadjusted data show a 0.3% increase in April following a 1.4% gain in March. The diffusion index reached 100% in April. The diffusion index marks the number of positive contributors relative to the total number of indicators monitored. The CAB reading for March was revised downward by 0.35 points and the reading for February was revised downward by 0.58 points. The April data are provisional and subject to revision.

“The latest CAB reading is consistent with solid expansion of commerce, trade and industry,” said Kevin Swift, chief economist at ACC.

In April, production-related indicators were positive. Trends in construction-related resins and related performance chemistry were solid, indicative of robust gains in this sector. Resins and chemistry used in other durable goods were strong, reflecting growing orders for light vehicles, furniture, capital equipment, consumer electronics and other durable goods. Plastic resins used in packaging and for consumer and institutional applications were positive, a mark of rising consumer spending. Performance chemistry for industry was largely positive, reflecting strength in manufacturing. U.S. exports were positive. Equity prices showed further gains. Product and input prices were positive, as were inventory and other supply chain indicators.

Good news that the broader economy continues to do all right. 

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

The 2021 Faculty Jobs List: 333 research/teaching positions and 63 teaching faculty positions

 The 2021 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List (curated by Andrew Spaeth and myself) has 327 research/teaching positions and 63 teaching assistant professor positions.

Want to help out? Here's a Google Form to enter positions.

In 2020-2021, we will be adding teaching professor positions, targeting positions that demonstrate an intention to renew permanently, 3 year terms and a promotion ladder and/or are titled "assistant teaching professor" or "associate teaching professor." We are adding community college positions if they explicitly offer tenure.

On April 28, 2020, the 2020 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List had 556 research/teaching positions and 80 teaching faculty positions.

To see trending, go to Andrew Spaeth's visualization of previous years' list.

Want to talk anonymously? Have an update on the status of a job search?  This will the the home of the seventh open thread, which opened on April 20 at 6 AM Eastern.

Don't forget to click on "load more" below the comment box for the full thread. 

Chemistry Bumper Cars

 Check out the latest moves here! 

To submit information, click here or e-mail chembumpercars@gmail.com

The Academic Staff Jobs List: 117 positions

The Academic Staff Jobs list has 117 positions.

This list is curated by Sarah Cady and @nmr_chemist. It targets:
  • Full-time STAFF positions in a Chem/Biochem/ChemE lab/facility at an academic institution/natl lab
  • Lab Coordinator positions for research groups or undergraduate labs 
  • and for an institution in Canada or the United States
Want to help out? Here's a Google Form to enter positions.

Want to chat about staff scientist positions? Try the open thread.