Tuesday, December 8, 2015

We made sodium in America

Also in this week's C&EN, a sad little story about a sodium metal plant? packaging facility? closing in New York (article by Marc Reisch): 
Struggling to improve its financial position, Chemours is once again pruning operations. By the end of 2016, the company plans to eliminate 600 jobs worldwide and shut down its sodium and lithium metals facility in Niagara Falls, N.Y., the only such operation in the U.S. 
The cutback will allow Chemours, which separated from DuPont in July, to operate more efficiently and concentrate on its core titanium dioxide and fluorochemicals businesses, says CEO Mark Vergnano. 
About 400 jobs, or about 5% of the firm’s employee and contractor base, will be cut company-wide. Chem­ours will take a $45 million charge against earnings for this move, which it says will save $50 million annually. 
An additional 200 jobs will go when Chemours shuts the Niagara Falls metals operation in December 2016. The company plans a $17 million charge but says its income will improve by $20 million annually....
Best wishes to them.


  1. To use a Vonnegut - the excrement is about to hit the air conditioning at Dupont.

  2. A bit off-topic, but did anyone other than me think about what it would be like to drop a big hunk of sodium at the top of Niagara Falls?

    1. I can't verify the accuracy of this story, but I was told a lab at my grad school institution that was shipped 1 kg of sodium metal instead of a gram. Faced with the need to get rid of the excess 999 g of material, the grad students decided to drop it off a cliff overlooking a lake. They initially thought they were in the clear when they only saw bubbles fizzing up to the surface of the lake, until a giant "Kaboom" echoed around the lake. This was before cell phone videos were popular, but I would have paid a movie theater entrance fee to see this. After instructing them many times that it was a bad and very dangerous idea of course.

    2. Sorta' like this?


    3. The pieces fly too far away, and are also kind of dangerous; not all of them will land back in a body of water and will just be hanging around and posing a danger to animals until the next heavy rain, after which they will kill the surrounding plant life. Also, the smoke is caustic since it's probably very basic. If it's a pond and not a river, then the surrounding area becomes very basic which is not good for a lot of animals. I suppose the shockwave kills a lot of fish so if you're some kind of cultural barbarian and are poor it's a good way to feed yourself, but it's more environmentally friendly to use a grenade or electric shock.

  3. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HY7mTCMvpEM