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Author: Subject: Game: Chemistry from natural resources only
Cou
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[*] posted on 11-4-2015 at 11:19
Game: Chemistry from natural resources only


When you are ordering pure chemicals from a site such as elemental scientific, and buying acetone or muriatic acid from a hardware store, it's easy to forget that these things weren't made out of thin air; everything has to start off from natural sources. All the complicated organic medicines in the pharmacy such as aspirin, they can be traced back to natural resources. My favorite example is a popular method of making phosphorus with access to a very hot furnace:

Ca3(PO4)2+3 SiO2+5 C = 3 CaSiO3+5 CO+2 P

All those reagents can be obtained easily from the earth, even if you don't own a mineral mine. Calcium phosphate can be obtained by hunting animals and grinding their bones into powder. Silicon dioxide is sand from the beach, it's what the earth is mostly made of; and carbon from decomposing sugar at high temps or charcoal by burning wood.

Even your own body is a source of natural chemicals: You can extract urea and white phosphorus from your urine.

Unfortunately, many inorganic compounds are only found in specific minerals/ores which you must have access to a mine to get them. Iron is probably the easiest metal to find in nature, in the form of iron oxide rocks. You also need crude oil to get alkanes.

I would like to start getting into natural resource chemistry, but I still need to learn some stuff. If you trace back the production of something like aspirin (acetylsalicylic acid) all the way to harvesting of natural resources, what is the total synthesis from natural resources to aspirin?

And so here is the game we can play: How many chemicals can you trace back to their natural resources?

For example, let's do sulfuric acid (H2SO4).
In industry, sulfuric acid is made by dissolved sulfur trioxide is water. Sulfur trioxide is made by reacting sulfur dioxide with oxygen (natural resource in the air). Sulfur dioxide is also made by reacting sulfur with oxygen. Sulfur comes from desulfurization of crude oil (natural resource) with ethanethiol. Ethanethiol is made by reacting ethylene and hydrogen sulfide with aluminum oxide as a catalyst. Hydrogen sulfide is separated from sour gas (a natural resource). Ethylene comes from steam cracking crude oil. Aluminum oxide is from the mineral corundum.

There, we have successfully traced the production of sulfuric acid back to natural resources: Oxygen, crude oil, corundum, sour gas.

Sulfur is also found around volcano vents, which makes amateur production of sulfuric acid from natural resources actually doable, if you live in Hawaii, maybe.

And so if a chemophobic fool says "IT'S NOT A DANGEROUS CHEMICAL IF IT COMES FROM NATURE", just remember how many toxic things can be made from nature.

[Edited on 11-4-2015 by Cou]




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DraconicAcid
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[*] posted on 11-4-2015 at 11:31


Aspirin's not that hard- you would extract salicylic acid from willow bark (it's present as some complicated ester, but can be hydrolyzed), and acetylate it with acetic acid you've extracted from vinegar. On paper, at least.



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[*] posted on 11-4-2015 at 11:59


"Chemistry from natural resources only"
Where else would it come from?
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[*] posted on 11-4-2015 at 12:07






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[*] posted on 11-4-2015 at 13:17


Unionised: The point is to do chemistry "from scratch", using only natural, unprocessed raw materials. I love this kind of work, partly "because I can" but also because I love the history of science and technology. I have a dream of making a few grams of uranium and thorium from mines not too far from me. I want to dig the rock out of the ground myself and end up with a cube of metal. Perhaps a retirement-project since the radiation won't be much of an issue anymore :D



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[*] posted on 11-4-2015 at 13:26


Quote: Originally posted by Fulmen  
Unionised: The point is to do chemistry "from scratch", using only natural, unprocessed raw materials. I love this kind of work, partly "because I can" but also because I love the history of science and technology. I have a dream of making a few grams of uranium and thorium from mines not too far from me. I want to dig the rock out of the ground myself and end up with a cube of metal. Perhaps a retirement-project since the radiation won't be much of an issue anymore :D


I don't know how you would get access to a mine. Perhaps paying the owner for permission to enter for a day?




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[*] posted on 11-4-2015 at 13:27


Unionised nailed it : All chemicals are from natural sources.

The idea is intriguing though.

How to make X from the planet on which we stand (without just buying things).

Could be a good competition, e.g. make compound X using ONLY the dirt in your backyard, and the stuff that is living in it.




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[*] posted on 11-4-2015 at 14:22


Hydrochloric acid is made commercially by bubbling HCl gas through water. HCl gas is made by reacting chlorine and hydrogen gas with UV light, which are both made by electrolysis of a saturated NaCl solution. So this is also doable if you can evaporate seawater.



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Cou
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[*] posted on 11-4-2015 at 14:22


Hydrochloric acid is made commercially by bubbling HCl gas through water. HCl gas is made by reacting chlorine and hydrogen gas with UV light, which are both made by electrolysis of a saturated NaCl solution. So this is also doable if you can evaporate seawater.



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Etaoin Shrdlu
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[*] posted on 11-4-2015 at 14:23


Quote: Originally posted by unionised  
"Chemistry from natural resources only"
Where else would it come from?

Quote: Originally posted by aga  
Unionised nailed it : All chemicals are from natural sources.

Quote: Originally posted by the very first sentence in this thread  
When you are ordering pure chemicals from a site such as elemental scientific, and buying acetone or muriatic acid from a hardware store, it's easy to forget that these things weren't made out of thin air; everything has to start off from natural sources.
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[*] posted on 11-4-2015 at 14:43


There is a practical limit as to how far this can be taken, for instance you can't start mining iron just because you need a spring or make the lab and the glassware from scratch. Making chemicals completely composed from base raw materials is in it self quite possible. Quite a few chemicals are made mostly from air and water, but sooner or later you'll hit a logistical limit where the manufacture of reagents becomes far more arduous than the "core" reaction.



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[*] posted on 11-4-2015 at 16:57


OK, here's the final chart for sulfuric acid (correct me if something is wrong with it):

[Edited on 12-4-2015 by Cou]

[Edited on 12-4-2015 by Cou]




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[*] posted on 11-4-2015 at 21:19


I wad hoping this was some kind of challenge or project.
Disappointed.
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[*] posted on 12-4-2015 at 03:02


Take the knowledge and make your own project if you have an interest. Don't wait for someone else's idea.
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[*] posted on 12-4-2015 at 09:00


Quote: Originally posted by hyfalcon  
Take the knowledge and make your own project if you have an interest. Don't wait for someone else's idea.

hyfalcon and j_sum1, I'm limited in my ability to do projects right now, because of lack of equipment. I won't be able to do much until my school's chemistry club gets started.




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[*] posted on 12-4-2015 at 12:08


I still like this idea.

Basically Bootstrap from the same position humans were in a few hundred years ago, yet armed with all the knowledge gained since then.

Quote: Originally posted by Fulmen  
you can't start mining iron just because you need a spring or make the lab and the glassware from scratch.

Yes, you can.

Nothing stopping anyone doing any of that (all of which mostly involves Digging, Wood and Fire).

Arduous, vastly time-consuming, yet do-able.

Treat this as a pre-competition discussion.

Someone pick a reasonable target substance based on what is actually available in dirt and plants etc.

Essentials that were always available to all modern humans : sunlight, wood, water, wood, dirt, wood and Food of all kinds, and wood.

Uranium, Tantalum etc aren't universally available for some reason.

Internet can be treated as 'the accumulated knowledge' so is allowed.




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[*] posted on 14-4-2015 at 00:43


Id be interested to see Nitric acids diagram made from natural resources.
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[*] posted on 14-4-2015 at 03:40


People that have been around the forum for some time probably remember:

http://www.cavemanchemistry.com/

Supposedly it covers exactly what you are looking for, staring from natural sources and how to get to final products from there. I believe the author frequented this site for awhile as well. The table of contents can be viewed at the relevant website under the sample area. Here is a blurb from the Amazon page:

Quote:
Half a million years ago our ancestors learned to make fire from scratch. They crafted intricate tools from stone and brewed mind-altering elixirs from honey. Their descendants transformed clay into pottery, wool into clothing, and ashes into cleansers. In ceramic crucibles they won metal from rock, the metals lead to colored glazes and glass. Buildings of brick and mortar enshrined books of parchment and paper. Kings and queens demanded ever more colorful clothing and accessories in order to out-class clod-hoppers and call-girls. Kingdoms rose and fell by the power of saltpeter, sulfur, and charcoal. And the demands of everyday folk for glass and paper and soap stimulated the first round of chemical industrialization. From sulfuric acid to sodium carbonate. From aniline dyes to analgesic drugs. From blasting powder to fertilizers and plastics. In a phrase, From Caveman to Chemist.


Quote:
Calcium phosphate can be obtained by hunting animals and grinding their bones into powder.


As someone who has gone that route... messy... messy... messy. Even buying pre-made bone meal there are a lot of fats and oils and garbage that hang around. I tried to go the wet route to phosphoric acid and it was not nice. You really need to calcinate the bones first (i,e, make bone ash) to drive off the organic nonsense before you would even consider this calcium phosphate.

[Edited on 4/14/2015 by BromicAcid]




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[*] posted on 14-4-2015 at 04:39


Ok, here's the diagram for Nitric acid. :D

Industrial Production of Nitric Acid from Natural Resources.png - 41kB
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[*] posted on 15-4-2015 at 02:52


Well, that requires quite some specials.

Where would you get the required ethanolamine from? And from which natural resources will you make the catalysts for hydrogenation, shift conversion, and methanation?

I much like the idea of this thread, although for my own experiments, I prefer to start from the (usually technical grade) stuff I find in hardware and pottery supply stores.
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[*] posted on 15-4-2015 at 03:55


I prefer the same. But I also like mineral grade (i.e. iron from hematite, etc.). But the idea of making everything 'from scratch is kinda ridiculously tough, why not add a limit on the glassware you're capable of making :)



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[*] posted on 15-4-2015 at 04:06


I guess the viability of this as a project depends on the nature of the target product.
Somewhere on the spectrum between essential oils and doped single crystal silicon wafers is a project waiting to happen. For me, I still haven't given up on ntric acid from soy beans.
An iron nail is probably out of reach due to temperature requirements. I don't have a place to build a furnace. But something of that complexity could be really fun.
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[*] posted on 15-4-2015 at 05:21


Quote: Originally posted by BromicAcid  
People that have been around the forum for some time probably remember:

http://www.cavemanchemistry.com/

Supposedly it covers exactly what you are looking for, staring from natural sources and how to get to final products from there. I believe the author frequented this site for awhile as well. The table of contents can be viewed at the relevant website under the sample area. Here is a blurb from the Amazon page:

Quote:
Half a million years ago our ancestors learned to make fire from scratch. They crafted intricate tools from stone and brewed mind-altering elixirs from honey. Their descendants transformed clay into pottery, wool into clothing, and ashes into cleansers. In ceramic crucibles they won metal from rock, the metals lead to colored glazes and glass. Buildings of brick and mortar enshrined books of parchment and paper. Kings and queens demanded ever more colorful clothing and accessories in order to out-class clod-hoppers and call-girls. Kingdoms rose and fell by the power of saltpeter, sulfur, and charcoal. And the demands of everyday folk for glass and paper and soap stimulated the first round of chemical industrialization. From sulfuric acid to sodium carbonate. From aniline dyes to analgesic drugs. From blasting powder to fertilizers and plastics. In a phrase, From Caveman to Chemist.


Quote:
Calcium phosphate can be obtained by hunting animals and grinding their bones into powder.


As someone who has gone that route... messy... messy... messy. Even buying pre-made bone meal there are a lot of fats and oils and garbage that hang around. I tried to go the wet route to phosphoric acid and it was not nice. You really need to calcinate the bones first (i,e, make bone ash) to drive off the organic nonsense before you would even consider this calcium phosphate.

[Edited on 4/14/2015 by BromicAcid]

So to calcinate bones, heat them in a coal furnace at 1000-1500 C?




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[*] posted on 17-4-2015 at 12:29


I like this idea/concept/game. Actually it reminds me of the process of getting started in a game of Minecraft.

In fact, this kind of analysis is very useful because it shows what raw materials are strategic for maintaining access to a given compound.
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[*] posted on 17-4-2015 at 13:09


I would rather think about it as an Amateur Chemistry Apocalypse where everything with a "chemical name" gets banned.

Salt can't be banned. One can electrolyze a solution of salt to produce Sodium Hydroxide and Chlorine.

Chlorine and Sodium Hydroxide makes Bleach. Chlorine and Water makes a mixture of Hypochlorous Acid and Hydrochloric Acid.

Sand and Sodium Hydroxide makes pure Silicon Dioxide:
https://hobbychemistry.wordpress.com/2015/04/11/pure-silicon...

Fermentation of Sugar leads to Ethanol.

Ethanol and Bleach makes Chloroform.

Citric Acid can be extracted from lemon juice.

Acetic Acid can be extracted from Vinegar.

This is just from the top of my head.
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