Happy Birthday to a cracking champion of chemicals (Day 303)

Most people who work in the chemical industry have had to deal with the sharp intake of breath and disapproving voice of someone saying “but chemicals are bad”.

But then we explain that ‘chemicals’ are all around us – the oxygen and water we need to survive; in the food we eat; the clothes were wear; even our bodies – are all made up of ‘chemicals’: see my blog ‘Can you lead a chemical-free life?‘.

BASFIt is rare, certainly in the UK, to see an advert openly using the words ‘chemistry’ or ‘chemicals’. However, there’s one company that wears its chemical credentials proudly on its sleeve and I want to congratulate them for this and at the same time say ‘Happy 150th Birthday’ to BASF.

Today, BASF produces agrochemicals, chemicals, plastics, high performance materials and catalysts. They are also involved in biotechnology as well as oil and gas exploration.

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Making fruit red by going green (Day 197)

Ripening tomatoesInternational demand for fruit and vegetables is growing. We all want affordable fresh food available all-year-round, everywhere.

To ensure that your food arrives to you unspoiled and ready to eat food suppliers pick unripe fruit, transport it and then trigger the ripening process using ethylene.

The ethylene used to do this comes from the steam cracking of fossil fuels. With government aims to reduce the use of fossil fuels, fruit ripening needs to go green too!

Researchers, including engineers, biologists and physicists, from the University of Trento in Italy have developed an Escherichia coli strain which can produce ethylene to help ripen our fruit, removing the need for fossil fuels.

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