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Sat Mar 27, 2021, 03:21 AM

One scientist showing appreciation of another in the comments section of a journal.

We often don't think of the social aspects of a scientific life, but in fact, all human strengths and flaws, particularly those involved simply with personality are there. It is a pleasure to work with most scientists, but it is also true that some are oppressive cranks with a nasty edge, including, to be sure, arrogance, contempt and, in many cases, a sense of malignant superiority and dismissiveness.

Of course, most people can display these flaws from time to time; I'm hardly immune myself.

At the end of most issues of scientific journals there'll often be short section in which comments on previous papers are offered. This is particularly true of ACS Journals, which tend to dominate my reading.

Often these comments are critical of the published paper under discussion, sometimes highly critical, even to the point of barely disguised hostility, even contempt.

I was very pleased to see one today that praised a paper and then simply asked for more information.

It's here:

Comment: The Novelty of a Two-Step Aromatization Process (Pulkit Bajwa, Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research 2021 60 (10), 4189-4190)

An excerpt:

The problems of environmental pollution and limited oil reserves have drawn several scientists and engineers to look for alternate routes for producing petroleum-like products. One important route is the conversion of renewable materials to aromatic hydrocarbons. In search of literature on this topic, I came across the work of Fegade Swapnil that was published in I&EC Research.(1) The title of the paper is “Novel Two-Step Process for the Production of Renewable Aromatic Hydrocarbons from Triacylglycerides”. I read this article with great interest because the novelty is very high. Almost all of the previous research was focused on one step involving either thermal or catalytic conversion of plant oils to hydrocarbons. No previous work aimed particularly at aromatic hydrocarbons, BTEX...

...A design of experiments strategy was briefly mentioned in the beginning of section 3.2 of this article. Statistical analysis was not provided in the Supporting Information. Variations in reaction conditions may significantly change the outcome of the reaction. As explained in the other study(2) interactions between factors generally provide additional important information. Was this true for this two-step study? Statistical details such as main effects, interactions, or contour plots could reveal more information on this topic, particularly the second step. Therefore, I would like to ask for more information on statistical analysis and answers to questions that are asked above. Researchers would be interested in this information, which will certainly add value to the current study. Perhaps it would encourage engineers and scientists to conduct more detailed studies on aromatization of hydrocarbons from renewable sources and coke characterization, and use statistical data for optimization.


"Design of Experiments," often abbreviated as "DOE" is a statistical approach to evaluating parameters in a process to understand how these parameters interact to delineate a path to a desired outcome.

After these kind remarks, the authors of the paper under discussion replied:

Reply to “The Novelty of a Two-Step Aromatization Process” (Swapnil Fegade, Brian Tande, Alena Kubátová, Wayne Seames, and Evguenii Kozliak Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research 2021 60 (10), 4191-4191)

The authors greatly appreciate these comments on this paper and highlighting the importance of this potential process pathway to aromatics production.

Further information about the statistical work performed during the study is available in Fegade(1) appendix C which contains all of the raw statistical data generated as well as additional statistical results from the Minitab program. These details were not included in the paper due to publication space limitations. Additional details can also be found in a patent by Seames and Tande.(2)


I can certainly appreciate when scientists "greatly appreciate" each other and be helpful to one another.

Science is a very human activity, and it's a joy when science can include graciousness. This is not always possible, but when it is, and is exercised, I certainly applaud it.




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Reply One scientist showing appreciation of another in the comments section of a journal. (Original post)
NNadir Mar 27 OP
Hugh_Lebowski Mar 27 #1
NNadir Mar 27 #2
Hugh_Lebowski Mar 27 #3
NNadir Mar 27 #5
Hugh_Lebowski Mar 27 #6
TxDemChem Mar 27 #4

Response to NNadir (Original post)

Sat Mar 27, 2021, 03:26 AM

1. What is the advantage conferred should this novel approach be a successful/practical one?

What would these aromatic hydrocarbons be used for/what would they replace?

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Response to Hugh_Lebowski (Reply #1)

Sat Mar 27, 2021, 03:57 AM

2. Well, the first one is value added carbon sequestration after air capture.

I don't favor big carbon dioxide dumps - I am for closed cycles for everything for carbon sequestration, CCS, "carbon capture and storage," but I am very, very interested in CCU, "carbon capture and utilization."

Aromatic hydrocarbons are some of the most important compounds in the chemical industry. The "BTEX" to which the comments refer stands for "benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylene." All of these compounds are constituents of a product of which I do not approve, gasoline, with which most people are familiar. The percentage to which they are components plays a huge role in the "octane" rating. (The "Prop 65" warnings on gas pumps in California refer to the carcinogenicity of benzene, as a major constituent of gasoline.)

Ethyl benzene can be dehydrated to give styrene, from which Styrofoam, polystyrene and other products. The notorious phthalates in many polymers are aromatic hydrocarbons. Polyurethanes are often made using the aromatic compound toluene diisocyanate.

Aromatic hydrocarbons are constituents of many drugs, for example lipitor, and thus are important synthetic intermediates.

They are also an important class of solvents and extraction agents.

One could write volumes on the importance of aromatic hydrocarbons in our lives, and in fact volumes, many of them have been written.

Here's one:

Aromaticity and Other Conjugation Effects

One of the authors of this book, Roald Hoffman, won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for showing that a particular set of chemical reactions known as "cycloadditions" involved transient aromatic effects.

The word "aromatic" in chemistry refers to a particular physical feature of molecules, in which electrons are delocalized from being closely related to particular atoms in a ring. The number of electrons in this situation must be 2n+2 where n is an integer, 0, 1, 2... etc. Molecules in a ring that have 2n electrons without the +2, are "anti-aromatic." Aromatic molecules are highly stable, antiaromatic molecules are highly unstable.

I hope this helps.

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Response to NNadir (Reply #2)

Sat Mar 27, 2021, 04:07 AM

3. Thanks for all that, but I was not asking what aromatic hydrocarbons ARE ...

I got an 'A' in Organic Chemisty in college, man! One of my favorite classes.



Just wondering about this process being discussed in the paper.

So basically it's more a 'closed-loop means' in the sense of being able to create these useful compounds from carbon sources we've ALREADY extracted from the ground, as opposed to making them by pulling previously-sequestered carbon from the ground to make them, which is the more typical current means, correct?

Basically it's making what are typically 'petroleum products' via a type of recycling instead?

I guess this isn't that actual article, but just being referenced by the commenter ... “Novel Two-Step Process for the Production of Renewable Aromatic Hydrocarbons from Triacylglycerides”.

That's what I was asking about.

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Response to Hugh_Lebowski (Reply #3)

Sat Mar 27, 2021, 11:40 AM

5. OK. I didn't understand what you were asking. As for this particular paper...

...I'm not sure if I read it or not; it's the kind of paper that often catches my eye.

I really don't remember if I read it or not. I read so many papers, that they kind of blend together after a while, particularly since I'm getting old and senile. Even when I go though my journal on this website - even though I write posts here in hopes of fixing concepts in my mind - I sometimes don't recall reading the original paper I discussed in a post.

The paper discussed in this correspondence is this one: Novel Two-Step Process for the Production of Renewable Aromatic Hydrocarbons from Triacylglycerides (Swapnil Fegade, Brian Tande, Alena Kubátová, Wayne Seames, and Evguenii Kozliak Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research 2015 54 (39), 9657-9665)

It dates from 2015 which means that if I read it, it was thousands of papers ago.

I scanned it just now; it's a reformation paper, and I'm a reformation kind of guy; it's thermal reformation. Of course, as a reformation kind of guy, I always think that everything should be pyrolyzed to syn gas, whereupon you can make anything you want that's in petroleum, as well as some things that are not in petroleum.

I do at least open every single paper in every single issue of this particular journal, and have done so since 2013, when I systematized my approach to going through the literature, but obviously there isn't time to read all of them, since I have a large number of journals on my reading list.

I may have skipped this one because one of the forms of so called "renewable energy" to which I most object is biofuels. Triacyl glyceride demand is driving the environmental land use tragedy of the palm oil plantation disaster in South East Asia. This said, I have been very interested in glycerol valorization. The authors of the 2015 paper are from Department of Chemical Engineering, University of North Dakota, so it's probably in connection with soybeans or other oil crops.

Of course, North Dakota is a fracking hell hole as well, so there's that.

As for your other question about carbon cycling: Yes that's exactly what I mean. A seminal and much quoted paper on the subject was written early in this century by the late great Nobel Laureate George Olah, this one: Anthropogenic Chemical Carbon Cycle for a Sustainable Future. (George A. Olah, G. K. Surya Prakash, and Alain Goeppert, Journal of the American Chemical Society 2011 133 (33), 12881-12898) Into his (very) old age, he was devoted to trying to save humanity from itself. He was 84 when he published this paper. He was one of the Hungarian "Martians."

Although much of my writing here is devoted to the reuse and valorization of the components of used nuclear fuel, I extend this belief to all industrial derived matter; I don't believe there should be anything called "waste." It's an ideal, still more practiced in breach than in realization, but it seems to me, with sufficient clean energy - there is one and only one form of this energy - it is achievable. The most important waste product to be valorized is carbon dioxide itself, but to do this, we will need to expend vast quantities of energy - basically all of the energy ever released by dangerous fossil fuels - to overcome both the enthalpy of combustion and, far more difficult, the entropy of combustion.

It seems just at the edge of feasible to me, but it will not be solved by hand waving and wishful thinking. That's all we all have right now, handwaving, wishful thinking with a very solid dollop of selective attention. Unless we overcome these psychological impediments, we will not overcome the physical disaster on which humanity has now embarked.

History will not forgive us; nor should it.

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Response to NNadir (Reply #5)

Sat Mar 27, 2021, 01:19 PM

6. Thanks mate :)

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Response to NNadir (Original post)

Sat Mar 27, 2021, 05:39 AM

4. That is a refreshing change of pace

I haven’t had much time to read any of my ACS journals in the past few years, but I do hope we see more comments like that.

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