Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Here's another post from work... (except that this is closer to my original story) some things u just can't help ;)

From the lab to the salt pan, from protein molecules to your plate... Scientists at the Central Salt and Marine Chemical Research Institute in Bhavnagar have re-defined the "free-flowing" in free-flowing salt. They have used Glycine, an amino acid, to change the shape of salt crystals from six-sided cubes to a relatively more rotund 12-sided structure called a rhomboid dodecahedron. This means that salt crystals will now be less likely to stick to each other and the sides of your salt-shaker, even in the monsoons.
Normally, Sodium and Chlorine ions get stacked close together, giving salt its cubic structure. Scientists at the Institute studied the spacing of the ions and found that it was similar to that of glycine. They also found that when glycine was added to a saline solution, it stopped the growth of the crystals from the sides, thus changing its shape. “The glycine molecule essentially sits on top of the salt molecule and causes the cube’s sharp edges to wear away. So the salt crystals won’t stick together. It’s like a ball bearing,” explains Dr Pushpito Ghosh, director of the Institute, adding “With only one point of contact, the crystal is more likely to roll off a surface”.
Usually, any moisture will cause a minuscule amount of salt to dissolve. When the water evaporates, salt crystals tend to stick together. Glycine is also more resistant to water, so damp weather would not affect the modified crystals as much.
Glycine, being am amino acid, is part of the body’s genetic make-up leaving no question of health risks, clarified Dr Ghosh.
Possibly the most interesting part of this discovery, is that it would be viable in a country like India where maximum salt production occurs by natural evaporation. “Our initial fears that minerals and other salts present in sea water would be a problem proved needless,” says Dr Ghosh. As of now, the initial costs of glycine could inhibit mass production. “But we are working on that little detail,” says Dr Ghosh, talking of recycling excess glycine as a viable option. “Anyway, only minuscule amounts of glycine actually go into the salt crystals”.
A detailed paper on this freshly patented technique is due to appear in this year's July 5 edition of The Journal of Crystal Growth and Design, an international research publication.


Zeph Keyes said...

Here's what the eds did to it -

raycatcher said...

ofcourse we doooooo my dear M. say wots behind this wierd id???

raycatcher said...

(*gulp) even i have become a sub editor...god knows wot all the reporters might b bitching about me :(