Chemistry, unlike other sciences, sprang originally from delusions and superstitions. At its commencement, it was exactly on a par with magic and astrology.
~ Thomas Thomson
The International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) has released a line-up of chemical innovations for 2019 which they think will change the world. The list is quite interesting (and surprising) are reads like science fiction fantasies!
Nano-pesticides (amongst the new-age nano agrochemicals) are being developed to deliver active ingredients to the pests and parasites without polluting the environment and harming other forms of wildlife (for example, bees that suck nectar from the plants). They have not been field-tested yet but they show quite a promise of taking over the world soon.
Organocatalysts are gaining the favor of synthetic chemists. Some of them (such as sugars and amino acids) are readily available and are more robust than their metal counterparts (which are often expensive and unsustainable). The enantioselective organocatalysis is changing the world of chemical reactions.
Solid-state batteries are currently still under development but theoretically, they will be lighter, be able to store more energy and will never catch fire. They will be perfect for electric cars and that’s why Dyson and Toyota are betting hard on it. We expect them to replace the all-popular lithium-ion battery in the near future.
New chemical processes and techniques are also being discovered every day.
There is flow synthesis technique that requires specialized equipment but is safer, cheaper, and yields better than batch production – both in the laboratory and at the industry-scale level. It can be automated to run thousands of reactions a day. When combined with polymer synthesis, flow chemistry can be used to create new compounds that are difficult to produce in a flask.
Scientists are trying hard to do molecular reactions using mechanical forces. Reactive extrusion is one of the trendiest mechanochemistry topics these days – in which polymers are manufactured by combining synthesis with a single (solvent-free) process.
IUPAC judges loved the Metal-Organic Frameworks (MOFs) that could capture several liters of water from the air - by just using sunlight. They are already being used for gas storage and it is expected that they will soon find their way in processes like carbon capture, gas separation, and catalysis.
Some other innovations included in the list were enzymes created through directed evolution, breaking down polymers into monomers (to make plastics biodegradable), radicals that can be deactivated and reactivated for improved polymerization reactions, and 3D bioprinting materials that can be used to print skin grafts, medical implants, bones, vessels, cartilage structures and entire organs.