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Science Nation: Surfactants: Building Greener Chemicals

4 minutes

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From cleaning supplies to pharmaceuticals, surfactants are the compounds that make soap bubbly, paint spread smoothly, and medication dissolve more easily. Most surfactants are currently made from non-renewable petroleum sources and many of these surfactants don’t break down easily after they are discarded. Some can persist in the environment for decades. Their widespread use and environmental persistence has raised concerns about toxicity. At the University of Arizona, Jeanne Pemberton and her cross-disciplinary team work to create new “green” surfactants based on sugars that are generally known as glycolipids. With support from the National Science Foundation, Pemberton and her team are exploring the recent discovery of a versatile synthesis that allows production of many different types of glycolipids in large quantities. Some of these glycolipids are modeled after naturally occurring biosurfactants and some can be produced relatively inexpensively using renewable natural resources. Part of the National Science Foundation Series “Science Nation.”

Media Details

Runtime: 4 minutes

Science Nation
Episode 1
4 minutes
Grade Level: 7 - 12
Science Nation
Episode 2
4 minutes
Grade Level: 7 - 12
Science Nation
Episode 3
4 minutes
Grade Level: 7 - 12
Science Nation
Episode 4
4 minutes
Grade Level: 7 - 12
Science Nation
Episode 5
4 minutes
Grade Level: 7 - 12
Science Nation
Episode 6
4 minutes
Grade Level: 9 - 12
Science Nation
Episode 7
4 minutes
Grade Level: 9 - 12
Science Nation
Episode 8
4 minutes
Grade Level: 9 - 12
Science Nation
Episode 9
4 minutes
Grade Level: 7 - 12
Science Nation
Episode 10
4 minutes
Grade Level: 10 - 12