Strong Bonds

Researchers of Purdue and Pennsylvania universities in the us have discovered an unusual molecule that break down pollutants, especially compounds that cause acid rain. The Earth's atmosphere has the ability to "burn" or oxidize pollutants, especially nitric oxides emitted from sources such as factories and automobiles. "The chemical details of how the atmosphere removes nitric acid have not been clear till now," a researcher said. This discovery will allow scientists to better model how pollutants react in the atmosphere and to predict potential outcomes. The molecule has two hydrogen bonds, which allows it to form a six-sided ring structure. Hydrogen bonds are usually weaker than the normal bonds between atoms in a molecule, which are known as covalent bonds. Covalent bonds are 20 times stronger than hydrogen bonds. But in this case, these two hydrogen bonds are strong enough to affect atmospheric chemistry.


Down to Earth, October 2008