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Sustainable chemistry

Fotolab_ZnO-21_031-crop-HFW-37.3µm_X8.000What look like flowers are, in fact, very tiny—on a nanometric scale, actually—catalyzers of zinc oxide. “We use them to create chemical compounds with greater added value from sugars derived from sugarcane bagasse,” says Marco André Fraga, a chemical engineer who heads the Catalyst and Chemical Processes Division at the National Institute of Technology (INT) in Rio de Janeiro. Depending on the way they are synthesized in the laboratory, these structures can take on completely different shapes, such as something reminiscent of a pencil that has been sharpened at both ends.

Image submitted by Francisco Rangel, INT electron microscope technician