Substance Used in Decades of Chemistry Calculations Does Not Actually Exist

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New research suggests the chemistry textbooks need to be rewritten. A substance that has, for decades, been considered an essential component of accepted chemistry calculations does not actually exist. Pixabay.

A substance that has, for decades, been considered an essential component of accepted chemistry calculations does not actually exist, according to new research conducted by scientists from the University of Western Australia (UWA) and Murdoch University.

The scientists argue that an ion—an atom or molecule where the total number of electrons is not equal to its total number of protons—of sulfide, known as S2, should be removed entirely from the scientific literature, an act that would call into question the results of a large body of research.

The team were initially investigating sulfide solutions as part of efforts to find a way of reducing mercury emissions from aluminum oxide refineries. Metal sulfides—a form of sulfur—are immensely valuable to the oil and gas industries. However, they soon became interested in S2—which is negatively charged—and it's supposed existence in water-based solutions.

The scientists attempted to find evidence for the existence of S2 in such water-based solutions—as predicted by accepted chemistry calculations—using an advanced piece of equipment known at UWA known as a Raman spectrometer. This incredibly sensitive instrument is designed to detect the bonds between chemicals.

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New research suggests the chemistry textbooks need to be rewritten. A substance that has, for decades, been considered an essential component of accepted chemistry calculations does not actually exist. Pixabay.

However, despite many efforts to reproduce S2 in a water-based solution, the sulfide ion was never detected.

These findings—published in the journal Chemical Communications—are significant because a number of chemistry calculations describing various industrial and environmental processes include the ion in their workings.

The team's results suggest that simple chemistry experiments from 30 years ago have been misinterpreted by scientists, according to Darren Rowland from UWA's Faculty of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences.

"It means that some simple chemistry calculations, often used to predict how sulfide minerals dissolve and react in water, are incorrect," he said in a statement.

"Our recommendation to researchers and teachers is to not accept the existence of sulfide ion in aqueous solution, as there is no evidence for its existence. We hope our results now take a firm hold in chemical calculations, but time will tell."

Substance Used in Decades of Chemistry Calculations Does Not Actually Exist | Tech & Science