Modern Marvels - Acid   View more episodes

Aired at 12:00 PM on Thursday, Jan 14, 2010 (1/14/2010)      View all transcripts from this day

Transcript

00:00:01It then falls into a collection bin looking more like peanut brittle minus the peanuts, than a deadly explosive.
00:00:10Handling it from here is not for the faint of heart.
00:00:13>> It can be impact sensitive, but that would mean taking a hammer and putting it on a rock and hitting it with a hammer, that would be dangerous.
00:00:20But the way we handle it, it is very stable product.
00:00:26>> In addition to composition b-4, holston also produces c-4; a general purpose explosive strong enough to blast through a steel door.
00:00:36>> What we're gonna be demonstrating today is about 70 grams of our product.
00:00:42>> The c-4 is packed inside a 16-ounce cup and plac steel plate.
00:00:49>> Fire in the hole.
00:00:52And this is the demonstration with a quarter-inch bullet plate steel after 70 grams of material.
00:01:01>> A closer look reveals that the force of the explosion imprinted the number "16" from the cup onto the steel plate.
00:01:11Despite the fact that nitric acid is a central ingredient in nearly every explosive cocktail, most of it goes toward the production of ammonium nitrate fertilizer.
00:01:23 makes two-and-a-half million tons every year.
00:01:27But even in fertilizer, nitric acid's explosive potential never stays dormant.
00:01:32>> Ammonium nitrate is a popular fertilizer, but it can also be used as an oxidizer for explosives.
00:01:39In that case, it has to be mixed with a fuel, in this case, powdered zinc.
00:01:45Just a little bit of water will get it started.
00:01:50>> A simple drop of water starts a chemical reaction that ignites the mixture.
00:02:01In 1947, nitric acid's volatility triggered disaster.
00:02:07It happened in texas city, texas.
00:02:12The port city was nearly leveled when a freighter packed with ammonium nitrate fertilizer exploded.
00:02:19>> In those days, it was unknown what a violent explosive ammonium nitrate could be.
00:02:24And so in the same cargo ship, they had shipments of small arm ammunition and other flammable materials.
00:02:33Small arms ammunition went off in a fire, which then detonated ammonium nitrate to catastrophic results.
00:02:44>> 581 People were killed and another 5,000 were injured.
00:02:54The texas city disaster is considered the worst industrial accident in the history of the united states.
00:03:04Although nitric acid is a powerful chemical, there's another acid that's even stronger; sulfuric acid.
00:03:13Roughly 40 million tons is produced a year, making it the leading chemical manufactured in the united states.
00:03:20>> Sulfuric acid is used in such a wide variety of industrial applications that often, a country's productivity can be measured in terms of the tons of sulfuric acid produced each year.
00:03:34>> Sulfuric acid is classified as a strong acid because it contains a high concentration of hydrogen ions.
00:03:43The ph scale measures the strength of an acid.
00:03:46Water, which is a neutral liquid, has a ph of seven.
00:03:51A ph with a number greater than seven is a base, while a ph with a number less than seven is an acid.
00:03:58Each number less than neutral contains 10 times the hydrogen ions of the next greater number.
00:04:04Therefore, concentrated sulfuric acid, which has a ph of one is 100,000 times more acidic than saliva, which has a ph of six.
00:04:14As with all strong acids, when sulfuric acid is added to water or a base, its hydrogen ions break off, generating heat.
00:04:23>> The heat from the dissociation is being absorbed by a relatively small amount of water and the solution is getting so hot that it actually melts the plastic cup as well as the dropper, and this is why you don't want to add water to acid.
00:04:43>> Besides being a strong acid, sulfuric acid is also highly corrosive to most metals including aluminum.
00:04:53>> I've got aluminum foil here and sulfuric acid.
00:05:10The fog that's coming off here is actually steam that's being generated as the reaction proceeds.
00:05:19None of the aluminum foil remains.
00:05:26>> Sulfuric acid is also a powerful dehydrator, capable of drawing the moisture out of substances such as sugar.
00:05:35>> What we're seeing here after the sugar has lost its water, all that's left is carbon and it rises out of the beaker as a solid ash.
00:05:45>> If a single drop of sulfuric acid gets on your skin, it will treat you just like it does sugar, by absorbing the skin's moisture, which in turn, generates heat.
00:05:55Not so sweet.
00:06:02In mulberry, florida, the mosaic company produces sulfuric acid on a massive scale.
00:06:08If a drop is dangerous, well, you do the math.
00:06:12>> We produce 35,000 tons a day of sulfuric acid.
00:06:16If we were to put that into perspective, an average automobile weighs about two tons.
00:06:21That would be like 17,000 automobiles parked in the parking lot every day.
00:06:26But sulfuric acid is used in the petroleum industry, bleaching industry, pulp and paper industry.
00:06:33It is used to clean the large vats in beer production so that each batch of beer tastes the same as it did previously.
00:06:43>> Regardless of sulfuric acid's end use, it begins with, well, sulfur, of course.
00:06:51At mosaic, it arrives by railcar.
00:06:54>> Sulfur is a solid state at ambient temperatures.
00:06:58We have to heat it up to approximately 270 degrees fahrenheit.
00:07:04>> Transforming molten sulfur into sulfuric acid starts by spraying it through a sulfur gun that expels it into a furnace.
00:07:14At 2,055 degrees fahrenheit, the sulfur combusts with oxygen to form sulfur dioxide gas.
00:07:22From there, the sulfur dioxide travels to a converter.
00:07:27Combined with oxygen, it passes through a catalyst that gradually converts it into sulfur trioxide.
00:07:34The sulfur trioxide then enters an absorption tower where it's combined with water in a sulfuric acid solution creating addition sulfuric acid.
00:07:44Since the reaction of water and sulfuric acid produces heat, the tower is constantly monitored and controlled.
00:07:54Mosaic circulates 40,000 gallons of cold water per minute to keep the tower operating at a safe and efficient temperature.
00:08:02>> We have a cooling system here behind me.
00:08:05It's referred to as a "cooling tower" and it allows water to evaporate and cool the water, which is then recirculated back to the plant and used to cool the acid.
00:08:19>> After the sulfuric acid is produced, operators wearing acid resistant suits discharge it into trucks.
00:08:29The acid is then distributed to various satellite plants to make fertilizer.
00:08:37Although a powerful corrosive, 5 percent concentration, sulfuric acid is powerless against the stainless steel enclosure of the truck.
00:08:49Whether you're transporting it in an acid resistant metal cage or handling it in a protective acid suit, keeping this corrosive chemical off your body is always a chief concern.
00:09:04But what exactly will acid do to skin and bones?
00:09:08The answer will give you some food for thought.
00:09:26"Acid" will return " ..
00:09:31..
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00:10:44&&Pr [music] >> we now return to "acid" " while an acid's ability to dissolve metal is a simple rule of science, in hollywood, flesh-eating acid is a product of science fiction.
00:13:24So how long does it take for acid to dissolve a body?
00:13:27[Screaming] >> everyone wonders what it would be like to fall into a vat of acid.
00:13:35What I have here is 37 percent hydrochloric acid, which is as concentrated as hydrochloric acid gets.
00:13:42As a stand-in for the body I've got a hot dog and a chicken bone.
00:13:49After six hours, we're starting to see some action.
00:13:54The bone is starting to get rather floppy, and the hot dog has fallen to pieces.
00:14:05After nine hours, the hot dog is nowhere to be found, and the bone is in pretty sad shape.
00:14:17So after nine hours in hydrochloric acid, your body is gonna be completely disintegrated.
00:14:23Fortunately for you, the fumes would've killed you long before that.
00:14:28[Screaming] >> hydrochloric acid, albeit a dilute concentration, is the same acid the stomach makes to dissolve food.
00:14:42It's also the acid that's a key step in making the ubiquitous substance, gelatin; a tasteless protein that puts the "jell" in jell-o.
00:14:52The eastman gelatin corporation located in peabody, massachusetts, has been making gelatin for nearly a century.
00:15:01Getting to the bare bones of the process starts with just that: Bones.
00:15:08>> Each of the rail cars that comes into the plant contains about 200,000 pounds of bone.
00:15:15The bone is being unloaded from a rail car, it goes through a sifter, which has some screens of different sizes, and we move the very fine material we call "bone meal," the larger pieces of bone go into a storage bin.
00:15:30>> Each bin holds roughly 500,000 pounds of bone, leftovers from roughly 41,000 head of cattle.
00:15:37After the bone is stored, it's ready for a lift.
00:15:44An electric crane glides over the bin, scooping up 1,500 pounds of bone and dumping it into a vat.
00:15:59When the vat is filled with 33,000 pounds of bone chips, it's time to bring on the acid.
00:16:10>> We use hydrochloric acid because it reacts very effectively with the bone.
00:16:15The hydrochloric acid is removing the minerals from the bone.
00:16:18The minerals are essentially the concrete in the reinforced concrete.
00:16:22And we're reacting with that, removing the minerals, leaving behind the rebar.
00:16:26The rebar is the protein which we're gonna make the gelatin out of.
00:16:35>> It's a variable process that requires some old-school methods.
00:16:41A stick test helps determine whether the bone is ready for the next step.
00:16:46>> The bone that has been demineralized is not as dense.
00:16:48The stick can push its way down through it.
00:16:51So that's our way of telling how much of the bone has been demineralized.
00:16:58>> After the acid demineralizes the bone, the bone is transferred to a lime bath.
00:17:05Here, lime finishes the job of breaking down the collagen proteins that have been exposed by the hydrochloric acid.
00:17:14The bone is then washed and pumped into an extraction vat for gelatin removal.
00:17:22>> What I'm holding in my hand here is essentially what I call " so we've removed the minerals to get the concrete out of the way, and what we're left with is just the protein.
00:17:33>> The gelatin is extracted in a hot water solution and pumped through an extruder, falling onto a conveyer looking like wet spaghetti noodles.
00:17:46>> What I'm holding in my hand here is 30 percent gelatin and 70 percent water.
00:17:50As soon as you put it in your mouth, it would melt, and it has no flavor at all.
00:17:56>> The gelatin is then cooked until it's bone-dry, cut into granules, boxed, and shipped.
00:18:06From this point on, it can be used in a variety of different products including film emulsions, pharmaceuticals, golf balls, and foods.
00:18:17"Bone" appetite.
00:18:21While gelatin's lack of flavor makes it a valued food additive, acid's sour flavor makes it a prized food ingredient.
00:18:31>> Before me, I have a range of acidic materials that we consume every day.
00:18:35Oranges, which contain citric acid, will have a ph of about 3.8.
00:18:41Ginger ale, which also contains citric acid, has a ph of about three.
00:18:47A cola contains phosphoric acid, and it's gonna be about 2.6.
00:18:52And finally, we have red wine vinegar, which is the most acidic of these materials.
00:18:59And as with all acids, vinegar has a wonderful-- sour taste.
00:19:11>> Vinegar is hardly deemed a refreshing beverage, but americans consume more than six million tons of it a year.
00:19:19One of the oldest and largest commercial manufacturers of vinegar is heinz.
00:19:26Here at the heinz plant in holland, michigan, making vinegar starts with a whole lot of spirits.
00:19:32>> We get grain-source alcohol made only from grain corn, shipped to us in 30,000-gallon rail cars, and it comes in at 190 proof, which is 95 percent alcohol.
00:19:48>> Considering that alcohol is flammable at 100 proof, you might want to choose another spot for a cigarette break.
00:19:56The alcohol is off-loaded into a storage tank and then pumped into a series of 18,000-gallon mash tanks where it's added to water, 5 percent concentration.
00:20:13The next step is adding a mix of nutrients to the mash that will help promote the growth of a little friend that plays a big part in making vinegar: Acetobacter.
00:20:24>> Acetobacter is a microorganism, and the metabolism and growth of that organism is what facilitates the oxidation of alcohol to acetic acid.
00:20:37We must provide the nutrient so that the bacteria have sufficient nutrition to grow.
00:20:46>> With the nutrients mixed, the mash solution is pumped to an acetator where the final ingredient needed to make vinegar is added: Oxygen.
00:20:55Inside the temperature-controlled acetator, a propeller spinning at 3,600 rpms draws in oxygen through a charcoal filter and disperses it throughout the solution.
00:21:07A healthy supply of o2 combined with the nutrients, propagates the growth of acetobacter.
00:21:14After 18 to 22 hours, the acetobacter converts 5 percent alcohol into 13.5 percent acetic acid.
00:21:26After the tank is discharged, it's diluted further to five percent acetic acid.
00:21:32A few flavoring ingredients are added and the acetic solution is bottled as household vinegar.
00:21:38Because vinegar holds an infinite shelf life, it's been a prized food preservative for centuries.
00:21:45But vinegar is only one of a multitude of vinegar-based products made at heinz.
00:21:52Serving as an ingredient, vinegar turns the humble cucumber into a pickle and adds a sour flavor to marinades, salad dressings, and ketchup.
00:22:06While heinz satisfies our appetite for acidic food, this green goo acidic brew has an appetite for metal, and it's about to be unleashed.
00:22:29"Acid" will return " to run your businesses more efficiently, so we've brought in a team of experts to help.
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00:26:37>> We now return to "acid" " it envelops marvels of engineering.
00:26:51Yet, before it embodies its signature sheen, it can appear dudull and porous.
00:26:57But soak it in a corrosive cocktail of strong acid, hit it with a jolt of electricity, and you've got a recipe that'll take the stain right out of steel.
00:27:09The process is called " but while stainless steel is aesthetically pleasing, it's also corrosion-resistant.
00:27:19Making it that way is a process " >> passivation is the definition of removing impurities and making e stainless steel clean, like sterile.
00:27:28However, sterile is defined and only temporary, like a band-aid.
00:27:32It's sterile until you unwrap the package.
00:27:33Passivation is defined as permanently sterile.
00:27:38>> Although just 21 years old, dustin colina owns one of the largest electropolishing companies in the southeast united states; allbright electropolishing.
00:27:49By passivating stainless steel, allbright provides an essential tool for any industry that demands sterilization, even the tattoo industry.
00:27:57>> Right here, we have tattoo tips.
00:27:59It looks dull right now because it's been machined.
00:28:02Electropolishing will make it shiny and clean.
00:28:06>> Electropolishing tips for tattoo guns starts with carefully placing them on a rack of razor-sharp spikes.
00:28:13>> We call this a "ninja tree," and as you can see, we just kind of pinch these together and put smaller parts on here.
00:28:19These are obviously pretty sharp.
00:28:20If you make any sudden movements and you're not aware that it's there, it can hurt you pretty bad.
00:28:27>> Although not as dangerous as working around a 900-gallon tank of concentrated acid, racking tattoo tips is a close second.
00:28:35>> You'll get going pretty fast and the next thing you know, you turn around and you got your elbow stuck to one of these.
00:28:42>> After the tattoo tips are placed on the ninja tree, operators begin the up-and-down procession of electropolishing.
00:28:50>> The first step is what we call " diox cleaner is used to remove the organics from the part: Oils, grease, weld discoloration.
00:29:03Once it's out of that diox cleaner, it goes into our electropolishing baths.
00:29:10>> Stored inside a plastic-lined, 900-gallon tank, is a mixture of sulfuric and phosphoric acid.
00:29:19If you fell into it, it would burn you severely, but it's the key ingredient behind allbright's electropolishing prowess.
00:29:26>> The viscosity is almost the same as milk, but it's actually green.
00:29:29So our rule is, if it's green, don't touch it.
00:29:31Now to demonstrate the concentration of this acid, what I'm gonna do now is pour in a base and show you how violently it reacts.
00:29:48That's some strong -- >> during electropolishing, two copper bars, one holding stainless steel parts and the other holding a series of copper plates, are immersed at opposite ends of the acid tank.
00:30:05A 20-volt dc current passes through the acid, which acts as an electrolyte to distribute electricity through the tank.
00:30:14As electricity flows through the bars, an ionic charge microscopically etches the metal, exposing a layer of chromium in the alloy.
00:30:24The acid reacts with the chromium to form a protective layer of chromium oxide that passivates the stainless steel.
00:30:31>> Here's an example of the tattoo tips that we had before we ran it in the electropolishing.
00:30:36And after the process, you can see the dramatic difference in the shine; the luster of the parts.
00:30:39So not only does it look great, but it has the very important properties of passivation; keeping it clean.
00:30:47>> Allbright houses one of the largest acid tanks in america.
00:30:50And while allbright's acid is green, so is its method of recycling it.
00:30:55>> What we add is a chemical called pro-phx.
00:30:57Now, it may smell like dead fish, but it actually does serve a great purpose.
00:31:01What it does is when we introduce it into our acids of sulfuric and phphoric acids, it actually separates all the metal salts from electropolishing.
00:31:10And what it does is it solidifies those metal salts so that it can be sucked into our filters, then removed, thus, cleaning our acid baths.
00:31:18>> While allbright has found a way to recycle its acid, heraeus metal processing in santa fe springs, california, uses acid to recycle gold, silver, and platinum from spent parts that would otherwise be cast away.
00:31:36>> What we do here at heraeus is hydro metallurgy at its finest, using acids.
00:31:40This plant facility here from various recycling and recovery operations.
00:31:50>> Since the metal retains its purity and value, it can be reused to manufacture more of the same parts from which it was recycled.
00:32:00Most of the precious metal heraeus recovers is platinum.
00:32:03>> The general public would not be aware on how many aspects of their modern life are impacted by platinum in production.
00:32:10Literally, 100 percent of all gasoline and all jet fuel in the world is manufactured using a platinum and, in many cases, a palladium catalyst.
00:32:20>> But recovering those trace amounts of platinum from spent catalysts, equates to searching for a very small needle in a very large haystack.
00:32:28>> Normal average reforming catalyst will contain 3 weight percent of platinum content per pound of actual catalyst.
00:32:37So in this drum, for example, we have approximately 400 pounds OF CATALYST AT A 3/10ths Of a percent platinum content, using today's precious metal value.
00:32:48This drum holds approximately $24,000 worth of platinum.
00:32:57>> Isolating the platinum 7 percent of unwanted material starts with removing oversized debris.
00:33:06After the catalyst is screened, it's fed into a tank of sulfuric acid.
00:33:12>> The sulfuric acid will completely dissolve the aluminous substrate but completely leaves the platinum untouched.
00:33:19The platinum is then a solid at the bottom of the tank.
00:33:22>> The solid is then sent to the general refinery area at heraeus's where the last remaining impurities must be removed.
00:33:30>> It is sort of like solving a mystery.
00:33:32You have to eliminate all the suspects; the chrome, and the nickel, and the other things to make sure that you have a purer product.
00:33:39>> The chemical employed to unravel the mystery is a mixture of strong acids, which forms the only acid cocktail capable of dissolving precious metal; aqua regia.
00:33:52Medieval alchemists believed aqua regia presaged an even more wondrous substance, one that would turn inexpensive metals into gold; the philosopher's stone.
00:34:02The elusive substance is still waiting to be discovered.
00:34:07>> Well, if you mix hydrochloric acid and nitric acid in the right ratio, you will generate aqua regia.
00:34:13And I can show this, for example, with a little bit of copper, which is precious by itself as well, not as precious as platinum, for example, but you can see this when I drop this into hydrochloric acid, there's not a lot of stuff happening here.
00:34:27But as soon as you add the nitric acid, you will see a change.
00:34:35Our goal with this aqua regia to bring everything in solution in order to apply our separation techniques.
00:34:43>> During separation, the pure platinum metal at this stage, looks more like cheese sauce than a precious metal.
00:34:49>> Well, to me, this-- this is beautiful material, it's nice brilliant yellow.
00:34:54What's in this vat right now represents about three million dollars worth of pure platinum.
00:35:00>> In the end, the platinum emerges in the form of a sponge.
00:35:04>> This is platinum sponge.
00:35:06To the average lay person coming across material like this, they would call for the janitor and have it swept up and thrown away.
00:35:13To us, this is platinum and this is worth over $1,250 per ounce in today's market.
00:35:21>> Acid helps heraeus recycle over 62,000 pounds of precious metal a year.
00:35:28But perhaps more importantly, acid helps stabilize the market price of these vital, yet finite materials.
00:35:38While acid's corrosive power makes it a tool of industry, its vapors were once used as a tool of war.
00:35:46And the same acid that wreaked havoc in the trenches of world war i now helps fabricate a myriad of products we can't live without.
00:36:01"Acid" will return wanted to get myself a new cell phone ♪♪
00:36:37♪♪ so I could hear myself as a ringtone ♪♪
00:36:39♪♪ who knew the store would go and check my credit score ♪♪
00:36:42♪♪ now all they let me have is this dinosaur ♪♪
00:36:45♪♪ hello hello hello can anybody hear me?
00:36:45♪♪
00:36:48♪♪ I know I know I know I shoulda gone to ♪♪
00:36:51 ♪♪
00:36:54 coulda got ♪♪
00:36:57♪♪ ♪♪
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00:39:53>> We now return to "acid" " one of acid's most distinctive traits is its ability to dissolve metal.
00:40:08Just ask ripley.
00:40:12But acid's can have a finicky palette when it comes to digesting it.
00:40:16>> Since 1983, american pennies have actually been made out of zinc, which you can see if you file the copper plating away.
00:40:25What I've got here are pennies that are filed away on one side to expose the zinc, while on the other side they remain copper.
00:40:36>> While nitric acid dissolves the entire penny, the hydrochloric acid only absorbs the zinc.
00:40:43>> But in the nitric acid beaker, there's nothing left of the penny.
00:40:48While in the hydrochloric acid, it appears that the penny remains.
00:40:52But this is only the thin copper shell from one side of the penny.
00:40:56The remnant of the penny is paper thin.
00:41:03>> Fotofab, based in chicago, harnesses the largely indiscriminate appetite of ferric chloride acid to etch a wide assortment of metal.
00:41:13From cell phone motherboards to radio frequency shields to ultra-fine filters, acid etched parts typically work behind the scenes.
00:41:23Others are right in front of your face, like your dashboard instrument panel.
00:41:29Etching metal takes some pretty nasty acid, but it starts with making the metal acid-resistant.
00:41:38>> We take the sheets of metal that we've cleaned, laminate them with photoresist, which is a light sensitive acid-resistant polymer.
00:41:46We apply it at 35 pounds per square inch of pressure between two rubber rollers at about 220 degrees fahrenheit, and it bonds very nicely with the metal.
00:41:57>> Coated with a blue translucent polymer, the metal sheet is ready to have its picture taken.
00:42:05An operator lines up the familiar image of a dashboard instrument panel against both sides of the photoresist.
00:42:15Uv light is then exposed onto the film.
00:42:18The light transfers the resist through the transparent areas of the film and onto the metal sheet.
00:42:26>> The film has now been exposed.
00:42:28The next thing we have to do within a very short period of time is develop the image.
00:42:39Now you can see the areas that have been developed away are bare metal.
00:42:44The photoresist is protecting the rest of the sheet from the acid.
00:42:50>> And that bare metal will serve as a snack for ferric chloride acid.
00:42:55The sheet is placed onto a conveyor belt which carries it into a hermetically sealed acid etching machine.
00:43:04As the sheet enters the machine, a pair of 220 horsepower motors pump acid from a 300-gallon reservoir through a series of nozzles housed on a spray manifold.
00:43:16The acid exits the nozzles at 60 pounds per square inch, gradually eating through the unprotected areas on the sheet.
00:43:25After etching, the photoresist is removed and a sparkling new instrument panel is ready for your dashboard.
00:43:37Whether etching an instrument panel or your favorite tv show's logo, the chlorine and ferric chloride acid gradually loses its potency.
00:43:49To extend its use, fotofab spikes it with hydrochloric acid, " >> muriatic acid by itself in the form that we buy it is extremely hazardous.
00:44:00It will do a very good job of dissolving your skin and do a lot of permanent injury to people.
00:44:06Anyone doing the transfer does have to wear a full respirator, full face shield, and full gloves and apron just because the stuff is so nasty.
00:44:19>> During world war i, soldiers learned first hand about the dangers of inhaling hydrochloric acid fumes.
00:44:28>> The battlefield gases of world war i, mustard gas and phosgene gas turn into hydrochloric acid in the mucus membranes and the linings of the lung.
00:44:39The lungs respond by trying to dilute that acid to protect the tissues, but in doing so, the lung fills up with fluid and very shortly, the soldier's unable to breathe.
00:44:56>> In the acid etching process both hydrochloric and ferric acid fumes are removed and cleaned before being discharged into the atmosphere.
00:45:07Although it carries inherent dangers, acid's unmatched precision makes it a necessary evil in manufacturing components that make up our fabricated world.
00:45:19While acid fumes can wreak havoc on your eyes and lungs, these steaming acid pools are a tourist attraction.
00:45:28Within these acidic bubbling springs, scientists have discovered mysterious life forms that could revolutionize future technology.
00:45:48"Acid" will return " deal maps, ..
00:45:56Their story begins to fall apart.
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00:48:27..
00:48:31To apologize.
00:48:34The system has failed you.
00:48:37I have failed you.
00:48:39I have failed to help you share your talent with theorld when the world needs talent more than ever.
00:48:43..
00:48:46By an educational system steeped in tradition and old ideas.
00:48:51Well, it's time for a new tradition.
00:48:53It's time to realize talent isn't just in schools like this one, it's everywhere.
00:48:59It's time to use technology to rewrite the rules of education, to learn how you learn so we can teach you better.
00:49:05It's time the university adapted to you, rather than you adapting to it.
00:49:10It's time--time--time for a different--different kind of university.
00:49:16It's your time.
00:49:45>> We now return to "acid" " steam rises.
00:49:56Pools of acid bubble and erupt.
00:50:00This desolate area may be one of the most inhospitable places on the planet.
00:50:06But this rare vestige of primordial earth is a tourist attraction.
00:50:11We call it yellowstone national park.
00:50:14Within these brilliantly colored acid pools reside potential workhorses of industry.
00:50:21Yellowstone's acid pools lie above a magma chamber.
00:50:27When water percolates through the ground, it mixes with volcanic rock deposits, becoming acic.
00:50:34The magma heats the water, which rises back up, forming acidic pools, streams, and geysers.
00:50:44Some of acidic hot springs here impart and allure that masks their danger.
00:50:49More people have died in yellowstone due to thermal pools than from bear attacks.
00:50:54>> This particular pool looks very inviting, looks very much like a spa, but in reality it's high temperature, it's acidic, and this is not something that you're gonna want to jump into.
00:51:08>> While yellowstone's thermal pools will destroy the cells of most living creatures, they're not completely void of life.
00:51:16Residing in their scorching acidic waters are colonies of microbes " scientists brave the dangerous waters to study these ancient life forms.
00:51:28>> The gloves are a basic safety precaution because we don't know what the ph and the temperature of the water could be so it could be potentially hazardous to your skin.
00:51:39And for temperature, we read about 45 degrees celsius and ph of about 2.7.
00:51:49>> That's roughly 100 times too acidic for fish to survive.
00:51:54>> What you see here is a mat of an alga; that's a eukaryotic alga, and it's called "cyanidium," and it's uniquely adapted to the acidic high-temperature regions of this particular spring.
00:52:06No other photosynthetic organism is able to compete and survive in those conditions.
00:52:13>> Thermoacidophiles like cyanidium survive in these extreme conditions by generating special enzymes that protect their cells from decaying in the super heated acidic water.
00:52:26The discovery of these unique enzymes has ensured that thermoacidophiles won't be written off as simply scientific curiosities.
00:52:35>> If a microorganism can live at a very high temperature or very low ph, then it's not a large leap to believe that it's making enzymes that can also survive under those conditions, and those same enzymes may have application in industrial processes.
00:52:52>> Yellowstone is only one of several thermoacidophile hotspots.
00:52:58So-called "bioprospectors" search for specialized thermoacidophile enzymes in some of the most remote places on earth.
00:53:06>> Among the places we've looked for new enzymes is in the microorganisms that live at the bottom of the deep ocean.
00:53:14In that location, you have hot sulfurous gases, hydrogen sulfide belching through fissures in the earth's crust generating temperatures up to 250 fahrenheit.
00:53:26>> Living in near boiling acid, hyperthermophiles produce an enzyme that's being synthesized to produce clean burning ethanol fuel from corn.
00:53:36>> It works on the starch molecule to break it down into smaller fragments, and the conditions under which the starch liquefaction is carried out are characteristically high temperature and low ph.
00:53:49>> While thermoacidophile enzymes may one day help pioneer a biological industrial revolution, their existence also raises questions about other extreme environments where life may exist, both here on earth and throughout the solar system.
00:54:09From the steaming pools of yellowstone to the industrial processes that mold our world, acid is perhaps the most ubiquitous chemical on the planet.
00:54:19By taming its dangers, mankind harnesses its gifts.
00:54:23Not bad for a substance that leaves a sour taste in your mouth.
00:54:27>> Ah, crap.
00:54:28>> Now you got to drink it again.
00:54:29>> I know.
00:54:30Captioning performed bypeoplesupport transcription & captioning >> NARRATOR: Mechanical beasts that prevent floods, deepen waterways and build beaches.
00:54:41They cut, scoop, suck and spew an ocean of mud, silt and sand.
00:54:49These serpents of slurry are conjuring up new real estate and changing the map of our world.
00:54:55Now, "Dredging" onModern Marvels.
00:54:59Captioning sponsored by A&e television networks Dredging can be defined as "the underwater excavation of soil or rock." Pretty simple... though getting the job done is anything but.
00:55:28Dredges can make sand rain from the sky, clear mud from the biggest of rivers.
00:55:34They can cross continents and transform underwater mountains of silt into lush wildlife habitat.
00:55:41Dredging can compress centuries of geologic evolution into an almost routine construction project.
00:55:49Dredges come in two basic types.
00:55:52Mechanical dredges scoop material from the water with some type of container, while hydraulic dredges act like giant vacuum cleaners, sucking a mixture of sand, rock and water from the river, lake or ocean bottom.
00:56:09Today's global economy relies on mammoth-sized vessels to move the world's cargo.
00:56:14Big ships need big water, and that means dredging... big time.
00:56:21The basic unit of domestic and international shipping is the steel container.
00:56:26These 40-foot-long boxes are filled with everything from sneakers to Subarus and then piled on top of monster-sized ships.
00:56:36>> ROBERT E. RANDALL: What we're finding is is that many of the vessels that carry the commodities-- oil, food, grain-- these type of vessels-- the economics for the shippers tells them to get larger, tells them to get deeper draft.
00:56:53>> NARRATOR: "Draft" is the depth of a ship below the water's surface.
00:56:57Modern harbors are in a constant scramble to keep their waterways deep enough for the drafts of modern container ships.
00:57:05>> STEVE DORRLER: This channel right now is at 45 feet deep, and based on the, uh, tremendous import business that the United States does, it's a lot less expensive for the products to come via, uh, larger container ships.
00:57:21deeper draft.
00:57:24>> NARRATOR: In May 2005, the ports of New York and New Jersey began a joint ten-year, $1.6- billion dollar project to deepen the main shipping channels into the harbor to 50 feet.
00:57:38: This particular deepening project is one of the top two, uh, civil works projects in the nation.
00:57:46One-third of the nation is touched by the commerce that comes through this port.
00:57:53>> NARRATOR: In the Kill Van Kull section of the harbor, an array of dynamite charges is used to loosen the hard rock below the surface.
00:58:03>> DORRLER: That fractures all of the rock into maybe football- size, basketball-size chunks, and then a backhoe goes in and, uh, lifts that material out.
00:58:15>> NARRATOR: But the largest backhoe dredge in the world, named theNew York,don't need no stinkin' dynamite.
00:58:22>> CHRIS GUNSTEN: We're able to dig rock that other machines would ne to have blasted in order for them to dig it.
00:58:28You see the bucket behind me.
00:58:29It's got the ability to cut into a sheer face of rock and, depending on the strength of that rock, actually break it as it goes along, thereby getting rid of the need to have to do the blasting.
00:58:40>> TONY ALANIZ: This bucket can pick up up to 26 yards, and once we got the whole load, the boom, the stick, the bucket and the material, we're picking up,
00:00:02It then falls into a collection bin looking more like peanut brittle minus the peanuts, than a deadly explosive.
00:00:14>> It can be impact sensitive, but that would mean taking a hammer and putting it on a rock and hitting it with a hammer, that would be dangerous.
00:00:21But the way we handle it, it is very stable product.
00:00:27>> In addition to composition b-4, holston also produces c-4; a general purpose explosive strong enough to blast through a steel door.
00:00:37>> What we're gonna be demonstrating today is about 70 grams of our product.
00:00:43>> The c-4 is packed inside a 16-ounce cup and placed on top of a one quarter-inch thick steel plate.
00:00:50>> Fire in the hole.
00:00:53And this is the demonstration with a quarter-inch bullet plate steel after 70 grams of material.
00:01:02>> A closer look reveals that the force of the explosion imprinted the number "16" from the cup onto the steel plate.
00:01:15In nearly every explosive cocktail, most of it goes toward the production of ammonium nitrate fertilizer.
00:01:24 makes two-and-a-half million tons every year.
00:01:28But even in fertilizer, nitric acid's explosive potential never stays dormant.
00:01:33>> Ammonium nitrate is a popular fertilizer, but it can also be used as an oxidizer for explosives.
00:01:40In that case, it has to be mixed with a fuel, in this case, powdered zinc.
00:01:46Just a little bit of water will get it started.
00:01:51>> A simple drop of water starts a chemical reaction that ignites the mixture.
00:02:02In 1947, nitric acid's volatility triggered disaster.
00:02:08It happened in texas city, texas.
00:02:13The port city was nearly leveled when a freighter packed with ammonium nitrate fertilizer exploded.
00:02:20>> In those days, it was unknown what a violent explosive ammonium nitrate could be.
00:02:25And so in the same cargo ship, they had shipments of small arm ammunition and other flammable materials.
00:02:34Small arms ammunition went off in a fire, which then detonated ammonium nitrate to catastrophic results.
00:02:45>> 581 People were killed and another 5,000 were injured.
00:02:55The texas city disaster is considered the worst industrial accident in the history of the united states.
00:03:05Although nitric acid is a powerful chemical, there's another acid that's even stronger; sulfuric acid.
00:03:14Roughly 40 million tons is produced a year, making it the leading chemical manufactured in the united states.
00:03:21>> Sulfuric acid is used in such a wide variety of industrial applications that often, a country's productivity can be measured in terms of the tons of sulfuric acid produced each year.
00:03:35>> Sulfuric acid is classified as a strong acid because it contains a high concenttion of hydrogen ions.
00:03:44The ph scale measures the strength of an acid.
00:03:47Water, which is a neutral liquid, has a ph of seven.
00:03:52A ph with a number greater than seven is a base, while a ph with a number less than seven is an acid.
00:03:59Each number less than neutral contains 10 times the hydrogen ions of the next greater number.
00:04:05Therefore, concentrated sulfuric acid, which has a ph of one is 100,000 times more acidic than saliva, which has a ph of six.
00:04:15As with all strong acids, when sulfuric acid generating heat.
00:04:24>> The heat from the dissociation is being absorbed by a relatively small amount of water and the solution is getting so hot that it actually melts the plastic cup as well as the dropper, and this is why you don't want to add water to acid.
00:04:44>> Besides being a strong acid, sulfuric acid is also highly corrosive to most metals including aluminum.
00:04:54>> I've got aluminum foil here and sulfuric acid.
00:05:11The fog that's coming off here is actually steam that's being generated as the reaction proceeds.
00:05:20None of the aluminum foil remains.
00:05:27>> Sulfuric acid is also a powerful dehydrator, capable of drawing the moisture out of substances such as sugar.
00:05:36>> What we're seeing here after the sugar has lost its water, all that's left is carbon and it rises out of the beaker as a solid ash.
00:05:46>> If a single drop of sulfuric acid gets on your skin, it will treat you just like it does sugar, by absorbing the skin's moisture, which in turn, generates heat.
00:05:56Not so sweet.
00:06:03In mulberry, florida, the mosaic company produces sulfuric acid on a massive scale.
00:06:09If a drop is dangerous, well, you do the math.
00:06:13>> We produce 35,000 tons a day of sulfuric acid.
00:06:17If we were to put that into perspective, an average automobile weighs about two tons.
00:06:22That would be like 17,000 automobiles parked in the parking lot every day.
00:06:27But sulfuric acid is used in the petroleum industry, bleaching industry, pulp and paper industry.
00:06:34It is used to clean the large vats in beer production so that each batch of beer tastes the same as it did previously.
00:06:44>> Regardless of sulfuric acid's end use, it begins with, well, sulfur, of course.
00:06:52At mosaic, it arrives by railcar.
00:06:55>> Sulfur is a solid state at ambient temperatures.
00:06:59We have to heat it up to approximately 270 degrees fahrenheit.
00:07:05>> Transforming molten sulfur into sulfuric acid starts by spraying it through a sulfur gun that expels it into a furnace.
00:07:15At 2,055 degrees fahrenheit, the sulfur combusts with oxygen to form sulfur dioxide gas.
00:07:23From there, the sulfur dioxide travels to a converter.
00:07:28Combined with oxygen, it passes through a catalyst that gradually converts it into sulfur trioxide.
00:07:35The sulfur trioxide then enters an absorption tower where it's combined with water in a sulfuric acid solution creating addition sulfuric acid.
00:07:45Since the reaction of water and sulfuric acid produces heat, the tower is constantly monitored and controlled.
00:07:55Mosaic circulates 40,000 gallons of cold water per minute to keep the tower operating at a safe and efficient temperature.
00:08:03>> We have a cooling system here behind me.
00:08:06It's referred to as a "cooling tower" and it allows water to evaporate and cool the water, which is then recirculated back to the plant and used to cool the acid.
00:08:20>> After the sulfuric acid is produced, operators wearing acid resistant suits discharge it into trucks.
00:08:30The acid is then distributed to various satellite plants to make fertilizer.
00:08:38Although a powerful corrosive, 5 percent concentration, sulfuric acid is powerless against the stainless steel enclosure of the truck.
00:08:50Whether you're transporting it in an acid resistant metal cage or handling it in a protective acid suit, keeping this corrosive chemical off your body is always a chief concern.
00:09:05But what exactly will acid do to skin and bones?
00:09:09The answer will give you some food for thought.
00:09:27"Acid" will return " ..
00:09:32..
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00:09:37That she sold to me to make my menu more organic.
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00:10:508 @ [music] >> we now return to "acid" " while an acid's ability to dissolve metal is a simple rule of science, in hollywood, flesh-eating acid is a product of science fiction.
00:13:25So how long does it take for acid to dissolve a body?
00:13:28[Screaming] >> everyone wonders what it would be like to fall into a vat of acid.
00:13:36What I have here is 37 percent hydrochloric acid, which is as concentrated as hydrochloric acid gets.
00:13:44As a standn for the body I've got a hot dog and a chicken bone.
00:13:50After six hours, we're starting to see some action.
00:13:55The bone is starting to get rather floppy, and the hot dog has fallen to pieces.
00:14:06After nine hours, the hot dog is nowhere to be found, and thbone is in pretty sad shape.
00:14:18So after nine hours in hydrochloric acid, your body is gonna be completely disintegrated.
00:14:24Fortunately for you, the fumes would've killed you long before that.
00:14:29[Screaming] >> hydrochloric acid, albeit a dilute concentration, is the same acid the stomach makes to dissolve food.
00:14:43It's also the acid that's a key step in making the ubiquitous substance, gelatin; a tasteless protein that puts the "jell" in jell-o.
00:14:53The eastman gelatin corporation located in peabody, massachusetts, has been making gelatin for nearly a century.
00:15:02Getting to the bare bones of the process starts with just that: Bones.
00:15:09>> Each of the rail cars that comes into the plant contains about 200,000 pounds of bone.
00:15:16The bone is being unloaded from a rail car, it goes through a sifter, which has some screens of different sizes, and we move the very fine material we call "bone meal," the larger pieces of bone go into a storage bin.
00:15:31>> Each bin holds roughly 500,000 pounds of bone, it's ready for a lift.
00:15:45An electric crane glides over the bin, scooping up 1,500 pounds of bone and dumping it into a vat.
00:16:00Is filled with 33,000 pounds of bone chips, it's time to bring on the acid.
00:16:11>> We use hydrochloric acid because it reacts very effectively with the bone.
00:16:16The hydrochloric acid is removing the minerals from the bone.
00:16:19The minerals are essentially the concrete in the reinforced concrete.
00:16:23And we're reacting with that, removing the minerals, leaving behind the rebar.
00:16:27The rebar is the protein which we're gonna make the gelatin out of.
00:16:36>> It's a variable process that requires some old-school methods.
00:16:42A stick test helps determine whether the bone is ready for the next step.
00:16:47>> The bone that has been demineralized is not as dense.
00:16:49The stick can push its way down through it.
00:16:52So that's our way of telling how much of the bone has been demineralized.
00:16:59>> After the acid demineralizes the bone, the bone is transferred to a lime bath.
00:17:06Here, lime finishes the job of breaking down the collagen proteins that he been exposed by the hydrochloric acid.
00:17:15The bone is then washed and pumped into an extraction vat for gelatin removal.
00:17:23>> What I'm holding in my hand here is essentially what I call " so we've removed the minerals to get the concrete out of the way, and what we're left with is just the protein.
00:17:34>> The gelatin is extracted in a hot water solution and pumped through an extruder, falling onto a conveyer looking like wet spaghetti noodles.
00:17:47>> What I'm holding in my hand here is 30 percent gelatin and 70 percent water.
00:17:51As soon as you put it in your mouth, it would melt, and it has no flavor at all.
00:17:57>> The gelatin is then cooked until it's bone-dry, cut into granules, boxed, and shipped.
00:18:07From this point on, it can be used in a variety of different products including film emulsions, pharmaceuticals, golf balls, and foods.
00:18:18"Bone" appetite.
00:18:22While gelatin's lack of flavor makes it a valued food additive, acid's sour flavor makes it a prized food ingredient.
00:18:32>> Before me, I have a range of acidic materials that we consume every day.
00:18:36Oranges, which contain citric acid, will have a ph of about 3.8.
00:18:42Ginger ale, which also contains citric acid, has a ph of about three.
00:18:48A cola contains phosphoric acid, and it's gonna be about 2.6.
00:18:54And finally, we have red wine vinegar, which is the most acidic of these materials.
00:19:00And as with all acids, vinegar haa wonderful-- sour taste.
00:19:12>> Vinegar is hardly deemed a refreshing beverage, but americans consume more than six million tons of it a year.
00:19:20One of the oldest and largest commercial manufacturers of vinegar is heinz.
00:19:27Here at the heinz plant in holland, michigan, making vinegar starts with a whole lot of spirits.
00:19:33>> We get grain-source alcohol made only from grain corn, shipped to us in 30,000-gallon rail cars, and it comes in at 190 proof, which is 95 percent alcohol.
00:19:49>> Considering that alcohol is flammable at 100 proof, you might want to choose another spot for a cigarette break.
00:19:57The alcohol is off-loaded into a storage tank and then pumped into a series of 18,000-gallon mash tanks where it's added to water, 5 percent concentration.
00:20:14The next step is adding a mix of nutrients to the mash that will help promote the growth of a little friend that plays a big part in making vinegar: Acetobacter.
00:20:25>> Acetobacter is a microorganism, and the metabolism and growth of that organism is what facilitates the oxidation of alcohol to acetic acid.
00:20:38We must provide the nutrient so that the bacteria have sufficient nutrition to grow.
00:20:46>> With the nutrients mixed, the mash solution is pumped to an acetator where the final ingredient needed to make vinegar is added: Oxygen.
00:20:56Inside the temperature-controlled acetator, a propeller spinning at 3,600 rpms draws in oxygen through a charcoal filter and disperses it throughout the solution.
00:21:08A healthy supply of o2 combined with the nutrients, propagates the growth of acetobacter.
00:21:15After 18 to 22 hours, the acetobacter converts 5 percent alcohol into 13.5 percent acetic acid.
00:21:27After the tank is discharged, it's diluted further to five percent acetic acid.
00:21:33A few flavoring ingredients are added and the acetic solution is bottled as household vinegar.
00:21:39Because vinegar holds an infinite shelf life, it's been a prized food preservative for centuries.
00:21:46But vinegar is only one of a multitude of vinegar-based products made at heinz.
00:21:53Serving as an ingredient, vinegar turns the humble cucumber into a pickle and adds a sour flavor to marinades, salad dressings, and ketchup.
00:22:07While heinz satisfies our appetite for acidic food, this green goo acidic brew has an appetite for metal, and it's about to be unleashed.
00:22:30"Acid" will return " to run your businesses more efficiently, so we've brought in a team of experts to help.
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00:26:38>> We now return to "acid" " it envelops marvels of engineering.
00:26:52Yet, before it embodies its signature sheen, it can appear dull and porous.
00:26:58But soak it in a corrosive cocktail of strong acid, hit it with a jolt of electricity, and you've got a recipe that'll take the stain right out of steel.
00:27:10The process is called " but while stainless steel is aesthetically pleasing, it's also corrosion-resistant.
00:27:20Making it that way is a process " >> passivation is the definition of removing impurities and making the stainless steel clean, like sterile.
00:27:29However, sterile is defined and only temporary, like a band-aid.
00:27:33It's sterile until you unwrap the package.
00:27:34Passivation is defined as permanently sterile.
00:27:39>> Although just 21 years old, dustin colina owns one of the largest electropolishing companies in the southeast united states; allbright electropolishing.
00:27:50By passivating stainless steel, allbright provides an essential tool for any industry that demands sterilization, even the tattoo industry.
00:27:58>> Right here, we have tattoo tips.
00:28:00It looks dull right now because it's been machined.
00:28:02Electropolishing will make it shiny and clean.
00:28:07>> Electropolishing tips for tattoo guns starts with carefully placing them on a rack of razor-sharp spikes.
00:28:14>> We call this a "ninja tree," and as you can see, we just kind of pinch these together and put smaller parts on here.
00:28:20These are obviously pretty sharp.
00:28:21If you make any sudden movements and you're not aware that it's there, it can hurt you pretty bad.
00:28:28>> Although not as dangerous as working around a 900-gallon tank of concentrated acid, racking tattoo tips is a close second.
00:28:36>> You'll get going pretty fast and the next thing you know, you turn around and you got your elbow stuck to one of these.
00:28:43>> After the tattoo tips are placed on the ninja tree, operators begin the up-and-down procession of electropolishing.
00:28:51>> The first step is what we call " diox cleaner is used to remove the organics from the part: Oils, grease, weld discoloration.
00:29:04Once it's out of that diox cleaner, it goes into our electropolishing baths.
00:29:11>> Stored inside a plastic-lined, 900-gallon tank, is a mixture of sulfuric and phosphoric acid.
00:29:20If you fell into it, it would burn you severely, but it's the key ingredient behind allbright's electropolishing prowess.
00:29:27>> The viscosity is almost the same as milk, but it's actually green.
00:29:30So our rule is, if it's green, don't touch it.
00:29:32Now to demonstrate the concentration of this acid, what I'm gonna do now is pour in a base and show you how violently it reacts.
00:29:49That's some strong -- >> during electropolishing, two copper bars, one holding stainless steel parts and the other holding a series of copper plates, are immersed at opposite ends of the acid tank.
00:30:06A 20-volt dc current passes through the acid, which acts as an electrolyte to distribute electricity through the tank.
00:30:15As electricity flows through the bars, an ionic charge microscopically etches the metal, exposing a layer of chromium in the alloy.
00:30:25The acid reacts with the chromium to form a protective layer of chromium oxide passivates the stainless steel.
00:30:32>> Here's an example of the tattoo tips that we had before we ran it in the electropolishing.
00:30:37And after the process, you can see the dramatic difference in the shine; the luster of the parts.
00:30:40So not only does it look great, but it has the very important properties of passivation; keeping it clean.
00:30:48>> Allbright houses one of the largest acid tanks in america.
00:30:51And while allbright's acid is green, so is its method of recycling it.
00:30:56>> What we add is a chemical called pro-phx.
00:30:58Now, it may smell like dead fish, but it actually does serve a great purpose.
00:31:02What it does is when we introduce it into our acids of sulfuric and phosphoric acids, it actually separates all the metal salts from electropolishing.
00:31:11And what it does is it solidifies those metal salts so that it can be sucked into our filters, then removed, thus, cleaning our acid baths.
00:31:19>> While allbright has found a way to recycle its acid, heraeus metal processing in santa fe springs, california, uses acid to recycle gold, silver, and platinum from spent parts that would otherwise be cast away.
00:31:37>> What we do here at heraeus is hydro metallurgy at its finest, using acids.
00:31:41This plant facility here will produce over one million troy ounces per year, precious metals from various recycling and recovery operations.
00:31:51>> Since the metal retains its purity and value, it can be reused to manufacture more of the same parts from which it was recycled.
00:32:01Most of the precious metal heraeus recovers is platinum.
00:32:04>> The general public would not be aware on how many aspects of their modern life are impacted by platinum in production.
00:32:11Literally, 100 percent of all gasoline and all jet fuel in the world is manufactured using a platinum and, in many cases, a palladium catalyst.
00:32:21>> But recovering those trace amounts of platinum from spent catalysts, equates to searching for a very small needle in a very large haystack.
00:32:29>> Normal average reforming catalyst will contain 3 weight percent of platinum content per pound of actual catalyst.
00:32:38So in this drum, for example, we have approximately 400 pounds OF CATALYST AT A 3/10ths Of a percent platinum content, using today's precious metal value.
00:32:49This drum holds approximately $24,000 worth of platinum.
00:32:58>> Isolating the platinum 7 percent of unwanted material starts with removing oversized debris.
00:33:07After the catalyst is screened, it's fed into a tank of sulfuric acid.
00:33:13>> The sulfuric acid will completely dissolve the aluminous substrate but completely leaves the platinum untouched.
00:33:20The platinum is then a solid at the bottom of the tank.
00:33:23>> The solid is then sent to the general refinery area at heraeus's where the last remaining impurities must be removed.
00:33:31>> It is sort of like solving a mystery.
00:33:33You have to eliminate all the suspects; the chrome, and the nickel, and the other things to make sure that you have a purer product.
00:33:40>> The chemical employed to unravel the mystery is a mixture of strong acids, which forms the only acid cocktail capable of dissolving precious metal; aqua regia.
00:33:53Medieval alchemists believed aqua regia presaged an even more wondrous substance, one that would turn inexpensive metals into gold; the philosopher's stone.
00:34:03The elusive substance is still waiting to be discovered.
00:34:08>> Well, if you mix hydrochloric acid and nitric acid in the right ratio, you will generate aqua regia.
00:34:14And I can show this, for example, with a little bit of copper, which is precious by itself as well, not as precious as platinum, for example, but you can see this when I drop this into hydrochloric acid, there's not a lot of stuff happening here.
00:34:28But as soon as you add the nitric acid, you will see a change.
00:34:36Our goal with this aqua regia to bring everything in solution in order to apply our separation techniques.
00:34:44>> During separation, the pure platinum metal at this stage, looks more like cheese sauce than a precious metal.
00:34:50>> Well, to me, this-- this is beautiful material, it's nice brilliant yellow.
00:34:55What's in this vat right now represents about three million dollars worth of pure platinum.
00:35:01>> In the end, the platinum emerges in the form of a sponge.
00:35:05>> This is platinum sponge.
00:35:07To the average lay person coming across material like this, they would call for the janitor and have it swept up and thrown away.
00:35:14To us, this is platinum and this is worth over $1,250 per ounce in today's market.
00:35:22>> Acid helps heraeus recycle over 62,000 pounds of precious metal a year.
00:35:29But perhaps more importantly, acid helps stabilize the market price of these vital, yet finite materials.
00:35:39While acid's corrosive power makes it a tool of industry, its vapors were once used as a tool of war.
00:35:47And the same acid that wreaked havoc in the trenches of world war i now helps fabricate a myriad of products we can't live without.
00:36:02"Acid" will return wanted to get myself a new cell phone ♪♪
00:36:38♪♪ so I could hear myself as a ringtone ♪♪
00:36:40♪♪ who knew the store would go and check my credit score ♪♪
00:36:43♪♪ now all they let me have is this dinosaur ♪♪
00:36:46♪♪ hello hello hello can anybody hear me?
00:36:46♪♪
00:36:49♪♪ I know I know I know I shoulda gone to ♪♪
00:36:52 ♪♪
00:36:55 coulda got ♪♪
00:36:58♪♪ ♪♪
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00:39:54>> We now return to "acid" " one of acid's most distinctive traits is its ability to dissolve metal.
00:40:09Just ask ripley.
00:40:13But acid's can have a finicky palette when it comes to digesting it.
00:40:17>> Since 1983, american pennies have actually been made out of zinc, which you can see if you file the copper plating away.
00:40:26What I've got here are pennies thatre filed away on one side to expose the zinc, while on the other side they remain copper.
00:40:37>> While nitric acid dissolves the entire penny, the hydrochloric acid only absorbs the zinc.
00:40:44>> But in the nitric acid beaker, there's nothing left of the penny.
00:40:49While in the hydrochloric acid, it appears that the penny remains.
00:40:53But this is only the thin copper shell from one side of the penny.
00:40:57The remnant of the penny is paper thin.
00:41:04>> Fotofab, based in chicago, haesses the largely indiscriminate appetite of ferric chloride acid to etch a wide assortment of metal.
00:41:14From cell phone motherboards to radio frequency shields to ultra-fine filters, acid etched parts typically work behind the scenes.
00:41:24Others are right in front of your face, like your dashboard instrument panel.
00:41:30Etching metal takes some pretty nasty acid, but it starts with making the metal acid-resistant.
00:41:39>> We take the sheets of metal that we've cleaned, laminate them with photoresist, which is a light sensitive acid-resistant polymer.
00:41:47We apply it at 35 pounds per square inch of pressure between two rubber rollers at about 220 degrees fahrenheit, and it bonds very nicely with the metal.
00:41:58>> Coated with a blue translucent polymer, the metal sheet is ready to have its picture taken.
00:42:06An operator lines up the familiar image of a dashboard instrument panel against both sides of the photoresist.
00:42:16Uv light is then exposed onto the film.
00:42:19The light transfers the resist through the transparent areas of the film and onto the metal sheet.
00:42:27>> The film has now been exposed.
00:42:29The next thing we have to do within a very short period of time is develop the image.
00:42:40Now you can see the areas that have been developed away are bare metal.
00:42:45The photoresist is protecting the rest of the sheet from the acid.
00:42:51>> And that bare metal will serve as a snack for ferric chloride acid.
00:42:56The sheet is placed onto a conveyor belt which carries it into a hermetically sealed acid etching machine.
00:43:05As the sheet enters the machine, a pair of 220 horsepower motors pump acid from a 300-gallon reservoir through a series of nozzles housed on a spray manifold.
00:43:17The acid exits the nozzles at 60 pounds per square inch, gradually eating through the unprotected areas on the sheet.
00:43:26After etching, the photoresist is removed and a sparkling new instrument panel is ready for your dashboard.
00:43:38Whether etching an instrument panel or your favorite tv show's logo, the chlorine and ferric chloride acid gradually loses its potency.
00:43:50To extend its use, fotofab spikes it with hydrochloric acid, " >> muriatic acid by itself in the form that we buy it is extremely hazardous.
00:44:01It will do aery good job of dissolving your skin and do a lot of permanent injury to people.
00:44:07Anyone doi the transfer does have to wear a full respirator, full face shield, and full gloves and apron just because the stuff is so nasty.
00:44:20>> During world war i, soldiers learned first hand about the dangers of inhaling hydrochloric acid fumes.
00:44:29>> The battlefield gases of world war i, mustard gas and phosgene gas turn into hydrochloric acid in the mucus membranes and the linings of the lung.
00:44:40The lungs respond by trying to dute that acid to protect the tissues, but in doing so, the lung fills up with fluid and very shortly, the soldier's unable to breathe.
00:44:57>> In the acid etching process, both hydrochloric and ferric acid fumes are removed and cleaned before being discharged into the atmosphere.
00:45:08Although it carries inherent dangers, acid's unmatched precision makes it a necessary evil in manufacturing components that make up our fabricated world.
00:45:20While acid fumes can wreak havoc on your eyes and lungs, these steaming acid pools are a tourist attraction.
00:45:29Within these acidic bubbling springs, scientists have discovered mysterious life forms that could revolutionize future technology.
00:45:49"Acid" will return " deal maps, ..
00:45:57Their story begins to fall apart.
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00:48:28..
00:48:31To apologize.
00:48:35The system has failed you.
00:48:38I have failed you.
00:48:40I have failed to help you share your talent with the world when the world needs talent more than ever.
00:48:44..
00:48:47By an educational system steeped in tradition and old ideas.
00:48:52Well, it'time for a new tradition.
00:48:54It's time to realize talent isn't just in schools like this one, it's everywhere.
00:49:00It's time to use technology to rewrite the rules of education, to learn how you learn so we can teach you better.
00:49:06It's time the university adapted to you, rather than you adapting to it.
00:49:11It's time--time--time for a different--different kind of university.
00:49:17It's your time.
00:49:46>> We now return to "acid" " steam rises.
00:49:57Pools of acid bubble and erupt.
00:50:01This desolate area may be one of the most inhospitable places on the planet.
00:50:07But this rare vestige of primordial earth is a tourist attraction.
00:50:12We call it yellowstone national park.
00:50:15Within these brilliantly colored acid pools reside potential workhorses of industry.
00:50:22Yellowstone's acid pools lie above a magma chamber.
00:50:28When water percolates through the ground, it mixes with volcanic rock deposits, becoming acidic.
00:50:35The magma heats the water, which rises back up, forming acidic pools, streams, and geysers.
00:50:45Some of acidic hot springs here impart and allure that masks their danger.
00:50:50More people have died in yellowstone due to thermal pools than from bear attacks.
00:50:55>> This particular pool looks very inviting, looks very much like a spa, but in reality it's high temperature, it's acidic, and this is not something that you're gonna want to jump into.
00:51:09>> While yellowstone's thermal pools will destroy the cells of most living creatures, they're not completely void of le.
00:51:17Residing in their scorching acidic waters are colonies of microbes " scientists brave the dangerous waters to study these ancient life forms.
00:51:29>> The gloves are a basic safety precaution because we don't know what the ph and the temperature of the water could be so it could be potentially hazardous to your skin.
00:51:40And for temperature, we read about 45 degrees celsius and ph of about 2.7.
00:51:50>> That's roughly 100 times too acidic for fish to survive.
00:51:55>> What you see here is a mat of an alga; that's a eukaryotic alga, and it's called "cyanidium," and it's uniquely adapted to the acidic high-temperature regions of this particular spring.
00:52:07No other photosynthetic organism is able to compete and survive in those conditions.
00:52:14>> Thermoacidophiles like cyanidium survive in these extreme conditions by generating special enzymes that protect their cells from decaying in the super heated acidic water.
00:52:27The discovery of these unique enzymes has ensured that thermoacidophiles won't be written off as simply scientific curiosities.
00:52:36>> If a microorganism can live at a very high temperature or very low ph, then it's not a large leap to believe that it's making enzymes that can also survive under those conditions, and those same enzymes may have application in industrial processes.
00:52:53>> Yellowstone is only one of several thermoacidophile hotspots.
00:52:59So-called "bioprospectors" search for specialized thermoacidophile enzymes in some of the most remote places on earth.
00:53:07>> Among the places we've looked for new enzymes is in the microorganisms that live at the bottom of the deep ocean.
00:53:15In that location, you have hot sulfurous gases, hydrogen sulfide belching through fissures in the earth's crust generating temperatures up to 250 fahrenheit.
00:53:27>> Living in near boiling acid, hyperthermophiles produce an enzyme that's being synthesized to produce clean burning ethanol fuel from corn.
00:53:37>> It works on the starch molecule to break it down into smaller fragments, and the conditions under which the starch liquefaction is carried out are characteristically high temperature and low ph.
00:53:50>> While thermoacidophile enzymes may one day help pioneer a biological industrial revolution, their existence also raises questions about other extreme environments where life may exist, both here on earth and throughout the solar system.
00:54:09From the steaming pools of yellowstone to the industrial processe that mold our world, acid is perhaps the most ubiquitous chemical on the planet.
00:54:20By taming its dangers, mankind harnesses its gifts.
00:54:24Not bad for a substance that leaves a sour taste in your mouth.
00:54:28>> Ah, crap.
00:54:29>> Now you got to drink it again.
00:54:30>> I know.
00:54:31Captioning performed bypeoplesupport transcription & captioning >> NARRATOR: Mechanical beasts that prevent floods, deepen waterways and build beaches.
00:54:42They cut, scoop, suck and spew an ocean of mud, silt and sand.
00:54:50These serpents of slurry are conjuring up new real estate and changing the map of our world.
00:54:56Now, "Dredging" onModern Marvels.
00:55:00Captioning sponsored by A&e television networks Dredging can be defined as "the underwater excation of soil or rock." Pretty simple... though getting the job done is anything but.
00:55:29Dredges can make sand rain from the sky, clear mud from the biggest of rivers.
00:55:35They can cross continents and transform underwater mountains of silt into lush wildlife habitat.
00:55:42Dredging can compress centuries of geologic evolution into an almost routine construction project.
00:55:50Dredges come in two basic types.
00:55:53Mechanical dredges scoop material from the water with some type of container, while hydraulic dredges act like giant vacuum cleaners, sucking a mixture of sand, rock and water from the river, lake or ocean bottom.
00:56:10Today's global economy relies on mammoth-sized vessels to move the world's cargo.
00:56:15Big ships need big water, and that means dredging... big time.
00:56:22The basic unit of domestic and international shipping is the steel container.
00:56:27These 40-foot-long boxes are filled with everything from sneakers to Subarus and then piled on top of monster-sized ships.
00:56:37>> ROBERT E. RANDALL: What we're finding is is that many of the vessels that carry the commodities-- oil, food, grain-- these type of vessels-- the economics for the shippers tells them to get larger, tells them to get deeper draft.
00:56:54>> NARRATOR: "Draft" is the depth of a ship below the water's surface.
00:56:58Modern harbors are in a constant scramble to keep their waterways deep enough for the drafts of modern container ships.
00:57:06>> STEVE DORRLER: This channel right now is at 45 feet deep, and based on the, uh, tremendous import business that the United States does, it's a lot less expensive for the products to come via, uh, larger container ships.
00:57:21Larger container ships means deeper draft.
00:57:25>> NARRATOR: In May 2005, the ports of New York and New Jersey began a joint ten-year, $1.6- billion dollar project to deepen the mainhipping channels into the harbor to 50 feet.
00:57:39: This particular deepening project is one of the top two, uh, civil works projects in the nation.
00:57:47One-third of the nation is touched by the commerce that comes through this port.
00:57:54>> NARRATOR: In the Kill Van Kull section of the harbor, an array of dynamite charges is used to loosen the hard rock below the surface.
00:58:04>> DORRLER: That fractures all of the rock into maybe football- size, basketball-size chunks, and then a backhoe goes in and, uh, lifts that material out.
00:58:16>> NARRATOR: But the largest backhoe dredge in the world, named theNew York,don't need no stinkin' dynamite.
00:58:23>> CHRIS GUNSTEN: We're able to dig rock that other machines would need to have blasted in order for them to dig it.
00:58:29You see the bucket behind me.
00:58:30It's got the ability to cut into a sheer face of rock and, depending on the strength of that rock, actually break it as it goes along, thereby getting rid of the need to have to do the blasting.
00:58:41>> TONY ALANIZ: This bucket can pick up up to 26 yards, and once we got the whole load, the boom, the stick, the bucket and the material, we're picking up,