Short items, July 2009

CAS launches free database

Chemical abstracts service (CAS) has launched a free, online database called Common Chemistry, providing CAS registry numbers for approximately 7800 widely used chemicals (such as aspirin, caffeine and sodium chloride) and 118 elements. It claims that the resource will be useful for people who know either the chemical name or CAS registry number of an everyday chemical and want to pair both pieces of information. 

Russian chemical weapons destruction plant opens

A facility for decommissioning chemical warfare agents has opened in Russia. The part-US funded plant, in the Ural mountains approximately 1000 miles east of Moscow, will destroy 5500 tonnes of chemical weapons such as nerve gases VX and sarin. The agents, currently kept in shells or warheads, are to be neutralised and stored underground in concrete containers. 

EU research infrastructure projects get tax break 

European research infrastructure (ERI) projects, such as the research organisation CERN in Switzerland, are to be exempt from excise duty and VAT (value added tax), after an agreement was reached to treat them as international organisations for taxation purposes.  

Go Figure 

20,000 litres 

The surprisingly large amount of water needed to produce one litre of biodiesel from the Jatropha curas  plant. In comparison, the most water-efficient biofuel crop - sugar beet - uses almost 10 times less.