Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Simple compound with surprising antifreeze properties

Date:
October 25, 2011
Source:
CNRS (Délégation Paris Michel-Ange)
Summary:
A chemical compound used to stabilize particles in suspension has proved capable of controlling the growth of ice crystals, according to researchers in France. Surprisingly, the compound in question is a simple molecule, not at all like the macromolecules previously known for their antifreeze properties. It offers many advantages, including low production costs, stability and ease of use, which should open the way to industrial applications. The discovery also provides new leads for the development of synthetic equivalents of antifreeze proteins, different from those currently produced.

Top: The material shown here was generated without the addition of zirconium acetate. Its structure lacks a uniform pattern. Bottom: This material was generated with the addition of the salt. Its structure consists of uniform hexagonal patterns.
Credit: © Sylvain Deville

A chemical compound used to stabilize particles in suspension has proved capable of controlling the growth of ice crystals. This finding was made by CNRS/Saint-Gobain researchers, in collaboration with CNRS-affiliated teams at INSA Lyon and Université Claude Bernard Lyon 1. Surprisingly, the compound in question is a simple molecule, not at all like the macromolecules previously known for their antifreeze properties. It offers many advantages, including low production costs, stability and ease of use, which should open the way to industrial applications.

Published in the online journal PLoS ONE, this work also provides new leads for the development of synthetic equivalents of antifreeze proteins, different from those currently produced.

The formation of ice crystals can have multiple, and often destructive, consequences. Cell degradation in living organisms, damage to land and roads in cold climates, ice crystals in ice creams… These are all examples of situations where it is useful to control ice growth. Many organisms and species that live in cold environments have adapted to control ice growth. Their resistance to low temperatures is based on the presence of antifreeze proteins, all of which are made up of very long organic chains with amphiphilic structures (partly hydrophilic, partly hydrophobic). How do these proteins interact with ice crystals? Researchers are trying to identify the mechanism enabling antifreeze proteins to identify these crystals, but the phenomenon is still not fully understood. In addition, since these proteins are extremely costly to extract, the preferred solution is to create synthetic equivalents inspired by natural structures. All proteins currently known for their "antifreeze" properties are macromolecules (like glycoproteins, polysaccharides, etc.).

A team led by Sylvain Deville(1), CNRS researcher at the LSFC (Laboratoire de Synthèse et Fonctionnalisation des Céramiques, Synthesis and Functionalization of Ceramics Laboratory, CNRS/Saint-Gobain), in collaboration with the Matériaux, Ingénierie et Sciences (Materials, Engineering and Sciences) laboratory (CNRS/INSA Lyon / Université Claude Bernard Lyon 1), has discovered that zirconium acetate, a chemical compound normally used to stabilize particles in suspension, can control ice crystal growth. The compound governs the morphology of the ice crystals obtained by freezing a solution in which it is combined with water. The crystals obtained when adding zirconium acetate are very homogenous, whereas those obtained without it show no particular uniformity.

These results are quite surprising, given that zirconium acetate is a "salt,"(2) a simple compound that is radically different from the macromolecules known for their antifreeze properties. It was not known as a substance capable of controlling ice crystal growth. Such control can be exerted in a number of ways: by reducing the speed of crystal growth (to slow their formation), by lowering the freezing point (to delay their formation), or by controlling their morphology, as in this case. Since this implies a direct interaction with the ice crystals, the researchers were surprised to find out that such radically different molecules as zirconium acetate and proteins could affect crystalline growth.

This compound offers significant advantages over existing equivalents, whether natural or synthetic. It is cheap to produce, stable, "simple" and easy to use, which bodes well for a wealth of future industrial applications. In addition, since it is totally different from all previously identified and/or developed substances with the same function, further research could lead to the development of other molecules with antifreeze properties.

This project relied on X-ray diffraction and imaging. These works were made possible by using the X-ray synchrotron (beam line ID19) at the ESRF in Grenoble, France. They are covered by two patents published on October 1, 2011.

Notes:

  1. Laureate of an ERC Junior grant in 2011.
  2. In chemistry, a salt is an ionic compound made up of cations and anions, forming a neutral product with no net charge. This type of salt is much different from edible (table) salt.

Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by CNRS (Délégation Paris Michel-Ange). Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Sylvain Deville, Céline Viazzi, Jérôme Leloup, Audrey Lasalle, Christian Guizard, Eric Maire, Jérôme Adrien, Laurent Gremillard. Ice Shaping Properties, Similar to That of Antifreeze Proteins, of a Zirconium Acetate Complex. PLoS ONE, 2011; 6 (10): e26474 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0026474

Cite This Page:

CNRS (Délégation Paris Michel-Ange). "Simple compound with surprising antifreeze properties." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 25 October 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/10/111025091530.htm>.
CNRS (Délégation Paris Michel-Ange). (2011, October 25). Simple compound with surprising antifreeze properties. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/10/111025091530.htm
CNRS (Délégation Paris Michel-Ange). "Simple compound with surprising antifreeze properties." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/10/111025091530.htm (accessed October 22, 2014).

Share This



More Matter & Energy News

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Chameleon Camouflage to Give Tanks Cloaking Capabilities

Chameleon Camouflage to Give Tanks Cloaking Capabilities

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Oct. 22, 2014) — Inspired by the way a chameleon changes its colour to disguise itself; scientists in Poland want to replace traditional camouflage paint with thousands of electrochromic plates that will continuously change colour to blend with its surroundings. The first PL-01 concept tank prototype will be tested within a few years, with scientists predicting that a similar technology could even be woven into the fabric of a soldiers' clothing making them virtually invisible to the naked eye. Matthew Stock reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Jet Sales Lift Boeing Profit 18 Pct.

Jet Sales Lift Boeing Profit 18 Pct.

Reuters - Business Video Online (Oct. 22, 2014) — Strong jet demand has pushed Boeing to raise its profit forecast for the third time, but analysts were disappointed by its small cash flow. Fred Katayama reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Internet of Things Aims to Smarten Your Life

Internet of Things Aims to Smarten Your Life

AP (Oct. 22, 2014) — As more and more Bluetooth-enabled devices are reaching consumers, developers are busy connecting them together as part of the Internet of Things. (Oct. 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
What Is Magic Leap, And Why Is It Worth $500M?

What Is Magic Leap, And Why Is It Worth $500M?

Newsy (Oct. 22, 2014) — Magic Leap isn't publicizing much more than a description of its product, but it’s been enough for Google and others to invest more than $500M. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins