The Gypsum Files

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Could Mars gypsum preserve microbes? | Red Planet Report

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The short answer: Yes!

“We suggest that gypsum on Mars would have entrapped, as solid inclusions and within fluid inclusions, any microorganisms and/or organic compounds that were present in its parent waters,” they note. “Therefore, fluid inclusions and solid inclusions hosted by salt minerals may be the best place to continue the search for life on Mars.”

via Could Mars gypsum preserve microbes? | Red Planet Report.



Written by Elizabeth McCullough

July 26, 2014 at 10:56 am

Plaster could be grown in the lab | Chem.Info

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Plaster grown in the lab

10 April 2012, by Adele Rackley

New research could be the first step towards a much cheaper and more efficient way to make plaster.

Scientists have reproduced the early stages of gypsum crystals in their laboratory, a process which could lead to a cheap way to manufacture the plaster of Paris that’s used by builders, artists and medical practitioners.

Chances are it’s on the walls and ceiling of the room you’re in now – 100 million tons of plaster of Paris, are manufactured every year from the naturally occurring mineral gypsum. As well as in the building industry, it’s widely used by artists and in medicine.

Plaster is made by first quarrying the gypsum, then driving out its water content to leave a powder made up of mineral called bassanite. It’s an energy-hungry process with a large carbon footprint.

But now researchers have documented the first steps that could lead to turning this process around.

Scientists from the University of Leeds and the CSIC-University of Granada in Spain, experimented with supersaturated gypsum solutions to try to figure out how gypsum crystals form – something that is not well understood. To their surprise they found that the first phase to form in the solution were bassanite nanoparticles – but under those chemical conditions bassanite should not have formed at all.

By taking a series of high resolution images they watched these tiny particles growing into rods and joining up into strings that eventually transform into gypsum crystals.

And this all happened at room temperature, so in principle this could become a low-energy way of producing the raw material for plaster of Paris.

via Plaster could be grown lab. | Chem.Info.

Written by Elizabeth McCullough

April 10, 2012 at 2:07 pm

Richard Gibson: You’ve Got Gypsum!

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From the first chapter of What Things are Made Of by Richard Gibson:

You’ve got gypsum!

Virtually every home in America contains a great volume of one mineral: gypsum, the primary constituent of wallboard.

Gypsum (chemically, calcium sulfate) crystallizes from supersaturated sea or lake water when the water evaporates, much like common salt precipitates from such water. In the United States, Oklahoma is the leading producer of gypsum—nearly 3,500,000 tons of it, worth more than $26 million in 2007….

via Richard Gibson: You’ve got gypsum!.

Written by Elizabeth McCullough

January 16, 2010 at 8:01 pm

Gypsum news: Corrosive drywall and giant crystals

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Articles on corrosive drywall imports from China and their effects on homeowners throughout Florida and the Gulf Coast region continue to pile up. A trickle of occasional reports has turned into a flood; local newspapers are now covering it on a daily basis, and national papers are picking up the story as well.

Typical of recent stories is this from the Ft. Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel (11/13/09): “Homeowners feel abandoned by builders who used Chinese drywall.” The reporter characterizes the current situation as “a stalemate” between homeowners who are seeking to be made whole and the various parties trying to apportion financial responsibility for the problem. It took a couple of years and a few hurricanes to get into this mess; looks like it’s going to take a lot longer for everyone involved to get out.

At the other end of the calcium sulfate spectrum, the National Geographic Channel will begin its Expedition Series this week. On Sunday, November 22, they will be airing “Giant Crystal Cave.” According to NGC, the giant gypsum crystals of Naica, Mexico, are up to 36 feet long, weigh as much as 55 tons, and are perhaps half a million years old. Wouldn’t you love to see these beauties?

Written by Elizabeth McCullough

November 15, 2009 at 3:48 pm

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