Silver’s antibacterial properties have been known for centuries – we’ve even written about it before. But despite silver’s effectiveness, it fell out of use with the advent of antibiotics and modern medicine. However, because of their overuse, antibiotics have decreased in effectiveness over time – giving rise to antibiotic resistant strains of disease.
Luckily, researchers from Boston University have found that adding silver ions to antibiotics can increase the effectiveness of the drug by up to 1,000 times. This discovery was extension of another discovery: how silver is able to kill bacteria in the first place. Silver ions interfere with several cellular processes in bacteria. This causes the increased production of reactive oxygen – which kills the bacteria. Another side effect is that the bacteria’s cell membrane becomes more permeable. This allows antibiotics to penetrate the bacteria’s defenses much more easily.
Although silver ion antibiotics are quite promising, they still present a risk of toxicity. But, now that scientists have a better understanding of the mechanism that gives silver ions their antibacterial powers, they are better equipped to find alternative compounds that mimic the antibacterial action of silver ions without the risk of toxicity.
Nitric acid is an important part of our business at MGS. Without it, we wouldn’t be able to do our super-fast assays on scrap jewelry. As we’ve written about before, nitric acid can dissolve impure precious metals. But did you know that precious metals are used to create nitric acid?
In large-scale nitric acid manufacturing, knitted platinum-rhodium gauze is necessary to catalyze chemical reactions for maximum efficiency. First, ammonia gas is exposed to air. This oxidation reaction creates nitric oxide. In order to convert as much of the ammonia as possible, the process is carried out under pressure with a platinum-rhodium catalyst. The nitric oxide goes through another oxidation process to create nitric dioxide, which is mixed with water to create nitric acid.
The design of the catalyst has undergone many revisions since its introduction in the early 20th century. Originally, a pure platinum gauze was used as the catalyst. Rhodium was later added to decrease the amount of platinum lost in the reaction. The gauze was also originally used a woven design. Since about 1990, knitted platinum-rhodium gauze has become the industry standard because it has better durability and increases the efficiency of the reaction.
Most of the nitric acid made with this process goes on to create nitrogen fertilizers and other industrial products. But, a small amount makes its way to our store so we can continue to do assays for our customers.
We have noticed a gold trading trend gaining more and more steam: thick, gold, 1980’s style chains are back in style.
When gold prices go down, the demand for these gold chains increases. It seems that these heavy chains are very sensitive to the gold price. The trend seems to indicate that people are using the chains like a form of quasi-bullion. The chains are large and thick, so they contain a lot of gold. Since they were out of style and the gold price was high, recycling or trade-in was almost all they are good for. And in some cases, they may be easier to get than certified gold bullion.
Unfortunately, we have yet to see someone fully exploit the chains’ investment potential. For example, if one needed a little extra money for the month, but gold prices weren’t high enough to justify selling the entire chain, they could sell a few links from the chain instead. Gold chains could be like a modern day version of pieces o’ eight.
Using the chains for that purpose could be beneficial to the scrap trade overall. Otherwise, the gold stops flowing and pawnbrokers, jewelers, and other have less to work and trade with. Have you come across lots of 80s style gold chains lately? Let us know by posting on our Facebook page.