If a person wants to know if they suffer from diabetes or not, they go to a specialized laboratory to get an answer to their question. The lab uses a chemistry-based methodology to answer your question; this is an example of applied chemistry.
Since prehistoric times, man began to use the incipient knowledge of chemistry to process metals such as copper and iron, in addition to making copper and tin alloys to produce bronze.
Object of study of applied chemistry
Applied chemistry has as its object of study how to use the knowledge of pure chemistry, in order to develop capacities that allow it to solve existing problems.
One more example of how the use of applied chemistry has been able to generate development and the resolution of specific problems of man and his industries can be found.
Polymer chemistry, for example, used its chemical knowledge of its components; These are the monomers. Thus, plastic materials used to serve as containers, liners, tubes, etc. could be manufactured, thereby solving many problems of modern man.
Branches of applied chemistry
In general, five major areas of chemistry are considered, which can in turn be subdivided into sub-branches. Likewise, various applications of chemistry have generated specialized areas or branches.
– Main branches
The main branches of chemistry are: inorganic chemistry, organic chemistry, analytical chemistry, physicochemistry and biochemistry.
Study the properties and reactions of elements and compounds that do not have CH bonds in their composition. Compounds are usually made up of metals and ions.
It is considered as the chemistry of carbon, an element that can combine with hydrogen, oxygen, sulfur, halogens (chlorine, bromine, iodine and fluorine), as well as other non-metals. In addition, carbon can form long chains, the atoms of which are linked by covalent bonds.
It is the branch of chemistry that studies the composition of materials from a qualitative and quantitative point of view, using chemical and physical methods.
It incorporates physics for the study of chemical reactions, or it can also be considered as a synthesis of chemistry and physics. It has three important sub-branches, such as: thermodynamics or thermochemistry, electrochemistry, and chemical kinetics.
Study the chemical composition of living beings, as well as the reactions that occur in them. Biochemistry is closely related to organic chemistry, since some of its fields of study overlap.
Biochemistry studies the structure and function of biological macromolecules: proteins, lipids, polysaccharides and nucleic acids (DNA and RNA). These macromolecules fulfill energetic, structural and transmission functions of hereditary characters.
– Specialized branches
In addition to the five known branches, the knowledge developed has allowed the establishment of specialized branches of chemistry, including the following:
It takes part in the transformation of the raw material into products usable by man.
Its goal is environmental improvement through the study of chemical interactions in air, soil and water.
Study the composition of the sea, allowing the use of its components for the benefit of man.
It is applied in activities such as mining, oil extraction , rock and oil formation, etc.
Its work sites are nuclear reactors where new particles and isotopes are generated, and it is also an energy source.
Among its objectives are: the analysis of known foods, the development of chemical substances that preserve food, the identification and development of food flavoring substances, etc.
It is responsible for the generation of drugs for the treatment of diseases. In some cases, it produces modifications in certain drugs, thus allowing their greater therapeutic efficiency.
It is involved in the development of chemical processes that allow the generation of polymers from monomers.
Study the chemical reactions that occur in the presence of light, such as photosynthesis .
It is responsible for the interaction between matter and electromagnetic radiation.
It is responsible for the elimination of the production of substances harmful to the environment, especially for the soil. It uses a set of measures to achieve its objective that are summarized under the heading of remediation.
Importance of applied chemistry
Applied chemistry answers the question: What is chemistry for? So, the question can be answered broadly to show that chemistry is not only an accumulation of knowledge, but also has a practical purpose in people’s lives.
It uses the knowledge produced in the laboratories to transform it later into a problem-solving tool, and in the generation of new knowledge for immediate use.
The importance of applied chemistry can be exemplified in the phrase: “works are loves and not good reasons.” Applied chemistry produces concrete works and solutions.
Examples of applications of chemistry
Causes and treatment of phenylketonuria
The first example comes from biochemistry: phenylketonuria is a serious metabolic disease that causes severe mental retardation and premature death in children who suffer from it.
It was possible to show that the cause of the disorder is due to a deficiency of the enzyme phenylalanine hydroxylase, which converts phenylalanine into tyrosine. Therefore, phenylalanine accumulates, with large amounts of the amino acid appearing in the urine, hence the name of the disease.
Once the cause of the disorder had been identified, a therapeutic treatment was designed which, among the strategies followed, consisted of a decrease in the intake of the amino acid phenylalanine. This is an example of how applied chemistry helped salvation and a better life for many children.
Determination of elements
The second example comes from analytical chemistry: the acid-base titration technique is frequently used in chemistry teaching and research laboratories. However, by modifying the technique appropriately, it can be used for the determination of many chemical elements and compounds.
In others, acid-base titration can be used to determine nitrogen, sulfur, boron, and compounds belonging to organic functional groups. This illustrates the importance of applied chemistry.
The third example is based on phytochemistry, a field where pesticides have been created that act on biological beings that cause damage to plants . Pesticides can be: insecticides, herbicides, fungicides, acaricides and nematicides.