In a new study from a collaboration based in Japan, the real story may be missing before and after comparison story of chemical reactions in flowing fluids. The team of researchers published their paper in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.

The researchers investigated how a solution of dissolved polymers changed after the addition of Fe3+ solution. They use these types of solutions to better control variables in several fields, including manufacturing. For instance, in automobile manufacturing, the solutions of paint coverage and control over how much a material expands or contracts under various temperatures.

With a solution such as Fe3+, the researchers traditionally reviewed a solution before a reactant and also after the reaction takes place.

An associate professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering at Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology, and the corresponding author of the paper, Yuichiro Nagatsu,said that in other words, if a fluid property such as the viscosity of the solution is higher after the reaction than before, they would expect that an increase in viscosity occurs from the reaction during flow.

With the team, Nagatsu found out that the before and after comparison is not as reliable as previously thought. They observed an increase in viscosity in the solution during a chemical reaction to Fe3+, but the solution has thinned back out by the end of the reaction. The researchers confirmed their chemical observations with infrared spectroscopy, which allows them to examine microscopic interactions without extensive preparation that could further disturb the sample.

Flow dynamics account for microscopic changes within these chemical reactions, molecules stripping other molecules of electrons and the like, that fundamentally change the composition of the solution. Viscosity, however, is known as a macroscopic change, it describes the solution as a whole rather than the individual interactions on the microscopic level.

According to Nagatsu, incredibly, it is unusual for such a solution to shift through such macroscopic phases only to lose the characteristics by the end of a chemical reaction. This understanding could have major implications across industrial, environmental, and biological fields.

Nagatsu noted that their ultimate goal is to establish a new research area to understand chemically reacting flow involving the diagnosis of molecule structure. Also, Nagatsu further said that the plans to develop a new method to control fluid dynamics through their new understanding of interactions.