A lot can happen in a year, especially when it comes to science. As 2019 draws to a close, Chemical & Engineering News (C&EN), the weekly newsmagazine of the American Chemical Society, is highlighting the year's biggest stories in chemistry, top research trends and important developments in a special issue.
In addition, the magazine makes some bold predictions for chemistry in 2020.
2019's top trends underscore important advances in the chemistry enterprise, with topics including the impact of air pollution, a better understanding of the human microbiome, and new advances in cleaning up water contaminated with per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).
C&EN's most-read article described a new method that uses a $10 magnet to extract more hydrogen from water, which could help make clean-burning fuel a reality. Other top research featured in the issue includes advances in machine-learning and new insights into microplastics, 3-D printing and more.
With 2019 wrapping up, C&EN asked experts what to watch for in the coming year. Predictions for 2020 include further advancements in artificial intelligence, including combining machine-learning algorithms with automated instrumentation to improve synthesis processes.
Other guesses include a focus on developing greener processes for making nitrogen-based compounds and materials -- essential components of medicines, recyclable materials and a variety of consumer goods.