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Hydrazine is extremely toxic and causes severe harm to human body. Herein, a novel fluorescent probe 4-oxo-2-styryl-4H-chromen-3-yl thiophene-2-carboxylate (FHT) was synthesized for detecting hydrazine by using natural cinnamaldehyde as starting material. This probe exhibited significantly enhanced fluorescence response towards hydrazine over various common metal ions, anions, and amine compounds. The detection limit of probe FHT for hydrazine was as low as 0.14 μmol·L–1, significantly lower than that of the threshold value of 0.312 μmol·L–1, imposed by the Environmental Protection Agency. Moreover, the proposed probe was able to detect hydrazine within wide pH (5–10) and linear detection ranges (0–110 μmol·L–1). This probe was employed for determining trace hydrazine in different environmental water samples. The probe FHT-loaded filter paper strips were able to conveniently detect hydrazine of low concentration through distinct naked-eye and fluorescent color changes. Importantly, the probe FHT with low cytotoxicity was successfully applied to visualize hydrazine in living Hela cells and zebrafish.

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Benzimidazole derivatives have wide-spectrum biological activities and pharmacological effects, but remain challenging to be produced from biomass feedstocks. Here, we report a green hydrogen transfer strategy for the efficient one-pot production of benzimidazoles from a wide range of bio-alcohols and o-nitroanilines enabled by cobalt nitride species on hierarchically porous and recyclable nitrogen-doped carbon catalysts (Co/CNx-T, T denotes the pyrolysis temperature) without using an external hydrogen source and base additive. Among the tested catalysts, Co/CNx-700 exhibited superior catalytic performance, furnishing 2-substituted benzimidazoles in 65%–92% yields. Detailed mechanistic studies manifest that the coordination between Co2+ and N with appropriate electronic state on the porous nitrogen-doped carbon having structural defects, as well as the remarkable synergetic effect of Co/N dual sites contribute to the pronounced activity of Co/CNx-700, while too high pyrolysis temperature may cause the breakage of the catalyst Co–N bond to lower down its activity. Also, it is revealed that the initial dehydrogenation of bio-alcohol and the subsequent cyclodehydrogenation are closely correlated with the hydrogenation of nitro groups. The catalytic hydrogen transfer-coupling protocol opens a new avenue for the synthesis of N-heterocyclic compounds from biomass.

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Newly synthesized functional nanoparticles, 3-amino-1,2,4-triazole (ATA)/SiO2–TiO2 were introduced to the polyurethane (PU) matrix. Electrochemical techniques were used to investigate the barrier properties of the synthesized PU–ATA/SiO2–TiO2 nanocomposite coated steel specimen. In natural seawater, electrochemical impedance spectroscopy experiments indicated outstanding protective behaviour for the PU–ATA/SiO2–TiO2 coated steel. The coating resistance (Rcoat) of PU–ATA/SiO2–TiO2 was determined to be 2956.90 kΩ·cm–2. The Rcoat of the PU–ATA/SiO2–TiO2 nanocomposite coating was found to be over 50% higher than the PU coating. The current measured along the scratched surface of the PU–ATA/SiO2–TiO2 coating was found to be very low (1.65 nA). The enhanced ATA/SiO2–TiO2 nanoparticles inhibited the entry of electrolytes into the coating interface, as revealed by scanning electron microscopy/energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy and X-ray diffraction analysis of the degradation products. Water contact angle testing validated the hydrophobic nature of the PU–ATA/SiO2–TiO2 coating (θ = 115.4°). When the concentration of ATA/SiO2−TiO2 nanoparticles was 2 wt %, dynamic mechanical analysis revealed better mechanical properties. Therefore, the newly synthesised PU–ATA/SiO2–TiO2 nanocomposite provided excellent barrier and mechanical properties due to the addition of ATA/SiO2–TiO2 nanoparticles to the polyurethane, which inhibited material degradation and aided in the prolongation of the coated steel’s life.

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For decades, distiller waste and CO2 were not the first choice for production of high valued products. Here, CaCO3 hollow microspheres, a high-value product was synthesized from such a reaction system. The synthetic methods, the formation mechanism and operational cost were discussed. When 2.5 L·min–1·L–1 CO2 was flowed into distiller waste (pH = 11.4), spheres with 4–13 μm diameters and about 2 μm shell thickness were obtained. It is found that there is a transformation of CaCO3 particles from solid-cubic nuclei to hollow spheres. Firstly, the Ca(OH)2 in the distiller waste stimulated the nucleation of calcite with a non-template effect and further maintained the calcite form and prevented the formation of vaterite. Therefore, in absence of auxiliaries, the formation of hollow structures mainly depended on the growth and aging of CaCO3. Studies on the crystal morphology and its changes during the growth process point to the inside–out Ostwald effect in the formation of hollow spheres. Change in chemical properties of the bulk solution caused changes in interfacial tension and interfacial energy, which promoted the morphological transformation of CaCO3 particles from cubic calcite to spherical clusters. Finally, the flow process for absorption of CO2 by distiller waste was designed and found profitable.

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