Breaking Bad : Season 3 : Episode 4 : “Green Light”
With Walt and Jesse’s post-cooking lives rapidly degenerating back to where they were, the infamous blue meth makes a reappearance on Albuquerque’s streets. In this post, I’ll be talking about reduction methods.
The scythe painted outside Walt’s house associates Tuco’s cousins with Los Zetas, as did their visit to the cave back at the start of the season.
Jesse’s mention of “two reflux condensers” presumably represents the maximum number that one person can comfortably manage – back in Four Days Out, Jesse and Walt were using at least six.
Reduction to product
Walt’s trademarked cooking method, as we found out in A No-Rough-Stuff Type Deal, involves the reductive amination of phenylacetone with methylamine. Walt triumphantly confronts Jesse on the reduction step by suggesting that he used platinum dioxide (PtO2) – this would have worked, but the purity could have suffered as the process is more technically challenging (note: PtO2 is used in other reductive amination and reductive alkylation cooking methods).
Jesse responds with some unexpected chemistry knowledge – he used a mercury-aluminium amalgam because the PtO2 is “too hard to keep wet”. The Hg-Al method is quite simple, making it a popular choice for cooks, though there is some risk of a runaway reaction if the reaction vessel is not attended to. Jesse’s comment about wetness may refer to the necessity of keeping the platinum catalyst away from air – PtO2 is reduced to Pt (the actual catalyst) in a hydrogen atmosphere, which will quickly form PtO2 again if it is exposed to air or an oxidising agent.
HT to Sprinkles, who predicted this very quandary in the comment thread for Four Days Out.
For background information on this topic, see the primer on redox.
Elements in the credits
|Steven MicHael Quezada||Hydrogen|
|Michael ShAmus Wiles||Americium|
|StewArt A. Lyons||Argon|