The Case For Money Laundering

180px-United_States_one_dollar_bill,_obverse240px-Laundry_in_ParisMoney laundering has long been a crime and the plot to many a good mob movie. However, Nabil M. Lawandy and Andrei Smuk have published results of research in the ACS journal Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research that suggests that money laundering might just be the ticket for countries looking to save money. A lot of money.

Lawandy and Smuk document how government are continually replacing soiled and dirty banknotes at the cost of billions. Governments around the world print nearly 150 billion new banknotes every year at a cost approaching $10 billion. Not only that, but those discarded bills produce about 150,000 tons discarded material. So, the two started to look more closely at why most of these bills are removed from circulation and they found that the chief reason is human sebum — that oily layer that protects our skin. It turns out that the bane of every teenager is also the bane of every banker. A bill in circulation for as little as 3 years will build up sebum on its surface and, once it reacts with oxygen, the mix yellows the bill.

The solution? “Supercritical” CO2. No that is not a teenage version of CO2. Supercritical CO2 works both like a gas and a liquid and has long been used in some cleaning operations It works great on bills by removing oxidized sebum and motor oil while leaving the rest of the bill crisp and clean.

220px-Al_Capone-around_1935It is a solution that would make even Al Capone smile. So why are we not laundering our money?

Source: Chemistry

9 thoughts on “The Case For Money Laundering

  1. So is the money pre-treated as part of the minting process or is it pulled out of circulation, cleaned, pressed and then put back? And does the report state how much that would cost and what kind of waste it would generate, if any?

  2. Why does the government have a problem with soiled bills anyway. That is a rhetorical question. Why the government has a problem with anything is anyone
    s guess. I cannot get my computer to put the numeral two in lower case so that CO2 reads out correctly. That is a problem that government needs to address. That and improper spulling. Some schmuks who name their kids schmuck cannot even spull schmuck. Like Andrei Smuk

  3. The US Govt. will be doing away w/ money eventually. As the screws of govt. control get tighter and tighter control, that is something they can’t. They reduced the largest bill from 10k to 100. Now, making it tougher on criminals is righteous. We all remember Walter White and his 8 barrels of money. There are documented stories of Pablo Escobar having so much cash stashed away some of it rotted. But, if you think this is just about criminals, you are sadly mistaken.

    In College I had a philosophy prof we called Radical Ray. He went to school w/ and was friends w/ Angela Davis. He let you smoke in class! I’m talking 1972. Well in that year he talked about how govt. loves to control and will eventually do away w/ money. This is back when the left hated government. This guy talked about debit cards! He used that term and explained how they would work. This was decades before they came into existence. The government wants to know what you do w/ your money and they want their cut, which gets bigger and bigger. As the other philosopher The Dude, once said, “You got to feed the monkey, man.”

  4. The old motto is “if it ain’t dirty don’t wash it.”

    American money is dirty:

    A recent study shows us that cocaine is found on 90% of our small paper bills, our cash:

    The scientists collected U.S. banknotes from 17 U.S. cities and found that larger cities like Baltimore, Boston, and Detroit had among the highest average cocaine levels. Washington, D.C., ranked above the average, with 95 percent of the banknotes sampled contaminated with the drug. The lowest average cocaine levels in U.S. currency appeared in bills collected from Salt Lake City.

    (Science Daily). If it were crack cocaine on the cash there could be enough to send almost anyone to jail who handles enough currency so that the residue stays on them until a test on a person’s hands is conducted …

    (She Don’t Mind She Don’t Mind Cocaine). One person’s laundromat is another person’s bank.

  5. if it is less costly to clean these bills and return them to the federal reserve (given also the fact that they would have less lifespan than newly issued bills) I am for it.

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