October 31, 2008

Treats from the Green Blog

Just wanted to greet everybody a Happy Halloween and as a treat, here are several climate change funny cartoons that I took from the web (hopefully I won't get sued for these!).

1. Carbon Credit card - No interest fee for one year!

2. The life of a carbon broker

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Carbon project guidelines

Although the feasibility of capturing, storing and even reusing carbon dioxide to reduce greenhouse gases is now acceptable within the scientific community, skepticism still exists (like the idea of clean coal I guess) some coming from green groups themselves such as the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).

Environmental think-tank World Resources Institute (WRI) launched a preliminary guidelines and recommendations for the deployment of carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) technologies in the US specifically targeting developers, regulators, financiers, insurers, project operators, and policymakers.

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October 29, 2008

Less emission from hybrid plastic

California-based bioplastic manufacturer Cereplast said the use of its Biopropylene hybrid resin (which can replace up to 50% petroleum-based plastic content) emits 42% less greenhouse gas emission compared to the use of regular polypropylene.

In a study by a professor from Michigan State University, he found that approximately 1.82 kilograms of carbon dioxide are produced for each kilogram of Cereplast' Biopropylene used, compared to 3.14 kilograms of carbon dioxide emitted for the same amount of polypropylene.

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October 28, 2008

Solar consumer products boom

Wal-Mart is expecting a bigger demand for solar-based consumer products and is already stocking its solar charger kits for sale next year, according to this press release from Canada-based ICP Solar Technologies, a manufacturer of proprietary solar panels and products.

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October 27, 2008

What bites corn plastic?

Here is one big reason why food manufacturers and consumer product goods retailers are still hesitant about using corn-based plastics.

According to The Oregonian newspaper, it is difficult for recyclers to recycle corn-based polylactic acid (PLA) plastics because it melts at lower temperatures compared to traditional resins such as polyethylene terephthalate (PET).

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Weekly News Roundup

I am way over my head this week with two articles on a deadline and trying to study for my mid-term exams (political science, English literature and classical studies if anybody is interested to know).

Expect the green blog to have some sputtering post moments in the next few days while I diligently work for ICIS Chemical Business in the morning, and try to cram federalism, Yeats, and Greek alphabets into my head at night- not at the same time.

Here is this week's news roundup!

Renewable product partnership
Elevance Renewable Sciences and start-up company Tetramer Technologies formed a partnership to develop and commercialize novel renewable specialty chemicals. Tetramer will bring to the partnership its organic synthesis, material science and analytical capabilities, while Elevance will provide marketing, technology, engineering and renewable feedstock processing capabilities.

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October 24, 2008

Record clean tech investments

Despite a worldwide financial downturn this past few months, venture investments for clean technology in North America, Europe, China and India are said to have reached a record $2.6bn just in the third quarter of 2008 alone, according to the market research and financial service Cleantech Group.

Investments in the past three quarters of 2008 have totaled to $6.6 billion, exceeding the full-year 2007 total of $6.0 billion, the group reported. Major sectors receiving these green backings include smart grid companies, algae companies, and thin-film solar companies.

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Green packaging is hot

ICIS Chemical Business released this Monday its feature on packaging and from what the magazine's editors have found out is that sustainability is definitely becoming more ingrained within this industry mostly driven by consumer demand. The benefits of cost-cutting and energy saving also add to packaging players' enthusiasm over this trend.

In the article "Green Way Packers", industry players ranging from packaging manufacturers to consumer goods retailers, reported that their companies have increased their initiatives on sustainable packaging.

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October 23, 2008

Wal-Mart enforces Chinese green rules

No cheating in Wal-Mart supply chain is emphasized at the company's China summit this week in Beijing, attended by the retail giant's more than 1,000 leading suppliers as well as Chinese government officials and non-government organizations.

Wal-Mart president and CEO Lee Scott said:
"I firmly believe that a company that cheats on overtime and on the age of its labor, that dumps its scraps and its chemicals in our rivers, that does not pay its taxes or honor its contracts -- will ultimately cheat on the quality of its products."

And cheating on the quality of products is the same as cheating on customers. We will not tolerate that at Wal-Mart."

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October 22, 2008

Science of Survival Exhibit

A former colleague from ICIS Chemical Business (the magazine I work for) asked how could the chemical industry help play a part in energizing teaching and putting the flair back into teenage science.

One sure-fire way to attract teenagers and young adults (even old crones like me) is to put science on their electronic brainwaves especially via video games and the internet. Just look at the growth of the billion-dollar educational toys market!

For example, maybe the chemical industry can design a website-based game where teenagers can be chlorine atoms and find out if they will either explode or create beautiful products together if they hook up with several of their nitrogen and hydrogen buddies under a certain atmospheric condition...

To get to my point, I mentioned attending the Science of Survival Exhibit in Liberty Science Center in New Jersey last week, and the idea of creating your own sustainable city in 2050 using interactive games is absolutely brilliant. You get to choose your lifestyle of living involving food and drink, mode of transportation, the stuff that you enjoy, the place you live in, and finally find out how that lifestyle will affect your future.

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Japan launches voluntary CO2 market

My Green Japan article in ICIS Chemical Business is now available online. In it are some examples of how the chemical industry is responding to the issue of climate change.

The article also reported about how the carbon emissions of Japan's industrial manufacturing sector (including energy, steel, chemical, petroleum, pulp and paper, cement, etc.) is closely being scrutinized by several Japanese green groups.

In relation to this, I just came across this news from Reuters about yesterday's government launch of a "voluntary" carbon trading market in Japan, which could become a forerunner of a mandatory carbon cap-and-trade scheme in the future.

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October 21, 2008

Top 10 global pollution

International environmental groups Blacksmith Institute (US based) and Green Cross Switzerland issued the top ten worst pollution problems in the world. They said these pollutions are the main contributing factor to death and disability in the world.
“Our goal with the 2008 report is to increase awareness of the severe toll that pollution takes on human health and inspire the international community to act," said Richard Fuller, founder of Blacksmith Institute. "Remediation is both possible and cost-effective. Clean air, water and soil are human rights."

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Green lining in GE's revenues

Sustainability is proving to be a good investment for General Electric (GE).

According to the company, GE's 2008 revenues from its Ecoimagination business -- GE's products and technologies that targets energy efficiency, clean technology and other environmental solutions services -- rose 21% to $17bn despite the current economic turmoil.

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Green struck film festival

Last week's opening of the 21st Tokyo International Film Festival was celebrated with an environmental theme in mind, and our good friends from Japanese chemical company Teijin, in collaboration with Coca-Cola Japan, did their part with the unrolling of their Green Carpet.

Not only is it colored green (duh!), but the carpet is made completely from around 18,000 recycled polyethylene terephtalate (PET) half-liter bottles. Teijin, by the way, is selling their polyester fiber made out of recycled PET materials under the brand ECOPET.

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October 20, 2008

Canada bans BPA-contained baby bottles

Canada's soon-to-enact BPA ban in baby bottles is another sign that maybe polycarbonate bottle manufacturers should look for alternatives now.

The Government of Canada announced yesterday that it will immediately draft a regulation banning the importation, sale and advertising of polycarbonate baby bottles that contained bisphenol-A (BPA).

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Weekly News Roundup

The green blog is having a bit of a trouble finding worthwhile news for the weekly roundup and wondering if this is a sign of possible hiccups in green investments due to the current economic crisis.

I've heard of a solar IPO being cancelled and another renewable energy company terminating their plans for an acquisition. The good news is that both US presidential nominees have big plans for renewable energy investments but research grants across the board is probably going to have massive cutbacks in the near- to mid-term, which might affect green chemistry R&D and other biobased material developments in government research agencies and university research centers.

On this somber note, here are this week's green news roundup:

Siemens partners with USDA
Siemens Energy & Automation and the United States Department of Agriculture's (USDA) have entered into a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) to convert second generation biofuel feedstock into fuels and chemicals.

Biofoam in Brazilian cars
Brazilian Fiat vehicles and Iveco trucks will be using BioFoam seat cushioning produced by Canada-based the Woodbridge Group. The foam uses polyols derived from plant materials.

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October 17, 2008

More hydrogen research

In connection with fuel cells, I just wanted to share these new R&D breakthroughs on hydrogen production.

The green blog mentioned this week about producing hydrogen using sewage feedstock but according to researchers from the US Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory and Ontario, Canada-based Kingston Process Metallurgy Inc. (KPM), you can also extract pure hydrogen from the hydrogen sulfide that naturally contaminates unrefined oil including oil sands.

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Fuel cell rumor from BASF

I just went this morning to the Liberty Science Center in New Jersey to attend the North American debut of a global exhibition called Science of Survival, and what a treat it was!

The exhibition, sponsored by BASF, Nissan and HSBC, uses an interactive "kid-friendly video game" like effects that challenges visitors, both kids and adults alike, to create their own sustainable city of 2050 using the latest technology and science available.

I will tell you more about this next week as I am currently waiting for a video clip from the exhibit organizers so I can show it to you. For now, I just wanted to tell the green blog readers that during the exhibit, there was this whispers and talks about a big BASF investment for fuel cell here in the US.

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October 16, 2008

Bottled water scare

Halloween is coming and there is nothing more scary than a report that said the bottled water your drinking has fertilizer, bacteria and drugs in it.

The US bottled water industry is trying to douse the flames of allegations made by the public health advocate Environmental Working Group (EWG), and this time it's not about plastics (although EWG mentioned a little bit about that too).

EWG released a report on Tuesday stating that laboratory tests conducted for EWG found ten brands of bottled water purchased from grocery stores and other retailers in nine states and the District of Columbia contain mixtures of 38 different pollutants, including bacteria, fertilizer, Tylenol and industrial chemicals, with some brands at levels no better than tap water.

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October 15, 2008

FDA conflict of interest in BPA

Here's more drama brewing in the world of bisphenol A (BPA).

A US Congressional committee, which has been investigating the BPA issue since January, is said to be investigating a possible instance of conflict of interest involving the chairman of the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advisory panel on BPA, Martin Philbert.

Philbert is said to be also the head of a research center that received a $5 million donation from Charles Gelman, a retired medical equipment manufacturer who has stated that BPA is “perfectly safe” and has also indicated that he has told Dr. Philbert of his opinion several times.

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How IT can cut emissions - McKinsey

Do you know that information and communications technologies (that includes your laptops and PCs, data centers and computing networks, mobile phones, and telecommunications networks...) is going to be, if it isn't yet, one of the biggest carbon emitters on earth?

Now you know.

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From garbage to gas to cash

"In California, they don't throw their garbage away - they make it into TV shows." - Woody Allen.

And that's how garbage is being revolutionized by following Woody Allen's sage (or should we say green) advice. There are so many developments now of turning trash into cash, garbage into gas, and... (what else rhyme's with ass??) that I'm pretty sure there's a stink bomb in there somewhere that is going to blow up soon. But enough of my cynicism...

In terms of news, we previously posted GE's project of using chicken biogas in Beijing; the happy California dairy cows biogas project by Pacific Gas & Electric Co.; and yesterday's post of producing hydrogen from sewage by reserchers from the Oregon State University.

In May, Reuters also featured several trashy articles on the growing profitability of garbage.

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October 14, 2008

Top 10 US wind turbine spenders

Speaking of wind energy, there have been so many global investment news lately in this area which I'll cite some examples in another post.

For now here are the top ten state spenders on wind turbine technology, as reported by consulting firm BCC Research. The report also estimated the state's forecast expenditures for wind turbine components and systems by 2013.

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First wind energy-bat study

Good news for bat lovers! Wind energy supplier Iberdrola Renewables is conducting a study on the interaction between bats and wind turbines because of the growing concern of high death rates of bats near wind farms.

Iberdrola has partnered with conservation group Bat Conservation International (BCI) for wildlife data collection at a southwestern Pennsylvania wind power project. Researchers from both groups are conducting a controlled experiment from late July to early October in which selected wind turbines at the Casselman Wind Power Project in Pennsylvania were stopped during certain wind conditions.

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ICIS Chemical Business (the magazine I work for) published yesterday its feature on Innovations and most innovations nowadays it seems is focused on the environment.

Specialty chemicals company Rhodia is certainly on top of this trend as they talked about how sustainability issues are largely affecting their R&D projects during my visit to their Center for Research and Technology in Bristol, Pennsylvania. Rhodia said 30% of their overall company sales last year are generated by products that offer sustainable solutions.

A consultant from UK-based Sagentia, Chris Richardson, also talked about green chemistry, what it means, and how chemical companies can capitalize on its opportunities.

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October 13, 2008

California prison reduces carbon footprint

California's prison system is aiming to be the greenest in the US as the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) already started installing 16 energy efficiency projects that expects to save more than 28 million kilowatt-hours of electricity, 650,000 therms of natural gas and 22.5 million pounds of carbon-dioxide gases.

Completion of all projects is expected by the end of 2008 and are projected to result in $3.2 million in annual savings to California taxpayers, according to CDCR.

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Soy in urinals

No, you won't see any soybean plant sprouting in men's bathroom anytime soon.

This No-Flush urinal does not only saves water but the resin being used is made up of 30% soybean-based resin. US-based Waterless Company LLC, the maker of the urinals, said the weight percentage of soy resins in their product will likely increase as the manufacturing technology evolves.

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Hydrogen from sewage

Here's one interesting development in the hydrogen arena.

Researchers in the College of Engineering at Oregon State University said they have developed a technology for producing hydrogen gas using several types of biowaste including ordinary municipal sewage.
The hydrogen produced is said to be at a much lower cost than using the traditional “electrolysis” technology.

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Weekly News Roundup

The blog's weekly green news will now appear every Monday as it seems easier to gather information while watching Sunday night football...

Brazil likes bioplastic
US bioplastic producer Cereplast is supplying 2 million pounds of Cereplast Compostable resin to Canguru Embalagens Ltda., a Brazilian manufacturer of single-use food service items, and to a Brazil-based subsidiary of a global agribusiness and food company, for the next two years.

Bioenergy in chem production
Specialty chemical company Lanxess is building a biomass-based cogeneration plant in Porto Feliz, Brazil, to supply energy to the company's inorganic pigments manufacturing facility located within the site.

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October 9, 2008

Green Japan preview

Here is a sneak peek of my incoming article "Green Chemicals Movement in Japan" for ICIS Chemical Business' October 27 issue.

This is an excerpt of my interview with Junko Edahiro, co-founder and co-chief executive of the non-profit group Japan for Sustainability (JFS).

JAPAN MIGHT be considered one the greenest industrialized countries in the world (if not the greenest), but nonprofit group Japan for Sustainability (JFS) thinks there is still room for improvement, especially in the country’s manufacturing and energy sectors.

JFS co-founder and co-chief executive Junko Edahiro points out that the Voluntary Action Plan initiated by Japan Business Federation Nippon Keidanren in 1997 has not really been effective in lowering greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

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Hybrids not suitable for NYC cabs?

The country's largest taxi fleet association, Metropolitan Taxicab Board of Trade (MTBOT), is making its heaviest case against the mandated use of hybrids for cabs in New York City.

Not only are hybrids currently expensive but according to MTBOT's research , they are not manufacturer-approved to be used as taxicabs and they are found to be unsafe when modified with the partitions required by the NYC Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC).

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October 8, 2008

The biopower of soy

Here are some of the new industrial developments in the soybean arena brought to you by the United Soybean Board:

Soy: Good for you, bad for mosquitoes
A methyl soyate larvicide is currently being developed in partnership with Stepan Company and BVA oils to control West Nile Virus mosquitoes. The first aerial testing was done in July and further aerial testing is expected next year.

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Green stimulus package needed

Can the green industry help reverse the current unemployment rise in the US?

According to the NY Times last week, the Department of Labor reported the month of September as the worst unemployment record in five years, with 760,000 jobs lost in the past nine consecutive months.

This does not even include the effects of the recent Wall Street collapse.

This recent report from the Department of Energy might ease some of the pain if commercialization of fuel cells in transportation, stationary and portable power sectors will come to fruition.

According to the DOE, around 675,000 jobs could open over the next 25 years if Congress could aggressively implement President Bush's 2003 Hydrogen Fuel Initiative worth $1.2bn (seems paltry compared to the $700bn bailout, doesn't it?)

Unfortunately, the first fuel cell vehicles are expected to come out on the market by 2010-2012 so there are still a few more years to wait before these job openings will start trickling in.

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Lithum hazards in the air

The green blogger is back although still shaken from the aftermath of hurricane "office work". Before beginning to scan the world wide green news, this tidbit of information from the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) caught the attention of the blog, which might make someone think twice about people carrying their laptops or cameras on the plane.

From January 2007 to September 25, 2008, twenty-one battery incidents around the world - most of them involving lithium - were listed by the FAA . 96 air incidents involving batteries were recorded since March 20, 1991.

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October 6, 2008

Organic cosmetics sales are up

A press release sent by Organic Monitor reported that the European Market for Natural & Organic Cosmetics is expected to break the US $2 billion barrier for the first time this year.
"High market growth rates are occurring across Europe as consumers increasingly demand ‘chemically-clean’ and ecological cosmetics. Mainstreaming is leading to new product launches in supermarkets, hypermarkets, discount stores, drugstores and department stores."
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Weekly News Roundup

Posts from the green blog will still be sporadic for the next three days due to increasing work pressures (say it ain't so Joe!). I am happy to note, however, that the weekly roundup was made possible by sheer persistence (and late night caffeine) despite its delay.

Biofoam in cushions
Cushion manufacturer Carpenter Co. has adopted Cargill's soybean-based BiOH polyols for its new Renew™ brand of foam cushioning, that are said to be fully recyclable and available in a wide assortment of firmness and densities.

Asbestos haunts Exxon
The Louisiana First Court of Appeal affirmed a trial court's 2006 judgment awarding substantial damages to the family of a former ExxonMobil employee, Bruce Spillman of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, who died of mesothelioma, an asbestos-related cancer, in 2005.

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October 1, 2008

New green chems and a notice

The green blogger is indisposed for the rest of the week doing her real job. She promised to make it up for it next week. For now, here is September's new green chemical picks to chew on:

1. Rohm and Haas plastic additive - Rohm and Haas showcased a new additive Paraloid™ BPMS 250 melt strength enhancer for use in polylactic acid plastic in clear packaging applications such as thermoform or vacuform disposable, clamshell-type food containers.

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