November 24, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

The Green Blogger is off this week celebrating a food-binging holiday (so totally un-green!). The blogger will report back on Monday, December 1, and will regale you about the green state of Black Friday shopping in America as she do her civic duty of helping the US economy.

November 21, 2008

To Russia with green love

Consulting firm Frost & Sullivan said Russia should start developing a renewable energy sector even though the country is the world's largest gas producer with rich oil and coal reserves.

Oil and gas production regions in Russia is faced with rapid decline, the firm said, and green energy development is imperative.

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China tightens food safety

I might be having a deja vu but I thought China already has strict melamine testing rules implemented following the melamine tainted pet food and toothpaste scandals last year?

According to ICIS news (subscription required), the Chinese government is proposing new standards to focus on melamine testing following this year's melamine-tainted dairy products scandal. Since September, several milk products in China were found to be tainted with melamine, an industrial chemical used in plastics and adhesives. Recalls were made around the world for dairy products contained with Chinese milk.

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Food container ban in California

The American Chemistry Council (ACC) is battling another proposed plastic ban in California this time on food containers.

The California Ocean Protection Council (OPC) proposed yesterday a ban on polystyrene (the styrofoamy ones) take out containers as well as a statewide fees for plastic bag use as ways to clean out ocean litter.

OPC said full and partial polystyrene food container prohibitions have already been implemented in many California cities such as: Alameda, Aliso Viejo, Berkeley, Calabasas, Capitola, Carmel, Emeryville, Fairfax, Hercules, Huntington Beach, Laguna Beach, Laguna Woods, Los Angeles, Malibu, Millbrae, Oakland, Pacific Grove, Pittsburg, San Clemente, San Francisco, San Juan Capistrano, Santa Cruz, Santa Monica, Scotts Valley and West Hollywood.

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November 20, 2008

Economic slump hits recyclables

You would think that recyclable materials and chemicals should do well with manufacturers and retailers looking for cheaper and more environment-friendly alternatives during a global economic recession.

Unfortunately the excess waste of the economic boom era as well as the current weak demand for products (thus the slow-down of manufacturing) seemed to have driven the supply balance to tilt more to its side.

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November 19, 2008

Ohio launches Biosoy program

The State of Ohio is seeing green in soybeans, and not just from food and biofuel applications.

The Ohio Soybean Council (OSC), Ohio Bioproducts Innovation Center (OBIC) and Polymer Ohio, recently launched its "Cell to Sell" soy technology program to accelerate commercialization of soybean-based industrial products and chemicals. The program will reportedly provide credible, timely source of information to assist Ohio agricultural, manufacturing and research collaborators in the commercial development and utilization of soy-based products.

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Why the Big 3 are in the dumps

This could be one of the major reasons why Ford, GM and Chrysler are begging for bailout help in the US Congress: it's because the US car market is lagging behind Europe and Japan in terms of greeness.

According to automotive data provider Jato Dynamics, the US car market is slower to embrace fuel-efficient and low-emission cars compared to the European and Japanese car market. Poor selection of fuel efficient vehicles coupled with historic larger-vehicle tastes and relatively low gas prices (before) have all contribute toward a slow green transition in the US car market.

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Climate solutions = Jobs

Unlike politicians' vague promises of a green economy, a study from Duke University pinpointed specific carbon-reducing technologies that has the potential for future green job creations in the US, and in fact is said to be already existing in some parts of the US.

Researchers at Duke's Center on Globalization, Governance & Competitiveness (CGGC) said technologies such as LED lighting, high-performance windows, auxiliary power units (APUs)for long-haul trucks, concentrating solar power, and Super Soil Systems (a new method for treating hog wastes), have already showed evidence of producing economic opportunities based on growth of some US companies that participate along the supply chain of these five industries.

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November 18, 2008

Dangling the hybrid carrot

According to several news reports, majority of US folks (including Congress) are against bailing out the cash-strapped Big 3 automobile makers -- GM, Ford and privately-held Chrysler -- but there are worries especially within environmental groups if the financial crisis will push development of US electric and hybrid cars into the back-burner.

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From water to wine

While the bottled water industry is being besieged by environmental groups with its use of plastic bottles, the plastic industry, meanwhile, is finding a miraculous demand coming from the wine market.

Several wineries across the globe are switching some of their wines' bottle packaging from glass to PET (polyethylene terephthalate) to save transportation and packaging costs. Innovative PET wine bottles such as that of plastic producer Constar International, are now said to be shatterproof and oxygen-proof, which protects the flavor, aroma, and color of the wine inside the bottle.

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Granite countertops are safe

A study financed by the Marble Institute of America (MIA) reported that granite countertops will not turn anybody into a mutant.

The environmental and engineering consulting services, EH&E, analyzed different varieties of granite countertops and stones (around 115 varieties were tested) and reported that the quantities of radiation and radon emitted from the samples were all below average levels of concentration specified by the US Environment Protection Agency and [or] the European Commission standards.

There had been several media reports that came out in July stating potential radiation emitted from granite countertops, which has become very popular in US kitchens in the past few years.



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November 17, 2008

Green powerless in chemicals

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Department of Energy (DOE), and the Center for Resource Solutions awarded late last month their annual Green Power Leadership Awards to 25 organizations/companies who either purchase, supply or develop renewable energy (solar, wind, geothermal, low-impact biomass, and low-impact hydro resources) across the US.

Unfortunately, none of them is from the chemical industry.

The awards serve to recognize the leading actions of organizations, programs, and individuals that significantly advance the development of green power sources. It is curious to see why nobody from the chemical industry is recognized in these awards since it is one of the leading developer in the renewable energy market. And shouldn't the chemical industry be a big purchaser of green power since they helped developed this market in the first place?

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Oil weaning should be shared

I was watching the show 60 Minutes where the US President-elect Obama was being interviewed for the first time after winning the election.

According to Obama, despite that the price of oil has gone down energy and a green economy will remain at the forefront of his agenda along with trying to fix the economy.
"You know, oil prices go up, gas prices at the pump go up, everybody goes into a flurry of activity. And then the prices go back down and suddenly we act like it's not important, and we start, you know filling up our SUVs again. And, as a consequence, we never make any progress. It’s part of the addiction, all right. That has to be broken. Now is the time to break it."

If the US, along with other developed countries, will be able to curb high oil consumption as well as reduced greenhouse gas (GHG) emission, then that's good news indeed.

The bad news, according to a recent World Energy Outlook report from the International Energy Agency (IEA), is that rising global consumption of fossil fuels mostly coming from developing countries such as China, India and the Middle East will continue to drive up GHG emissions even if countries such as the US, Europe, Japan and other countries under OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) will reduce their emissions to zero.

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Weekly News Roundup

A lot of acquisition activities seems to be happening recently in the global solar and markets. I guess with the volatile stock market these days, some companies are ripe for the picking. I do wonder if these M&A activities will continue next year and if this is a good omen or a bad one for the clean tech industry.

For now, here are this week's green news roundup.

Evonik borrows genome tools
Integrated Genomics has licensed its ERGO genomics platform to specialty chemicals company Evonik. Scientists from Evonik's Science-to-Business Center Biotechnology will use the ERGO™ system to optimize their production strains and find new methods for high yield production of specialty chemicals.

Japanese solar plant grows
Kyocera is building a new solar cell manufacturing facility in Yasu City, Shiga Prefecture, said to be the company's largest plant in Japan. Production is scheduled in the spring of 2010 with estimated output of 300 megawatt to 650 MW by March 2012.

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November 14, 2008

Dow's Energy Plan for America

Maybe our friend amorris19 got something about Dow Chemical's CEO Andrew Liveris being a candidate for Energy Secretary after all. Dow just announced today its own energy plan for America, something like what T. Boone Pickens has been doing before the election but much more expanded to other than just renewable energy.

According to Dow, volatile natural gas price in the past 20 years have resulted in a net loss of 120,000 chemical industry-related jobs in the US and more than 3 million jobs in the manufacturing sector.
“The U.S. is on a course to spend more than $500 billion per year to import oil — nearly the amount authorized one time for the financial rescue package recently passed by Congress,” said Liveris “At Dow, we believe a new comprehensive energy policy is critical to the overall economic health of the nation.”

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November 13, 2008

Green job hiring

Maybe a low carbon economy might give jobs back not only to the US manufacturing sector (solar, wind, hybrid cars) but to the now jobless members of the financial institution as well.

I received an email this week about the growing carbon trading market and the current need for consultants, bankers, brokers, investors and traders:
Dear Doris,

As I’m sure you are aware the Kyoto / Carbon space continues to grow exponentially, and there is an ever increasing demand for talented people who can service the requirements of industry players; whether it be Consultancies, Project developers, Aggregators, right through to Energy trading, Investment Banking and Private Equity.

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November 12, 2008

Beef liver in car fuel

The American Institute of Chemical Engineer's (AIChE) Centennial annual meeting in Philadephia next week will prove to be an exciting event especially with its much-awaited 10th annual Chem-E car competition in November 16.

Different US university teams will race small cars powered by their futuristic idea of alternative fuels from different chemical reactions such as beef liver and hydrogen peroxide, Mentos® and Coca Cola®, and homemade fuel cells.

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Melamine in milk? Use zNose

No, I am not talking about using your nose to sniff bad milk odor in grocery shelves for melamine contamination. The California-based company Electronic Sensor Technology (EST) said they have developed a method using their zNose product for detecting and measuring melamine in less than 3 minutes and without modifying the sample for testing.

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Glycerine to methanol

Glycerine, a byproduct of biodiesel production, is proving to be a really versatile chemical with this new breakthrough from Oxford University in the UK.

Oxford researchers said they were able to produce methanol directly by catalytic hydrogenolysis of glycerine using a precious metal catalyst in industrially mild conditions of just 100°C temperature and a 20 bar pressure of hydrogen gas.

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November 11, 2008

Obama cabinet picks

I just received a suggestion from amorris19 that Dow Chemical's Andrew Liveris should be picked as Obama's new Secretary of Energy. He (or she) reasoned that Dow should know firsthand the need to conserve and diversify domestic energy resources; the need to focus on energy efficiency (starting from manufacturing to transportation/distribution to consumer); and the need to accelerate development in alternative energy.

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Weekly news roundup

I intentionally delayed the weekly news roundup so the birthday post will be prominent all day yesterday (did I mention I like receiving congratulation comments??).

Here is last week's green news. It seems that there are a lot more gloom-and-doom scenario from various energy-intensive industries - chemicals, steel, paper, power, and other industrial and manufacturing sectors - now that the administration and Congress became more blue-blooded (figuratively-speaking).

Lithium battery buyout
Private equity firm Arsenal Capital bought Ferro Corporation's fine chemicals business, which is a big manufacturer of electrolytes and materials used for lithium batteries, ultracapacitors and other energy storage devices.

Silica in green tires
Rhodia and Dow Corning will develop and commercialize new silica/silane products principally to help reduce the rolling resistance of tires and hence reduce fuel consumption and CO2 emissions in automobiles.

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November 10, 2008

Happy Birthday to the Green blog!

November 8 was the blog's one year anniversary and I am glad to say that within a year, the blog has been able to generate almost 500 posts (460 right now and counting) and almost 100 comments (1 million++ if you count junk comments)!

According to the higher beings who track the blog's progress, the number of hits the blog had this year jumped from 155 total visits in January to 2,308 in October. The blog had total page views of 4,105 and total unique users of 2,064 last month compared to the meager 286 page views and 119 unique users in January.


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November 7, 2008

The Obama Nation: Will it be green?

Now that Obama is going to be the next president and the US Congress will be dominated by the blue party, there were a lot of optimism in the green sphere as well as slight pessimism (sometimes diplomatically called cautiously optimism) in the chemical and manufacturing sectors.

According to ICIS news, there are high expectations from major environmental groups that the Obama administration will be in favor of tightening chemicals regulations as well as more legislation on climate and pollution control.

Their wish list for the new Congress includes among others a passage for a cap-and-trade bill; a chemicals control bill that is likened (or better) to the European Union's chemical regulation Reach (registration, evaluation and authorization of chemicals); and renewal of the special tax on chemical producers to fund clean-up projects at polluted sites around the country.

Meanwhile, ICIS news also noted that the new administration will be a challenge to businesses such as chemicals, petroleum, electricity, coal, steel, and other manufacturing sectors that are energy-intensive.

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November 6, 2008

No more free NYC plastic bags?

The plastic industry has often been heard this year accusing several US municipal governments of making them their scapegoat by supplementing city coffers with taxes or charging fees for the use of plastic products such as water bottle or supermarket bags.

They might be right this time when Mayor Bloomberg of New York City announced its plans to charge New Yorkers a nickel for each plastic bag they use at every store (any kind of store even your favorite deli in the street corner). This, along with other city budget cuts, is in order to plug New York City's expected $4bn budget shortfall for the next two years, according to the New York Times.

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Cheap mushroom band-aids

Scientists from my birth country, the Philippines, are said to have developed band-aids made from the fibers of the edible mushroom volvariella volvacea (incorporated in fibrous materials from agro-industrial wastes, alginate or stabilizer and textile fiber).

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GreenExchange in San Francisco

A very exciting green event is going to be held in January next year in San Francisco.

ICIS Chemical Business (the magazine I work for) is co-sponsoring a roundtable event within a newly launched green chemistry program called GreenExchange at InformexUSA, an annual tradeshow for buyers and sellers in the fine, custom and specialty chemical manufacturing industry.

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Chemicals enhance green Jaymobile

Plastic producer SABIC says it was able to help Jay Leno's lean green 650 horsepower EcoJet machine to be more fuel efficient using the company's lightweight Lexan GLX resin.

The talk-show host of the Tonight Show has been working with General Motor's design team in building his biodiesel-fueled EcoJet supercar, which combines racecar-like performance and muscular design with "green principles".

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November 5, 2008

Dow Corning cuts waste

Silicone manufacturer Dow Corning said it made significant progress in reducing their waste partly through its materials conversion program, which converts or recycles its waste, scrap and off-spec silicone materials instead of sending them to landfill or incineration. Materials are then reprocessed into new products that meet customers' specifications.

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EPA's E-cycling guidelines

The Environmental Protection Agency put out its voluntary Responsible Recycling Practices for electronic waste materials, which can be used as guidelines for accreditation programs to verify that electronic recyclers in the US and outside the US are handling, recycling and even refurbishing their materials in a safe and responsible manner.

The guidelines target materials such as cathode ray tubes (CRTs) and CRT glass; circuit boards (unless they have had batteries and mercury-containing items removed and are lead free); batteries; and items containing mercury and/or polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), both in EOL equipment and when separated as components.

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World Toilet Summit

I was eating breakfast while surfing the web, and thinking of serious election-aftermath stuff to post in the blog when this news about this week's ongoing World Toilet Summit in Macau caught my attention.

At first I was amused by the notion of a global toilet expo and all the crappy notions that could be attached to it. Reading the event's objectives, however, made me realize how the lack of sustainable sanitation worldwide is getting to be one of the biggest problems that every human being should consider and think about.

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Obama wins US presidential election

It has been a very exciting night waiting for the outcome of a historic US presidential election and I just want to share the news to the green blog readers that Senator Barack Obama won.

More analysis to come in the days ahead on how the incoming new administration, with the democratic party now going to occupy both the legislative and executive branch, will affect the green industry in the US.

November 4, 2008

My last political post for the day

Here is a better insight on Obama and McCain's green positions from Sustainablebusiness.com

McCain is said to have a 24% green voting record while Obama has an 87% green voting record according to the League of Conservation (LCV) Voters Scorecard. Also, the oil and gas industry reportedly donated $1.7 million to Senator McCain and $500 thousand to Senator Obama.

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More politics on energy

Here's another energy-based issue that both US presidential candidates seem to agree on: the development of clean coal.

According to the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (ACCCE), both Obama and McCain recognized the need for clean coal technology in order to utilize abundant coal resource in the US for energy source.

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Presidential candidates on energy

I just voted this morning for my presidential pick and it is a thrill to be part of an historical event. I don't know if this will help but for those who are still yet undecided and maybe looking at Obama and McCain's stands on oil and energy, here are some of what they have to say about these issues (courtesy of Google).

Obama:
“I'll invest $150 billion over the next decade in affordable, renewable sources of energy -- wind power and solar power and the next generation of biofuels; an investment that will lead..."

“energy is going to be key in dealing with Russia,” he said, adding: “If we can reduce our energy consumption, that reduces the amount of petro dollars that they have to make mischief around the world”

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November 3, 2008

Financial crisis and $60 oil: Now what?

A colleague of mine (and several readers of the green blog) expressed a spreading sentiment of uncertainty whether the current financial crisis and the price downfall of crude oil will put a brake in the investment surge towards renewable energy and other clean technologies.

Venture capital investments for cleantech companies have done well for the past 3 quarters, according to both Cleantech Group and Ernst & Young.

In the US, Ernst & Young reported investments in cleantech companies reached a record $1.6 billion in Q3 2008, up 55% from the previous quarter. A total of $3.3 billion was invested in the first three quarters of 2008, surpassing the figure for the same period last year by 71%.

Companies who deal with solar, energy efficiency, alternative fuels, hybrid transportation, and water, were some of the big green financing recipients this year.

Ernst & Young does not expect investments to slow down next year:
"In light of challenging economic times, the US cleantech market may be entering a transitional period. However, the structural market drivers of the cleantech sector remain intact, suggesting that the prospect for long-term market development is positive," says Joseph Muscat, Americas Director of Cleantech and Venture Capital, Ernst & Young LLP.

"Factors such as technological advances, consumer demand and programs at both the federal and state-level help to create the conditions needed for long-term growth in cleantech."

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Greenhouse gas on the rise

A report from NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) said methane emission in the atmosphere is on the rise again across the globe.

The rise in Northern Hemispheric emissions may be a result of very warm conditions over Siberia throughout 2007, potentially leading to increased bacterial emissions from wetland areas. Potential cause for an increase in Southern Hemispheric emissions is still less clear.

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Weekly News Roundup

The green blog is waiting with bated breath for who will be the US' next president come Wednesday. Both Obama and McCain promised funding for renewable energy, which is good news for the chemical industry overall. Environmental proponents and green groups, however, are definitely rooting for the democratic candidate whose party seems more inclined in tightening environmental standards in the US.

Whoever wins, it will be interesting to find out how the green industry will fare under a new US leadership.

For now, here is this week's news roundup.

CO2 to fuel coming soon
Carbon Sciences anticipates the completion of a prototype that will demonstrate its innovative biocatalytic CO2 to fuel process by Q1 2009. The company's ultimate goal is to license this technology to oil and gas companies and large CO2 emitters.

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October Green chems

I'm having a little difficulty finding newly launched green chemicals from last month. Could it be that some of the laboratories are taking a break? Or maybe companies are a little bit prudent these days in launching new products. We'll just wait and see for the rest of the year...

1. Low global warming blowing agent - Honeywell has begun selling its hydrofluoroolefin HFO-1234ze blowing agent for one component foam and aerosol and applications in Europe. The blowing agent has zero ozone-depletion potential and meets EU regulatory requirements for reducing the use of high global-warming-potential (GWP) substances.

2. Green water-borne paint - Kansas companies Premier Paint 2000 & C3 Technology, along with California-based Tech Line Coatings have introduced their water-borne clear coat for the automotive paint market, which is said to exceed EPA standards on volatile organic compounds (VOC) emissions. The coating, which is expected to be commercialized in January 2009, reportedly does not contain isocyanates.

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