June 29, 2009

Greenest US governors

Speaking of California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, did you know that he is listed as the second greenest governor in the US following Governor Bill Ritter of Colorado?

This is according to Greenopia, which recently released its ranking of 50 Greenest Governors in the US. Following Schwarzenegger is Ted Kulongoski of Oregon. Sarah Palin of Alaska, Mitchell Daniels of Indiana, and Piyush Jindal of Louisiana were at the bottom 3 of the list.

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Electric vehicles now coming out

There had been a lot of news on electric vehicles launch and development and I was unable to post them until now

First stop, last week, US petrochemical company ExxonMobil Chemical launched an electric car sharing and rental program called AltCar in Baltimore, Maryland, alongside Canadian battery developer Electrovaya.

Vehicles in the program called the Maya-300, are powered by lithium ion battery technology that uses ExxonMobil's battery separator film, which the company manufactures in Nasu, Japan, together with Japanese affiliate TonenGeneral.

ExxonMobil said Baltimore residents and tourists can rent the vehicles at the science center in the Baltimore Inner Harbor during the day. (I wonder how much is the rent though?) Aside from the program, the company also invested in an exhibit for the science center that includes hands-on activities for children and a full-scale car that showcases clean transportation technologies currently being used in the automotive industry.

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Weekly News Roundup

A very busy week last week with lots of bioplastic and recycling news from the plastic show NPE2009; green chemistry news from the American Chemical Society's annual Green Chemistry and Engineering conference; and the House debates (and finally approval) on the American Clean and Energy Security (ACES) bill.

This week, ICIS Chemical Business is also featuring white biotechnology as preview to the annual World Congress on Industrial Biotechnology and Bioprocessing (WIBCC) conference by BIO which will be held on July 19-22 in Montreal, Canada. I will be attending the show and hopefully get lots of tweets and blogs posts to share.

For now, here are this week's news roundup:

Carbon capture deal

IFP and ENEL signed a deal to test the first-generation post-combustion capture process, developed by IFP, on a pilot unit to be built by ENEL at the coal-fired power station in Brindisi (Italy). IFP has developed a first-generation flue gas scrubbing technology using chemical solvents.

Battery safety R&D award
Advanced lithium-ion automotive battery developer EnerDel has been awarded up to $3.3 million for a cost-share research project under the U.S. Department of Energy. The EnerDel will focus on the development of innovative technologies to eliminate overcharging in lithium-ion cells.

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June 25, 2009

Clues that your're an environmentalist

Got this email this morning from the Natural Marketing Institute.

Top 10 Clues That You're an Environmentalist:
  1. Your workplace doesn't have recycling so you bring everything home
  2. Your Tupperware® collection consists of reclaimed takeout containers, yogurt containers, and salvaged jars
  3. You have maximized the number of places to dry Ziploc® bags in your kitchen

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Get your hydrogen...from chicken?

Scientists at the University of Delaware say they have developed a new hydrogen storage method that can hold vast amounts of hydrogen at a far lower cost than other hydrogen storage systems under consideration.

The researchers used chicken feather fibers, which they said are mostly composed of keratin, a natural protein that forms strong, hollow tubes. When heated, the protein strengthen its structure and becomes more porous, increasing its surface area. The net result is carbonized chicken feather fibers, which can absorb as much or perhaps more hydrogen than carbon nanotubes or metal hydrides, two other materials being studied for their hydrogen storage potential.

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What's bio at the plastic show?

My colleagues from ICIS are in full-force covering this week's largest plastic trade show in North America, NPE2009, in Chicago sponsored by the Society of the Plastics Industry (SPI). I've been also getting a lot of bioplastic updates from twitterer @Wi_Bioplastic (thanks!).

As ICIS reported, bioplastics, recycling, energy conservation, and additives regulation were the talk of the show. Bioplastics are said to be increasingly showing up in durables as manufacturers compete to make their products stand out.

Still, the industry as a whole, is not yet familiar with bioplastics which is a challenge, a member of the Society of Plastics Engineers said.

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June 24, 2009

Cash for Clunkers bill: Is it green?

Finally, I was able to read more about the new Cash for Clunkers bill now to be officially called Car Allowance Rebate System (C.A.R.S) by July 22, which was passed by the US Congress last week and about to be signed by President Obama. This bill generated several debates as well although not as intense as the ACES bill.

Inserted as a tiny small bill called "Consumer Assistance to Recycle and Save Act of 2009" under the War Appropriations Act HR 2346, this $1 billion stimulus bill aims not only to help revive the auto industry but to also supposedly drive purchase of more fuel-efficient vehicles.

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[Photo from Flickr By crazytales562]

June 23, 2009

Canada plans to ban phthalates

Last week Friday, Canada's Minister of Health announced their planned proposal to ban phthalates in soft vinyl toys and child-care articles as well as further reduction limits of lead in consumer products.

Canada is proposing regulations to prevent the use of six phthalates DEHP, DINP, DBP, BBP, DNOP and DIDP citing studies that suggest these chemicals are hazardous to reproduction and development in children.

[Photo image from Health Canada]

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Carbon cap and trade costs little

I was working about the Cash for Clunkers bill (where you can exchange your old car for money voucher for a new supposedly more environment-friendly car) and it was more complicated than I thought...I need to do more research about that.

So for now let's go back to the American Clean and Energy Security (ACES) bill where a new report from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated the net overall cost per household nationwide and the net costs or benefits that would be realized by households in various income quintiles if the bill would be implemented in 2020 (based on 2010 dollar value).

CBO examines the average cost per household that would result from implementing the greenhouse gas cap-and-trade program under the bill, as well as how that cost would be spread among households with different levels of income.

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June 22, 2009

Real time global carbon counter in NYC

I haven't seen this yet but definitely worth checking out during my lunch break.

A new real-time global carbon counter was unveiled last week in the heart of New York City at 33rd Street and 7th Avenue, outside Madison Square Garden and Penn Station (near Macy's). The installer, Deutsche Bank said this world's first scientifically valid, real-time carbon counter is part of their climate-change awareness and education initiative.

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P&G resin wins Green Chem award

This news came in this morning from Procter & Gamble (P&G) Chemicals about their green alkyd resin Chempol® MPS winning this year's EPA Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge award under the category Greener Chemicals Design.

The resin is based from P&G's Sefose technology which is produced from combined sugar and vegetable oil. Chempol® MPS enables formulation of paints and coatings with less than half the volatile organic compounds (VOCs) of traditional, solvent-borne alkyd coatings, according to P&G.

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Weekly News Roundup

For this week's upcoming posts, the green blog will have more plastic updates to coincide with this week's plastic feature from ICIS Chemical Business (ICB). Included in the feature is the state of plastic recycling as well as new regulations driving plastic research and development.

The blog will also look at the recently passed Cash for Clunkers bill, the emerging issues in the US organic industry, and maybe some tidbits from this week's Green Chemistry conference by the American Chemical Society. Stay tune!

For now here are this week's news roundup:

New bioplastic company
Bioethanol producer BioEnergy Int'l. has formed Myriant Technologies LLC to incorporate all of its biobased chemicals business and intellectual property. Myriant will encompass the same team of molecular biologists, engineers and chemists that developed BioEnergy’s D(-) lactic acid, which started production at commercial scale in June 2008 for use in polylactic acid (PLA).

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June 19, 2009

BPA under fire from new studies

And the bisphenol-A (BPA) cycle of "is it safe or not?" goes on...

Several studies have again come out mostly from the Endocrine Society and none of them were pleasing to the BPA manufacturers' (and consumers') ears. First stop is during the Endocrine Society's annual meeting which was held last week in Washington, DC.

The following papers were presented that according to the American Chemistry Council (ACC) have not been peer-reviewed or published in scientific literature.
  • Bisphenol-A Exposure In Utero Leads to Epigenetic Changes and Altered Developmental Programming, by Hugh Taylor, MD
  • Low-Dose Bisphenol A Promotes Arrhythmogenesis in the Female Heart Via Alteration of Calcium Handling, by Scott M. Belcher, PhD
  • Oral Exposure of Female Rhesus Monkeys..., by Frederick vom Saal, PhD.
ACC said few details were available in the abstracts and the scientists themselves bypass the scientific process in favor of sensationalism.

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Poo Power rises

Don't underestimate the chemical power of waste and sh*t (I think I've just been bleeped!)

In Manchester, UK, United Utilities and National Grid have teamed up in building a plant producing biomethane from wastewater sludge. The plant will soon power up a small town of about 5,000 homes as well as fleet of sludge trucks.

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June 18, 2009

Six Flags gone green

Following Mickey Mouse's carbon footprint, Bugs Bunny and the rest of Six Flags amusement park's characters are joining to save world from the evil greenhouse gas emissions...and save money at the same time.

Six Flags said all their vehicles and trains will now use vegetable oil (as biodiesel) generated in Six Flags kitchens. They will also be able to save energy consumption using LED lamps and lights throughout each four parks.

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Frost & Sullivan (too many!) reports

Green reports from consulting firm Frost & Sullivan especially focusing on renewable energy have been piling up for the past month. It's time to get rid of them!!.. by posting them in the blog, of course.
  • Demand for Energy-efficiency Offers High Potential for Electric Drives in the European Chemical Industry.
  • Energy-Efficient Lighting Products Boost Revenues in South Africa.
  • Breakthrough Thin-Film Technologies to Dominate the Solar Power Sector

US biorefineries step up capacities

A recent round table hosted by the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) produced interesting updates on several biorefineries planned in the US. Participants at the roundtable included Coskata, Zeachem, Genomatica and Genencor.

First let's define what a biorefinery is according to BIO:
"Bio-refinery" - a facility that integrates production of biofuels, energy and value-added chemicals or - or plastics from renewable sources of sugar - similar to the current petrochemical refinery, but with flexible feed stocks.
BIO's spokesman Paul Winters quoted a recent study by the UK Industrial Biotechnology and Innovation Growth team that estimated the current global market for biorefinery-based chemicals at $164 billion. This is up from the $150 billion 2010 projection the consulting firm McKinsey and Company estimated in 2006.

The UK study estimated demand for plant-based chemicals could generate sales of nearly $600 billion by 2025.

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June 16, 2009

Europe's future chem industry

The European Chemical Industry (Cefic) launched last week its latest sustainability vision project, the F3 Factory, under the EU Technology Platform for Sustainable Chemistry (SusChem).

Cefic and its partner EuropaBio created the multi-stakeholder SusChem in 2004, which aims to boost innovation in chemistry geared towards sustainability.

The EU-funded F3 Factory will allow faster, more efficient and more flexible production, using techniques such as process intensification (PI) to design the chemical factory of the future, said SusChem.

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Degradable petro plastics: Your thoughts?

Adding to the confusion of bioplastic definition (see comments on previous bioplastic post) is another growing sector, the development of biodegradable petroleum-based plastics.

I'm sure petroleum-plastics eventually degrade give or take a century or so (maybe even several decades if we're lucky). But brilliant chemists have found ways to make petroleum-based plastics degrade faster - either by combining them with natural-based materials (e.g. polylactic acid, starch, sugar...) or by adding plastic degrading additives.

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SC Johnson's sustainable insecticide

Another addition to my biopesticide saga, although this might be my last this summer.

For this post, SC Johnson is making sure that one of their key natural insecticide ingredient, Pyrethrum extracted from the dried flower heads of chrysanthemums, is benefiting farmers in East Africa (as well as them of course).

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June 15, 2009

The challenge of biopesticides

Got the copy of my latest article about biopesticide, with pretty cool (and a little gross) graphic of a venus flytrap.

As previously tweeted, I was intrigued by how the biopesticide industry have been struggling in the overall pesticide and crop protection market despite their products having the benefits of being environment- and regulatory-friendly (especially in the US when it comes to EPA regulation).

The truth of the matter is (and like what the chemical industry has been warning for years), companies cannot just simply market a product as green or environment-friendly. It has to be efficient in doing what it's supposed to do.

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Green trend affects biocide demand

A new report from consulting firm Kline & Company said that the green trend is affecting customers of specialty biocides within the cleaning products sector.

Biocides are chemicals used as antimicrobials (and disinfectants). Specialty biocides used in disinfectants and sanitizers in household, industrial, and institutional cleaners was estimated at $130 million in 2008, with growth at 2.9%, said Kline.

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Dow Corning green innovation

As mentioned in this week's news roundup, I attended Dow Corning's worldwide press conference (this one held in New York last week) where part of their agenda is to reinforce the company's goals toward sustainability.

Dow Corning is a major silicone producer based in Midland, Michigan. The company plans for more than 50% of its R&D projects to geared towards sustainability. In an interview with Dow Corning's CEO Stephanie Burns, she noted that 40-45% of the company's innovation projects are already linked in sustainability.

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Weekly News Roundup

The green blogger is back and really apologize for the very sparse blog. Last week was a heck of a week and glad that was over.

So what's new? Aside from finishing up a bioplastic article and a biomass-to-chemicals development interview from a University of California San Francisco professor (all of them I will hopefully post soon), I also attended one of Dow Corning's one-day worldwide press conference (one is from New York). My biopesticide article is also out right now but I will post several never-before-seen Q&A's just for the blog. I'm also getting info on BIO's roundtable discussion on industrial biotech.

Yep, that was half of my week last week so stay tune for them! For now, here are this week's news roundup:

Lyondell starts Bio-ETBE

LyondellBasell's project to produce bio-ETBE at its Channelview, Texas, plant is on schedule to start up in the fourth quarter 2009. Bio-ETBE is a high performance gasoline blending component composed of ethanol produced from biomass and natural gas liquids.

Investors for HCL CleanTech

US Venture Capital funds Burrill & Company and Khosla Ventures have invested in HCL CleanTech, a US company and its Israeli subsidiary founded by Prof. Avram Baniel, Prof. Ari Eyal and Eran Baniel. HCL CleanTech has developed a cost-efficient technology of converting lignocellulosic biomass to fermentable sugars.

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June 12, 2009

How to check if your compost is ready

I saw this bit "How to check if your compost is ready" a few months back and forgot about it until somebody retweeted it today (thanks to @greenbiztweets).

It is very timely as I just finished my bioplastic article, which talked about compostable plastics. Check that one coming out on June 29!

If you really want to learn how to compost your organic stuff (food waste...etc) the Fun Times Guide blog and natural personal care products producer Seventh Generation have some tips to share.

June 11, 2009

UL verifies its first green product

Underwriters Laboratories or UL is well known for its safety product testing (just look at the back of your electric appliances for their symbol). Now their venturing into the Eco logo categories with their first-ever green validation announced a few days ago.

UL (through its new subsidiary UL Environment) said it has validated environmental claims for a new drywall product, EcoRock(TM), manufactured by green building materials manufacturer Serious Materials. (seriously, I don't know how they came up with these company names lol!)

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June 8, 2009

Green news from Cargill

Natural-based glycerine production and reducing greenhouse gas emissions are Cargill's recent top green news.

Cargill said today that it has successfully registered and sold over 400,000 tonnes of Verified Emission Offsets through the Canadian Standards Association. The emission offsets originate from a methane gas capture project at the wastewater treatment system of its beef processing facility in High River, Alberta.

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Weekly News Roundup

The green blog is going to be spotty this week due to several deadlines (from my real day job!) and one or two company events that I have to attend. And I thought June would be slow...

Pure BDO from sugar
Genomatica demonstrated that it can process greater than 99% pure 1,4 butanediol (BDO) produced from sugar using a proprietary and cost-effective recovery process. The achievement clears the way for development of a demonstration facility to begin operating next year.

DSM enters biogas market
Royal DSM N.V. acquired privately held Biopract GmbH, which will serve as an entry point for DSM into the promising 15-20%/year biogas market. Biopract's main focus has been on the commercialization and extension of their Methaplus(TM) enzyme series for the improvement of agricultural and industrial biogas production.

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June 5, 2009

Soy Industry Adopts Environmental Standards

The palm oil industry has been the center of environmentalists' focus because of widespread deforestation going on (especially in Indonesia) blamed on some palm plantation owners.

Unilever have already promised to sustainably source their palm products feedstock while European fuel producer Neste Oil announced yesterday that they too will use solely certified sustainably-sourced palm oil for their biodiesel production by the end of 2015.

In the US and South America, however, soybeans are the main feedstock used for biodiesel production. South America is also the target of environmetalists' ire as soybean farming (Argentina and Brazil are the world's largest producers aside from the US), threaten to destroy some of the region's forests and savannahs.

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Celebrating World Environment Day

I have no idea that there is such a thing as World Environment Day but I was reminded from this corporate e-mail that came in from Reed Elsevier (our parent company) this morning:

Dear Colleagues,

Today, on World Environment Day, I would like to reiterate RE's support for environmental improvement.

While we work to meet all our environmental targets, our focus this year is reducing carbon emissions from transportation. Between 2007 and 2008, we reduced transport emissions by 16%, but I believe we can go farther, and new tools we are introducing across Reed Elsevier. In doing so, we can reduce consumption and also cost.

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June 4, 2009

Green workers feel safe says Reuters

A recent Reuters survey indicate that green collar workers (about 68% of those who were polled) felt secured in their jobs because of heightened response in the past few years from government and business to the threat of climate change.

The Reuters' Carbon Salary Survey, conducted along with green sector recruiters Acre Resources and consultants Acona, polled nearly 1,200 professionals who work in areas like renewable energy and greenhouse gas emissions trading.

The average green collar worker makes $76,000 per year, the survey showed, with half of respondents receiving an annual bonus of around $11,000. The other half received no bonus.

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Is Organic Food Sustainable?

Interesting debate from ooffoo.com about the sustainability of the organic food industry.

In the US, organic food sales still grew 16% last year already occupying almost 4% of all food products sales in the US, according to the Organic Trade Association. UK-based Soil Association reported that UK sales of organic food products increased by 19% in 2008 to £23.7 million ($38.2m).

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Battered by battery news

A lot of chemical investments going on for next generation alternative energy storage (specifically lithium ion), which could accelerate the use of plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles in the near future.

Just this week, BASF announced its plans to build North America's largest cathode material production plant in Ohio as soon as it gets a grant under the Department of Energy's Electric Drive Vehicle Battery and Component Manufacturing Initiative (part of Obama's Recovery Act).

DOE's Argonne National Laboratory and BASF signed a global licensing deal to mass produce and market Argonne's patented composite cathode materials to lithium-ion batteries manufacturers.

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June 3, 2009

Is this a green soap to you?

I read an article from the New York Times' Green Inc. blog about their interview with hotelier Richard Spigler, president of Great Addresses, the company that manages the Carlyle and also the Savoy Suites in D.C.

Spigler talked about, among other green things, their hotel's green soap called Green Natura, which he said prevents soap from being wasted because of its hollowed-out doughnut like shape.

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June 2, 2009

Gov't should stop deforestation - Unilever

Consumer goods producer Unilever said governments especially in Southeast Asia particularly Indonesia should call for a moratorium on deforestation of tropical rainforest.

Unilever CEO Paul Polman said the destruction of the world's tropical rainforests accounts for about 20% of greenhouse gases, more than the entire transport sector.

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NAMPA BPA meeting leaked

This has been going around the twittering world (in my twittering world anyway) which led to various outraged comments and further cynicism from various environmental/health advocates on bisphenol- A's (BPA) supposed safety as according to BPA manufacturers and the Food and Drug Administration.

A private meeting held on May 28 at a Washington, DC social club (The Cosmos Club) by members of the North American Metal Packaging Alliance (NAMPA) regarding BPA was leaked by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on May 29.

According to the memo supposedly obtained by the Sentinel, the meeting's goal was to develop potential communication/media strategies around BPA (there goes the communication strategy out of the window!).

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China's plastic bag use down after ban

ICIS co-blogger Paul Hodges of the Chemicals & The Economy blog reported about this article from China Daily stating that after a year of plastic bag ban in China (which started on June 1, 2008), supermarkets cut their plastic bag use by 66%.

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[Photo: Creative Commons]

May green chemicals

Green chemical development heats up in May with new product launch announcements emailed to me. Do they deserve to be in the green chemical category or not?

1. Low VOC construction chems - Specialty product manufacturer RectorSeal® has added Low-VOC (volatile organic compounds) solvent cements, primers and cleaners to its line of quality products for the building and construction trades.

2. Battery separator for electrics - ExxonMobil Chemical developed two new grades of V series co-extruded battery separator films to help make lithium-ion batteries safer than ever before for hybrid and electric vehicles, power tools and electronic devices including laptop computers.

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Weekly News Roundup

I'm back from my short vacation and I am swamped with looming deadlines unfortunately. Because of that, some of my weekend news this week are from ICIS news (which is subscription based) so pls. bear with me if the links do not go straight to the company/organization's press releases.

Arizona closes plant
Arizona Chemical confirmed to ICIS news that will permanently close its chemical plant in Port St Joe, Florida, in July, affecting about 77 jobs. The Port St Joe plant produces pine-based rosins, rosin esters and fatty acids for the adhesives, oleochemicals and inks industries.

Green cement JV
The Polish office for Competition and Consumer Protection (UOKiK) has approved a ‘green cement’ joint venture between Ciech and French construction materials giant Lafarge, reported ICIS news. The base material for the cement would come from converting industrial fly ash from a Soda Polska Ciech sodium carbonate plant in central Poland.

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