October 30, 2009

Pulp producers gain in black biofuel credit

Pine chemical company Arizona Chemical is complaining about the possibility of losing their black liquor-based feedstock because of the federal tax credit that are being given to pulp mills who mix black liquor with diesel and burn them as fuel for their operations.

Black liquor, by the way, is a liquid byproduct you get at a paper mill when wood is turned into pulp. Pine chemical companies rely on these byproducts such as black liquor soap/crude tall oil and crude sulphate turpentine as feedstocks to make renewable-based chemicals.

Arizona Chemicals noted that burning black liquor for biofuels could lead to plant closings across the pine chemicals industry and increased imports of replacement products, which are primarily made of non-renewable petroleum sources.

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October 29, 2009

Honeywell getting sweet with green

My inbox was flooded this week with green news from Honeywell, which manufactures high-performance specialty materials.

First stop, the company announced that its Genetron® R-245fa refrigerant in an equipment called the 35Z Micro Power Plant, manufactured by Germany-based Turbolina GmbH & Co. KG. The equipment, which is sold to homeowners uses water heated by thermal solar panels to evaporate the refrigerant, which in turn drives a turbine to generate electricity.

The unit does not produce any carbon dioxide emissions and the remaining heat from the 35Z can be used to supply heating and hot water. (Cool! - I wonder how much this cost though?). Honeywell said the refrigerant is non-flammable, non-ozone-depleting and has low toxicity.

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October 28, 2009

UK ban on phosphates

The UK's Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) is considering the ban of inorganic phosphates in domestic laundry cleaning products (DLCPs) and is soliciting comments about it since October 22 up until January 21, 2010.

According to DEFRA, a regulatory ban is needed to reduce phosphorus pollution in the UK's water system as well as reduce the energy and chemicals used by the water industry to remove phosphorus from sewage effluent. Domestic laundry cleaning products are said to contribute 3-4% of phosphorus pollution load to the freshwater environment in the UK and Wales.

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Walmart's not-so secret green weapon

I wonder what chemical companies (who deal with Walmart directly and indirectly) think about this new tool called GreenWERCS, which Walmart said will help them analyze the products on the market and identify risks across a broad spectrum instead of looking at each chemical individually.

The chemical screening tool GreenWERCS reportedly analyzes the composition of individual products from ingredients entered by manufacturers. It also examines potential impact of those ingredients on human health and the environment.

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Trouble in palm land

One of the issues hotly debated in the ICIS oleochemicals conference that I attended last week in Berlin is the sustainability of palm oil. Palm oil and palm kernel oil account for majority of oleochemical feedstock used most especially in Southeast Asia.

Non-government organizations such as Friends of the Earth and GreenPeace have increasingly sounded the alarm on the unsustainability of palm oil stating fast deforestation in Southeast Asia especially Indonesia to make way for palm plantations.

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October 27, 2009

California tackles trash with green chemistry

California's Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) believes green chemistry will wipe away the problem of trash in the ocean as seen in this promotional video.

DTSC via its Green Chemistry Initiative program is currently developing a "Safer Alternative Regulations" that will establish a process to identify and prioritize chemicals of concern in consumer products, and a process to evaluate safer alternatives. Comments and reviews regarding the current proposed regulation is being considered, the DTSC said.

What is Itaconic acid?

Thanks to the Green Underworld Reporter about this green tech company called Itaconix that I have not encountered before.

Based in Hampton Falls, New Hampshire, Itaconix (and its partners Microbia Inc. and the University of Maine) recently received a $1.8m grant from the US Department of Agriculture and Department of Energy to produce green polymers from itaconic acid fermented with sugars extracted from hardwood biomass.

Itaconix just introduced this year its polyitaconic acid-based product line Itaconix Super Absorbent and Itaconix Dispersant, which is produced from fermented itaconic acid with corn glucose as feedstock. With the grant, the company hopes to use waste biomass and lignocellulosic instead of corn as feedstock.

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October 26, 2009

Weekly News Roundup

Ok, so I lied. I was able to compile several news after all after trying to clean out most of my unread emails from last week. As previously mentioned, there seems to be more news coming in every time I travel. Or maybe I'm just getting paranoid.

Here are last week's news in no particular order. A lot of the news by the way seem to be from the biofuels sector. Does this mean investments in biofuels are now turning around?

Ontario biomaterials partnership
Elevance is investing $1 million in a partnership with Trent University Biomaterials Research Laboratories, based in Peterborough, Ontario. Trent University's new laboratories, which opened last week, will be used to develop new biomaterials, biochemicals and bioproducts from natural oils.

Pulp ethanol not a fiction
Verenium is testing the effectiveness of its C5 technology for the creation of cellulosic ethanol from the hemicelluloses generated by the pulp and paper process through an agreement with Value Prior to Pulping (VPP), an organization created by the Agenda 2020 Technology Alliance, a special project of the American Forest and Paper Association, and CleanTech Partners.

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More green chems from Cargill

Major agribusiness company Cargill is really getting into the green industrial chemicals market aside from its BioFoam polyurethanes; bioplastic from its NatureWorks subsidiary; and the assorted vegetable oil/corn-based chems as well as its biofuels business of course.

This recent announcement is the joint production of vegetable-based coating formulations called TopScreen DS13, which was developed by Cargill's new partner Topchim, a paper and cardboard coating technology company.

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[Photo: water drop by venkane]

Metabolix in tobacco and hospital

No, this is not about Metabolix developing genetically modified tobacco so people can smoke it without having lung cancer.

Metabolix had two announcements last week, the first one is the use of its bioplastic resin Mirel in disposable hospital products; and the other is that Mirel has completed a field trial of genetically engineered tobacco that can potentially be a feedstock source for the company's polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA) biobased polymers.

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October 23, 2009

Algae coming soon in resins

Major green chemical news were being announced this week while I'm gone...of course.

Elevance and Myriant both send me a press release on Wednesday, which I'll soon post. Metabolix have two major announcements on their bioplastics; Cargill continues in its biobased industrial chemicals development this time in pulp and paper applications; and for this particular post, an interesting development in the use of algae for industrial chemicals application.

Bioplastic manufacturer Cereplast said this week that they plan to launch a new family of algae-based resins that could hit the market by 2010. The company said it will target the hybrids at the polyolefins market, mainly polypropylene and polyethylene. Cereplast is currently using feedstock such as starches from corn, tapioca, wheat and potatoes and Ingeo PLA for their bioplastic.

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October 19, 2009

Weekly News Roundup

Hello from Berlin! Being jetlagged has its perks and one of them is having the time to blog since I can't sleep. As mentioned before, I am covering ICIS' oleochemicals conference and will try to tweet all the good stuff via @ICISgreenblog (keeping my fingers crossed on that internet connection).

While I'm complaining about the size of soda bottles here in Europe (I'm thirsty!), here are this week's news roundup.

BASF likes metathesis tech

Materia has exclusively licensed its metathesis technology to BASF for use in the research and development of certain specialty chemicals. Metathesis catalysts enable the formation and manipulation of carbon-carbon bonds in the synthesis of novel specialty chemicals with superior properties as well as in the development of more efficient and low cost production processes for existing ones.

Air Products' PV contract
Air Products signed a turnkey gas supply contract to provide its SunSource(TM) Solutions liquid bulk and specialty gases, related gas distribution equipment, and engineering services to DuPont Apollo (Shenzhen) Limited at its new amorphous silicon thin-film photovoltaic (PV) facility in GuangMing New District, Shenzhen, China.

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A new green video discovered

The nice thing about traveling is you really discover something new even if you don't go out of your hotel room.

I saw this advertising on CNN International while I'm in Berlin and thought to share it. It's about Prince Charles of Wales' Rainforest Project called (of course) "The Prince's Rainforest Project." I am not sure how long it has been on TV but I sure did not see it on my local cable in the US. Or maybe I am not really watching CNN that often in the US...

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October 16, 2009

New Eco Products on the market

Here's a Friday treat that I've been compiling for several months now. If you're really into eco-products, you might want to try these newly launched stuff and let us know if you consider them really green or if they're just pure greenwash.

  • Cosentino launched in April its ECO by Cosentino, a new line of countertop and surfacing material composed of 75% recycled material. Using the materials can get points toward LEED certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. The countertops are GREENGUARD certified for low chemical emissions.
  • Baumgartens introduced in July a range of new waterless cleaners under its environmentally-friendly brand CONSERVE that is sold in tablet form with consumers adding water once ready to use. Conserve Cleaners products consists of cleaners for glass and window,multi-surface, bathroom, and odor eliminator.
  • Adco Cleaning Products LLC launched in June its new line of ecologically friendly detergent and softener under the brand AdcoEco to be sold by dry cleaners directly to consumers. The highly concentrated AdcoEco products are biodegradable and free of all harmful dyes and perfumes.

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October 15, 2009

Coskata starts flex ethanol demo plant

Coskata's start-up of its semi-commercial flexible ethanol plant in Madison, Pennsylvania, today showcases the world’s first commercially-viable flex ethanol process, according to Coskata officials.

The facility can have as much as 400 million gallons of capacity producing ethanol from numerous non-food based feedstocks such as wood biomass, agricultural waste, sustainable energy crops and construction waste. General Motors, one of Coskata's investors, will continuously test the ethanol produced its Milford Proving Grounds.

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POET now produces plastic additive

Ethanol producer POET is entering the industrial green chemicals sector with their new ethanol co-product called "Inviz", which the company said can replace petroleum-based ingredients in household products ranging from pill coatings to plastic packaging.

Inviz is made from a biodegradable, low-nutrient prolamine protein called zein found in corn.

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[Photo of John Lawton]

October 14, 2009

Green school investment is ripe

Green schools = Productive and healthy mind for students + Extra money for schools. This was the message sent last month at BASF's High Performance Buildings for Education summit held in New York City.

While construction chemical companies are indeed seeing great business potential in growing green buildings trend, there is no doubt (as seen on different case presentations that day) that the education sector will benefit greatly from making school buildings eco-friendly, energy-efficient, and sustainably designed.

According to BASF, the timing for long-term investment in school infrastructure is ripe because of the large federal economic stimulus plan which is providing schools with $90bn. The company said the summit was aimed at providing information on current construction chemicals technology available to retrofit or build green schools.

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[Photo from the Baltimore County Public Schools]

October 13, 2009

Jessica Biel and stars make a splash at Dow Live Earth Run for Water launch event


Celebrity Star Power! - not at your typical chemical industry event.

But the launch of the Dow Live Earth Run for Water event - "the largest global water initiative in history" - drew out a number of celebs supporting the cause, including actress Jessica Biel, musicians Pete Wentz and Angelique Kidjo, water advocate Alexandra Cousteau and elite triathlete and model Jenny Fletcher.

The launch event took place at The Lighthouse at Chelsea Piers in New York City.

Dow Chemical is partnering with Live Earth to combat the global water crisis by raising awareness and funding for water projects worldwide.

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October 12, 2009

Bioplastic keeps Teijin busy

Japanese chemical company Teijin has been very busy last month with its bioplastic business.

After rolling out in early September its first bioplastic eyeglasses in partnership with eyewear manufacturer Tanaka Foresight, Teijin also rolled out (literally) its green carpet (also literally and figuratively) at the 22nd Tokyo International Film Festival. The film festival first used Teijin's eco-friendly carpet last year.

This year's green carpet used around 23,000 half-liter recycled PET bottles.

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Weekly News Roundup

The green chemicals blog will be sporadic next week as I cover the ICIS World Oleochemicals conference in Berlin. I'm expecting lots of good information on the current market for vegetable oil and animal fats-based chemicals and will tweet them live as long as I have good internet connection there. Check out @ICISgreenblog next week!

For now here are this week's news roundup:

Algae chemical partnership
Blue Marble Energy and Bionavitas formed a partnership where Blue Marble Energy will produce high-margin biochemicals from microalgae supplied by Bionavitas.

Clean fuels from syngas
Honeywell's UOP LLC company expanded its alliance with Rentech to support clean fuels production, adding UOP gas processing technology for the treatment of synthesis gas from sources such as biomass, natural gas and coal.

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October 9, 2009

Chemical firms love biofuel

There are several chemical companies who like what they see when it comes to biofuel's growth in demand. Why? Because it gives them the opportunity to develop (and sell) products that make biofuel cheaper and more efficient to use.

Take for an example companies such as Albemarle, BASF, and Evonik who offer high performance catalysts for efficient production of biodiesel; while companies like Lanxess and Rhodia offer biofuel additives that are especially necessary when using feedstock such as vegetable oil, which can become rancid in fuel tanks caused by air exposure.

A very brief interview with Jose Berges, senior vice president and general manager at Evonik's Electrolysis products & Alcoxides business, noted Evonik's strategies in being close to major biofuel markets. Below is a snapshot of the interview with Mr. Berges.

Q: What is Evonik's overall strategy when it comes to alternative fuels? Why venture in these areas?

Berges: Biofuels is one of the most important megatrends in the global economy. As the world's leading supplier of catalysts for biodiesel production, we are present in all markets in order to be close to our customers and to be their partner for growth. We have plants in Europe and the US and will look into further production sites wherever the market requires this.

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October 8, 2009

ICB's green automotive issue

ICIS Chemical Business (the magazine I work for) published this week its automotive issue and most of the topics seem to congregate on making automobiles green via fuel efficiency and use of renewable fuels.

Andy Brice wrote "The Weighting Game" which talked about innovative chemical products (an example is biobased engineering plastics) that reduce the weight of vehicles, and thus making them more economical and reduces emissions.

Consultants from PricewaterhouseCoopers wrote about the new CAFE (Corporate Average Fuel Economy) standards being recommended by the EPA, which calls for a new minimum average fuel economy requirements of 35.5 miles/gallon for vehicles by 2016 compared to the current 27.5 mpg. The change won't be cheap they said.

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Metabolix targets bioplastic bottle

Metabolix announced yesterday about a $350,000 grant from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) to develop biobased biodegradable HDPE-alternative plastic bottle.

The biodegradable resins are expected to be used for blow molded bottles and other containers. Metabolix cites that over 2 million tons/year of high density polyethylene are used for this application as according to the American Plastics Council.

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October 7, 2009

What's green with polyurethane?

I'm receiving a lot of updates from the American Chemistry Council's Polyurethanes 2009 technical conference especially about their renewable content technical session.

Here are some presentation tidbits from that session:
  • Battelle Memorial Institute reported a versatile approach to making renewable-content flexible foams derived from vegetable oils, animal fats, and fatty acids using between 20% to 40% glycerine.
  • Cargill discussed their new BiOH polyol designed for the production of viscoelastic foams with very high renewable content as well as outstanding performance (in furniture applications).

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BP likes US wind

There must be something in the US wind energy market that attracts big oil and energy firm BP.

Last month, BP said it will focus its wind energy portfolio in the US while at the same time divesting its wind power interests in India. BP's subsidiary, BP Energy India Private Limited (BPEIPL), which owns and operates three wind farms in India with a total generating capacity of approximately 100 megawatts (MW), was sold for a total cash-free, debt-free enterprise value of around $95 million to Green Infra Limited.

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North Carolina starts plastic bottle ban

October 1 is the start of banning plastic bottle waste in North Carolina's landfills along with clean wood waste, e-waste, wooden pallets and motor vehicle oil filter.

With plastic bottles, the law encourages people to recycling instead, said Raleigh City officials. Raleigh residents, they said, can put the plastic bottles in their City-issued recycling bins.

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October 6, 2009

Dow enters solar shingles market

A recent interview with Dow Chemical (by ICB editor Joe Chang) reveals that the company estimates sales potential for its new solar shingles of around $5bn by 2015 and $10-11bn by 2020.

The company unveiled yesterday its line of DOW™ POWERHOUSE™ Solar Shingle, said to be a revolutionary photovoltaic solar panels in the form of solar shingles that can be integrated into rooftops with standard asphalt shingle materials. The solar panels are made of low-cost, thin-film CIGS (copper indium gallium deselenide) photovoltaic cells.

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Poop-based ethanol in the horizon

Municipal wastewater solids could be a "hot" biofuel feedstock in the future thanks to continuous developments from companies such as Qteros and Applied CleanTech (ACT).

The companies announced today that they have formed a joint development project for more efficient and low-cost ethanol production using ACT's Sewage Recycling System to produce the waste-based feedstock Recyllose.

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[Photo caption: Recyllose combustible]

October 5, 2009

Billion dollar funding for carbon capture

Wow! There really seems to be plenty of stimulus money floating around when it comes green/clean technology development funding.

This time, the US Department of Energy (DoE) is awarding $1.4 billion for 12 carbon capture and storage (CCS) projects. The first funding phase will involve a total investment of $44.1m (from both the stimulus funds and private funds), and the remaining stimulus grant will be awarded to those who can prove their technology works.

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Arkema's 100% bioplastic elastomer

We will soon see a 100% renewable-based content on thermoplastic elastomers being used in automotive parts, electronics and sports equipment.

Arkema said today that it has developed a 100% renewable-based high performance thermoplastic elastomer range using the company's combined castor oil chemistry and bio-based polyol technology.

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Monthly new green chemicals

Here are last month's newly launched green chemicals for readers' perusal. Remember, green is in the definition of the reader (or producer)!

1. Chemtura's mercury remover - Chemtura has launched its GeoBrom™ family of bromine and brominated derivative products for companies employing bromine technologies in the removal of toxic mercury emitted during the combustion of coal in power plants and other coal-fired boilers.

2. BASF green concrete - BASF Construction Chemicals has developed an advanced concrete optimization service called Green Sense Concrete technology that uses BASF’s mixture proportioning expertise to determine the optimal combination of recycled materials and tailor-made chemical admixtures needed to improve the desired slump, setting characteristics, strength, and durability of concrete.

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Weekly News Roundup

Last week was rife with news about the EPA's plan to regulate greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from power plants and manufacturing facilities, as well as planned shake up of EPA's existing chemicals management program (TSCA).

Chemical industry organizations seem ok with the TSCA reform although the same cannot be said with the greenhouse gas emissions regulation. The EPA estimates that its anticipated rulemaking on GHG emissions under the Clean Air Act will likely apply to 14,000 US power stations, refineries and factories. The National Petrochemical and Refiners Association (NPRA) was quick to challenge the agency stating that the EPA lacked the legal authority to decide which facilities should be regulated and which should be exempted.

More on those issues in the coming days ahead. Meanwhile, here are this week's news roundup.

Biomass fuel association formed
Advanced biofuel producers announced the formation of the Low Carbon Synthetic Fuels Association (LCSFA) representing the Biomass-to-Liquids (BtL) industry. The LCSFA was formed to address existing legislative and regulatory inequities that have slowed or even hindered the development of advanced biofuels.

Arkema's recycle solution

Arkema has developed Rcycle™, a global service package based on recycling biobased Rilsan® and Pebax® technical polymers. Rcycle™ covers the collection and sorting of waste, and its reuse in a range of recycled polymers.

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October 1, 2009

Gevo's biobutanol on its way

Gevo said it is ready to rock the biofuels market with its ethanol facility-based biobutanol.

Soon, ethanol producers can also manufacture Gevo's biobutanol product as Gevo successfully started up its worldwide-first biobutanol demonstration plant in St. Joseph, Missouri, which is designed from retrofitting an existing demonstration scale ethanol plant.

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Clean tech beats biotech and IT

A virtual press conference yesterday from Cleantech Group and Deloitte announced that venture capital (VC) investments for clean technologies in the third quarter of this year overtook investments for (medical) biotechnology and IT.

Cleantech group defines clean technology as a diverse range of products, services and processes that are intended to reduce or eliminate negative ecological impacts while at the same improving the productive and responsible use of natural resources at lower costs and with improved performance.

Green chemistry, along with industrial biotechnology is included in their scope of analysis under "MATERIALS" although Cleantech and their partner Deloitte do not really cover these areas that much except for biofuels (pity...).

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