January 26, 2010

ICB's green cleaning updates

Hello from sunny (albeit a little cooler) Orlando, Florida! As mentioned in my previous post, I am covering the annual Soap and Detergent Association (SDA) meeting this week.

Today, I was supposed to tweet (via @ICISgreenblog) about a presentation from the Fragrance Materials Association as it would have been great to learn more about what's going in the fragrance industry when it comes to regulations and sustainability. Unfortunately, I found out that it was for SDA members only (I am just a mere humble reporter with no trade organization affiliation aside from ICIS Chemical Business...).

Tomorrow, I'll start with SDA's industry update (US and global) as well as a presentation from Walmart's Albert Luiz Dominguez (VP divisional merchandise manager of household paper goods and chemicals) which would be very exciting indeed!

For now, I'll leave you with ICB's soap and detergent issue for this week covering green detergent formulation; update about the fats and oils-based chemicals (oleochemicals) industry; regulatory updates affecting the soap and detergent industry; market and pricing updates on glycerin, fatty acids, and fatty alcohols; and the European chemical legislation Reach affecting the cleaning industry.

More restructuring ahead for oleochemicals by me!

Soaps and detergents industry prepares for Reach 2010 deadline by Philippa Jones

US glycerin prices ready to rocket, fatty alcohols and acids see upward pricing pressure by Ben Lefebvre and Judith Taylor

Detergent producers look to highlight ecologically sound formulations by Lou Reade

Soap and Detergent Association pursues science-based agenda by Clay Boswell

January 25, 2010

Bubbling green detergents

As a sneak preview for this week's Soap and Detergent Association meeting in Orlando, Florida, here are some updates on the green cleaning trend. Don

Searching the Green blog back in June produced interesting new chemicals launched last year targeting sustainable cleaning.

In the enzymes area, producer Genencor introduced in December its PrimaGreen® EcoLight 1 Bleaching Enzyme Treatment for denim bleaching. With the enzyme, Genencor said denim can be stonewashed and bleached using a single bath, requiring significantly less water and energy than the established process.

By the way, Method just launched this month its newly packaged, highly-concentrated, biodegradable, and renewable-based (whew! That's a lot of adjectives!) laundry detergent product. The company is using what they called Smartclean Technology packaging where their detergent is packaged in a sleek, handheld precised-dosage pump bottle. The carbon footprint of their new Method Laundry Detergent is said to be 35% lower than standard 2x detergents.
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January 24, 2010

Weekly News Roundup

Posts from the green blog will be very sporadic this week as I cover this year's annual Soap and Detergent Association (SDA) meeting. Follow my tweets on @ICISgreenblog for updates on sustainable and green cleaning products. For all other twitter news about the cleaning industry, I will be reporting live via tweets (as long as there's internet connection) via @ICISchemicalbiz or just search the twitter hashtag #SDA2010.

For now here are this week's news roundup:

Cellulosic ethanol partnership

Abengoa Bioenergy and Mid-Kansas Electric Company formed a joint venture Abengoa Bioenergy Hybrid of Kansas, LLC (ABHK) to develop a commercial-scale hybrid cellulosic ethanol and power plant, which will use 2,500 tons of biomass daily to produce ethanol and electricity.

Lithium ion battery boost

Celgard will expand capacity of its microporous separators used in lithium-ion batteries at its existing Charlotte, North Carolina facility and build a new manufacturing site in Concord, North Carolina. Celgard could receive up to $18.6 million in cash incentives and tax credits from the State of North Carolina to support the expansion.

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January 21, 2010

DSM invests in green projects

Dutch chemical company DSM has been very busy this month investing left and right in renewable chemistry and clean technology.

The blog already posted earlier this month the venturing arm of DSM investing in US-based green chemistry company Segetis. DSM said the investment supports the company's ambitions to develop bio-based performance materials. Segetis is currently developing monomers, called levulinic ketals, which are built from levulinic acid, a chemical derived from cellulosic biomass, and biobased hydroxyl compounds.

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BPA-free baby bowl

Since a lot of consumers are now aware about bisphenol-A (BPA) thanks to the media, chemical company Eastman Chemical is probably reaping big rewards already for its Tritan™ copolyester as the company continues to market and develop the resin for use in BPA-free infant care products such as reusable baby bottles, pacifiers, breast pumps, bottle sterilizer lids and now in baby plastic cutlery and dishes.

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January 20, 2010

New green posts

The blog is talking about new job announcements received within the past few HOURS alone! What a coincidence huh?

Bioplastic company Cereplast said it just recruited David Homyak as its new West Coast Regional Director for sales and marketing. Mr. Homyak's previous posts include being General Electric Plastics' general manager, Western Business Region; and Western Regional sales manager for PolyOne.

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World's first bio-succinic plant running

Just got hold of this news about Bioamber -- a joint venture between US company DNP Green Technology and France-based ARD (Agro-industrie Recherches et Développements) -- announcing the successful commission of their new bio-based succinic acid plant in Pomacle, France.

The 2,000 metric tons/year facility is producing succinic acid from wheat-derived glucose, which can be used in applications such as plastics, polyurethanes, polyesters, plasticizers, solvents and de-icers.

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January 19, 2010

Cementing a green future

A green noose is slowly closing in on the cement industry, where production currently represent about 5% of global CO2 emissions.

Last month, the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) and the International Energy Agency (IEA) published a road map that calls for strong national policies as well as actions to develop commercially viable carbon capture and storage technologies to reduce global CO2 emissions from the cement industry.

The cement roadmap outlines a possible transition path for the industry to make continued contributions towards a halving of global CO2 emissions by 2050. It estimates that the cement industry could reduce its direct emissions 18% from current levels by 2050.

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Sugar electricity in Brazil

General Electric and Brazilian petrochemical company Petrobras announced sugarcane-based ethanol is now, for the first time, being used in a gas turbine system to produce electricity at the Juiz de Fora Power Plant in Minas Gerais state.

Speaking of Brazilian energy and electricity, ICIS Chemical Business published last week its energy issue and an article by global editor Joseph Chang talked about the US and Brazil aiming to boost production of natural gas and sugarcane, respectively, to meet their energy needs.

The US is likely has around 100 years of natural gas reserves, according to the America's Natural Gas Alliance (ANGA) while UNICA, the Brazilian sugarcane association, projects that Brazil will boost its sugarcane ethanol production from 27.5bn liters in the 2008/09 harvest year to 46.9bn liters by 2015/16.

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Weekly News Roundup

Last week was a busy news week with new grants announcement coming from the Department of Energy (DOE); the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announcing that they still can't decide what to do with bisphenol-A (BPA); and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announcing their goals for the year and beyond.

Next week, I'm off to Disney World (Orlando, Florida) attending the Soap and Detergent Association meeting. I'm hoping to get more information about sustainability and green trends within the cleaning industry as well as updates on the cleaning industry's consumer product ingredient communication initiative.

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

SC Johnson's wind project
SC Johnson has launched a wind energy pilot program at their headquarters campus with the installation of three new wind turbines. American Renewable Power of Wisconsin installs the Swift turbines designed by Cascade Engineering, Inc.

White biotech collaboration
Germany-based RWE Power and BRAIN AG have joined forces to developed processes to convert carbon dioxide into microbial biomass or biomolecules as new sources of raw materials for new biomaterials, bioplastics and chemical by-products. Possible applications, now being explored, include building and isolation materials and the production of fine and specialty chemicals.

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January 15, 2010

FDA supports reduced BPA use

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced today its support towards reducing the manufacture of products that use/contain bisphenol-A (BPA) such as in baby bottles, infant feeding cups and food can linings while the agency continues to dither whether or not to ban these products.

The FDA said studies employing standardized toxicity tests still continues to affirm the safety of current low levels of human exposure to BPA. But pressures from the media, consumer advocates, and study-after-study announcing the possible harmful effects of BPA, even at very low levels, forces the FDA to reconsider its stand.

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January 14, 2010

Biofuel R&D updates

The biofuel industry might be struggling right now but advanced technology developments are definitely still alive and kicking -- especially if government grants and funding from both public and private sector are flowing in.

There are sooo many news this past two weeks but the recent ones that came into my attention are Cobalt's new biobutanol demo facility in California; Cavitation Technologies' new patent on algal extraction for biofuel; renewable jet fuels using camelina oilseed; and advancement of jatropha-based biofuels.

Cobalt formally launched this week its first biomass-based n-butanol pilot facility in California. The chemical can be used as a standalone fuel; blended with gasoline, diesel and ethanol; converted into jet fuel or plastics, or even sold as is for use in paints and coatings.

The company intends to quickly scale up its technology, adding two additional small-scale plants and a commercial 15-to-50-million-gallon plant by 2014 and producing biobutanol that is competitive with corn-based ethanol by 2012.

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New US biofuel consortia

The US Department of Energy (DOE) announced yesterday the formation of two new biofuels consortia -- National Alliance for Advanced Biofuels and Bioproducts (NAABB), and National Advanced Biofuels Consortium (NABC) -- that will receive a total of nearly $80 million under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act for advanced biofuels research.

NAABB, led by the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center based in St. Louis, MO, will get $44m to develop and demonstrate algae-based biofuels and bioproducts technology and its commercial viability. If the government and big oil/chemical companies (such as Exxon and Dow Chemical) are willing to invest in algae development, algae doubters might have to rethink their strategies this year after all...

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January 13, 2010

Green musical chairs

Our fellow green blogger G.U.R. pointed out the recent quick exit of Qteros CEO William Frey and the entrance of ex-Microbia chief business officer John McCarthy as Frey's replacement.

Qteros, for those who are not familiar with the company, develops biomass-to-ethanol process using their proprietary microbes. Looking through the blog's archives also indicates Qteros' partnership with Applied CleanTech (ACT) on poop-based ethanol.

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[Photo of John McCarthy]

The green scene at CES 2010

I might not have attended the recent Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas -- I should!! -- but there are plenty of media outlets to get information about the latest green gadgetry coming soon and w/ hopefully lesser price tags.

CES even had a separate show floor called Sustainable Planet Spotlight that highlights the latest technologies including advances in green building, alternative energy technologies and smart grid technologies. Included in the Spotlight is the Greener Gadgets Display, which features the pioneering technologies from the annual Greener Gadgets Design Competition.

Websites such as Inhabitat.com and CNET.com featured some of these latest green gadgetries. I stole some of the pictures from CNET to show it here ; ).

Photo 1: YoGen yo-yo gadget charger
Photo 2: Regen ReNu solar charger
Photo 3: Sanyo Eneloop electric bicycle

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January 12, 2010

EPA's 2010 goals

Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) director Lisa Jackson just announced in their blog her seven priorities for the agency going forward this year. These are (in shorter versions):
  • Taking Action on Climate Change - continue to develop common-sense solutions for reducing GHG emissions from large stationary sources like power plants, etc..
  • Assuring the Safety of Chemicals - At the end of 2009, EPA released its first-ever chemical management plans for four groups of substances, and more plans are in the pipeline for 2010.
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Cereplast Q&A snapshot

A lot of press releases from bioplastic company Cereplast came out the past two weeks and since I've been planning to write an article about them for ICIS Chemical Business' February 8 issue, I might as well post a shorter version of my interview with the company today.

I had the pleasure to interview Cereplast's CEO Frederic Scheer late December and got great information about the company's plans for 2010. Two articles were already written for ICIS news last week although they're for subscribers only.

US bioplastics firm Cereplast to move ops to Indiana-04/01/2010-ICIS News

Cereplast to expand European bioplastics distribution-04/01/2010-ICIS News

But here's a brief snapshots of my interview as a sneak peek for my February 8 article:

Q: How did the business fared in 2009?

Scheer: Last year was a very challenging year for us because we are in an industry that is still at its infancy. Bioplastic resins are generally more expensive to traditional resins so when the entire economy is shrinking, the environment is not the top priority anymore as everybody is thinking about survival. We are expecting 2009 revenue to be around $3-$4m. The restructuring program that we started last year, however, is helping us not only to survive but to do things that are critical for our business. We shaved a lot of costs and we were able to successfully raised money three times, in early January, in July and in December last year.

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Weekly News Roundup

Sigh...maybe I should just put the Weekly News Roundup to Tuesday instead if I keep missing my Monday deadline...Here are this week's roundup of last week's news!

Expanding animal fats biz
Darling International has completed its acquisition of certain rendering, grease collection and trap servicing business from Sanimax USA Inc. Rendered animal fats are primarily sold to agricultural, leather, oleo-chemical and bio-diesel manufacturers.

Solar power fluid supply
Chemical company Solutia will be supplying Therminol® VP-1 synthetic heat transfer fluid for Solnova 4, a new 50 MW concentrating solar power (CSP) plant in Sevilla, Spain managed by Abener.

Bio-lycopene milestone
Microbia has developed microbial strains that produce commercially significant levels of lycopene via fermentation — well in excess of five grams per liter. The company expects its first lycopene sales to occur as early as 2010.

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January 11, 2010

Secret chemicals are out

I've been seeing this issue for days now and I might as well put it out before it disappears (which is probably unlikely!).

A recent report from the Environmental Working Group (EWG), which spurred the publication of a Washington Post article, talked about 17,000 chemicals that are being kept secret (their names and properties) from the public under the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Confidential Business Information (CBI) claims.

Under the 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), EWG said the chemical industry has been allowed to stamp this “trade secret” claim on the identity of two-thirds of all chemicals introduced to the market in the last 27 years.

EWG said this chemical secrecy presents real threats to human health and the environment.

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Happy New Green Chemicals!

Last month might be a holiday season but there are definitely lots of green chemicals that were still launched. This was supposed to be posted last week but unfortunately I had to do articles about vegetable oil-based chemicals, biopesticide, and news articles about the bioplastic company Cereplast last week. My goal is to do better in posting this week so I'm keeping my fingers crossed!

1. Arkema's additive for biopolymers - Arkema has added a new metal release additive to its Biostrength® line of additives for biopolymers. The additive enables more consistent processing of polylactic acid plastic.

2. Albemarle eco-friendly retardants - Albemarle will commercialize in late 2010 its new organic flame retardant Earthwise GreenArmor, said to be suitable for use in a variety of plastic resins that will provide better performance across a wide range of applications.

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January 7, 2010

More funds, new CEO for Segetis

Green chemistry company Segetis is starting 2010 armed with influx of cash from new investors and a new CEO.

According to their press release, which I received last night, Segetis was able to closed a $17.2m series B round of financing coming the Malaysian Life Sciences Capital Fund and co-managed by Burrill & Company. DSM Venturing also participated in the investment as well as Segetis' first major investor Khosla ventures.

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January 6, 2010

Massive protest on global warming

Sorry folks. Got lots of deadlines this week so blog posts will be a little bit delayed. I do, however, have time to post this serious news about a massive protest on global warming happening somewhere in the US...

Thanks to ICB subeditor Fred Seelig for this one ; )

January 5, 2010

Weekly News Roundup

My resolution this year was supposed to be more on time when it comes to posting the Weekly News Roundup. Like my resolution to go to the gym more, this too failed. I'm blaming both failures on my workload ; )

Last week was still busy for news even during the holiday season. Here are some of them:

Battery acquisition
OM Group has purchased advanced battery manufacturer EaglePicher Technologies LLC. EaglePicher is actively pursuing opportunities that would leverage its advanced power storage technologies to serve the rapidly growing alternative energy market.

Glencore buys Biopetrol stake
Glencore has taken a majority stake in BIOPETROL INDUSTRIES AG through the acquisition of 50% plus one share. Biopetrol produces and sells biodiesel and pharmaceutical-grade glycerine.

US bioplastic collaboration
Australian bioplastic producer Plantic Technologies and US specialty chemical company National Starch forms a collaboration to establish a site for the manufacture of Plantic® products in the USA. Plantic will relocate its existing proprietary manufacturing lines from Australia to US.

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January 4, 2010

2009 lessons and 2010 predictions

So what do we learned from 2009? Recession drove a little bit of a decline on venture capital investments in the clean technologies sector compared to 2008 but the good news is that 2009 seem to be a record year for federal grants and funds on renewable energy, clean technology and green chemistry.

There was also proliferation of new green chemistry companies that came out and I am, in fact, going to introduce several more in the coming weeks. Activities coming from industrial biotechnology companies also held up well in 2009 although I think 2010 is the year that they really need to get more influx of funds as I have a gut feeling that their cash on hand is a little on the low side especially when banks are still tight with their money.

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