April 29, 2010

Want some toxic chemical info?

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) just opened to public access to database on chemical hazard, exposure and toxicity data under their website called ToxRefDB (Toxicity Reference Database).

Those interested in chemical toxicity can query a specific chemical and find all available public hazard, exposure, and risk-assessment data, as well as previously unpublished studies related to cancer, reproductive, and developmental toxicity.

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Petroleum people are not anti-green

The National Petrochemical & Refiners Association (NPRA) reiterated yesterday that their members are not anti-green jobs or anti-clean energy, they just want Congress not to over-tax and over-regulate the domestic refining and petrochemical industry into extinction.

NPRA president Charles Drevna presented the industry's views yesterday at a hearing entitled "Clean Energy Policies That Reduce Our Dependence on Oil" held by the US House of Representative's Subcommittee on Energy and Environment.

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April 27, 2010

Algae resins in the market this year

Just got this news from Cereplast talking about their plans to commercially introduce the first-ever algae-based resins in the market by the end of 2010.

Their proprietary resins could contain 50% or more algae biomass based resins (the rest are petroleum-based).

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Battle of ethanol: Sugarcane vs Corn

The battle over corn-based and sugarcane-based ethanol -- which one is cheaper? -- has been brewing for weeks, and I've received emails and tweets last week about statements released from both camps: the Renewable Fuel Association (RFA) and the Brazilian Sugarcane Industry Association (UNICA).

RFA accused UNICA last week of making exaggerated and (in some cases) false claims about the cost benefits of sugarcane-ethanol product over American ethanol.

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Green tires from Goodyear

I love YouTube! It makes my blogging easier by just posting videos while I'm caught up with work.

This one is about Goodyear's new Assurance Fuel Max tire, which was launched in North America last year. The tire features a proprietary fuel-saving tread compound
that helps reduce energy loss as the tire rolls, so less gas is required to keep the tire rolling. Goodyear said 4% fuel improvement is gained using the Fuel Max tires meaning drivers can save 2,600 miles worth of gas over the life of a set of 4 tires.

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April 26, 2010

Green IPO week

Big money news last week came from Amyris Biotechnologies and Codexis.

Amyris finally filed with the SEC for an initial public offering (IPO) of $100m. The company's current R&D focuses on sugarcane-based chemicals especially farnesene, a molecule which can be used as a renewable chemical ingredient for consumer and industrial products and as a fuel.
"We believe that we will be able to enter certain specialty chemical markets with farnesene if we can attain at commercial production scale the 15% yield that we have achieved at two liter scale. We will continue to seek to improve our yield of farnesene and other molecules in order to enter additional markets profitably and improve our production economics." - Amyris

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Weekly News Roundup

Dear readers:
School and work prevent me from being more blog-productive. Sorry! Hope the weekly news roundup will help make amends -Green Blogger

Commercial bio-ethyl acetate
Zeachem has produced commercial grade ethyl acetate from bio-based glacial acetic acid through an esterification reaction process. Ethyl acetate is primarily used as a solvent in paints, printing inks, pharmaceuticals and packaging and, through hydrogenation, can be refined into ethanol.

Green process for paper mills
Cerealus Holdings, in collaboration with the University of Maine, launched their bio-based technology Ceregel, a smart process proven technology that will provide paper mills with various optimization solutions enabling mills to save up to $14 per ton. The process was originally patented by DuPont and later developed by the UMaine Process Development Center.

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April 23, 2010

Bioplastic pros and cons - Video

Just filed my article about Walmart's sustainability goals (and how it affects the chemical supply chain). Check that out on ICIS Chemical Business' May 10 issue. Now back to blogging!

I'm pretty sure there are plenty of green news out there trying to position themselves for Earth Day's 40th anniversary. I'll be busy scanning my Google reader and unread green emails for the weekend. But in the meantime, I saw this video tweeted by the American Chemical Society and really love the simple chemistry explanation behind bioplastics especially polylactic acid.

This could be a fantastic material to share for teaching purposes. Enjoy!

April 19, 2010

Bioplastics in China

Interesting that after my post late last week regarding DNP's bio-succinic acid ventures in Asia, Cereplast announced today their bioplastic distribution deal with Chinese plastic company Vulcan Plastics Technology Co. Ltd. (the company is based in Hongkong under the name S&P Sourcing Co. Ltd).

Under the deal, Vulcan will distribute Cereplast's Compostables and Hybrids resins to converters and manufacturers in Guangdong and Fujian provinces, which are said to be one of the largest industrial plastic manufacturing centers in China.

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Weekly News Roundup

A busy week last week especially in Washington with the introduction of the Safe Chemicals Act of 2010. I'm sure we'll hear more of those in the coming days ahead.

This week's blog is going to be sparse again as I work on two deadlines, one of them is an insight on the impact of Walmart's sustainability strategies (especially their recent greenhouse gas emissions reductions goal) on the chemical supply chain. Hopefully this will be interesting to the readers so stay tune for that as it comes out on ICIS Chemical Business' May 10 issue.

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

Allylix new funding
Allylix completed its $9 million Series C financing, which it received from new investor Middleland Capital as well as existing investors Blue Grass Angels, Life Science Angels, Tech Coast Angels, Pasadena Angels and Tate & Lyle Ventures.

Former NatureWorks CEO in Genomatica
Genomatica has appointed Dennis McGrew as executive vice president of business development and chief business officer, and Joseph Kuterbach as the vice president of operations, engineering and technology transfer. McGrew formerly served as president and CEO of NatureWorks while Kuterbach is a career veteran of Lyondell Basell.

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April 16, 2010

Chemical reform debate is on!

The newly introduced "Safe Chemicals Act of 2010" by Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), which aims to overhaul the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) of 1976 was the biggest news in the chemical industry yesterday.

Senator Lautenberg chairs the Senate Subcommittee on Superfund, Toxics and Environmental Health. Here are the highlights of the bill:
  • Provides EPA with sufficient information to judge a chemical’s safety. Requires manufacturers to develop and submit a minimum data set for each chemical they produce, while also preventing duplicative or unnecessary testing. EPA will have full authority to request additional information needed to determine the safety of a chemical.

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April 15, 2010

Bio-succinic invades Asia

Got this news from DNP Green Technology this morning about new activities from their bio-succinic joint venture Bioamber.

Bioamber's bio-based succinic acid products are already being spread out in Asia with the help of DNP's acquisition of Sinoven Biopolymers last February. Sinoven will manufacture modified polybutylene succinate (mPBS) in China using Bioamber's bio-succinic acid.

DNP said they are looking to partner their mPBS technology with a leading producer of PBS in order to build a large scale modification plant in proximity to a PBS plant.

This morning, Bioamber announced that it has chosen Japanese chemical trading firm Mitsui & Co. to further distribute their bio-succinic acid throughout Asia.

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Waste plastic bags in lithium batteries

This is a very cool development from Argonne National Laboratory and could make plastic bags even more valuable.

Argonne chemist Vilas Pol found a way to recycle waste plastic bags into either carbon nanotubes (using a cobalt-based catalyst) or carbon spheres, which can be used in various applications such as electronics, paints, printers, lubricants and even components of rubber tire threads.

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April 14, 2010

BPA Q&A with metal packaging group

As part of my bisphenol-A (BPA) article published March 29 on ICIS Chemical Business (ICB), here is my interview with John. M. Rost, chairman of the North American Metal Packaging Alliance (NAMPA). Some of the blog's faithful readers might recall NAMPA on the spotlight of a certain Milwaukee newspaper last year.

Q: Several food companies and even retailers such as Walmart are moving to phase out BPA in their products, how is NAMPA addressing this development?

Rost: NAMPA fully supports the continued safe use of epoxy coatings for metal packaged foods. Regulatory bodies around the world have deemed BPA-based epoxy coatings to be safe in their current applications; this includes recent reviews by Health Canada, US FDA, European Food Safety Authority, as well as regulatory agencies in Japan and Germany.

NAMPA is also aware of consumer's increasing demand for alternative coatings for metal packaged foods, despite this record of success. NAMPA members are engaged in research programs to deliver those alternatives to consumers who request them. This must be done in the safest manner possible and not be immediate due to testing requirements and regulatory procedures to ensure the safety of any new product.

The current epoxy coatings have an unprecedented safety record when it comes to protecting food from real food safety issues like food borne illnesses . Whether industry is able to develop an alternative that allows for the same level of shelf-life afforded by epoxy resin is yet to be seen.

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April 13, 2010

Wacker licenses bio-acetic acid process

I've reported this in ICIS News during my trip to Wacker Chemie's Burghausen, Germany, plant late last March, but for those who doesn't have subscription, here's your chance to get some information for free.

During the trip, Wacker's senior vice president of R&D, Fridolin Stary, noted that their 500 ton/year ACEO bio-acetic acid pilot plant in Burghausen has already been up and running for the past six months and that they are licensing the technology for those who are interested.

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April 12, 2010

Cobalt's bio-butanol from pine

Among my news roundup this week, I separated this one about biobutanol from Cobalt Technologies as it sounds really interesting.

Cobalt said it was able to create biobutanol fuel using beetle-killed lodgepole pine feedstock. The company signed a fuel testing deal with Colorado State University to test the butanol's viability for commercial vehicles.

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Weekly News Roundup

It's a little rare these days for me to be able to post the Weekly News Roundup on Monday so I'm patting myself in the back. Lots of green goodies from last week by the way.

Verdezyne in ethanol deal
Industrial biotech company Verdezyne and Lallemand Ethanol Technology signed a deal to develop and commercialize genetically enhanced high-yield ethanol producing yeast. Verdezyne will use its metabolic engineering tools to rapidly introduce a proprietary pathway into an industrial yeast strain provided by Lallemand.

Purac starts lactide construction

CSM and its subsidiary Purac officially started construction of its new 75,000 tons/year lactide plant in Thailand. The plant will produce monomers for bioplastics such as polylactic acid (PLA). It will start up in the second half of 2011.

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PolyOne and Segetis in bioplastic additives

I was starting on my Weekly News Roundup this morning when I found this email in my spam box (thank goodness I scan my spam mails first before emptying the folder!).

US resin company PolyOne announced today their development partnership with Segetis aiming to explore renewable-based plasticizers. The agreement will leverage Segetis' bio-based levulinic ketal technology.

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April 9, 2010

Corn-based BPA alternative

I did promise to post some of my interviews from my recent bisphenol-A article on ICIS Chemical Business (ICB) so here's one about a possible alternative to BPA in epoxy resins.

Michael Jaffe, professor of biomedical engineering at the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT), has developed a derivative of corn-based isosorbide that has the potential to replace BPA-based epoxy resins in a number of consumer products, including the lining of tin cans.

NJIT's patent "Thermoset epoxy polymers from renewable resources" (US Patent 7,619,056) awarded in November 2009 claimed that the derivative bisglycidyl ethers can be a potential substitute for BPA in the manufacture of thermoset epoxy ethers.

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Greener chlorine production

My Wacker sustainability stories are still in the line-up but with this news from Bayer MaterialScience last week about their eco-friendly electrochemical chlorine production, I might as well include some tidbits from Wacker's chlorine production as well.

Bayer said it is building a new chlorine plant that uses common salt with annual capacity of 20,000 metric tons/year at its Chempark Krefeld-Uerdingen in Germany. The new facility will use a oxygen depolarized cathode technology, which the company said, will reduce electricity consumption by up to 30% lower than in standard membrane technology, resulting in an indirect reduction of up to 10,000 metric tons of CO2 emissions each year.

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April 8, 2010

Solar boats and planes

I'm not sure what's in the air (or maybe make it under the sun) these days but I just saw news from Bayer MaterialScience and DuPont talking about solar airplane and solar boat projects. I guess solar roofs are too boring nowadays ;-)

DuPont said it will provide innovative photovoltaic modules and high-performance marine coatings to PlanetSolar, expected to be the largest solar boat ever built. The boat will undertake the first world tour powered by solar energy in 2011.

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Green money this week

I'm back from zombie land and now ready to blog again. This morning I had an interesting conversation with DSM spokesman Herman Betten and he promised to have some green goodies (news I mean) coming up next week so we'll stay tune for that.

Meanwhile, three companies came up with some nice green bucks the past few days, two courtesy of the US Department of Energy (DOE). Both Novomer and Myriant announced this week that they received federal funds from the DOE.

Novomer said it has been awarded $2.1m in the first phase of a potential $25m federal stimulus grant for sustainable materials production from the DOE. The funding will help Novomer's waste CO2-based polymers and polyols development.

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April 6, 2010

Weekly News Roundup

I'm still feeling crappy but the blog needs attention so here are this week's news roundup. I'm hoping to be able to post my Wacker Chemie trip, overview of the Jefferson Clean Tech conference held last month, and interesting bioplastic presentations from the Chemicals Marketing & Economics group (CM&E) conference that I attended last week.

Verenium and BP extends deal
Verenium and BP have extended their joint cellulosic ethanol development program established in August 2008 for an additional four months. Verenium will receive $2.5 million per month from BP to co-fund the cellulosic ethanol program through the end of the extension period.

GM in jatropha biodiesel R&D
General Motors made a five-year partnership with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to help develop the potential of the jatropha plant for biodiesel use. Two jatropha farms will be established in India: a 16-hectare plot in Bhavngar and a 38 hectare plot in Kalol, near GM's India Car Manufacturing plant. An existing 30 hectare jatropha farm in Bhavnagar also will be managed under this project.

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April 5, 2010

Feeling green

The green blogger is out of commission for a while. Will try to recover soon.