October 27, 2010

Lithium projects galore

I've been seeing a lot of investments this year on lithium-related production capacity coming from the chemical industry especially here in the US.

Today, BASF broke ground on a $50+ million facility in Elyria, Ohio, to produce Nickel-Cobalt-Manganese (NCM) cathode materials for lithium-ion batteries that can power hybrid and full-electric vehicles. The investment has the help of $24.6 million grant from the Department of Energy (DOE) under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

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Elevance partners with Stepan

I received this news yesterday about Elevance teaming up with surfactant producer Stepan on the development and marketing of surfactants, antimicrobials and polyurethane polyols using Elevance's proprietary feedstock 9-decenoic esters and C18 dibasic ester.

I wrote an article for ICIS News but I couldn't find it so since we adhere to the blog's motto of Zero-waste, here is the article for free:

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Elevance and Stepan to market novel surfactants and PUs

US Elevance Renewable Sciences and surfactant firm Stepan plan to commercialize surfactants, antimicrobials and polyurethane polyols using 9-decenoic and C18 dibasic esters for feedstock, company officials announced on Tuesday.

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October 25, 2010

Weekly News Roundup

This week, ICIS Chemical Business features its rubber and plastics issue and the green blog's contribution of course is about bioplastics. There are several inquiries about the article so I might have to follow that up with a blog post (hopefully).

I am also working on consumer packaging, which of course, seems to also center on bioplastic so stay tune for that on November 15.

For now here are this week's news roundup:

Algenol opens algae lab
Algenol Biofuels opened its new 40,000 square-foot biofuels and green chemistry lab and R&D facility. The facility houses an advanced algae biology, engineering, carbon dioxide (CO2) and green chemistry laboratory, as part of the larger Lee Integrated Biorefinery.

Cellulosic ethanol partnership
Petrobras and Novozymes entered an agreement to develop a new route to produce second generation biofuel from sugarcane bagasse. The agreement covers the development of enzymes and production processes to produce second generation lignocellulosic ethanol from bagasse in an enzymatic process.

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October 21, 2010

Presenting: Siluria

The green blog still has Anellotech (tech - Biomass to aromatics) and Arzeda (tech -biocatalysts) to cover based on their presentations from the Biobased Chemicals East conference, but let's start with this very intriguing company Siluria - their technology is based on a breakthrough catalyst that can convert natural gas specifically methane to ethylene.

I was able to talk to CEO Alex Tkachenko who explained to me how their catalyst works. Siluria is a Silicon Valley-based start up company that begun in 2008 as a spin-off from Cambrios Technologies co-founded by MIT bioengineer Angela Belcher.

Cambrios currently focuses on commercializing a transparent electrode from  solar cells and other electronic devices using Belcher's technique for genetically engineering viruses and manipulating those virus to grow materials with unique properties (the virus collects and coats materials such as metals and carbon nanotubes forming nanowires with unique surface morphologies).

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October 20, 2010

First global Bio-PET supply chain

My colleague Clay Boswell has been sending me news from Toyota Tsusho for the past several days now about the company planning to setup an integrated bio-based polyethylene terephthalate (PET) supply chain using bioethanol as feedstock source.

First of all, I recalled Toyota Tsusho as one of Braskem's bio-PE marketing partners focused specifically for the Asian market so I guess that solves some of the upstream supply chain puzzle. Based in Nagoya City, Japan, Toyota Tsusho is a trading company setup by the Toyota Group.

On October 7, Toyota Tsusho announced their formation of a 50-50 joint venture deal with Taiwan-based chemical company China Man-made Fiber Corp. (CMFC) to establish Greencol Taiwan Corp. (GTC), which will produce and sell monoethylene glycol (MEG) using sugar-based ethanol as feedstock.

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October 19, 2010

Genomatica in bio-adipic acid

We've all heard about Verdezyne and Rennovia talking about the possibilities of creating 100% biological-based nylon with renewable-based adipic acid, and I wonder if this latest news from Genomatica will also place the company in the bio-adipic acid race.

The blog will talk to Genomatica about this soon but in the meantime, the company released a statement yesterday about receiving from the US Patent and Trademark Office (US PTO) two foundational patents, one, demonstrating production of cost-economic green nylon, and the other about syngas-based chemicals production.

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Weekly News Roundup

Late again...the story of my blogging life. But at least last week was packed with news!

Marine bacterium for biochemicals
Zymetis, a privately-held Maryland-based bioscience discovery company has initiated a development partnership with Genencor to explore novel methods for producing biochemicals directly from biomass feedstocks through use of the unique marine microorganism under development by Zymetis.

3M expands solar film production
3M is expanding its manufacturing facility for its 3M Ultra Barrier Solar Film in Columbia, Missouri, to support growing demand for high efficiency flexible PV modules. The expansion is scheduled to be completed in 2011.

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October 18, 2010

DSM's bio-succinic plant coming soon

DSM, in an interview with colleague Will Beacham, said that it will decide within 3-6 months if it will invest in a commercial scale biosuccinic acid plant.


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October 17, 2010

Interview: Sustainability at Eastman

My apologies for posting this interview so late...I really have to cut back on interviews lately because of my weekly column (not to mention several features stories) at ICIS Chemical Business.

Eastman launched its first sustainability review in June this year and the company is actually aiming for 2/3 of its revenue (at a minimum) from new product launches to have sustainability attributes within the next 3-5 years.

Sustainability, as everybody is well aware by now, has different meanings and criteria for each company. For Eastman, the company defines it as 'the ability in creating value to all three aspect of the triple bottom line: environmental responsibility and stewardship, social responsibility, company's economic growth.'

If you want to summarize, it's all about Planet, People, Profit.

Talking to Anne Kilgore, Eastman's director of Sustainability, she explains how sustainability is becoming a major growth driver for the company. Sales of their specialty copolyester plastic Tritan has been doing very well this year with the product being marketed as free of bisphenol-A (BPA).
"Our specialty plastics were an early adoption area for us from the sustainability movement because our downstream customers knew it, needed it and valued it," said Kilgore. "This area has a very active program like the Tritan launch. There's a lot of organic growth in this business sector."
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October 14, 2010

Avantium builds furanics pilot plant

The blog mentioned Avantium before in its coverage of the Biobased Chemicals East conference last month. The company announced today that it has started construction of its 20 tons/year pilot plant to produce furanics-based monomers and polymers starting in the first quarter of 2011.

The plant is located at the Chemelot site in Geleen, the Netherlands, where other industrial producers such as DSM and Sabic are also located. I also mentioned about Chemelot being talked about by DSM during the conference.
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Stonyfield yogurt cups from PLA

Yogurt manufacturer Stonyfield Farms announced yesterday that it is now using NatureWorks' Ingeo polylactic acid (PLA) resin for its multi-pack yogurt cups under the brands YoBaby, YoToddler and YoKids as well as B-Healthy, B-Well, Probiotic & O'Soy.

The new cups replace petroleum-based polystyrene (PS#6) and will be stamped with "Made From Plants" on the bottom. The cup is 93% made from corn-based PLA compounded by Clear Lam Packaging in Illinois, where the Ingeo resin is mixed with colorings and other additives before being sent to Stonyfield Farms. The rest of the cup materials are composed of 4% colorant made with titanium dioxide (hmmmm, I wonder if there's a slight grumble with this tidbit of information from health advocates...) and 3% additives.

Stonyfield noted that the entire multipack, including the paper label and PET lidding, is 81% bio-based material.

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October 12, 2010

No more crunchy Frito Lay bio-bags?

I have not bought any of the Sun Chips with compostable bags yet but if Frito Lay is withdrawing them from the market, then these bags must be very noisy indeed.

According to this article from the USA Today, Frito Lay is returning five of six SunChips flavors on its original packaging after complaints of the compostable bags' noisiness spread like a virus all across media outlets.



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October 11, 2010

BASF expands bioplastic capacity

Just came back from the World Detergents Conference in Switzerland and the only word that stood out during the entire event was "sustainability". A colleague from another magazine and I were actually thinking of taking a shot every time sustainability was mentioned but then we would be too drunk before the first morning break starts. =)

I will try to post a recap of the event but here's a short blog post from a surfactant/oleochemical expert Neil Burns of Neil Burns and Associates to give a glimpse of what happened during the detergent sustainability fest.

For now, back to this news from BASF about its capacity expansion for bioplastic product Ecoflex from 14,000 tonnes/year to 60,000 tonnes in Ludwigshafen, Germany. The expanded capacity is expected to come onstream at the end of 2010.

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October 8, 2010

Green Chemicals for September

 Here are September's new green chemicals list. Solar technologies rule on this one!


1. Momentive surfactant for green polyol - Momentive Performance Materials in collaboration with Cargill has developed its Niax silicone L-670 surfactant that allows for the increased use of natural oil-based polyols in foam production. The surfactant also reduces the amount of flame retardant additive required to pass flammability tests.

2. Honeywell solar materials - Honeywell introduced a new line of electronic materials that include dielectrics and dopants designed to enable manufacturers of crystalline silicon photovoltaic cells to boost their power output through use of advanced, high-efficiency cell designs.

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October 4, 2010

Weekly News Roundup

The green blogger is in Montreux, Switzerland, this week covering the World Detergents Conference, which is held every four years. In honor of the occasion, feel free (and it's free!) to read my green surfactants article published this week at ICIS Chemical Business.

The detergent conference will see keynote presentations from CEOs of major detergent producers Procter & Gamble, Unilever and Henkel. If there's wifi available, I will tweet bits and pieces of information via @ICISChemicalbiz. Stay tune! For now, here are this week's news roundup:

Braskem starts green PE plant
Braskem inaugurated its 200,000 tonnes/year sugar-based polyethylene plant in Triunfo Petrochemical Complex. The company's green PE customers include Tetra Pak, Toyota Tsusho, Shiseido, Natura, Acinplas, Johnson&Johnson, Procter&Gamble and Petropack.

BASF in Algae
BASF SE and Solix Biofuels have signed an agreement to investigate the use of algae to produce certain chemicals for BASF. Solix is a leading developer of algae cultivation technology systems and will test multiple algae species in its proprietary growth system, AGS™, for BASF.

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