April 30, 2012

ICIS Surfactants: Day 1

April 26, 2012

Live Blog: ICIS World Surfactants 2012

April 24, 2012

Sugar fatty alcohols on the way

My article on sugar fatty alcohols has been published this week on ICIS Chemical Business and will be distributed at the ICIS World Surfactants Conference tomorrow and Thursday in New Jersey.

There's still time for those who have not yet registered! We are expecting more than 180 attendees this year and the Thursday agenda will also focus on renewable-based surfactant alternatives with presenters from Procter & Gamble Chemicals, Seventh Generation, Solazyme, LS9, Elevance Renewable Sciences, Codexis, Amyris and P2 Science.

I will be there covering the event as well. I am not sure if I can tweet this time via @ICISgreenblog but I will let you know by tomorrow.

For those who can't avail of the ICB magazine (subscription is really cheap you know...), here are some of the articles on renewable-based surfactants and oleochemicals that you can read for free (for now...).

Sugar fatty alcohols near commercialization

Natural surfactant raw materials on a slippery slope?

Performance overshadows sustainability in oleochemicals

April 19, 2012

Castor oil to the auto rescue?

The global automotive industry is abuzz with the tightened supply of polyamide 12 (also called nylon 12) which are used in cable ties, wire insulation, flexible hosing, nozzles, damping cogwheels, flexible cover caps, sheet gaskets, sealing rings, and in other fuel line applications/auto-related parts.

PA-12 is also used in plastic parts to make solar panels and cable coverings used in offshore oil and gas production.

Based on several googled websites, PA-12 reportedly have excellent properties such as high degree of dimensional stability under humidity or freezing environment; high resistance to chemicals such as hydraulic fluids, oil, fuels, grease, salt water, solvents; strong resistance to cracking under stress; high-resistance to abrasion; and has high fatigue resistance.

PA-12 also dampens noise and vibration, according to various sources. Unfortunately, I am not familiar with cars but from what I've seen on several news about this PA-12, this is an important chemical for the automobile industry as car makers and several players along the automotive supply chain held an emergency meeting yesterday in Detroit, Michigan, to discuss the critical issue on PA-12 shortage.

According to this article from Plastics News, there are very few suppliers worldwide of  PA-12, namely Evonik, Arkema, Ube Industries and EMS-Grivory. Global PA-12 production was estimated at around 100m lbs/year. Evonik is the only producer here vertically integrated in a key PA-12 feedstock called cyclododecatriene (CDT), which is manufactured by cyclotrimerization of butadiene.

CDT is used to make laurolactam, which in turn is used as a monomer in PA-12.

Unfortunately, a fire broke out at the end of March at Evonik's CDT facility in Marl, Germany, (two employees were killed) and CDT production (capacity is not disclosed) is expected to remain out-of-order for at least three months. This in turn, will affect PA-12 production for those who are dependent on CDT material.

Now here comes the castor part (sorry it took a while to get to this point...).

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April 17, 2012

Green chem destination: Minnesota

The BioBusiness Alliance of Minnesota (BBAM) recently released its Bio-industrial processing roadmap for the advanced biofuels and biobased chemicals industry to provide information for investors, businesses and stakeholders.

According to BBAM's projections, direct and indirect employment in bioindustrial processing companies in Minnesota could total in excess of 13,000 by 2025, up from 2,000 last year. Bioindustrial processing companies in the state include Segetis, BioAmber, XL Terra, Reluceo, Cargill Industrial Oils and Cargill BioH, Butamax, Gevo, NatureWorks, CHS, BioCee, Starch Tech, Natur-tec, EarthClean, Cortec, Lonza, Agristrand Biocomposites, Entropy Solution, Butrolix, and Jet-E.

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Seattle Mariners 'Green Field'

BASF has teamed up with US major league baseball team Seattle Mariners in launching its season-long Sustainable Saturdays program at Safeco Field where BASF will give away its compostable bags made from its Ecovio biodegradable polymers.

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Green chem products list

It has been a looong time since I last posted any product introductions and this has been in my  draft box for far too long. I hope these product news are still useful to readers.

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Weekly News Roundup

Now that my sugar-based surfactant story on ICIS Chemical Business is out of the way -- that will be published and distributed next week at the ICIS World Surfactants Conference -- here is the blog's news roundup from last week. I also included bits of news that I just came across my email inbox from two weeks ago (sorry....)

GlyEco buys MMT Technologies
Glycol recycler GlyEco will acquire certain assets of Florida-based MMT Technologies, another glycol recycler. MMT, with 2011 revenues of $500,000, has over 1,000 customers from major car dealerships, quick lube facilities and independent repair shops. GlyEco said this is its third acquisition in the past 60 days. The transaction is expected to close on May 31. An estimated 177m gallons/year of recyclable antifreeze is disposed each year in the US, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Cardia Bioplastics wins US contract
Cardia Bioplastics has been awarded an annual supply contract worth at least $500,000/year from a leading American diaper products company for hygiene films made using Cardia Biohybrid technology. Cardia Bioplastics will supply the Cardia Biohybrid hygiene films from its Nanjing/China based film manufacturing plant.

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April 12, 2012

OPINION: Notes from the Advanced Biofuels Summit

Small musings from Sam Nejame on the recent Advanced Biofuels Leadership Conference held in Washington D.C. last week. Sam Nejame is a management consultant to the biofuel and renewable chemical industries.

Despite ongoing political and economic challenges, the mood of attendees at the Advanced Biofuels Leadership Conference last week in Washington DC was one of guarded optimism… with the largest outstanding issue (beyond financing) the continuing search for economically viable cellulosic sugars.

Things seen and heard or should have known in no particular order …
  • Waste Management says every Fortune 200 company has a “Zero Landfill” strategy. Good for recycling, good for groundwater. Not so good if you sell landfill space. Hence investments in Fulcrum BioEnergy among others.

EPA cancels green chems grants

I just realized today that my phone has not been working since March 27. As I have been traveling for most of the past two weeks, I did not notice that my phone has not been ringing and I did not get indications of any voicemail until a colleague from the UK alerted me to this problem.

Thank goodness I only had 11 voicemails to go through!

But I'm betting this annoyance is not as big as the frustrations of several green chemistry researchers this week when they found out that grants they're looking forward to applying from the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have just been canceled - with no explanation whatsoever.

According to a special announcement put up yesterday in the EPA website, the EPA cancelled grant applications for what was supposed to be a $20m, four-year green chemistry program. The solicitations include creation of "Centers for Material Life Cycle Safety" and "Centers for Sustainable Molecular Design," which were part of the EPA's Science to Achieve Results (STAR) program.

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April 11, 2012

Growing phthalate-free plasticizers

The blog is not that familiar with the plasticizer market although ICIS Chemical Business has been covering some part of this market in the form of phthalate plasticizers dioctyl phthalate (DOP), di-isosonyl phthalate (DINP) and feedstock phthalic anhydride.

However, the blog has been receiving news on alternatives development to phthalates DOP and DINP, which are produced using phthalic anhydrides - obtained by oxidation of orthoxylene. These plasticizers have been scrutinized by regulatory bodies across the world.

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April 10, 2012

..And the biobutanol lawsuit goes on

Press releases of the back and forth bio-butanol patent lawsuits between Gevo and Butamax since March have piled up in the blog's inbox, and more statements just came out yesterday, April 10.

According to Gevo, the US Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) has granted the company patent number 8,153,415 entitled "Reduced By-Product Accumulation for Improved Production of Isobutanol." The '415 patent covers technology which eliminates two pathways that compete for isobutanol pathway intermediates in yeast meaning that it creates a more efficient isobutanol-producing yeast.

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April 9, 2012

ACS launches Green Chemistry contest

Want to win CA$H? Do you have a solid business plan? Do you want access to angel investors & venture capitalists? Organized by the ACS Green Chemistry Institute®, the Green Chemistry and Engineering Conference is hosting the first ever Business Plan competition. This is your chance to showcase your solutions to some of the world’s biggest challenges such as creating jobs.

To apply, the business plan must focus on providing solutions in the following industry segments:

  • Renewable Products
  • Chemical Building Blocks
  • Clean Energy
  • Catalysis/Biocatalysis
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Sustainable Construction Materials

More information about the contest in the ACS Green Chemistry website. Final date of submission and round 1 judging will be on April 30 at 5pm EST. The Business Plan competition finale will take place on June 19, 2012 from 10a-12:20p EST.

Good luck!

Biofuel news roundup

The blog is accumulating a lot of biofuel news for the past month.

Last week, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approved the first application submitted  for registration of E15 ethanol (a blend of 15% ethanol and 85% gasoline). Registration is a prerequisite to introducing E15 into the marketplace.

Biofuel advocates are currently pushing for E15, which if approved by the EPA, would allow producers to expand production to keep pace with the Renewable Fuel Standard’s (RFS) 15bn gal/year cap on ethanol derived from corn starch.

E10 (a blend of 10 percent ethanol and 90 percent gasoline), which is currently distributed at the majority of gas stations in the continental U.S., is fast approaching a “blend wall,” in which production exceeds the volume of fuel that can legally be blended into the U.S. gasoline market.

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Weekly News Roundup

Yes, it's been a week since I last blog and I definitely needed the time off as school is killing me. Fortunately, this week is a spring break so hopefully I'll be more productive. We'll start with our (semi-monthly) news round-up...

EcoSynthetix commissions new plant
Canada-based EcoSynthetix has commissioned a new 80m lb/year production line within its existing US manufacturing facility in Tennessee bringing its annualized capacity to 235m pounds. The company produces biomaterials such as starch-derived latex binders and monomers for adhesives and resins. EcoSynthetix said their EcoSphere biolatex polymer can be a drop-in replacement for styrene butadiene and styrene acrylic latex with their current equipment and processes.

Solazyme, Bunge forms Brazil JV
Solazyme and Bunge have formed a joint venture to build, own and operate a commercial-scale renewable tailored oils production facility adjacent to Bunge’s Moema sugarcane mill in Brazil. The JV, which will operate under the name Solazyme Bunge Produtos Renov├íveis Ltda., will have an expected annual production capacity of 100,000 metric tons of oil. The facility will utilize Solazyme’s renewable tailored oil production technology, coupled with Bunge’s sugarcane supply and processing capabilities, to produce sustainable tailored triglyceride oils for use in oleochemical and fuel applications in the Brazilian domestic market.

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