IHS Chemical Week


Chemical Industry Weekly Innovation News Round-up, March 2

9:22 AM MST | March 2, 2012 | By ALEX SCOTT

So called megatrends associated with earth's growing human population have been in evidence this week: In the agchems field the adoption of GM crops by area grew 8% in 2011 to 160 million Ha, according to a study by report by the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA; Manila), a not-for-profit international organization promoting the use of GM technology. Arguably, the most interesting statistic from this study is the finding that the land under GM cultivation avoided emission to the environment of 19 million m.t. of CO2 - equivalent to taking 9 million cars off the road.

Also in plant biotech, DuPont says it has expanded its long-standing research collaboration with Australian Centre for Plant Functional Genomics (ACPFG; Adelaide, Australia), to increase research scale on improving the overall productivity of wheat, as well as other crops

The shift toward chemicals derived from renewable sources as an alternative to being sourced from fossil fuels continues to move ahead, albeit with some turbulence. Biofuels and biochemicals firm Amyris this week secured $83.7 million in financing to fund working capital, two weeks after the company told investors it was having trouble maintaining peak yields and  was scaling back efforts to ramp up production of farnesene, its first commercial product. 

Enzymes firm Codexis has experienced some turbulence this week with the resignation of its CEO. This follows hot on the heels of the departure of its CFO. But the company says rumors that the turnover indicates delays in the roll-out of biocatalysts developed under a long-standing biofuel collaboration agreement with Shell—set to expire this year—are false, the company says.

Meanwhile, BASF has disclosed that is phasing out lead chromate in its paints by 2015. The move follows the European Union’s (EU) evaluation of the substance under its Registration, Evaluation and Authorisation of Chemicals (Reach). One of the European Commission's main goals for Reach is that it drives the development of more sustainable alternatives. This is one of the few examples so far to have surfaced.  

Clariant is strengthening its R&D capability and this week held an official groundbreaking ceremony for a previously announced innovation center at the Industriepark Höchst in Frankfurt. The new innovation center is estimated to cost about €100 million ($133 million).

Beyond Chemical Week...

Researchers at the NanoScience Centre of the University of Jyväskylä and at Harvard University in the United States have discovered a new way to make nanomaterials.


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