IHS Chemical Week


Chemical Industry Weekly Innovation Round-up, Jan 13

1:18 AM MST | January 16, 2012 | By ALEX SCOTT

This past week has seen a raft of alternative energy technology developments in both the battery and fuel cell fields. 

BASF made another step forward in its quest to be the pre-eminent developer and producer of battery materials with the acquisition of a stake in lithium-sulfur battery developer Scion Power (Tucson, AZ). The move builds on BASF's disclosure in November that the group would be spending $133 million in battery technology during the next five years, including R&D and production of batteries. Batteries for electric cars are a particular focus for the company.

Endeavour Speciality Chemicals (Daventry, U.K.) has begun scaling up a liquid cathode system for proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cells in a contract for ACAL Energy (Runcorn, U.K.). Named FlowCath, the liquid cathode system at small scale has been demonstrated to show it can replace platinum in standard precious metal fixed cathode systems.

In another fuel cell development, AkzoNobel has begun operating AFC Energy's (Cranleigh, U.K.) alkaline fuel cell system at its Bitterfeld, Germany chlor-alkali facility. Waste hydrogen generated during chlor-alkali production is converted onsite into electricity.

On the biomaterials front one of the most significant developments has been Novamont's (Novara, Italy) disclosure that it plans to begin producing 1,4-butanediol (BDO) from renewable raw materials from mid-2013. Novamont, one of the earliest movers into biomaterials has teamed up with Genomatica - one of the newest and brightest biomaterials tech players. 

Another emerging tech player ZeaChem (Lakewood, CO) earlier this month disclosed that it has begun operating its 250,000 gall/year demonstration biorefinery at Boardman, OR.

On the basic research front, a group of U.S. scientists say they have successfully used solid materials based on fumed silica impregnated with polyethylenimine (PEI), a readily available and inexpensive polymeric material, to increase the levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) captured direct from air or concentrated sources of CO2 such as the flue gas from power plants. The findings were published recently in the Journal of the American Chemical Society. Although this tech development is in its early stages the low cost system could present opportunities in commercial carbon capture systems. 


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