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Innovation News Round-up, June 17

8:38 AM MDT | June 21, 2011 | By ALEX SCOTT

Arguably the most important innovation news this week has been the latest round of DOE grants totaling $36 million to be awarded to biofuels and biochemicals firms in the U.S.

The funds are allocated specifically for projects that produce drop-in replacements for the “entire” barrel of oil, indicating the agency’s desire to promote technologies beyond ethanol and pursue biobased alternatives to diesel, jet fuel, chemicals, and plastics.
The Chemspec expo, a specialty and fine chemicals event, in Geneva, Switzerland this week exposed some interesting issues relating to chemicals innovation and technology. In a presentation to an audience on agchems, Johannes Lubosch, head of procurement for Bayer CropScience, relayed his concerns that there is a steady drop-off from the innovation return on investment in agchems R&D. The manufacturers of generic agchems now have more than a 30% share of the global market and this is rising, Lubosch says. He told CW that Bayer is trying to combat this decline in return on investment in R&D through the application of more efficient technologies, such as more efficient screening of potential pesticide molecules, as well as deciding earlier on what will be successful. “Sometimes we have to take higher risks,” he says.
Also at Chemspec, Giles Chappell, an attorney with law firm McKenna Long and Aldridge (Brussels) disclosed that the European Union (EU) may be looking to introduce a new body of legislation to deal with the environmental, health and safety impacts of nanomaterials. CW will report further details on this from a nanomaterials regulation workshop to be held by Cefic in Brussels on Thursday 23rd June.  
In other innovation news this week The Skolkovo Foundation (Moscow) and Dow Europe have signed a letter of intent (LOI) to define steps for Dow's participation in Skolkovo's  project, which aims to become a science and technology complex in Russia for the development and commercialization of innovative technologies.
Aas the price of rare earth elements rises, Rhodia and Umicore have disclosed that they have jointly developed a process for recycling rare earth elements from nickel metal hydride (NiMH) rechargeable batteries.

Beyond Chemicalweek…
It is reported this week online that viewings of the Periodic Table of Videos – a video explanation and definition of chemical elements – has exceeded 15 million views. The Periodic Table of Elements is a collection of science-based presentations created by the University of Nottingham (Nottingham, U.K.).  












 
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