IHS Chemical Week


Weekly Innovation News Round-up, May 6

5:23 AM MDT | May 5, 2011 | By ALEX SCOTT

Plastics development is a recurring theme in this week’s round up: Total Petrochemicals plans to modify one of the two polystyrene (PS) lines it acquired from Polimeri Europa at Feluy, Belgium, last year to produce a new generation expandable polystyrene (EPS). Total says its research teams have developed technology to produce the new polymer, which has improved technical and insulating properties compared with conventional EPS.
BioAmber (Minneapolis), a maker of biobased succinic and adipic acid, has completed a Series B funding round, raising $45 million. The money will be used to build a major biosuccinic acid plant in North America and fund continued development work, including a license from DuPont on making 1,4-butanediol from succinic acid.
In his new book Chemical Process Simplification, Girish Malhotra, an industry veteran and consultant, provides a guide to the implementation of measures to reduce chemical companies’ environmental and financial costs. This book is a must for all those involved in chemicals R&D in the fine and specialty chemicals sectors.
The Knowledge Centre for Materials Chemistry (KCMC; Runcorn, U.K.), a virtual chemicals R&D network funded by the U.K. government, says it has successfully completed its second year and is on track for continued strong growth. The center delivered ahead of forecast for both generated income and business development activity, it says.
Biobased chemical firm Genomatica (San Diego) is making strides to commercialize its biochemicals technology. The company says it has signed a memorandum of understanding with Mitshubishi Chemical to study a potential joint venture to build Asia’s first commercial-scale biobased 1,4-butanediol (BDO) production plant. The jv would leverage Genomatica’s one-step bio-BDO technology and Mitsubishi’s expertise in BDO applications and sales, Genomatica says.
Coming up in the next few days CW will publish a video and written article about Solvay’s introduction of a new system to capture methane from the company’s trona mine at Green River, WY. The company in July will use the methane to reduce its gas bill at its soda ash facilities at Green River by 20%.
Beyond CW…
MIT Technology Review: Intel to Make Three-Dimensional Transistors. The company says the new architecture will result in better performance with less power.
Eureka!: An Iowa chemist is designing new polymer structures for plastic electronics. Malika Jeffries-EL, an Iowa State assistant professor of chemistry, is working with a post-doctoral researcher and nine doctoral students to move the field of plastic electronics forward by studying the relationship between polymer structures and the electronic, physical and optical properties of the materials. They're also looking for ways to synthesize the polymers without the use of harsh acids and temperatures by making them soluble in organic solvents.
The Organisation for Econonmic Cooperation and Development’s (OECD; Paris) it its Regions and Innovation Policy report published this week shows that the richest 4% of regions accounted for one-third of all OECD growth over the 1995-2005 period. The report highlights a similar innovation divide, with half of all R&D investment and patenting in the OECD area centered in just the top 13-20% of its regions.

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