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Extracts from Nandini Chemical Journal, Jun 2014


Highlights of Some of the Articles
TASK BEFORE CHEMICAL INDUSTRIES IN 2014 During the last few years, Indian chemical industries have not really exhibited impressive performance from the point of view of capacity creation or production augmentation or break through in technology. This inadequacy have been due to combination of reasons and various factors. While the lack of proactive government policies and certain international developments can be attributed to such scenario, the fact is that Indian chemical industries also need to accept certain share of blame for the dismal scenario. What particularly causes concern is that the capacity build up in Indian chemical industries have considerably slowed down. Not only new projects are not coming up to the extent needed but even some of the existing chemical projects like VAM units, ethanol based acetic acid units etc. have been shut down. Increasing dependence on imports Due to lack of adequate capacity build up , India is now becoming net importer of several bulk and specialty petrochemicals. The import of petrochemicals are steadily increasing. The import of chemicals like methanol, PTA, phenol , styrene etc. are now of huge quantity. There is no feasibility of India creating production capacities for such chemicals in the near future, due to lack of petrochemical feedstock advantages. Of course, the biggest bottleneck faced by Indian chemical industries are the petrochemical feedstock constraint and steady increase in price of petroleum feedstock as well as competition from the imported products. Such conditions appear to have shaken the confidence of the Indian project promoters to some extent. Most of the Indian chemical industries have comparatively less capacity in comparison to the counterparts abroad, many of them lack the economies of sale to compete internationally, technology up gradation efforts are inadequate and introduction of new product grades in tune with the consumers’ expectations have not been made to any significant extent. In such scenario, it is inevitable that the competitive edge of the Indian chemical industries in comparison to several overseas companies , have considerably tapered down. Need for strategies In the light of the above situation, Indian chemical industries have to work out appropriate action plans and strategies for the coming years , duly keeping in view India’s strength and constraints. Obviously, petrochemical feedstock scenario from indigenous production is unlikely to improve in future to any significant extent. Therefore, it is necessary to decide on the focus area for capacity build up for chemicals manufacture in future, that should be based on the feedstock that are adequately available in India. Further, it is necessary to understand that Indian units need to produce only such of the chemicals and allied chemical products, where India can have competitive strength in global market. Blind copying of the product model and pattern of growth of the multinational companies have to be necessarily avoided. Focus on emerging technologies With the chemical industries all over the world facing increasing challenges due to environmental compulsion, appropriate modification and improvements in the process and technology parameters have become necessary to make the chemical processes eco friendly , to sustain the growth in tune with the consumer’s expectations. In recent time, many technologies and processes have been developed abroad based on biotechnology, which are eco friendly, that would result in lesser dependence on petrochemical feedstock. Emerging eco friendly technologies that have been developed or presently being developed, are largely from renewable feedstock such as bio mass, agricultural waste and industrial waste, which otherwise are discarded or used as fuel. The production of chemicals from renewable bio mass by bio technology routes , which have until now been produced from petrochemicals , would not only be eco friendly but also can be cost competitive. Another recent striking example is the development of technology from algae bio mass for the production of bio fuel , bio methane , bio ethanol etc. Several chemical processing routes have been developed abroad and number of them are presently in pilot or semi commercial scale of operation. Chemicals that have been developed from bio mass by biotechnology route include the following
  • Bio methanol
  • Bio based n butanol
  • Bio syngas
  • Bio epichlorohydrin
  • Bio ethylene
  • Bio 1,3 propanediol
  • Bio MEG/Bio PET
  • Bio caprolactum
  • Bio acrylic acid
  • Bio dicarboxylic acid
  • Bio succinic acid
  • Bio propylene
  • Bio acetic acid
  • Bio methylmethacrylate
  • Bio adipic acid
  • Bio based thermoplastics
  • Bio paraxylene
  • Bio polyhydroxyalkanoates
  • Bio propylene glyco
  • lBio based polylactic acid
  • Bio formic acid
  • Bio propanol
  • Bio glycolic acid
  • Bio 1,4 butanediol
  • Bio butadiene
  • Bio polybutylene terephthalate
  • Bio EPDM
  • Cellulosic biofuel , Algae bio fuel
  • Bio levulinic acid
India’s options and issues In the present circumstances, the option for Indian chemical industries to overcome the constraint for capacity build up and to reduce imports is by resorting to the production of products like methanol, butanol, acrylic acid etc. by bio tech route, using biomass /agricultural waste as feedstock, instead of petrochemical as feedstock. Bio mass / agricultural waste are available in adequate quantity in the country and there is no constraint in availability of such feedstock . However, the issue is the lack of technology development efforts in India for production of such chemicals like methanol, butanol, acrylic acid etc. from bio mass. While great initiatives and efforts have been made abroad for the development of such biotech based process technologies in appropriate way, in India for all practical purposes, little has been done. This is very unfortunate and regrettable scenario. The fact is that most of the research and development efforts by CSIR labs have rarely been focused on appropriate areas and products , keeping in view the future economic and commercial potentiality of the products and processes, that would provide advantages based on Indian conditions. The role of private sector in R&D initiatives are even worse. Lack of research efforts for the production of chemicals using bio mass as feedstock, is a glaring example of India’s gap in research and development strategies and efforts. It is necessary that the direction of growth and R&D efforts in Indian chemical industry should be made need based and should be oriented towards the field of biotechnology. It is necessary to make a start in this direction in 2014.
Even as number of engineering colleges and number of passed out engineers each year have multiplied several times in recent years, there are also complaints galore from the industries that the fresh engineers are increasingly found to be unemployable, particularly in the core sector. Such view is creating apprehension that possibly the quality of engineering education in the country have deteriorated , which could be due to several reasons In the earlier days, when number of engineering colleges were not so many and seats were limited, there were strict filtration process while admitting the students. By way of test and interview, only the reasonably talented persons , who were judged to be good enough for engineering education were admitted in the course. However, at present times, a situation has developed due to rapid quantitative expansion of engineering education facilities, that even those with minimum marks at plus two level can gain admission into the engineering colleges, if they have money to pay the required fees in self financing colleges. With regard to low ranked students , who are large in number, it is possible that they may be found unemployable by industries. Scarcity of competent teachers Further, the rapid build up of engineering colleges have created a scenario of high scarcity of competent, knowledgeable and experienced teaching faculty. Due to such shortage, many teachers are employed in engineering colleges , even as they cross the age of 65.There are also cases of just passed out students without any industrial exposure by way of practical experience , taking up position as teachers. It is common now to hear complaints from students themselves ,who attribute their poor performance to the quality of education imparted to them. Duration of the course Earlier, in sixties and seventies , engineering education were of five years duration after pre university (12 years of study). Later on, the duration of engineering course were reduced to four years . With rapid development in the field of engineering and technology and with the reduction in the course duration, engineering education has become very stressful , leaving the students with little time to be devote for getting practical exposure. This could also be one reason, that have resulted in complaints about unemployability amongst fresh engineers. Profile of promoters With large number of engineering colleges now under the private sector operating as self financing institutions , the family members and associates of promoters , irrespective of their qualification and background , have strangle hold over the administration of these institutions. In such scenario, it is inevitable that the management culture in such institutions are really not professional. These are all serious issues and must be viewed accordingly by the government and universities, who are responsible for framing the educational policies in the country. Having built so many engineering colleges in the last few decades, it is not possible to close them down or curtail the seats to ensure that only quality students would be admitted to engineering course. Sandwich course Under the circumstances, the only way out is to make engineering education as sandwich course all over the country , both at the degree and diploma level. In the sandwich course system , the students will be spending their time between colleges and the industries. The sandwich system and schedules have to be carefully designed , such that students after one semester in the college will go to the industries to work in the particular area in which they have received education , to get practical exposure. This will give the students considerable understanding about the job requirement of the industries and what is expected of them. Even the students with lower merit will gain considerable benefits and perhaps it would help them improve their performance. Issues in sandwich course However, there could be some practical issues in introducing sandwich course in engineering colleges all over India. There may be reluctance on the part of the industries to entertain students to work in the design offices and plant facilities for a short period of time, as it will be no particular use to the industries. Further, the duration of the engineering course will have to be extended atleast by twelve months to enable the students to undergo such pattern of sandwich course. There may be reluctance on the part of students to accept this sort of extension, for several reasons including the fact that the cost of engineering education have now gone up by leaps and bounds. Need for expert committee All said and done, given the ground realities and the urgent need to improve the knowledge level and quality of students passing out as engineers to match the expectations of the industries, introduction of the sandwich course appears to be the only and inevitable option. All India Council of Technical Education, which is now responsible for monitoring the engineering education in the country , should constitute an expert committee to look into the above aspects and evolve appropriate recommendations. This is over due.
Methanol is a strong building block with vital applications in diversified sector and for the production of value added derivative products. Indian demand for methanol have been steadily increasing in tune with the industrial and economic growth trend of the country. While the demand has been going up, indigenous production scenario have not improved, leading to huge import of methanol. In recent time, India has emerged as one of the large importers of methanol in the global market. This scenario points to the urgent need for capacity build up for methanol in India. However, by the conventional process based on petrochemical feedstock, India is not in a position to build methanol capacity due to feedstock constraint and lack of competitiveness in the feedstock price. Methanol can be produced from coal but this option is also limited due to environmental issues. Under such circumstances, recent global efforts to develop process for methanol from renewable feedstock is of high importance for India. This article discusses the present Indian demand for methanol, increasing import trend and the global technology development efforts for producing bio methanol from renewable feedstock Applications Methanol (CH3OH) is a mobile, clear (water white), inflammable liquid having a characteristic smell Major application sectors
  • Acetic acid
  • Chloromethanes
  • Dimethyl terephthalate
  • Formaldehyde
  • Methylamines
  • Methyl methacrylate
Following details are discussed in this article
  • Process from petrochemical route
  • Capacity level of producers in India
  • Indian production of methanol
  • Annual import of methanol
  • Indian demand
  • New projects- Capacity expansion
  • Bio based route for biomethanol
Grades and specification Appearance Solid with silver grey colour Grades Chemical content Chemical Grade Primary aluminium Grade Secondary aluminium Grade High purity grade Si % min 98.5% 98.5% 98.5% 98.5% Fe% max 0.5% 0.35% 1% 0.1% Ca% max 0.07% 0.1% 0.4% 0.07% Al % max 0.2% - - 0.2% Following details are discussed in this article
  • Application and uses
  • Process
  • Import of silicon metal
  • Demand drivers
  • Indian demand
  • Global scenario
  • Major global producers
  • Global demand drivers
  • Scenario in China
  • Prognosis
Microorganisms are used to convert sugars into farnesene, a hydrocarbon, which can be used to produce lubricants, consumer products, polymers and bio fuels. US based Amyris is considered to be one of the front runners of biobased chemicals development, particularly farnesene. Product description The term farnesene refers to a set of six closely related chemical compounds, which all are sesquiterpenes. α-Farnesene and β-farnesene are isomers, differing by the location of one double bond. α-Farnesene is 3,7,11-trimethyl-1,3,6,10-dodecatetraene and β-farnesene is 7,11-dimethyl-3-methylene-1,6,10-dodecatriene. α-Farnesene is the most common isomer. It is found in the coating of apples and other fruits and it is responsible for the characteristic green apple odour. Its oxidation by air gives compounds that are damaging to the fruit. β-Farnesene has one naturally occurring isomer. The E isomer is a constituent of various essential oils. Amyris activities are further discussed in this article.
Pain-killer drugs Dextropropoxyphene and Analgin may be set for a comeback, albeit with warnings and suggestions of restricted use. The drugs had been suspended by the Health Ministry of Government of India earlier this year. But following a safety review of these medicines by an expert committee, the Drugs Technical Advisory Board (DTAB) has now recommended that they be permitted for use, as they are given in smaller dosages and over few days, respectively. However, the Board did not recommend revoking the suspension on anti depressant Deanxit, whose manufacture and sale had also been discontinued this year. In fact, Deanxit, along with Analgin and diabetes drug Pioglitazone had been suspended in June over safety concerns. But, the suspension of Pioglitazone has already been revoked, and the drug is back in the market with warning labels and riders of restricted use. The drug had been suspended on possible links to urinary bladder cancer. The above subject is further discussed in this article.
Even after Supreme Court gave its verdict restricting the retail sale of acid to prevent the acid attack on women, the acid attack has not stopped . There are large number of acids that can cause harm if thrown at a person that include organic and inorganic acid. In addition, there are number of alkalies which can also cause harm In addition to acids and alkalis, there are also other chemicals which are equally harmful. . In all, the number of such chemicals, which can harm are well over 200. Above subject is further discussed in this article.
RESOLUTIONS PASSED DURING THE MEETING ON 17th AUGUST,2013 AT CHENNAI Chemical Industries Association , an apex body representing the cross section of chemical industries , organised a meeting of chemical industries in Tamil Nadu at Chennai on 17th August,2013 to discuss about the impact of environmental activism on chemical industries in Tamil Nadu. Representatives from cross section of chemical industries in Tamil Nadu including Sterlite Industries,Nuclear power project, Malladi Drugs, Thirumalai Chemicals, Cetex Petro Chemicals, Asian Paints, Ram Nath & Co., Nandini Consultancy Centre, Commercial Chemical & Development Company and several others participated in the meeting. The following resolutions were passed during the meeting on the basis of interactive discussions for several hours. 1. Responsible care Several chemical industries pointed out the features of their plant design and operating parameters and pointed out that the greatest care are being taken in adhering to the ecological standards and ensuring safety of the personnel operating in the plant as well as those living around the project. Chemical industries recognise the need and importance of responsible care in designing and implementing and operating the chemical projects. The chemical industries also recognise the need for proactive communication with people particularly living around the project 2. Stalled projects Chemical industries express concern that several important projects that can go a long way in promoting economic and industrial growth of Tamil Nadu have been delayed or stalled in recent time due to exaggerated environmental activism. Such projects include the LNG gas pipeline scheme running through Tamil Nadu, Coalbed methane project in Thanjavur district and others . 3. Sinned against and not sinned It is recognised that the chemical industries should view the criticisms and objections in positive manner and should provide appropriate explanations to allay the fears and reassure the people. However,on several occasions, it has been seen that the critics and environmental activists advance baseless charges such as possible ill health to the people around , possible explosions etc. without any authenticated scientific or technical proof that will stand scrutiny. On number of occasions, the chemical industries find it difficult to discuss the details and provide explanations to environmental activists as well as some political outfits inspite of strong technical and industrial justifications in favour of the project, due to hostile attitude of the pledged critics with pre conceived ideas and the lack of conducive atmosphere for well informed discussions. When public agitations are whipped up on the basis of campaign by the critics even after clearance for the project from environmental authorities and such public agitations are extensively publicised in the media, the reputation and credibility of the chemical industries suffer seriously in the eyes of the general public. Chemical industries feel that on most such occasions,they are sinned against rather than sinning. 4. Ban on expansion or new industries in Manali and Ranipet industrial belt Expansion of existing industries or setting up of new industries are NOT now permitted in Ranipet and Manali industrial belt in Tamil Nadu, as the overall pollution index in the region are said to be above the acceptable level by the Central Pollution Control Board. Such index above permissible level have happened due to some historical reasons such as some closed units violating the environmental standards earlier. However, a number of chemical units operating in these industrial estates at present have highly sophisticated plant facilities and they operate at zero emission standards at internationally accepted level. Chemical industries appeal to Tamil Nadu government to look into the matter with urgency and evolve appropriate policy measures to ensure that the growth of chemical industries in such important industrial belt such as Manali and Ranipet in Tamil Nadu would not be affected. 5. Appeal to the media Chemical industries appeal to the media to get the necessary clarifications and details from any particular chemical industry, before publishing any adverse report on such unit based on the allegations by the environmental activists. This is particularly necessary, since large section of the population may not have the requisite understanding of the various ecological standards and protection measures and their impact.
World demand for oil and gas pipe is expected to increase 5.3% per year, reaching 51.8 million metric tonnes in 2017 as high oil prices and increasing demand for energy spur new development. Increased oil and gas production will require additional investment in pipeline infrastructure. The above subject is further discussed in this article.
PLANT CLOSURES The following article discusses about the closure of plants
  • Acetic anhydride / VAM
  • Isopropanol / Ethanol
  • ABS
  • Dow to divest in chlor-alkali, epoxy assets.
  • PotashCorp close plants
  • Ineos to close plants at Grangemouth
  • Lotte Chemical to close PTA facility in the UK
  • Showa Denko, KH Neochem to dissolve ethyl acetate JV
SAFETY & ACCIDENT PAGE The following articles discussing about the accidents occurred at various places
  • Two killed in factory blast in Nalgonda district,AP
  • Explosion at Total’s Antwerp refinery
ANTI DUMPING PAGE The antidumping measures introduced in the various countries in the last few weeks on the following products are discussed
  • Calcium hypochlorite
  • Pellets
  • Meta phenylene diamine
NEWS ROUND UP – INTERNATIONAL The recent developments on the following products/events are discussed
  • Alkoxylation plant at Bayport,USA
  • PDH-PP facility by Rextac, in Texas USA
  • MMA and PMMA complex in Russia
  • DuPont’s PVB business
  • Methanol plant at Beaumont
  • Biomass to glycols plant
  • Butadiene plant in Hungary
  • Liquid rubber
  • Extraction plant for food colour - Linablue
  • Ethoxylation capacity
  • Trash to methanol unit
  • New process for gas treatment
  • Revenue earned by leading global engineering contractors
NEWS ROUND UP - INDIA The recent development on ammonia is discussed Ammonium nitrate TECHNOLOGY DEVELOPMENT The recent technology developments on the following products are discussed
  • Renewables to basic chemicals
  • Coca-cola PET bottle resin technology
  • Solar dryers for farm produce
  • Hybrid gasification demonstration plant
  • NALCO commercialises R&D process
  • Ultrafast water-heating method
  • Cellulosic bio ethanol fermentation
TECHNOLOGY DEVELOPMENT EFFORTS OF BP Acetic acid BP has announced that it is ready to commercialize two new technologies: the SaaBre synthesis gas (syngas) to acetic acid process and Hummingbird, a process that directly converts ethanol to ethylene through dehydration. BP said that SaaBre is the biggest breakthrough in acetic acid technology in the past 40 years. BP is the second largest producer of acetic acid, behind Celanese, with 16% of the 16-million metric tonne per year worldwide market, excluding BP’s shares in joint ventures. The company plans to commercialize the SaaBre process in one million metric tonne per year plant, which will be add-on, rather than replacement, capacity. This article also discusses about BP’s following products
  • PTA
  • Para xylene
CHINA NEWS The recent developments on the following products/events are discussed
  • Specialty polymers
  • AKD
  • Dispersible polymer
AGRO CHEMICAL PAGE The recent developments on the following product is updated Root extract an ‘antidote’ to viper venom PHARMA PAGE Following pharmaceutical informations are discussed in this article
  • New drug for malaria cure
  • Potential malaria vaccine discovered
  • New drug for Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s in the pipeline
JATROPHA CULTIVATION - INITIATIVE OF SGB IN USA A few years ago, as the next big thing in biofuels, jatropha attracted much attention and investments in India , only to fall from favour, as the growers discovered that the wild bush yielded uneconomic level of seeds production. Thanks to advances in molecular genetics and DNA sequencing technology, SGB, the San Diego based company in USA claims that it has succeeded in producing jatropha in USA. Initiative of SGB in USA SGB is growing hybrid strains of the plant that produce biofuel in quantities that it says are competitive with petroleum priced at $99 a barrel. The company has deals to plant 250,000 acres of jatropha in Brazil, India and other countries and is targeting to eventually produce about 70 million gallons of fuel a year. The above subject is further discussed in this article. HYDRO CAPACITY ADDITION IN INDIA - MOVING AT SNAIL’S PACE The target of adding 10,800 MW of hydro power capacity in the 12th Plan may fall short by about 30 per cent, according to analysts. Currently, around 11,400 MW of projects are reeling under time and cost overruns. Poor geology, delays from contractors, local resistance and adverse weather conditions affecting logistics and operations are being cited as the main reasons for delays. The above subject is further discussed in this article. ENERGY PAGE REVIEW OF COAL TO LIQUID PROJECT PROPOSAL IN INDIA With imports meeting 80% of domestic oil demand and draining foreign exchange reserves, the government amended the Coal Mines (Nationalisation) Act in July 2007 to include coal to liquid (CTL) industry as an end-user for allocation of captive coal blocks so that low-rank, high-ash coal, which abundantly found in India, can be converted into environment- friendly liquid fuels. Strategic Energy Technology Systems (SETSPL), a joint venture of Tata group companies and South African firm Sasol, has filed an application with the project monitoring group (PMG) at the Cabinet secretariat to help resolve the issues over its proposed Rs.60,000-crore coal to liquid project in Odisha. The above subject is further discussed in this article.
  • Price Details
  • Natural gas price forecast in India
  • Ex-factory price of chemicals in China in Deember, 2013
  • Tenders
  • Chemicals imported at the Chennai port during the month of November 2013
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