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Extracts from Nandini Chemical Journal, Feb 2008

Nuclear waste|Swellable elastomers|Silicon wafers|Vetiver grass
Highlights of Some of the Articles

TALK OF THE MONTH
DISPOSAL OF NUCLEAR WASTE - A GRIM PROBLEM
SWELLABLE ELASTOMERS TECHNOLOGY IN OIL FIELDS
FOCUS ON GLOBAL SCENARIO FOR BUILDING BLOCKS ETHYLENE
SILICON WAFERS – INVESTMENT OPPORTUNITY
VETIVER GRASS FOR SOIL CONSERVATION - AN UNEXPLOITED OPPORTUNITY
OTHER ARTICLES

Talk of the Month

NEED FOR MANY WASTE MANAGEMENT COMPANIES

In the present scenario of raising raw material costs, increasing fuel prices and escalating operating costs, chemical industries have to find innovative measures to ensure that the cost of production and sale price of the chemical products would be kept at affordable price for the buyers and consumers.

Obviously, the innovative technology development efforts and management practices are vitally important.

At the same time, if the chemical industries can reduce its waste, then it can considerably enhance its efficiency, reduce its adverse environmental impacts and help to reduce the volumes of waste. All this would significantly contribute to reduction in the cost of production.

The best method of managing the waste is to produce value added products from waste that would enable reusing of waste itself.

Internationally, a number of companies are working on this line. For example NVIRO Cleantech Ltd., in United Kingdom have developed new technology that
use microwave to burst open tightly packed fibre of MDF. This allows the fibres to be reused to produce new MDF or a variety of other products. This reuse will
significantly reduce the volumes of waste sent to landfill.

Use for lime ash

Envar of United Kingdom successfully proved that the lime contained in incinerator ash from the paper industry would make an effective substitute for quarried lime in the stabilisation of sewage sludge.

After being awarded a contract from a large paper mill in north Wales for the recycling of waste incinerator ash, Envar and United Utilities’ conducted trials that successfully proved that the lime contained in incinerator ash from the paper industry would make an effective substitute for quarried lime in the stabilisation of sewage sludge (biosolids).

The sludge treatment process itself has resulted in odour management issues for UK water companies.  However, the use of the lime ash has been effective in
reducing bad odours and thus help in minimizing complaints from the public. In addition, lime ash was previously considered a waste material and destined
for landfill; it can now be used as a substitute for virgin  quarried lime. The use of lime ash therefore reduces both the need to quarry a limited natural resource and
the environmental impacts that result from this activity.

Recycling of waste

Waste that cannot be reused may have the potential to be recycled or composted.  Alvan Blanch, another company in UK provides technologies to convert animal and vegetable waste into useful products such as compost, fertiliser and biofuels.

On the recycling side, another company Centriforce Products is the UK’s largest recycler of plastic scrap.The company produces a range of products such as fencing and pigpens composed of materials recycled from municipal waste streams.

Plasma arc technology to treat waste Tetronics Limited in UK specialises in the application of thermal direct current plasma arc technology,which are used to significantly reduce the volume and stabilize hazardous waste, allowing it to be safely disposed of.

Plasma is an intense clean heat source with a growing number of applications in the context of waste management, particularly for hazardous waste.

Plasma arc technology is set to become an important component of most sustainable waste management solutions.The technology is characterised as an
advanced conversion technique (ACT) with Best Available Technique (BAT) attributes. It is distinct from disposal (incineration and landfill) and recycling
technologies.

Need for waste management companies

There are not many waste management companies in India at present and the investment opportunities in this field do not seem to be adequately appreciated by the chemical industries and entrepreneurs.

While waste management have tremendous opportunities and huge potentials, entering into the field is not easy, as it requires considerable technological expertise and willingness to take up long term strategies and research and development efforts appropriate to the particular industries.

DISPOSAL OF NUCLEAR WASTE A GRIM PROBLEM

The splitting of uranium atoms in a nuclear reactor creates the exceptional heat that drives turbines to provide electricity. The process also creates radioactive isotopes such as cesium 137 and strontium 90 that take about 30 years to lose half their radioactivity.

Higher level leftovers include plutonium 239, with a half life of 24,000 years.

Direct exposure to such highly radioactive material, even for a short period, can be fatal. Indirect exposure, through seepage into groundwater, can lead to life threatening illness for those living nearby and cause environmental damage.

For now, the best scientific solution for getting rid of the most lethal waste appears to be to shove it deep under ground.

This article also discusses the following details:

  • Normandy facility
  • Recycling option
  • Other options
  • Site for dumping nuclear waste in USA
SWELLABLE ELASTOMERS TECHNOLOGY IN OIL FIELDS

The concept of downhole swellable elastomer technology has moved decisively from the lab into the market over the past few years. It is increasingly being utilised as solutions for oil wells.

Shell and PDO reviewed technologies to increase production at more than 2000 wells in Oman and identified that recently developed swellable elastomers could reduce the water cut and increase production.

Swellfix, an independent company was recently established to commercialise swellable elastomer technology developed and field proven.

Swellable technology

The basic principle of swellable elastomers involves adding water or oil to the appropriate rubber based compound, whilch will swell as it absorbs the liquid.

There are no moving parts to fail. So, as long as the specific application is correctly engineered and deployed, there is very little that can actually go wrong.

However, the inherent simplicity of swellable materials masks the real skill required in a created swellable packer solution for a well.

Although there are essentially only two main types of swellable elastomers used for down hole packers oil or water swelling, thousands of different compounds have been researched and developed so that the swelling characteristics can be matched to the specific well conditions.

Water swelling elastomers work on the principle of osmosis, a process that encourages the movement of water particles across a semi-permeable membrane, where there is a salinity difference on either side of the membrane.

Oil swellable elastomers work on the principle of absorption and dissolution. The swelling rate and volume increases are directly related to the composition and characteristics of the oil. The specific gravity of the oil plays an important role, but other qualities of the oil can also affect swelling behaviour.

This article contains the following details:

  • Traditional methods
  • Deployment
FOCUS ON GLOBAL SCENARIO FOR BUILDING BLOCKS ETHYLENE

Ethylene is a colourless, flammable gas and is largely used in the production of polyethylene (PE), which accounts for over half of global demand for ethylene.

Other major derivatives are ethylene oxide/glycol, ethylene dichloride/vinyl chloride monomer and ethyl benzene/styrene. Other applications include acetaldehyde, alpha-olefins, ethylene-propylene elastomers and vinyl acetate.

The global ethylene / petrochemical industry will witness a major shift from western countries to Middle East and Asia , as approximately 90% of the new and expanded capacities are concentrated in this region.

This article further discusses the following details:

  • Global installed capacity
  • Capacity share of major producers
  • Future scenario
  • Sabic expects substantial global ethylene deficit by 2014
  • Past and Future Demand for Ethylene
  • Scenario in selected regions
    • Middle East
      • Proposed ethylene capacities in middle east
    • China
    • USA
    • Singapore
    • Thailand
    • Caribbean
    • India
    • Japan
  • Ethylene production and manufacturing process
    • Alternate process for ethylene
    • ATOFINA/UOP Olefin Cracking Process
    • Lummus Ethylene Technology
    • Technology practices by petro route in different regions
    • Process development efforts by petro route
  • Trends in global ethylene industry
  • Choicce of feedstock
  • Process for ethylene from ethanol
  • Ethylene pipeline in Germany
SILICON WAFERS – INVESTMENT OPPORTUNITY

Wafers are the fundamental building elements in semiconductors. Solar wafers trap heat from the sun and convert it into electrical energy

Wafer manufacturing involves manufacturing of silicon ingots, which must meet an extraordinarily high level of purity.

The high purity silicon melted into blocks is prepared in stacks, from which, very thin discs (wafers) are cut with the help of modern wire-cutting technology. Silicon wafers are subsequently chopped up and processed to produce solar cells, which are used in the solar industry.

Solar cells are essentially semiconductors that convey electrons from one place to another . The physical semi conductor quality determines the attainable efficiency in the manufacture of the solar cells.

Since 2004, demand for solar cells has surpassed supply, causing the price of silicon to skyrocket. The shortage is not expected to end until 2009. Solar cells can be net energy producers, meaning they generate more energy over their lifetime than the energy expended in producing them.

The first silicon wafer was produced in 1959 and had 19mm in diameter MEMC was the first to commercially introduce 150mm diameter wafers in 1981. In 1984, MEMC became the first wafer manufacturer to commercially produce 200mm diameter wafers. In 1991, MEMC became one of the first wafer suppliers to manufacture 300mm wafers.

Silicon wafers are fundamental building blocks for semiconductors and enable a range of high technology applications including the internet and electronic commerce, telecommunications, computers, consumer electronics, industrial automation and control systems, analytical and defense systems.

Monocrystalline (single crystal) silicon wafers are utilized for essentially all integrated circuits and many other semiconductor devices. To permit common processing equipment to be used in multiple device fabrication lines, it is essential for the wafer dimensions to be standardized. In addition, as technology advances to smaller dimensions for the elements of high density integrated circuits, it has become necessary to standardize additional properties of the wafers.

This article also contains the following details:

  • Types of wafers
  • Discrete Epitaxial Silicon wafer
  • MOS Epitaxial Silicon wafer
  • Wafer Processing
  • Shaping
  • Etching
  • Other Operations
  • Global silicon wafer Market
  • Global demand trend
  • Pattern of regional market for wafers
  • Important global players
  • New projects under planning/implementation
  • Wafer project in India
VETIVER GRASS FOR SOIL CONSERVATION - AN UNEXPLOITED OPPORTUNITY

Vetiver is a perennial grass commonly called as ‘Khus’ plant and it belongs to the family Gramineae.  It is a native plant to India.

Vetiver grass is a tropical plant, which grows naturally. The plant survives even long periods of drought and inundation, saline tolerant and grows irrespective of fertility. Vetiver has a deep, dense and strong fibrous root system, which can grow to a depth of 3 meters. The plant is a tall, dense, wild grass with long narrow leaves and a strand of underground white, yellow and brown roots.

Vetiver grass can be found growing in a wide range of area from highlands to lowlands in various soil conditions. The species, which is most common and is referred to in scientific term as Vetiveria zizanioides.

Vetiver grows wildly in Java, Haiti, Japan, Indonesia and India Vetiveria zizanioides species appears in a dense clump and grows fast t hrough tillering. The clump diameter is about 30 cm. and the height is 50 to 150 cm. The leaves are erect and rather stiff with 75 cm of length and 8 mm of width.

Each RO solution presents a unique set of circumstances that require careful planning, engineering and structured financing to ensure maximum benefits.

Botanical name                    Vitiveria zizanioides

Chemical Composition

Essential oil containing Beta-vetivone. Isobisabolene.

Uses of Vetiver

Household applications

The dried roots are made into curtains, mats, fans etc to emit scented cool aroma when moistened. The roots provide shade and coolness during summer.

The grass is used to make woven baskets, rugs and parts of the house in Africa.

Therapeutic uses

Vetiver is used to strengthen the red blood cells and it promotes oxygen throughout the body.

Vetiver is traditionally used to alleviate the symptoms of rheumatism, arthritis and muscular aches such as muscle pain, sprains and joint and muscle stiffness.

Vetiver is also useful for the skin. It can be used to alleviate the inflammation of acne, aids in healing of cuts and it reduces oil in the skin.

Uses of Vetiver Oil

Vetiver oil is used mostly in aroma therapy and cosmetics / perfumery industry. Since the oil has a typical perfumery note, it is used in cosmetics and perfumery industry

Vetiver oil is used as a tranquillizer in after shock or during traumatic times.

The oil has antiseptic, sedative and tonic properties.

The oil is used in the manufacture of soaps, cosmetics, perfumery, agarbathis, soft drinks; pan masala etc. In blended perfumes, oil of Vetiver acts as an excellent fixatives for volatile compounds. It is known for its cooling properties.

Vetiver oil cannot be substituted with reconstituted oil and cannot be made synthetically.

Miscellaneous uses

Vetiver is used as insect repellant. The oil is also used to promote fertilization of the female egg.

Agriculture uses

The important use of Vetiver is to contain sheet erosion, soil loss and weeds prevention.

The dense, deep and strong fibrous root system along with its perennial and sterile character and also un-palatability to livestock make it an excellent soilconserving crop.

The plant’s spongy root system binds soil to 3 m depth and can withstand the effects of tunneling and cracking and thus it contains sheet erosion.

The leaves and stems slow down the silt-loaded run off and the soil loss is prevented. The dense root system of the plant helps in preventing weed growth

Cultivation of Vetiver for 3-4 cycles improve sandy soils to a greater extent and makes them suitable for growing common agricultural crops more profitably

This article further discusses the following details :

  • Vetiver, as a soil conservative crop
  • Technology
  • Annual imports of Vetiver Oil
  • Annual exports of vetiver oil
  • Indian supply scenario
  • Unexploited opportunity
    • Soil conservation
    • Slope stabilisation
OTHER ARTICLES
  • Responsible care - Initiatives in Europe
  • World Bank report on India’s Technology Diffusion
  • Safety and Accident Page
  • IICT forging ahead
  • Ban sought on export of Ores
  • Anti Dumping Page
  • Update on Carbon Trading
  • Update on Biofuel
  • Update on Nanotechnology
  • Biogas generation from Sewage Sludge
  • Converting Carbon dioxide into fuel with Solar Energy
  • China News
  • News Round Up – International & India
  • Technology Development – International & India
  • Pharma Page
  • Agro Chemical Page
  • Energy Page
  • Business Opportunity
  • Tender
  • Ask for the Chemical Facts Free
  • New Projects - International
  • Price Details - International
  • Directory of International Biotechnology Organisations
  • Chemicals Imported at Chennai Port During the month of October 2007
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