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Journals

Extracts from Nandini Chemical Journal, Apr 2009

Pyridine|Xylitol|Biobutanol|Biodegradable medical fibres|Biosimilar
Highlights of Some of the Articles

TALK OF THE MONTH
PYRIDINE SCENARIO IN CHINA
XYLITOL – INVESTMENT OPPORTUNITY
PEEK - RECENT DEVELOPMENTS
BIOBUTANOL – TECHNOLOGY DEVELOPMENT EFFORTS
BIODEGRADABLE MEDICAL FIBERS
BIOSIMILAR (ALSO KNOWN AS FOLLOW ON BIOLOGICS)

Talk of the Month

IMPORTANCE OF MARKET RESEARCH

Awareness of changing ground realities in the market scenario is necessary to survive and grow for any chemical industry,whether they are small, medium or large .

It is not as if the demand for product would always be going up. There are many instances in the past when the demand for products have shrunk to such an extent that there would be no alternative other than closing down the production facilities itself. Most of such instances of demand falling down occur due to development of superior substitute or products with similar applications but lower price and higher efficacy.

Most of the chemical industries often pay attention to process and cost optimization to improve the yield and efficacy of the operation but adequate attention are not paid to develop the market for the product in new direction by developing new application. Such scenario causes turbulence in the market for the product,  whenever any substitution possibilities occur due to technological or other reasons.

With the product obsolescence becoming too frequent in chemical industries and environmental compulsion driving away number of chemicals from the market and frequent structural changes in chemical industries taking place at global level, market research has become the most vital function in chemical industries.

In such circumstances, market research is now considered to be highly specialized and intricate function in chemical industries.
In earlier times, market research for chemical products were used to be carried out by people with different background including MBAs and economists. Now, it is being realized that without understanding the technology issues and the dynamics of the chemical industries, market research with adequate standards can not be carried out. To carry out market research competently, service of specialized agencies have to be sought, who would combine the knowledge of chemistry and technology factors, understanding of consumer behaviour and preferences, environmental issues, government policies and social conditions and compulsions prevailing in different regions.

For carrying out the market research at reliable level, it is necessary that research agency should have adequate and up dated data base covering the Indian and international scenario, relating to technology issues, price factors, acquisitions and mergers, new projects etc. In the absence of such strong and updated data base, it is almost impossible to carry out credible market research at acceptable standards.

In Indian scenario, where organized data and information are still unreliable and inadequate, it is necessary to carry out extensive field research to ascertain the details and views of the consumers. For market research agency, getting cooperation of the consumers to obtain adequate data and information is a big challenge. Generally, consumers are reluctant to part with the information, particularly since maintaining the secrecy of the operational parameters and consumption norms is considered very important in the mind set of promoters and professionals in the chemical industries these days.

In India, even getting reliable data with regard to imports and exports are extremely difficult. Several of the ports do not publish the import and export data adequately. Many times, the data on import and export of several related chemical products are combined. Further, name of importers or exporters and name of the suppliers are not provided in the import and export data in recent times.

Such problems make the market research more complex and difficult as well as time consuming exercise.

It appears that several companies, whether in medium or large sector, still do not appreciate the highly specialized expertise required by market research agency and seem to think that market research ends up in mere collection of demand and supply figures. The importance of analysis and interpretation of data to arrive at appropriate recommendations require considerable experience and expertise in the market research team.

Market research ultimately paves the way to take decisions relating to capacity expansion, setting up of new projects, deciding project location etc.

Such decisions have far reaching significance. Therefore, the market research job has to be given to agencies who are adequately competent.

Today, in India there are only a handful of organizations,who can claim competence to carry out the market research at globally competitive standards.

It is high time that Government of India and chemical industries should take some special measures to strengthen and encourage the market research companies and provide them necessary importance and recognition.

PYRIDINE SCENARIO IN CHINA

Pyridine compounds are mainly used to produce the herbicides paraquat and diquat, nicotinic acid and nicotinic amide, as well as pharmaceutical and pesticide intermediates.

Pyridine compounds and downstream products have developed rapidly in China in recent years. The output reached 19300 tonnes in 2007, an increase of 36.9% over 2006.

Major pyridine compound producers in China include Nantong Reilly Chemical Cio.Ltd., Lonza Guangzhou Ltd. and Nanjing Red Sun Group Co.Ltd., Besides, several coking enterprises also extract small amounts of pyridine from coal tar.

Red Sun and Sanonda Group Corporation are constructing or planning to construct such production units. It is expected that the total capacity of pyridine compounds will be more than 60000 tonnes per annum in 2010.

This article also contains the following  details :

  • Import/export
  • Consumption growth
    • Agrochemicals
    • Pharmaceutical intermediates and feed additives
    • SBV latex
    • Others
XYLITOL – INVESTMENT OPPORTUNITY

Xylitol is a naturally occurring 5-carbon polyol sweetener. Chemically, it is a sugar alcohol.

Xylitol belongs to the polyol group, which consists of sweeteners that are carbohydrates. These sugar replacements are used in a wide range of products including chewing gum, sweets, ice cream, baked goods and fruit spreads.

Xylitol is available in directly compressible, tableting grades.Xylitol is also available in a variety of pharmaceutical grades, including a specific endotoxin free grade for use in parenteral nutrition and injectable applications.

CAS number

87-99-0

Molecular formula

C5H12O5

Appearance                                       

White crystal granule or powder, with sweet taste

Density

1.52 g per cm³

Melting point

92 to 96 deg.C

Specifications


Categories

Unit

Xylitol crystal

Xylitol solution

Items

 

Food grade

 

 

 

 

Xylitol content

%

Calculated as dry base 98.5 to 101

Calculated as dry base≥95

Contents of other polyalcohol

%

≤2.0

——

Total alcohol content

%

——

≥95

Iron content

%

——

——

Heavy metal content

 

≤10 ppm

≤10 ppm

Arsenic content

 

≤3 ppm

≤2 ppm

Nickel content

 

≤2 ppm

——

Lead content

 

≤1 ppm

——

Chloride content

 

——

——

Loss on drying

 

≤0.5

——

Residue on ignition

%

≤0.5

——

pH value

 

——

4 to 7

Reducing sugar content

%

≤0.2

≤1.0

This article further discusses the following :

  • Occurrence of xylitol
  • Amount of Xylitol in some berries
  • Stability
  • Toxicity
  • Application
  • Relative sweetness of sugar and sugar alcohols
  • Benefits of xylitol
  • Process
  • Enzymatic process for xylitol
  • Process for xylitol from straw
  • Microbial xylitol production
  • Global scenario
    • Global xylitol producers
    • Profile of major producers
    • Global demand
    • Global growth
  • Indian imports
  • Prognosis
TRENDS AND HAPPENINGS IN INDIAN CHEMICAL INDUSTRY

CASE STUDY OF SELECTED CHEMICALS
MAGNESIUM OXIDE
(DEAD BURNT MAGNESITE/
SEA WATER MAGNESIA/ FUSED MAGNESITE)

Product Characteristics

Magnesium oxide is a component of basic refractory material that is characterized by high refractories and good resistance to basic slag.

The primary source of industrially produced magnesium oxide are the following:

* Natural magnesite ore
* Sea water

Magnesia is produced in various grades, generally classified in terms of its chemical properties (such as MgO, CaO, SiO2, Al2O3, Fe2O3, B2O3) and physical properties (such as bulk density, crystal size, true porosity).

The critical parameters universally acknowledged in the refractory product are content of magnesium oxide, bulk density, lime to silica ratio, boron content and crystal size.

Types of Magnesium oxide

* Dead burnt magnesia (DBM)
* Sea water magnesia
* Fused magnesite

This article contains the following details :

  • Process and specification
  • Product application
  • Import
  • Export
  • Supply/producers
  • Indian annual production
  • Demand driver and growth rate
  • Demand (period 2009)
  • Prognosis
PEEK - RECENT DEVELOPMENTS

The use of engineering plastic polyether ether ketone (PEEK) is preferred in a range of high-performance applications for its durability, temperature resistance and ease of thermoforming.

New products based on PEEK are finding their way into more applications.

PEEK is a potential replacement material in several areas that do not contain chemical additives such as anti-oxidants or stabilizers.

Initiatives of a few organizations in this regard are discussed

  • Victrex
  • Solvay Advanced Polymers
  • Evonik Degussa
BIOBUTANOL – TECHNOLOGY DEVELOPMENT EFFORTS

Butanol, a widely used industrial chemical, has the potential to outdo ethanol in the biofuels arena.

Biobutanol is said to offer several advantages over ethanol - it has a higher energy density, can be transported in existing pipelines, is easier to mix with gasoline or use alone in internal combustion engines, has a lower vapor pressure that makes it less polluting than ethanol and can be managed in the existing gasoline distribution network.

Butanol is yet to be applied commercially as a fuel. The main problem is the cost. The challenge with biobutanol has always been the low productivity of the fermentation process and the expensive cost of separating the fuel from the water.

Now technologies are being developed that can improve fermentation productivity and reduce energy consumption in the separation phase to the
extent of making biobutanol very competitive.

Earlier, biobutanol was produced via acetone-butanol-ethanol (ABE) bacterial fermentation using microbes such as Clostridium acetobutylicum. The ABE process was eclipsed by lower cost petrochemical routes during the 1950s.

While there are still several existing ABE-based biobutanol plants in operation, the dominant petrochemical route today is the propylene-based oxo synthesis process.

Biobutanol fermentation differs from bioethanol mainly in the use of bacteria rather than yeast. It is feasible to adapt existing or new grain and sugarcane based ethanol plants to produce biobutanol.

Most of the technology being developed in the US, Europe and Asia is based on genetically modified versions of the Clostridium to improve butanol tolerance and yield.

A challenge for biobutanol process developers is that bacteria may be poisoned by the butanol they produce, once its concentration rises above around 6%.

It can run continuous fermentation over 1,000 hours, making its bioprocessing very efficient. Its organism can also use a wider variety of nonfood feedstock.

Companies currently working on biobutanol include a joint venture between US chemical firm DuPont and UK-based BP

US start-up firms such as Cobalt Biofuels, Gevo and Tetravitae Bioscience UK-based biotech company Green Biologics and French biotech firm Metabolic Explorer are also working on technogies for biobutanol.

DuPont’s biobutanol venture with BP which started in 2006 is on track to have an operational pilot plant this year and a commercial manufacturing process with economics comparable to grain ethanol by 2010.

This article also contains the following details :

  • Cobalt Biofuels
  • Green Biologics
  • Efforts of other organisations
  • Bio isobutanol
BIODEGRADABLE MEDICAL FIBERS

Medical fibers and related products are mainly used in curing organs failure and in repairing defects in tissues. Medical fibers must have special functionality, bio-compatibility, bio-aging resistance and highly specific biodegradability and be sanitary.

Medical fiber is a sector with high added value and has a huge market potential. While medical fiber raw materials are available in many varieties, the market for highly qualified biodegradable fibers has the bright prospect.

The article contains the following details :

  • Polyvinyl alcohol (PVA)
  • Poly (glycolide-lactide) (PGLA)
  • Poly lactic acid (PLA)
  • Polycaprolactone (PCL)
  • Poly (p-dioxanone) (PDS)
BIOSIMILAR (ALSO KNOWN AS FOLLOW ON BIOLOGICS)

Biologic is a large-molecule drug based on proteins.Biosimilar (or follow on biologic) is a "copy" of a biologic that has lost patent protection. It is distinguished from small-molecule generic drugs because its size and complexity preclude the determinations of equivalence that are used in the approval of generics.

The difference between small-molecule generics and follow-on biologics is that small-molecule generics are identical to their branded counterparts, while biologic drugs can only be similar. Biosimilar is therefore, the preferred term and not biogeneric, which implies equivalence. The EU definition does not consider biosimilars to be generics.

EU regulatory framework is now in place to address the safety of biosimilars - also known as follow-on biologics. Japan and the US are both following suit and exploring legislative development. Both generic drug manufacturers and large pharma companies are angling for a share of this expanding niche in the $75bn (€60bn) global market for biologics.

Over 10 biosimilars have been approved in Europe, using the EU's specially adapted approval procedure.The initiatives made by a few global companies are discussed

  • Initiative of Sandoz
  • Initiative of Teva Pharmaceuticals
  • Initiative of other companies
  • The regulatory situation
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