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Extracts from Nandini Chemical Journal, Jul 2009

Sick fertiliser units|Acrylic acid|MSG|Carbon nanotubes
Highlights of Some of the Articles

TALK OF THE MONTH
LET PRIVATE SECTOR REVIVE THE SICK FERTILISER UNITS
IMPORT OF UREA
SEIZURE OF DRUG CONSIGNMENTS FROM INDIA
GAS EXPLORATION ACTIVITIES IN NORWAY
ACRYLIC ACID - PRODUCT PROFILE
MONOSODIUM GLUTAMATE – INVESTMENT OPPORTUNITY
CARBON NANOTUBES - GLOBAL DEVELOPMENT EFFORTS
REGULAR FEATURES
OTHER ARTICLES

TALK OF THE MONTH

OVER DOING ENVIRONMENTAL REGULATIONS

Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board was reported to have issued closure notice to Aurobindo Pharma Ltd in SIPCOT Industrial Estate Complex, Cuddalore in Tamil Nadu, for producing a particular chemical without obtaining prior permission from the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board.

It is said that the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board earlier gave permission to the company to produce the chemical product named 6-APA but the unit was reported to have started producing alternate product. Obviously, the view of the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board was that the unit cannot produce any product without getting the prior approval from the Board.

Environmental authorities and Pollution Control Boards are essentially involved in regulating environmental discharge and to ensure that the operation of the industries would not lead to ecological damage. This is as it should be. At the same time, it needs to be kept in mind that the environmental authorities are different from licensing authorities as far as the products that should be produced.

In the case of Aurobindo Pharma, it would have been appropriate for TamilNadu Pollution Control Board to question the unit, if it would have let out any harmful untreated effluents and hazardous emissions in violation of the stipulated rules of the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board. Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board can certainly question the unit for any violation in the discharge norms. But, ordering closure of the unit due to production of a new product by change of product mix appears to be abuse of the authority by the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board , without being sensitive about the loss of production and consequent loss to the unit and to the country.

We are supposed to be living in the era of deregulation and liberalization, where the government is said to be keen that the industries should operate without much of restrictions, injecting an element of dynamism in the industry.

Recently, the bulk drug manufacturers association also decided to request the Government of India to allow the drug manufactures to change the product line without having to apply for new license. Presently, it is mandatory for drug manufacturers to seek fresh permission every time they want to change the product formulations. The association has quiet correctly asked the Government of India to change the approach and policy to licensing for the pharma companies

The Government of India and environmental authorities should realize that the chemical industries are now operating in extremely difficult conditions and are confronted with variety of issues.

Technology changes and product developments are taking place at rapid pace to meet the consumer expectations, safety norms and ecological requirements. The trend is to set up versatile production facilities where switch over from one product to the other can take place at quick time in tune with the growth and change in the demand trend and consumer needs.

This is particularly so in the case of pharmaceutical companies, where products have to be introduced or withdrawn in quick time and at short notice. In such circumstances, industries have to remain highly alert and extremely dynamic and must have flexible product portfolio.

It would be a very tough situation for chemical industries, if it would be insisted that they have to go to Government of India and environmental authorities to get their approval and permission every time that they would change the product mix. When international industries are moving at great pace, the bureaucratic oriented government machinery and environmental authorities in India are too sluggish and slow and any such interference by them in the product mix would make the Indian industries lose in the global competitive race.

The environmental authorities certainly have well thought out norms and discharge standards whether they are solid, liquid or gaseous. While it is their duty to ensure that the industry would adhere to such norms, there is no reason for them to insist that the industries should get prior permission before making any change in the product mix and the process condition adopted, when there would be no violation of discharge standards.

The pollution control authorities may ask the industries to inform them if there would be any change in the product mix but going to the extent of closing the unit for changing the product mix amounts to thoughtless step and is a short sighted measure.

LET PRIVATE SECTOR REVIVE THE SICK FERTILISER UNITS

Government of India has been talking about reviving sick fertilizer units for quiet a long time.

It is now said that Government of India would invite global tender shortly to attract bids for the revival of eight fertilizer plants, that need total investment of about Rs.360000 million. These plants are located in Barauni, Haldia, Talchar, Ramagundam, Durgapur, Gorakpur, Korba and Sindri and each of these plant have capacity to produce 1.15 million tonnes of urea per year.

India has been a large importer of urea for the past several years. Indian demand for urea is likely to go up steadily, in view of the need to sustain agricultural production and productivity that is necessary to meet the food requirement in the country in the coming years.

Since the present Indian requirement of urea are met by import considerably, India has become vulnerable to the price pressure of international urea cartels, who often jack up price of urea, with India having no alternative other than succumbing to the price pressure and paying high price for the imported urea.

With the feed stock natural gas availability remaining uncertain and the economics of naphtha based fertilizer plants being doubted by several quarters, the Government of India has been unable to decide about “the make or buy decision” for urea. Some quarters have advocated in the past that importing urea would be cheaper than producing it in the country, since India has no particular feed stock advantage. At the same time, the argument goes that for life line products like urea, India should not remain dependent on external sources and should remain self supporting.

Many urea fertilizer units in India were closed in the past mainly due to government’s confused subsidy policies and lack of consistency in product price fixation. Most of the closed units were not sick from the point of view of technology and shop floor performance. Even if some technology gaps existed, they could have been sorted out. Indian urea units were the victims of government’s bureaucratic approach.

Several government committees have discussed in the past about the problems of the urea industry. But ground realities remain largely unchanged.

Even as Government of India is now taking steps to revive the closed urea units, it is seen that even some of the presently operating units are becoming sick. The Government can not close it’s eyes to the plight of two major fertilizer units in Tamil Nadu namely SPIC Ltd., and Madras Fertilisers Ltd. The condition of FACT in Kerala is no better.

Even with such experience, FACT has now announced that it would set up a new 5 lakh tonnes per annum urea plant costing Rs.650 crores due to the likely availability of natural gas from Kochi LNG terminal by 2011.

While the Government’s decision to rehabilitate the eight sick fertilizer units should be welcomed, the question remains as to how quickly could it be done and as how pragmatic would be government’s approach in working out rehabilitation measures for the units now remaining closed for the last several years.

The Government must work out a pragmatic strategy, so that the initiative for revival of fertilizer industry would be vested with the private sector with the government playing the role of facilitator. In the past, the government has not been able to take a definite position in this regard and this has cost Indian fertilizer industry dearly.

Perhaps, the ideal course of action would be to hand over the sick urea units to private sector companies in India or multinational companies abroad, even if at nil price, so that they would find it viable to put the sick units on stream and supply the much needed urea for the country.

IMPORT OF UREA

(Quantity in metric tonnes)

Country

Apr. 2005 to Mar 2006

Apr 2006 to Mar 2007

Apr 2007 to Mar 2008

Apr 2008 to Dec. 2008

Baharain IS

-

46,000.00

27,997.00

51,149.31

Bangladesh PR

-

118,024.00

152,107.02

83,160.87

Belarus

-

2,665.00

-

4,873.00

China P RP

-

154,544.00

2,543,731.75

452,927.38

Egypt A RP

-

99,887.00

107,034.00

126,131.77

Germany

0.76

-

5,000.20

-

Indonesia

-

-

162,592.98

78,350.45

Kuwait

16,497.00

71,660.70

102,040.00

47,245.00

Latvia

 

 

 

72,600.00

Liberia

-

26,451.00

-

-

Libya

-

129,890.54

11,401.38

-

Lithuania

 

 

 

78,982.52

Malaysia

-

69,397.00

44,033.00

22,800.00

Oman

1,074,627.88

1,463,332.88

1,747,722.75

1,256,773.13

Qatar

74,327.00

183,609.92

335,329.25

330,675.13

Romania

-

44,000.00

-

47,221.00

Russia

66,702.00

118,252.00

37,174.00

234,787.02

Saudi Arab

120,627.00

100,085.00

228,528.98

178,280.30

Turkey

 

 

 

27,001.00

U Arab Emts

104,473.13

225,865.28

270,470.31

-

UK

3.00

-

-

-

Ukraine

433,144.00

1,196,526.13

636,901.00

822,822.00

Unspecified

27,000.00

-

37,125.00

-

Vietnam Soc Rep

-

-

-

11,290.00

Total

1,917,401.77

4,050,190.45

6,449,188.62

3,927,069.88

SEIZURE OF DRUG CONSIGNMENTS FROM INDIA

There were 17 incidents of drug seizure last year in the Netherlands on the grounds of patent-infringement and 16 of them were Indian medicine exports, says Health Action International (HAI), a Dutch network that works on increasing access to medicines.

This information, provided by the Dutch government authorities to HAI, was in response to the latter’s filing under the Freedom of Information Act, a HAI note said. The 17 seizures by Dutch authorities were on the basis of EU regulation 1383/2008 and included one consignment from China.

One more Indian drug company, Chennai-based Medopharm’s export consignment of antibiotic amoxicillin was seized on grounds of trademark infringement. Only this time, the seizure happened when the goods were passing through Germany.

In the last eight months, several Indian drug companies, including Ind-Swift, Dr Reddy’s, Cipla and Aurobindo have had their export consignments seized at Dutch ports.

Though some companies have since freed their consignments through diplomatic and legal channels, Indian pharma industry representatives protest that blocking exports being transhipped through a region to another market is tantamount to a non-tariff barrier and an abuse of the EU regulation of 2003.

For instance, medicines seized in the Netherlands were headed to Peru, Columbia, Ecuador, Mexico, Portugal, Spain, Brazil and Nigeria. And the seized consignments comprised heart-related medicines, lifestyle drugs, dementia, schizophrenia and AIDS medicines, it added.

Medopharm’s Amoxicillin shipment was headed for the Republic of Vanuatu in the Pacific, but was seized by customs officials while in transit through Frankfurt, Germany.GlaxoSmithKline is the former patent-holder on Amoxil, or branded amoxicillin.

Medopharm’s export has since been released. But the incident proves that customs officials are not equipped to handle intellectual property related issues and should not be entrusted with enforcing them.

Further, drug companies whose consignments are seized are not given an opportunity to explain and there is no transparency in the conduct of this exercise. International advocacy networks have urged the European Commission to take steps to ensure that its regulations did not deny timely access to essential medicines.

GAS EXPLORATION ACTIVITIES IN NORWAY

Royal Dutch Shell Plc., made a natural gas discovery at a record depth in the northern Norwegian Sea that may equal the size of Norway’s annual production of the fuel. The find was made in the Gro prospect 360 kilometres offshore Broennoeysund in Nordland and is estimated to hold 10 to 100 billion standard cubic metres of recoverable gas , the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate said recently. The country had net gas output of 99 billion cubic metres in 2008.

The company has only got one well, one point of data, so there is not enough data to be specific. It will continue to reassess the data.

The find may be biggest since Ormen Lange in 1997.

Norway, the world’ fifth largest oil exporter and second biggest gas supplier, is boosting gas output to make up for dwindling crude production after 40 years of pumping oil. The country is opening more of its unexplored northern water to drilling in areas such as the Norwegian Sea.

Shell, operator of the prospect, made the find in a wildcat well at a depth of 1,376 metres, the greatest water depth ever in Norway.. Wildcat wells are drilled in zones not known to be productive.

The well has not been formation tested and delineation drilling is needed to determine the resources potential, including possible additional volumes.

Shell holds a 50% stake in the field and StatoillHydro ASA 40%. GDF Suez SA bought a 10% stake from Shell on December 23, in a deal that was approved by the Norwegian authorities late May.

StatoillHydro, Norway’s largest oil and gas producer, has struggled to replace reserves as its North Sea fields age. Its reserve replacement ratio fell to 34% in 2008 from 86% in 2007. It is tapping unconventional sources, such as shale assets and oil sands, to help production.

Ormen Lange took 10 years to start production, which may be an indication of the timing for the Gro find. An appraisal well is unlikely to start until next year.

The depth of the discovery is not a particular problem. There is a lot of development at such depths elsewhere in the world. The challenge is that it lies far from land, so it will require a significant engineering process with a possible pipeline from the field.

ACRYLIC ACID – PRODUCT PROFILE

Appearance          

Clear liquid. It forms crystalline needles in the solid state

Colour                  

Colourless

CAS No

79-10-7

Acrylic Acid is a clear liquid with a sharp odour, that is corrosive and reactive.

It is normally stabilised with inhibitors as it polymerises readily in the presence of oxygen.

It is soluble in water, alcohols, esters and many organic solvents.

Application

Crude acrylic acid        Crude acrylic acid is used in the production of acrylic esters and other derivatives.Emulsion polymers containing acrylate esters are used in the paint, paper, textile, adhesives, speciality coatings and ink industries.

Glacial acrylic acid       Glacial acrylic acid is used to produce super absorbent polymers. Besides, glacial acrylic acid is also used to produce polyacrylic acid, detergent polymers and polymer dispersing agents.

This article further discusses the following details :

  • Import in India
  • Pattern of countrywise imports
  • Indian supply
  • Demand driver
  • Indian demand
  • Process
  • Technology developments
  • Global scenario
    • Global demand
    • Global demand pattern
    • US scenario
    • New projects
    • Global producers
  • Prognosis
MONOSODIUM GLUTAMATE – INVESTMENT OPPORTUNITY

Monosodium glutamate, commonly known as MSG, is sodium salt of non essential amino acid (L-glutamic acid).

Foods often used for their flavoring quality, such as tomatoes and mushrooms contain naturally occurring free glutamate.

Characteristics of MSG

Appearance                    

White free flowing crystal

CAS No.                         

142-47-2 (anhydrous)
6106-04-3 (monohydrate)

Alternate name

MSG, Sodium glutamate

Popular trade name

Ajinomoto, Vetsin and Accent

Molecular formula          

C5H8NO4Na

Odour                            

Odourless

Taste                             

Characteristic taste

Solubility

Soluble in water. Sparingly soluble in alcohol

Stability

Stable under recommended storage conditions

Storage   

MSG should be stored at room temperature

Packing                         

25 kg net inner PE and outer PP woven 
(or kraft paper) bag

Application sector

Monosodium glutamate (MSG) is used in the food and industrial sector

Food sector

MSG is used as flavouring agent in food notably in meat, seafoods It is a used in preparation of condensed *soup, stews and chowders

Industrial sector

MSG is used as raw material in the production of bulk drugs such as folic acid, ethambutol and vitamin B12

This article discusses the following details :

  • Producer’s specification
  • Annual import of MSG
  • Export
  • Government regulations
  • Indian producer
  • Demand drivers and growth
  • Growth rate
  • Indian demand and pattern of application sectorwise demand
  • Manufacturing process
  • Global scenario
    • Global installed capacity
    • Global production
    • Capacity utilization level
    • Global suppliers
    • Global demand
    • Global growth rate in demand
    • Recommendations
CARBON NANOTUBES - GLOBAL DEVELOPMENT EFFORTS

Carbon nanotubes (CNTs) are simply another molecular arrangement of carbon. Most of carbon nanotubes are produced industrially by chemical vapor deposition (CVD) and - as the name suggests - take the form of tiny tubes. These can be single-walled,double-walled and multi-walled - the most common variety.

While other nanoparticles - such as nanoclays - are more established, carbon nanotubes are likely to be more versatile and deliver a broader range of properties - especially for antistatic applications.

Aside from being used as a plastics additive, CNTs may have use in fuel cells, lithium-ion batteries and drug delivery.

Carbon nanotubes and other nanoparticles - an order of magnitude smaller than conventional plastics fillers - can have dramatic effects on properties when compounded into a polymer: packaging films which make them admit less oxygen; composites are stronger and lighter; and electronics products can be rendered antistatic.

The world market for nano-materials is around $1.5bn (Euro1bn), and it is likely to double over the next two to three years.

This article discusses the following details :

  • Product application
  • Efforts of Bayer
  • Efforts of Arkema
  • Efforts of BASF
  • CNT Innovation Alliance
  • Product pricing
REGULAR FEATURES

ANTI DUMPING PAGE

The antidumping measures introduced in  the various countries in the last few weeks on the following products are discussed:

  • Passenger car tyres
  • Carbon black
  • Steel products
  • Phthalic anhydride
  • Phosphoric acid
  • Potassium carbonate
  • Diethyl thiophosphoryl chloride
  • 1,4-Butanediol
  • Polypropylene
  • Vitamin C
  • Graphite electrodes
  • Aluminium products
  • Aluminium waste, scrap

PLANT CLOSURES

The article discusses the plans for closure of selected units by the following players

  • Caprolactam at Brazil Unit
  • Ceramics plant in France
  • Mitsui Chemicals to stop EMG production
  • Dow to close Bilbao unit
  • Mitsubishi chemical to exit caprolactam, styrene monomer
  • Sabic to close ABS facility in the UK
  • Closure of fibre facility
  • Russia's Sibur close plants
  • BASF to close tarragona EPS plant

SAFETY AND ACCIDENT PAGE

Following safety and accident details are discussed:

  • Explosion in Ethylene Unit
  • Leak in gas processing plant in Norway
  • 40 feared dead in Indonesian gas explosion
  • Accident in Jiangsu LNG terminal eight in China
  • Fire at Haldia Petro's naphtha plant
  • 49 injured in factory blast in Goa

UPDATE ON BIOFUEL

The following recent developments on biofuel industry are discussed:

  • Conocophillips idles renewable diesel
  • Austria starts up grass-fed bio refinery project
  • Neste starts work on rotterdam renewable diesel
  • Biofuel from microorganisms
  • Gliocladium roseium – a fungus that produces `myco-diesel’

PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT EFFORTS IN INDUSTRIAL BIOTECHNOLOGY

The need for chemical producers to develop and manufacture products more cheaply and sustainably is increasingly driving them to industrial biotechnology.

The efforts of a few international organizations in the field of industrial biotechnology are discussed.

  • Efforts of Genomatica
  • Efforts of Danisco
  • Efforts of Codexis (Redwood City, CA)
  • Efforts of Shell
  • Efforts of Elevance
  • Efforts of BASF
  • Efforts of DuPont
  • Efforts of Sud-Chemie
  • Efforts of DSM
  • Efforts of Synthetic Genomics

PHASING OUT OF HYDROFLUOROCARBON (HFC)

THE EU'S ruling in 2006 that it would enforce a ban on the use of fluorinated chemicals spelled out the end for hydro fluorocarbon (HFC) refrigerants in Europe's air conditioning systems.

The EU directive on emissions from automotive air conditioners means that new vehicles on sale in Europe must use refrigerants with a global warming potential (GWP) of less than 150. The industry-standard refrigerant R134a, used in cars manufactured in Europe since the 1990s, is not an ozone-depleting gas, but has a high GWP of 1,300.

Carbon dioxide (CO2) has a GWP of 1.

Following the tightening of regulations, the cut-off point for the transition to less environmentally-damaging gases in new vehicles will now be January 1, 2011 in EU.

This article discusses the scenario relating to the following refrigerants

  • HCFC-22 (R-22)
  • Hydrocarbons
  • R134a
  • Compressed CO2

NEWS ROUND UP

The recent developments on the following products/events are discussed:

INTERNATIONAL

  • Calcium chloride
  • Bio poly carbonate
  • Nano material for dispersion
  • PVC
  • Cyclodextrin
  • Bio-based polymers
  • Methylamines
  • Acrylamide
  • Monosilane/Fumed silica
  • Membrane Electrode Assembly Plant for Fuel Cells
  • Butyl rubber
  • Ammonium sulfate
  • Trimethylpropane
  • PTA unit Pakistan
  • Bio-ETBE
  • Methionine
  • Co2 liquefaction plant
  • Sodium amide

INDIA

  • ECL plans to raise coal output to 12 million tonnes
  • Huntsman technical knowhow for Laffans

CHINA NEWS

The recent developments on the following products/events are updated :

  • Novel genes for crop improvement
  • Glyphosate
  • Ethylene
  • Caustic soda
  • Sodium formate
  • Gasoline hydrogenation project
  • Fluoride salt projects
  • Methanol project
  • Acrylonitrile butadiene rubber
  • Glycol ether
  • Organic fertilizer project
  • Polybutylenes succinate
  • Acetic acid
  • Granular ammonium sulfate
  • New PVP product

TECHNOLOGY DEVELOPMENTS

The recent developments on the following technology efforts are highlighted

  • DSM Technology raises bioreactor productivity
  • Hydrogen from glycerine
  • Bacteria for converting coal to methane
  • Shell thiogro technology
  • Catalyst technology from BASF
  • Removal of hydrogen sulphide gas
  • New hydrogen purification method

AGRO CHEMICAL PAGE

The recent developments on the following products/events are discussed:

  • Programme for highly toxic pesticide alternatives
  • Crop protection product – Mafenpyr
  • Organophosphorus pesticide microbial degradation agent
  • Herbicide-tolerant corn traits - Issues between BASF and DuPont

PHARMA PAGE

The recent developments on the following products/events are discussed:

  • New cancer drug
  • Drugs going off patent
  • Nano therapy
  • Insulin
  • Gedeon Richter to License KV Pharmaceutical Technology

ENERGY PAGE

The recent developments on the following products/events are discussed:

  • Manure to fill gas grid
  • New Biogas Network Under Development
  • Solar energy project in China
  • Human waste into clean energy in Brazil
  • Turning sunlight into liquid fuels

ENVIRONMENTAL PAGE

The recent developments on the following products/events are discussed:

  • New e-waste recycling process
  • A process for the absorption of So2 from flue gas

PRICE DETAILS – INTERNATIONAL

Global price trends on the following products are provided :

  • Natural gas in China
  • Titanium dioxide
  • Monoethylene glycol
  • Propylene
  • Epichlorohydrin
  • Adipic acid
  • Benzene
  • Cumene
  • Styrene
  • Caustic soda
  • Polyethylene
  • Polycarbonate resin
  • Spot Bulk Chemical Prices
OTHER ARTICLES
  • Global Carbon Market-Highlights Of The World Bank Study Report
  • Energy Policy Of Asian Development Bank
  • Turning Human Waste Into Fuel – Project In USA
  • Indian Edible Oilseed Industry – A Profile
  • Integrated Fuel Cell Facility Of BASF
  • Novel Technologies For Emission Reduction In China
  • New Projects – International
  • Tender
  • Chemicals Imported At The Chennai Port During The Month Of April 2009
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