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Extracts from Nandini Chemical Journal, Oct 2009

CDM market|Sodium Cyanide|Chlorosulphonated Polyethylene|Eco textiles
Highlights of Some of the Articles

UNUTILISED TALENT AND FACILITIES IN INDIAN UNIVERSITIES
MANY FUNDAMENTAL PROBLEMS EXIST IN INDIAN R&D
NEED FOR WORLD CLASS RESEARCH ON INDIAN SOIL
VIEW ON CHINESE CHEMICAL INDUSTRY FROM DISTANCE
INDIA’S OPPORTUNITIES IN GLOBAL CDM MARKET - FINDINGS OF A STUDY
SODIUM CYANIDE - INDUSTRY STATUS
CHLOROSULPHONATED POLYETHYLENE - PRODUCT PROFILE
FOCUS ON OIL EXPLORATION
ECO FRIENDLY TEXTILE PRODUCTS - TECHNOLOGY DEVELOPMENT EFFORTS
OTHER FEATURES

UNUTILISED TALENT AND FACILITIES IN INDIAN UNIVERSITIES

Whether one would desire to admit or not, the fact remains that Indian chemical industry is going through a technology crisis today. India  still largely depends upon the developed countries and even smaller countries like Korea, Israel and Taiwan to meet its chemical technology requirements. In the case of large chemical projects, it is very rare that the projects are set up based on indigenous technology even if similar projects are already in operation in India. Same is the scenario even in the case of specialty chemicals where the investment cost would be moderate. It appears that the Indian chemical investors still lack confidence in the Indian technology and therefore look forward to the safe option of acquiring technology from abroad.

While India, no doubt ,has big pool of technical manpower and there is reasonable level of technological capability at least in selected quarters, the indigenous technology front looks dismal.

Whatever the investments and the efforts put up by medium and large chemical companies in the R&D front largely amount to debottlenecking steps or quality optimization measures and not basic product development efforts. A cursory glance at the technology and product development efforts in China would readily indicate that India is far behind. It is high time that this issue should be addressed adequately,so that technology front in India would be strengthened to the level of requirement.

The investments in R&D efforts by industries both in private and public sector and in large and medium scale is still dismal. Lack of long term corporate research and development strategy and targets amongst industries is evident and such objectives are conspicuous by absence.

The major investment in Research and Development have still been carried out only by the Government of India by way of its massive investment in CSIR laboratories , atomic energy commission , space centres and others. While there is no careful analysis of the achievements of research efforts in the field of atomic energy and  space science vis a vis the investment and efforts put forth, there is huge public perception that the achievements made by several CSIR labs are far below the requirements and expectations.

While this is the ground reality, one cannot ignore the fact that the manpower strength in the technology field in India are huge and substantial investments have been made in creation of facilities for technical education and R & D work in the educational institutions.

This is a great advantage which remains unexploited.

India needs to understand from the practice of industry-university collaborations in developed countries, particularly USA, which has done great good both to the universities and industry. Obviously, it is the role and responsibility of Government of India and state governments to make the research and development collaboration between the industries and universities happen , by encouraging such cooperation and providing the right type of climate and incentives.

It is sad that the huge facilities in the laboratory and pilot plants created in the universities and engineering colleges largely remain idle most of the time , except when required by students to carry out the academic experiments. This is a true condition even in the case of IITs.

The industries remain unconvinced to a large extent about the capability of the technical staff in the universities and the universities remain unaware about the need and requirement of the industries.

With such gap in understanding between the industries and universities, several million of rupees invested in creating facilities in the universities remain wasted and the talent of the staff and research students of the universities remain unutilized. This is a great national loss which India cannot afford.

There is need to encourage exchange of people between industries and universities in a big way that would promote mutual cooperation

Today, several engineering colleges suffer due to want of adequately trained staff and industries face constraints in funding the research programmes. The marriage between industries and universities will pave way for elegant solutions for their problems.

MANY FUNDAMENTAL PROBLEMS EXIST IN INDIAN R&D

Contributed by: Nandini Venkataraman, USA

We do have some isolated successes in India in research and technology in some exotic fields such as nuclear research , space research and so on. While some of the claims of success have been controversial from time to time, I think these labs are still doing better than some of the other government labs in India.

Some pharmaceutical and biotech companies in India appear to make visible investments in research. Some world class research institutions exist such as IISc and JNCASR in Bangalore, TIFR in Bombay and the IITs, to a certain extent. However, the number of such quality institutions are few and far between, considering the technological need and potential in a country of one billion people.

Interestingly, in some fields, research is also slowly becoming a service that is outsourced by western companies. Companies like Microsoft, IBM, Itel, TI, GE and a few others have set up R&D labs in India and pump in investment to develop new products and processes. While Indian talent pool is used to develop technologies, Indian companies do not really benefit from it.

Many fundamental problems exist, which largely prevent the development of a large world class scientific talent pool. If quality research needs to be performed, infrastructure development is crucial and therefore, monetary investment is crucial, but that is only part of the problem. The other side to the problem is availability of good researchers. To perform quality research, motivated, well rounded researchers with anability for original thinking are required.

While India produces over 300,000 engineers and many more science graduates a year, the conversion rate to a higher degree like a Ph.D, which is an exercise to cultivate critical and creative thinking, remains dismal. The quality, methods of learning and requirements of bachelor’s level science and engineering courses is simply not enough to inspire innovative thinking, except perhaps in a few exceptionally bright students. So the idea of a vast technological manpower is somewhat misleading when it comes to developing research competency in core areas.

It is very important that a passion for science and engineering be created at the college level which happens in very few engineering institutions in India, much less in science colleges. Science degrees are often given a step motherly treatment compared to engineering, which is a wrong order of priority.

Fundamental understanding, which is the basis of all good engineering, can be provided only by scientists and not engineers. Engineers always use science as a bouncing board for developing innovative products and processes.

The right conditions have to be created to make research an attractive career option. Research bodies must take efforts to showcase their work widely, especially to young students and not just within the scientific community.

Research has to necessarily be a competitively paid job. While enthusiastic investments by the private sector in focus centres of excellence is crucial, the burden of building enough confidence in capabilities and original thinking lies with the scientific community.

NEED FOR WORLD CLASS RESEARCH ON INDIAN SOIL

Contributed by: V.Swaminathan, Singapore

There appear to be a caliber and knowledge problem with Indian universities.  Since industry professionals and universities tend to operate in their own spheres, there is hardly any mutual learning between the two.

It is probably an indication that industry sees little value addition by universities and hence do not interact at a serious level with them. Any interaction that happens, occurs on a charitable basis which serves little purpose on a long term basis.

Comparison of Indian conditions with USA is futile and can only be demoralizing, because the difference is so huge. Even comparison with China is increasingly out of place as China has gone so far ahead. To come close, we need to really think big and long term. In our chaotic democracy, its hard to think who will take the lead.

What we definitely have is experienced professionals of Indian origin around the world serving in key research positions in leading multinationals and universities in almost every field of engineering activity. We need to create a condition in India that would incentivize the professionals to bring the knowledge they possess into the Indian market.

With economic growth tapering off in the developed markets, India is an attractive destination for many of these professionals. With the knowledge they would bring, it would be feasible to attract capital and with it the investment required to give a strong push to research efforts.

This would require some vision and careful planning from central government to put the pieces together, that is required to achieve the vision.

There is talk that the Ministry of Education is considering proposals to allow leading universities in the world to set up campuses in India. If this is implemented properly this could go a long way in creating world class research on Indian soil.

VIEW ON CHINESE CHEMICAL INDUSTRY FROM DISTANCE

Those involved in activities relating to global chemical industry cannot but recognize that China is now rapidly emerging to attain the leadership position in the global chemical industry. At this pace of growth in China, it is only a question of time before China would out beat European countries and even USA in its performance and growth, not only in quantitative terms but also in terms of the range of chemical products produced and quality specification.

The first thing that one would notice in chemical industries in China that is in sharp contrast with the chemical industries in other countries in the world is the aggressive marketing strategies. If one would send ten enquiries for buying a product to chemical industries in China and another ten enquiries to chemical industries in other parts of the world including Western Europe and US, in all probability, the response within three days from chemical industries in China would be eight out of ten and the response from the chemical industries from other parts of the world would be two out of ten. This speaks volume about the vitality and dynamism of the chemical project managers in China.

While it was said earlier that the quality specification of chemicals produced in China were not competitive compared to the chemicals made in developed countries and this was true to a large extent in the past, this is no more the scenario today. There have been substantial improvement in the specification and grades of chemical products produced in China not only with regard to the bulk chemicals but also with regard to specialty chemicals. The range of specialty chemicals produced in China  have also increased substantially. This is mainly due to the fact that the Chinese chemical industries have been immensely benefited by the huge investments by multi national chemical companies in China and the great alacrity with which the native chemical industries in China have adopted and absorbed such technologies.

The investments in research and development activities in China and the interaction between technical academic bodies and industries have been steadily increasing. There have been many instances in recent times of successful cooperation between industries and universities in developing technologies and implementing chemical projects. This is one significant factor that has contributed to the process of fine tuning the operations of chemical industries in India.

Ofcourse,the rapid investments and setting up of chemical projects have resulted in the fall in safety standards in some chemical industries, which is reflected by the number of accidents taking place in the chemical industries particularly those operating at medium scale level.The  environmental issues also remain to be sorted out as many industries have been accused of not conforming to the ecological stipulations. But, there is evidence that the Government of China is now implementing vigorous steps to enforce safety and environmental standards and this is bound to have positive impact before long.As a matter of fact, it is expected that such strict implementation of safety and eco standards would only help in strengthening the base and structure of the chemical industries in India, making them more competitive in the global market.

In recent times, several countries including Western Europe and USA are implementing anti dumping measures against the Chinese goods which only indicates the fact the fact as to how strongly Chinese chemical industries have emerged in the global market. Many countries think that their native chemical industries have to be protected against “the Chinese invasion”, which in effect is a recognition of the “alarming pace” of growth of Chinese chemical industries.

It is still a puzzle for the executives in chemical industries all over the world as to how China is able to offer several chemical products at such low price. Many seem to be now realizing that such highly competitive price factors for chemicals from China are not due to mere Government support and fiscal incentives but are due to stronger fundamental factors.

Certainly, chemical industries in China are making money by volume sales and their aggressive marketing approach largely help them in this task.

It is also necessary to keep in mind that the chemical industries in China are not simply following the pattern of growth of developed countries.

For example, they have not given up the coal based chemical projects fearing environmental issues. They have capitalized enormously on their strength of large geographical size, huge population and consequent “consumption power” in China itself, different climatic conditions, huge availability of variety of natural resources and ofcourse the availability of natural gas.

Finally, a strong central government in China and labour laws that are notstrictly democratic have ensured peace in the industrial front where the focus of everyone stays on ensuring production at optimum possible level for them. The chemical industry in the rest of the world has to watch the chemical industry in China over powering it before long.

INDIA’S OPPORTUNITIES IN GLOBAL CDM MARKET FINDINGS OF THE STUDY

CERs are issued by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to projects in developing countries for reducing the emission of planet warming greenhouse gases (GHG). Reduction of one tonne of carbon dioxide per year earns one CER.

The Certified Emission Reduction (CERs) credits issued under CDM would double by 2010, says new research by IDEA carbon, a carbon rating agency.

It is industrialized countries that drive the CDM market by buying credits in developing countries like India to meet their emission reduction targets. Developing countries like India do not have any binding emission commitments under the Kyoto Protocol.

This article further discusses the following details :

  • CER price trend
  • Indian scenario
  • India – Second Largest CDM market
  • India’s emissions law
  • National Solar Mission
SODIUM CYANIDE - INDUSTRY STATUS
CAS Number 143-33-9
Molecular formula NaCN
Appearance                    Pure white, odourless, dry solid powder/ granules/ compacted in tablet form
Stability                          Stable at fairly high temperature in complete absence of air, CO2 and moisture. Highly poisonous
Solubility Soluble in water

Application sector

  • Ore extraction - Silver and Gold / Metal cleaning
  • Electroplating
  • Dyestuff industrie
  • Pharmaceutical Industries
  • Agrochemicals
  • Chelating and sequestering agents

Sodium Cyanide is the basic raw material for cyano acetic acid, used in pesticides and other agro-based products

This article further discusses the following details :

  • Specification
  • Production process
  • Indian producers
  • Import
  • Export
  • Anti dumping measures in India
  • Environmental issues
  • Demand drivers
  • Global scenario for sodium cyanide
  • Global scenario for hydrogen cyanide
  • Consumption pattern of hydrogen cyanide by end use
  • Global manufacturers
  • New Projects under planning/ implementation
  • Consumption pattern in China
  • Top sodium cyanide manufacturers in China
CHLOROSULPHONATED POLYETHYLENE - PRODUCT PROFILE

Chlorosulfonated polyethylene elastomers (CSP) have resistance to ozone, heat, weather, oxygen, oils and other fluids.

It exhibits colorability and color stability; shows high tensile strength and abrasion resistance; have excellent electrical insulating properties; and have low flammability characteristics.

Chlorosulfonated polyethylene is superior to polychloroprene in overall properties and is inferior to but more cost-effective than silicone or fluoroelastomers.

Compared with chlorinated polyethylene, chlorosulfonated polyethylene elastomers exhibit better mechanical properties and abrasion resistance.

Both chlorosulfonated polyethylene elastomers and chlorinated polyethylene can be cross-linked by peroxides or radiation curing, but chlorosulfonated polyethylene elastomers can also be cross-linked by metal oxides, sulfur-bearing organic compounds and epoxy resins.

The types of CSP produced include CSP 20,30,40,45 and 48.

This article further discusses the following details :

  • Product specification
  • Applications
  • Global producers
  • Substitution possibilities
  • Demand driver
  • Global demand
  • Regionwise demand
  • Global market – Period 2010
  • Chinese market
  • Import and Export of CSP in China from 2000 to 2007
  • Process
  • Technology issue
FOCUS ON OIL EXPLORATION

MORE THAN 200 DISCOVERIES REPORTED THIS YEAR

The global oil industry has been on a hot streak this year, thanks to a series of major discoveries that have rekindled a sense of excitement across the petroleum sector, despite falling prices and a tough economy.

These discoveries, spanning five continents, are the result of high investments that began earlier in the decade when oil prices rose and of new technologies that allow explorers to drill at greater depths and break tougher rocks.

This article discusses the following details:

  • Oil field in Kazakhstan
  • Oil Field In US Gulf Of Mexico
  • Tupi Field In Brazil
  • GSPC’s Two TCF Gas Reserves
ECO FRIENDLY TEXTILE PRODUCTS - TECHNOLOGY DEVELOPMENT EFFORTS

Growing numbers of international firms are offering clothing made from organic cotton, grown without using petrochemical-based fertilizers and pesticides. However, this represents only about 0.3% of industry demand and even processing of the organic cotton continues to present concerns.

Other “greener” alternatives include organic wool, bamboo, hemp, soybean fiber, biopolymers and polyester recycled from used clothing.

This article further discusses the following details :

  • Efforts of Teijin, Japan
  • Lyocell
  • Sorona
  • Ingeo fiber
  • Biofront
  • Efforts at elimination of formaldehyde
  • Genecor
OTHER FEATURES

PLANT CLOSURES

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

  • Kumho Petrochemical idles SBR Unit
  • Lyondell Basell to cease MIBK / Acetone / Isopropanol production at Berre, France
  • Sasol considers closure of phosphoric acid plant in South Africa
  • Petronas methanol unit shut indefinitely
  • Croda Europe to close UK tallow plant
  • Valero to keep Aruba refinery shut
  • Arkema Saint-Auban plant closure
  • BASF to close polyamide 6 plant (nylon 6) at Rudolstadt
  • IFF may close Ireland and UK fragrance units
  • Force majeure for Shell
  • Akzonobel to close chlor-alkali and MCA plants in Sweden
  • Closure of polystyrene unit by INEOS Nova
  • Dow to close ethyl benzene, styrene units at Freeport, TX
  • Ethylene /ethylene derivative plants

ANTI DUMPING MEASURES

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

  • R-134a coolant
  • Sodium gluconate
  • US imposes 35% duty on Chinese tyres
  • Caustic soda
  • SBR
  • Sun control polyester films
  • Nylon tyre cord fabric
  • Catechol
  • Phthalic anhydride
  • Neoprene
  • Dimethyl ketone

SAFETY AND ACCIDENTS

Following safety and accident details are discussed:

  • Blast at Xingteng Chemical hydrofluoric acid
  • Formosa shuts down aromatics unit due to fire
  • Hydrogen fluoride leaked at a chemical factory in China
  • Explosion in Henan,China
  • Chemical Explosion Kills 18 in China
  • Oil spill from capsized ship in Orissa coast
  • Blast rocks defence research lab in Pune
  • Nippon Oil shuts MARIFU reformer after fire

UPDATE ON BIOFUEL INDUSTRY

The following recent developments on biofuel industry are discussed:

  • U.S. research plan for biofuels from algae
  • Efforts of ExxonMobil
  • Efforts of BP
  • Efforts of Dow Chemical

UPDATE ON CARBON TRADING

The following recent developments on Carbon trading are discussed:

  • The clean developmeny mechanism market
  • CCS projects could flood the CER market

NEWS ROUND UP

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

INTERNATIONAL

  • Dupont’s plans for photovoltaic Materials
  • Propylene oxide-styrene monomer (POSM)
  • Ammonium nitrate
  • Lonza’s cell culture facility in Singapore
  • Reach costs exceed prior estimates
  • Global Uranium output trend

INDIA

  • India may participate in Red Sea pipeline project
  • Petrochem investment prospects - PCPIR

CHINA NEWS

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

  • Acetic acid
  • Crystalline silicon PV Cell
  • Adipic acid
  • Ethyl benzene
  • Coal based MEG project
  • Coal to GAs project
  • Ban on trichloroethane
  • Mono nitro toluene
  • Polyethylene
  • Methionine
  • Coal to gas project
  • Lonza opens biocides plant in Nanjing

TECHNOLOGY DEVELOPMENTS

The recent developments on the following technology efforts are highlighted

International

  • Bacterial strains to clean water
  • Monolaurin - Extract from coconut oil
  • New test to detect tainted milk
  • Alkaline fuel cell membrane
  • Advanced anti caking agent developed for salt
  • Preservation of stored grains - Technology efforts
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