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Extracts from Nandini Chemical Journal, Feb 2011

AGRO CHEMICAL|NUCLEAR WASTE MANAGEMENT|BOVINE BELLIES
Highlights of Some of the Articles

TALK OF THE MONTH : URGENT NEED TO FOCUS ON AGRO CHEMICAL INDUSTRY
EMERGING BUSINESS MODEL FOR GLOBAL CHEMICAL INDUSTRIES
CHINA NOW DICTATING TERMS IN THE WOLRD RARE EARTHS MARKET
NUCLEAR WASTE MANAGEMENT PRACTICES IN FINLAND
BOVINE BELLIES YIELD CLUES FOR NEW BIOFUELS
CHLOROSULPHONIC ACID PRODUCT PROFILE
POLYVINYLIDENE CHLORIDE (PVDC) INVESTMENT OPPORTUNITY
SPOTLIGHT ON SPECIALITY CHEMICAL ALPHA METHYL STYRENE
NEED FOR INTELLIGENCE MECHANISM TO PREDICT PRICE RISE IN INDIA
PRICE INCREASE OF FERTILIZERS AS THE GOVERNMENT MODIFIES PRICING POLICY
OTHER FEATURES
OTHER ARTICLES

TALK OF THE MONTH

URGENT NEED TO FOCUS ON AGRO CHEMICAL INDUSTRY

Government of India has once again increased the price of petrol, which obviously indicates that it is clueless about the strategies for maintaining the price of petrol and other petroleum fuel in India.

The Indian chemical Industries should realize that such conditions only point to the grim ground realities and it would be a calculated risk to build the future chemical industries in India largely based on petro chemical feedstock. There is urgent need to focus growth plans of chemical industries in India on more appropriate lines.

With regard to petroleum based fuel, there have been number of suggestions to the Government of India in recent times, to develop alternative and appropriate fuel sources for India. Obviously, the jatropha bio fuel and algae based bio fuel are some of the areas, where there are huge futuristic possibilities. But the challenge of exploiting these appropriate and promising resources can be achieved, only by initiating and implementing short term and long term strategic plans with well conceived research and development programmes and schedules, in a sustained manner.

It is sad that the Government of India has failed to give any lead to India or frame appropriate policy measures in tackling the impending fuel crisis. As a result, India remains helpless in tackling this grave problem of ever increasing petroleum price scenario.

As a traditional agro based economy, India has to necessarily look inward to work out it’s appropriate development strategy, instead of copying the pattern of growth of developed countries and linking the future of Indian chemical industries to petro based sector.

India has a lot to learn from Brazil, which has been relentlessly exploiting its potential for producing sugar cane for developing ethanol based fuel and ethanol based derivative chemicals. While India need not adopt the exact plans that Brazil has charted for itself, certainly the initiative of Brazil in finding appropriate growth model should be an eye opener and bench mark for India

There is strong case to shift the priorities and reorient the future growth profile of Indian chemical industries based on agro chemicals rather than petro chemicals. Combination of agro chemical industries with agricultural industry would be the elegant method of combining the twin advantages to meet the larger need of India.

India being a tropical country with different climatic zones, it has been possible to cultivate varieties of agricultural crops in India. There are possibilities of producing many value added chemical products from the agricultural crops in a viable manner, which can compete with the synthetic chemicals now producied from petroleum based feedstock.

Apart from the increase in the cost of production and price of petro chemical products, environmental issues arising out of synthetic chemicals have also been a matter of grave concern for user sector around the world. Under the circumstances, the agro chemicals produced from natural sources are bound to be viewed as eco friendly, apart from being appropriate to the India’s needs and strength.

Unfortunately, many of the potential valued based agro chemicals are being produced in India only in small quantity or not at all produced in India at present, which amount to missing investment opportunities in the field.

India still have huge potentials for producing many chemicals based on agro products such as cane molasses, maize /tapiaco / starch , castor etc. In the case to several molasses / starch based chemicals, India entirely imports its requirement of derivative products such as L-lysine, glutamic acid, citric acid etc.

In the case of herbs\medicinal plants, India has huge traditional knowledge and enormous opportunities. Several herbal drugs have been developed for the difficult to treat diseases such as cancer, jaundice etc. based on Indian herbs. Unfortunately, Indian herbal industry is now at the cross roads and is lacking integrated herbal management practices that combine agricultural management, technology practices, application development, product certification and trading. While a lot of discussions have taken place in governmental / non governmental level about the potentials for exploiting the investment opportunities in the herbal sector, they have not been translated into practice adequately.

There are of course, other valuable agricultural products such as jojoba, jatropha, algae etc where India has unique tropical advantages but nothing worthwhile have been achieved so far.

Obviously, efforts towards developing and optimizing the technology for the production of agro chemicals appropriate to the Indian conditions, have not been put forth adequately. Certainly, it is evident that there is lack of focus in requisite measures to boost agro chemicals production in India, which can prove costly in the coming years in view of the uncertainties associated with the petro chemical products.

EMERGING BUSINESS MODEL FOR GLOBAL CHEMICAL INDUSTRIES

There was a time when chemical industries were operating with water tight compartments and viewing the competitors as if they were enemies. However, these days, the managements have become more pragmatic and matured and do not hesitate to co operate with one organization in some region and compete with the same organization in another region, even for the same product.

It is no more uncommon to see the competitors collaborating in research and development projects and sharing their expertise in different areas to optimize the research efforts to avoid unnecessary work and shorten the target days for the completion of research and development efforts.

There was time when unrelated diversifications were freely indulged in by chemical industries. We do not hear anymore of such trends in a big way. There is greater focus on the core areas amongst the chemical industries, who would like to dwell deep into the areas of specialization rather than spreading their net wide, that could result in dilution of efforts .

Another significant development in recent times is the recognition gained by trading houses, which are no more considered as of lesser importance in the over all chemical industrial activities.

The trading has now become as much specialized affair as manufacturing and the dependence of the trading houses and manufacturing organizations on each other for the achievement of progress and growth have now become total. Trading houses and manufacturing organizations now have developed great respect for each other.

Certification issues and environmental stipulations have also gained considerable importance due to increasing concern and awareness of the consumers about ecological issues, that directly and indirectly have compelled the chemical industries all over the world to pay greater attention to the eco friendly operations and product obsolescence possibilities.

With the countries in Asia and Middle East region making great strides in chemical industries by way of capacity creation and the market steadily growing in these region, the western based multi national companies have now realized that without participating in the growth profile of these regions, they will not be able to hold their market share. As a result, multi national companies are inevitably working out new management methods, approach and philosophy appropriate to the need of the regions in the Asia Pacific , Middle East and Africa.

Finally, responsible care is another emerging subject that the chemical industries think that they need to focus to win the consumer’s confidence and the market good will.

With such developments in the last decade, which are likely to be further fine tuned in the coming years, global chemical industries have to continuously re evolve and optimize the business model and improve them constantly in tune with the developments across the world. This has become a pre condition to stay in the business.

CHINA NOW DICTATING TERMS IN THE WOLRD RARE EARTHS MARKET

Rare earths include lanthanum, dysprosium, cerium, gallium and yttrium are critical for the development of clean-energy technology, such as lithium-ion batteries, wind power generators and energy efficient lighting systems.

Dysprosium, used in high-temperature magnets in electric-drive vehicles, is expected to face a “critical shortage” between 2012 and 2014. The metal is forecast to see a significant demand increase, with supply remaining constrained, as dysprosium is found in relatively small amounts in new Western mines. Other elements such as gallium carry relatively low supply risk, as significant deposits exist outside China.

China is home to more than 95% of global rare earths production capacity, but holds less than 40% of reserves. Earlier this year, China briefly embargoed the export of rare earths to the U.S., Japan and Europe. The embargo prompted some companies including Albemarle and W.R. Grace, to implement surcharges on products that use rare earths.

A report by the U.S. Department of Energy says that USA could face shortages of rare earth materials within the next fifteen years.

The main vulnerability to U.S. and global rare earths supply is China’s dominance of production of the metals.

The DOE report suggests increasing production in the U.S. and other countries, developing technological alternatives to rare earths and recycling existing rare earths as possible ways to ensure supply stability.

However, it identifies some major obstacles to enacting those policies. These include the difficulty of opening a mine in the U.S., which, due to environmental clearing issues and capital costs, can take upto 10 years from initial exploration to commercial production. DOE also says that many USA based rare earths development firms are small and face difficulties in obtaining the capital required to construct a new mine.

NUCLEAR WASTE MANAGEMENT PRACTICES IN FINLAND

Finland consumes nearly 17,000 units of electric power per capita annually; its share of nuclear electricity is about 28 per cent. Though its nuclear power programme is very modest compared to that of U.S. or France. it is far ahead in its universally applauded plans for nuclear waste management.

  • Finish programme
  • Canister design
  • Canister integrity

This article briefly discusses the details.

BOVINE BELLIES YIELD CLUES FOR NEW BIOFUELS

Researchers looking for better ways to make biofuels turned to experts at breaking down grass -- cattle -- and found more than a dozen new compounds in their guts that might help make new, cheap sources of energy.

They used new genetic sequencing techniques to find microbes, that make enzymes that in turn can break down tough grasses into usable products.

Writing in the journal Science, the scientists said that they took samples directly from the rumen -- the organ in cattle that ferments and breaks down grass.

"Industry is seeking better ways to break down biomass to use as the starting material for a new generation of renewable biofuels," said Eddy Rubin of the U.S. Department of Energy's Joint Genome Institute in California, which led the study.

To make sure that they found the right microbes in action, they used a cow that had a hole surgically opened right into its rumen. The researchers needed to find the bacteria that worked in airless environments like a cow's insides.

Rubin's team used metagenomics, a gene-sequencing approach that maps the DNA of a community of organisms instead of one single creature or plant.

Metagenomics are being used to explore the microbes living in and on people, as well as by genome entrepreneur Craig Venter to catalog all the tiniest creatures of the sea.

In this case, the goal was to find microbes that make enzymes that can efficiently break down the toughest fibers in switchgrass, a tough crop that can be used to produce ethanol and which can grow in places where food crops do not grow well.

But switchgrass is very tough to break down.

"Microbes have evolved over millions of years to efficiently degrade recalcitrant biomass," Rubin said.

CHLOROSULPHONIC ACID - PRODUCT PROFILE
Chemical formula ClSO3H
CAS No. 7790-94-5
Appearance Clear colourless mobile liquid
Purity 99.4%
Total chlorides as NaCl 31.2%
Sulphuric acid 0.2%
Free SO3 0.4%
Fe 1.00 ppm
Al 1.0 ppm
Boiling point 151 to 152 Deg C
Specific gravity 1.753
Solubility Soluble in water
Stability Stable under ordinary conditions

Chemical Reaction

Chlorosulphonic acid reacts violently with water, producing heat and dense white fumes of hydrochloric acid and sulphuric acid.

It reacts with almost all organic materials, in some cases with charring.

This article contains the following details :

  • Specification
  • Application
  • Indian manufacturers
  • Indian installed capacity
  • Indian production level
  • Import/Export details
  • Demand driver
  • Pattern of demand
  • Global scenario
    • Global demand
    • Global growth rate in demand
    • Major global producers
    • Global demand supply scenario
    • Break up of major consuming industries
  • Outline of manufacturing process
  • Prognosis
POLYVINYLIDENE CHLORIDE (PVDC) INVESTMENT OPPORTUNITY

Vinylidene Chloride

Appearance Liquid
Chemical Formula C2-H2-Cl2
CAS NO 75-35-4
Odour Chloroform-like (Slight.)
Stability Stable
Colour Colourless

Polyvinylidene chloride

Appearance White powder
Chemical formula (C2H2Cl2)n
CAS No. 9002-85-1

Properties

Poly (vinylidene chloride) (PVDC) resin is a thermoplastic white powder , comprised mainly of PVDC.

PVDC resin has an excellent barrier property and provides oil resistance performance. The most valuable property of PVDC is low permeability to a wide range of gases and vapours.

Compared with polymers such as EVOH and nylon, PVDC has excellent comprehensive performance and has a range of applications in packaging high temperature meat products and smoked products.

The most serious deficiency of PVDC is thermal instability at melt processing temperature. The techniques used to overcome the instability are copolymerisation and plasticisation

Because they are highly oriented, these films exhibit some shrinkage when exposed to higher than normal temperatures.

Form

Normally, PVDC is isolated, dried and used as conventional resin. PVDC is often made in emulsion form.

This article contains the following details:

  • Fabrication
  • Health and safety factors
  • Storage
  • Product application
  • Disadvantages
  • Process
  • Global demand
  • Global growth rate in demand
  • Global producers
  • Scenario in China
  • Plant closure
  • Indian scenario
  • Prognosis
SPOTLIGHT ON SPECIALITY CHEMICAL - ALPHA METHYL STYRENE
Alternative names Isopropenylbenzene , 2-Phenylpropene, 1-Methylethenylbenzene
CAS No. 98-83-9
Appearance Clear, colourless liquid without odour
Specific gravity 9090 g per cm3
Viscosity 0.94 cP 20.00
Boiling point 165 to 169 deg.C @ 760 m
Solubility Insoluble

Health and Safety

Alpha -Methylstyrene irritates the skin, eyes and throat. If burned, it can release toxic gases and vapours such as carbon monoxide.

It is incompatible with strong oxidising agents, copper, mercury or alkaline pesticides.

This article discusses the following details

  • Application
  • Substitution possibilities
  • Process technology
  • Process licensors
  • Demand driver
  • Indian manufacturer
  • Indian ABS industry scenario
  • Imports of alpha methyl styrene & Countrywise imports
  • Exports & countrywise exports
  • Global supply/demand scenario
  • Prognosis
NEED FOR INTELLIGENCE MECHANISM TO PREDICT PRICE RISE IN INDIA

An intelligent mechanism that exists in Europe, Canada and Australia could be replicated in India to moderate wild swings in food and vegetable prices and offer crucial forecast on shortages and price rise.

It appears that fluctuations in food and vegetable prices is due to real mismatch between demand and supply.

This article briefly discusses the details.

PRICE INCREASE OF FERTILIZERS AS THE GOVERNMENT MODIFIES PRICING POLICY

This article discusses the following details:

  • Nutrient based subsidy regime for phosphate, potash & complex fertilisers
  • Proposed NBS for urea
  • Naphtha based fertilizer units
  • Wind fall profit for gas based units
  • Need to support naphtha based fertilizer units
OTHER FEATURES

STOLEN CARBON CREDITS HIT MARKET INTEGRITY - FINDINGS OF A STUDY

The thriving carbon market received a jolt recently when an unexpected phenomenon in this age and time of cutting edge technology was detected; that of solen EUAs (European carbon allowance).

It led to temporary suspension of spot trading in carbon. Thefts of up to two million tonnes of EUAs from the accounts in the Austrian and Czech Republic registries have been reported.

This article briefly discusses the details.

DEMAND FOR POLYMERS - FINDINGS OF A STUDY

The medium to long term growth in demand for commodity polymers in the Indian market would remain robust, given the favourable growth expected in the key end-user industries like fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG), automotives, infrastructure and agriculture, said ICRA in its latest report.

This article briefly discusses the details.

COAL MINES CONSERVATION SCHEMES

The Government of India approved the extension of schemes aimed at coal mines' conservation and developing transportation of infrastructure in coalfield areas.

The Cabinet Committee on Infrastructure approved the continuation of the schemes of conservation and safety in coal mines and development of transportation infrastructure in coalfield areas as plan schemes.

However, a Coal Ministry official said both the schemes would be in existence till the Ministry feels that there was no need to continue with them.

The schemes, launched in 1974-75, are aimed at assisting coal companies for conservation of coal and helping them to build rail and road infrastructure for easy and on-time coal dispatch, sand and mining infrastructure.

Around Rs 10,000 million has been earmarked in the current Plan period ending 2012 towards the schemes. This includes an outlay of Rs 6907.50 million for conservation and safety in coal mines and Rs 3955.8 million for development of transportation.

INDIA’S DEPENDENCE ON FERTILIZER IMPORTS

India is the world's biggest importer of urea and di-ammonium phosphate (DAP) and the second biggest importer of muriate of potash (MoP).

India imported close to 7 million tonnes of urea, 8 million tonnes of DAP and 6 million tonnes of MoP in the current fiscal.

Mosaic Company, the world's second-largest potash producer, has forecast that India will spend more on its fertilizer imports in future and the strong demand and tight supply would drive prices up in international markets.

This article further discusses the following :

  • Phosphatic fertilisers
  • Potash fertiliser
  • Price trend for fertilisers

ANTI DUMPING PAGE

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

  • Chloroform
  • Aniline
  • Glass fibre
  • Methanol
  • Barium carbonate
  • Pentaerythritol
  • Acetone
  • Pencillin products

PLANT CLOSURE

The article discusses the plans for closure of selected unit by the following player

  • Olin’s caustic chlorine projects

SAFETY AND ACCIDENT PAGE

Following safety and accident details are discussed:

  • Nano particles could be a double-edged sword, says scientist
  • Fire at IOC Taloja plant
  • Fire Works unit blast kills eight near Sivakasi
  • Minor’ oil leak in ONGC pipeline
  • Toxic scare at Kochi airport
  • Plants developed to recognize explosives
  • Chlorine gas leak at Chemfab plant

NEWS ROUND UP - INTERNATIONAL

  • European chemicals output – Findings of the study
  • Status of REACH registration
  • DSM sale approved
  • Comonomers Plant at Lake Charles,USA
  • PMMA project in Taiwan
  • DuPont to buy Danisco for $5.8bn, to add enzymes
  • Polysilicon project in Korea
  • EVA and PVB project
  • Propylene glycol unit in Thailand
  • Dow Agro identifies new molecule for agri-chem sector

CHINA NEWS

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

  • Anti infectives JV of DSM & Sinochem
  • Hydrazine hydrate / Caustic soda project
  • PTA unit
  • PVC project
  • P-PVC project
  • Novozymes expanded Tianjin plant
  • Hyaluronic acid

TECHNOLOGY DEVELOPMENTS

The recent developments on Polyols from carbon dioxide is highlighted.

PHARMA PAGE

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

  • Paediatric Nimesulide, Cisapride, PPA - Face Ban
  • Biocon’s insulin pill falls short on testing

ENERGY PAGE

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

  • India’s renewable energy scenario – Challenges and opportunities
  • Oil above $100 not sustainable – Findings of the study
  • IFC’s facility of Indian renewable energy projects
  • Shale gas project of Reliance Industries
  • US scenario for shale gas
  • ONGC hits shale gas in Bengal
  • Plans of Thermax for geothermal energy business

PRICE DETAILS

Global price trends on the following products are provided :

  • Coking coal
  • Price trend of palladium
  • Uranium prices surge
  • Aluminium
OTHER ARTICLES
  • Output from D-6 Block in Krishna Godavari Basin in India - A matter of concern
  • Methyl Iodide approved in USA
  • Integrated Polysilicon project of Wacker Chemie
  • Albemarle’s catalyst plant in Brazil
  • Tenders
  • Chemicals imported at the Chennai port during the month of December 2010
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