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Journals

Extracts from Nandini Chemical Journal, May 2012

Polypropylene|Orlistat|Cresols|Site remediation|LNG Terminals
Highlights of Some of the Articles

TALK OF THE MONTH : SOLAR PARK IN GUJARAT IS IT TOO EARLY TO CELEBRATE ?
CO OPERATION BETWEEN CHEMICAL / BIOTECH INDUSTRY AND ACADEMIC INSTITUTIONS TO BOOST R&D EFFORTS
GLOBAL POLYPROPYLENE SCENARIO
SPOTLIGHT ON SPECIALITY CHEMICAL - ORLISTAT
CRESOLS – PRODUCT PROFILE
SODIUM PERCARBONATE - INVESTMENT OPPORTUNITY
QUIET BURIAL TO JATROPHA BIO FUEL PROJECTS
SITE REMEDIATION – WAY FORWARD
INDIA MISSES CRUDE OIL PRODUCTION TARGET AGAIN
INDIAN OIL REFINERY CAPACITY - STEADY INCREASE
SHALE GAS BOOM DRIVES DOWN NATURAL GAS PRICE
LNG TERMINALS IN INDIA
INCREASING HYDRO POWER TARIFFS
INDIA’S INCREASING DEPENDENCE ON COAL IMPORTS
STEM CELLS MARKET ALL SET TO GROW IN INDIA - FINDINGS OF A STUDY
ARTEMISININ - MALARIA DRUG
OTHER FEATURES
OTHER ARTICLES

TALK OF THE MONTH

SOLAR PARK IN GUJARAT
IS IT TOO EARLY TO CELEBRATE?

It is necessary to applaud  the initiative taken by the Gujarat government to set up solar power park in the state with capacity of   214 MW  and commission the project within sixteen months . The foresight and vision shown by the leadership of the Gujarat government deserves nation wide appreciation.

At the same time, one should not go overboard and imagine that ultimate solution for India’s power problem have been found by this solar power park initiative in Gujarat. On the other hand, it is necessary to be pragmatic and conscious of the fact that  we still have a long way to go to conclusively establish the viability of the solar power park. At this stage, the Gujarat solar power park should only be considered as  an experimental and sort of pilot project, where efforts have to be  made to  establish the various parameters that are necessary  to achieve  technological and economic viability of the solar power concept. 

Gujarat solar power park, no doubt ,  is a significant  initiative , but  far reaching results and  the ultimate success of the concept would depend upon the continued efforts to understand and overcome the gap in engineering and technology practices and this would require the operation of the solar power park for length of time.   The continued efforts of the Gujarat government, the promoters and  the scientists and technologists are vitally necessary  to take the solar power park concept to the logical end in the next few years.

The biggest hurdle in setting up large solar power projects is  in the production of solar power at a cost , that would be affordable for the industrial and domestic consumers. 

At the present level of operations and technology employed , the cost of power generated in the solar power park will  not match  the cost of power presently produced in the thermal, hydro electric, nuclear or wind power projects. It should be kept in mind that the Gujarat state government has to guarantee  price of Rs.15/- per unit of solar power for the first twelve years of operation  to the solar power producer.  This  guaranteed price of Rs.15/-per unit  is very high compared to the present price of around Rs. 4 to 5 per unit in India.  Obviously, this means that Gujarat government is giving a huge subsidy  support , that would conceal the fact that Gujarat solar power project is economically  unviable and would not make any economic sense in the present state of operations. 

The question is  from where the  guaranteed  money  of Rs.15/- per unit would come . Obviously, Gujarat government has to find this money from tax payers.  For a capacity of 214 MW of power, Gujarat government may be able to find the money to pay the guaranteed price. But, for larger capacity solar power projects, the burden could be too big even for  Gujarat government that is known for prudent finance management.

 Under the circumstances, this Gujarat solar power project should only be viewed  as an experimental project  at this stage,  that gives an opportunity to the scientists and technologists to run the project for length of time and carry out the necessary improvements and modifications to optimize the operating parameters and equipment design,  to get better returns. 

Gujarat government does not appear to have taken the public into confidence about such objectives and  cost auditing of the project and perhaps, has given an impression as if the solar power park  would be an ultimate answer to the Indian power shortage issues.

Today, there are a lot of vague claims about the cost of solar power generation coming down rapidly and cost of solar power matching the cost of thermal power soon.  It is true that in recent times, the cost of solar power equipment has fallen by a third since 2010 globally. However, there is no assurance that this fall would be sustained  and the price would not go up again.

India does not produce polycrystalline silicon which is the vital starting material for the production of solar power equipment.  China is the dominant producer of polycrystalline silicon in the world .  It is more than likely that China would try to increase the price of polycrystalline silicon in the global market, (similar  to what it has done in the case of rare earths recently), when demand for solar equipment would go up globally due to setting up of many large capacity solar power plants, in countries like India.

Unfortunately, there is no polycrystalline silicon project under planning or operation in India  at present.  Building huge solar power projects without building capacity for polycrystalline silicon plants is similar to the act of putting the cart before the horse.  Any steep rise in the price of polycrystalline silicon in the global market would violently upset the economics of the  future Indian solar power projects..

Any organization claiming that they would produce solar power at price less than Rs. 10/- per unit seem to be assuming that the price of solar power equipment would come down further in the global market and the technology  parameters can be  improved.  This assumption may prove to be wrong , if efforts towards  technology improvement to produce solar power equipment at low cost in India  and optimize the operating cost of the solar power plants  would not succeed  and the cost of  solar power equipment would go up globally.

Setting up small roof top solar plants  to meet the domestic requirement is an entirely  different ball game. For example , if a domestic consumer would invest Rs.50,000/- to install and generate solar power to meet his domestic requirement, he may not be much concerned about the economics but would be more concerned about uninterrupted power, particularly when the state would not assure him such uninterrupted power. But, the economics of the large solar power plants intended to supply power to meet industrial requirements  and  grid  power cannot be viewed in such light hearted manner !

Wishing for something or working for it is not the same as getting or having it.

The country would wish that Gujarat government and its solar power park initiative should  succeed technically and economically  and will watch the experiments in Gujarat with great hope.

CO OPERATION BETWEEN CHEMICAL / BIOTECH INDUSTRY AND ACADEMIC INSTITUTIONS TO BOOST R&D EFFORTS - PROCEEDINGS OF THE BRAIN STORMING SESSION AT CHENNAI

Objectives

Number of colleges and universities offering courses in chemical engineering / biotechnology / chemical technology have comp up in recent  times. 

The institutions now largely function for preparing the students to write examinations and get credits and degrees. In addition to such functions, the huge infra structure created in such educational institutions with highly qualified and knowledgeable teaching   faculty should be utilised adequately   to carry out innovative and useful research and development activities. 

There are many industries who need to achieve quality optimisation application development for the products, development of new technology for upstream and downstream products and experiment with innovative ideas.  They are unable to do so, particularly those in medium and small sectors ,  due to want of appropriate R&D expertise and lack of adequate infra structure facilities. 

Chemical Industries Association organized this brain storming session to promote understanding between the  chemical / biotech industries and the academic institutions about each other's needs  and  discuss methodologies for industries and academic institutions to work together to boost the R&D initiatives for the larger national good.
Participants

Senior professors  from academic institutions and senior  executives from industries and consultancy organizations participated in the discussions  and exchanged their views on the subject.

Highlights of the proceedings of the  brain storming session are given below: 

Need for identification of appropriate area for research

Many supposedly industry oriented  research activities presently carried out in various academic institutions have not been identified based on  careful  study of the need of industry and market and  many research activities are carried out in isolation.  Therefore, many such research efforts end up only in providing research degree for the students without being put into commercial use. 

Just as research activity itself is a highly specialized task, identification of appropriate research topics is also an equally important specialized task. It would be possible to identify appropriate areas for research, only if there would be close interaction between industries and academic institutions about each other’s needs and capabilities. Such interactions do not exist now to the extent required. 

Funding of research projects

The funding of the research projects by the government organizations and universities should be done only in carefully identified and appropriate areas of research, avoiding “irrelevant research projects”.

While the funding agencies do exercise some care at present, there has been no clearly laid down and transparent procedures that are followed by all academic institutions in India in uniform manner, with regard to the choice of the research projects to provide fund support. 

Need for long term tie up between industries and near by academic institutions

With so many engineering and technical institutions now well spread around India, each industry should cultivate long term working relationship with two or three academic institutions in nearby areas. 

There are many research needs that arise for industries from time to time and they may be classified as long term research needs and short term research needs. 

The industries may not be in a position to build the requisite facilities and have the necessary expertise for such research activity, particularly in the case of small and medium scale units. In such circumstances, the long term relationship between the industries and academic institutions will give win-win opportunities for both.

This sort of arrangement would provide a new dynamism and purpose for the academic institutions and motivate the students and faculty in working for specific goals with great job satisfaction. Industry’s research needs will also be met.

 Who should take the initiative? 

To promote cooperation between industries and academic institutions in R&D pursuits, the first move should come from the industries that are in a better position to identify the need for research in appropriate areas. 

At the same time, the professors serving in academic institutions should “market their expertise and capability” and convince the industries about their commitment and capability to respond to the industrial needs. 

Image make up for academic institutions

The academic institutions should strive to modify their present image of being only the production centres for graduates and post graduates offering readymade lessons to the students within prescribed syllabus to get academic degree.

On the other hand, apart from teaching, research should become an integral part of the activities of the academic institutions, which would redefine their purpose and functioning style. 

Need for independence for the professors  in academic institutions

The professors should be allowed by the management of academic institutions to independently seek projects for research from industries and select the students as per the needs  and  carry out the work in the facilities of the academic institutions they serve, enjoying financial independence. 

The research assignments carried out by the students should make them eligible to get appropriate credits for the courses they are pursuing in the universities. This would provide great incentives to the professors to pursue research and prevent the talented professors from “becoming rusted” with the limited task of providing ready made lessons day in and day out.

Obviously, this implies that the management of the academic institutions should avoid treating senior professors “as mere teaching machines”. 

This model is working with great success in several universities in USA and many other advanced countries.  

Exchange programme between industries and academic institutions

Today, many senior professors do not have direct exposure to industrial operations and therefore, sometimes face problems in appreciating the need of the industries. They some times even find it difficult to connect with what is in the text books and what actually happens on the shop floors. 

In the same way, the industrial executives lack clear understanding about the research and problem solving capabilities of the professors.

To sort out this issue, appropriate system must be developed for regular exchange of members between the academic institutions and industries.

“Confidence deficit”

There appears to be a sort of “confidence deficit” amongst the industries about the capability of academic institutions to deliver their research needs in a time bound manner.

There is no justification for this sort of attitude. Industries should reap the benefits for themselves by motivating the academic institutions and entrusting the research work to them with faith and confidence.

Need to nurture a research culture at school level

Yet another aspect that was briefly discussed was the need to nurture a research culture among the younger generation, which is very much lacking today.

This is reflected in the fact that youngsters are reluctant to take up basic science courses for higher studies.  The students would develop interest in basic science subject, only if the research activities would be encouraged, starting from school level. Science teachers should be encouraged to undertake research and engage in a process of continued education and aim at obtaining higher degrees even as they work.

Necessary encouragement and guidance for such activities should be extended by university and college professors. Larger industrial houses should extend  certain amount of funding towards such activities, may be even by adopting a couple of nearby schools by each of the larger industrial houses.

GLOBAL POLYPROPYLENE SCENARIO

Propylene supply scenario

One of the main issues facing the PP industry is scarcity of propylene, which has led to concerns about long-term supplies.

Propylene will be sourced increasingly from refineries and from on-purpose production facilities such as propane dehydrogenation units, metathesis plants and methanol-to-olefin facilities.

The increased use of on-purpose technologies for propylene production is driving PP costs higher. Consumable products such as packaging are expected to drive PP growth in emerging regions as consumers’ economic conditions improve.

This article discusses the following details:

  • Supply scenario in Middle East countries
  • Indian scenario
  • Scenario in China
  • Global polypropylene market
SPOTLIGHT ON SPECIALITY CHEMICAL - ORLISTAT

Product characteristics

Chemical name Orlistat
CAS number                              96829-58-2
Chemical Formula C29H53NO5
Appearance                              White powder
Solubility Insoluble in water
Stability More stable under alkaline conditions
Melting point 42 deg C

Product specifications

Description

Value

Appearance

White or almost white crystalline powder

Assay

99%

Heavy metal

Not more than 20 ppm

Residual on Ignition

Not more than 0.1%

Sulphate

Not more than 0.05%

Related substances

Total impurity

Not more than 1%

Not more than 0.1%

This article discusses the following details :

  • Application
  • Preparation
  • Indian producer
  • New project
  • Indian import
  • Substitution possibilities
  • Indian demand
  • Prognosis
CRESOLS – PRODUCT PROFILE

General details

Cresols are organic compounds which are methyl phenols.

Molecular formula: C7H8O

Common name

o-cresol

m-cresol

p-cresol

Systematic name

2-methylphenol

3-methylphenol

4-methylphenol

CAS number

[95-48-7]

[108-39-4

[106-44-5]

 

mixture of cresols (tricresol): [1319-77-3]

Appearance at room
temperature and pressure

colorless crystals

thicker liquid

greasy-looking solid

Density and phase

1.05 g/cm3, solid

1.03 g/cm3, liquid

1.02 g/cm3, liquid

Product specification

Product: o-cresol

Details

Value

o- cresol

99% Min

p- cresol

0.2 max

m- Cresol

0.15 max

Phenol

0.6 max

Product: p-cresol

Details

Value

p-cresol ,%,min

98.5

99

m-cresol ,%,max

1.2

0.8

phenol ,%,max

0.1

0.1

2,4-Dimethylphenol,%,max

0.4

0.2

Water content ,%,max

0.15

0.10

Crystal point ,,min

33.5

34.0

Product: m-cresol

Details

Value

Purity %(m/m)e

99.7

p-cresol %(m/m)d

0.20

Moisture %(m/m)d

0.1

This article discusses the following details :

  • Product application
  • Process technology
  • Indian producers
  • Selected global producers and their profile
SODIUM PERCARBONATE - INVESTMENT OPPORTUNITY
Appearance White granule, free flowing powder
CAS number                    15630-89-4
Chemical formula Na2CO3 1.5H2O2

Grades

Coated Sodium Percarbonate

Coated sodium percarbonate is the crystal coated with single or multiple layers of various substances, in order to increase active oxygen stability and optimize storage properties.

Coated sodium percarbonate is the more commonly commercialized product in use, compared with the uncoated sodium percarbonate.

Uncoated sodium percarbonate

Uncoated sodium percarbonate has less storage stability.

Uncoated product is still the preferred ingredient for simply mixing with enough quantity of soda ash and some surfactants to form the popular oxygen bleaches.

This article discusses the following details

  • Application sector
  • Nature of application
  • Outline of process
  • Indian production:
  • Indian demand
  • Global scenario
    • Global installed capacity
    • Global production
    • Important global producers
    • New projects under planning  / implementation
    • Substitution possibility
    • Global demand
  • Prognosis
QUIET BURIAL TO JATROPHA BIO FUEL PROJECTS

Biofuels may be categorized as follows

First generation biofuel

  •   From starch and sugars, mainly ethanol
  •   From edible oil bearing seeds

Second generation biofuel

  •   From non edible oil bearing seeds
  •   From lignocellulosic material including agro waste

Third generation biofuel

  •   From algae and microbes

Fourth generation biofuel

  •   From genetically modified (GM) crops (Genetically modified carbon negative crop)

This article discusses the following details:

  • Second generation biofuel
  • Cultivation area
  • Jatropha bio diesel plants
  • Market outlet for jatropha biofuel
  • Important industry players
  • Highlights of  research activities
  • Issues facing jatropha biofuel industry
  • SWOT Analysis for Indian biofuel industry
  • Review by Indian Oil Corporation
  • Future
SITE REMEDIATION – WAY FORWARD

Dr.D M Mohunta

E.mail: dmm@ccdcindia.com

Sites contaminated by chemical waste, besides contaminating the soil, may produce toxic fumes that can travel for miles or can leak into groundwater and contaminate local water supplies.

There are  number of materials that can cause a site to require remediation, including by products from manufacturing and industrial waste or high levels of chemical concentration from any number of sources. Site remediation is usually aimed at one of four basic types of pollutants, including toxic, flammable, explosive or disease-causing substances.

To determine whether a site requires clean up, soil and water samples are tested to determine the level of contamination in  the land; whether the land has to be deemed unusable by local government bodies or scientific groups.This type of land is known as brownfield and clean-up is performed, so that the land, ground water, etc.  can be used again. 

In USA, site remediation is overseen by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), while many countries in Europe rely on a system known as “Dutch Standards.” The EPA manages a program known as “Superfund” to pay for site remediation projects. Funds for this program come from fines levied against companies found guilty of pollution activities.

Many  US states/cities also offer tax incentives for developers willing to take on site remediation projects.

This article discusses the following details:

  • Techniques used
  • Indian scenario
    • What are the options?
    • Who foots the cost?
INDIA MISSES CRUDE OIL PRODUCTION TARGET AGAIN

India's oil exploration firms have missed their targets yet again. After committing to produce 206.8 million tonnes of crude oil in 2007-12, the 11th Plan period, India actually produced only 176.9 million tonnes during the period.

This is an achievement of about 85.6 per cent vis-à-vis the target.

This article discusses the above subject in detailed manner.

INDIAN OIL REFINERY CAPACITY - STEADY INCREASE

India has leapfrogged from a modest 62 million tonnes per annum refining capacity in 1998 to 216 million tonnes at the end of 2011-12 fiscal. By March 2017, the end of the 12th Five Year Plan period, it will exceed 310 million tonnes per annum.

The growth in refining capacity, which had made India a leading exporter of petroleum products since 2001-02, has been possible because of the de-licensing of petroleum refining by the government.

This article discusses the above subject in detailed manner.

SHALE GAS BOOM DRIVES DOWN NATURAL GAS PRICE

The US shale boom has pushed natural gas markets below $2 per million British thermal units for the first time in a decade as new supplies overwhelm consumption.

The price is now almost 90 per cent below the all-time high of $15.78 per mBtu set in 2005 and a fraction of oil on an energy-equivalent basis. US gas costs far less than supplies in Asia and Europe, due to limited export capacity in USA.

Natural gas for May delivery at Henry Hub in Louisiana, the futures pricing point, slid 2.3 per cent to $1.984 per mBtu, retreating to the lowest point since January 2002. Gas in the Rocky Mountains producing region of the western US sold for as little as $1.73.

Benchmark gas is less than half the price of a year ago, as drillers have used horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing to release the fuel from previously uneconomic shale rocks. Last year production grew by 4.8bn cubic feet per day, the biggest annual increase ever, the US Energy Information Administration said in a report.

One reason supplies kept climbing last year was that producers had sold output forward at higher prices.

This article discusses the following details:

  • Production cut back
  • Gas utilization drive
LNG TERMINALS IN INDIA

With dependence on imported natural gas (LNG) on the rise, interest in creating infrastructure at ports such as terminals and re-gasification units has seen a spurt. 
This dependence on imported gas is due to continued drop in domestic gas output and no new producing fields are expected to come on stream in the near term.

This article discusses the following details

  • Regasification capacity
  • LNG terminal
  • LNG Capacity
  • Open accessibility mooted for LNG terminals
  • Gangavaram LNG terminal
INCREASING HYDRO POWER TARIFFS

The notion that hydro power is cheaper than thermal power is proving to be a fallacy. Analysis of the tariffs of some of the country's largest hydro stations has revealed that they generate electricity at a cost much higher than most thermal plants.

Thermal stations using domestic coal generate electricity at less than half the cost of some hydro stations like GVK Group's 330MW project at Alaknanda in Uttarakhand. Even plants using costlier fuels like imported coal and LNG generate electricity at costs significantly below many hydro projects.

In most cases, hydro power has become expensive due to geological surprises and the consequent rise in capital expenditure. Environmental issues have also resulted in cost escalation of many hydro projects.

This article discusses the above subject in detailed manner.

INDIA’S INCREASING DEPENDENCE ON COAL IMPORTS

India, the world’s third-largest coal user, imported 24% more of the fuel in March as power plants increased buying before summer, according to shipping data.

Importers led by Adani Enterprises , Bhatia International, Tata Power and Steel Authority of India received 11.6 million tonne of steam and coking coal via 23 of the 27 ports listed by Interocean Group, a New Delhi-based ship broker that provided the information.

India imported 9.34 million tonne in February.

This article discusses the above subject in detailed manner.

STEM CELLS MARKET ALL SET TO GROW IN INDIA - FINDINGS OF A STUDY

The Indian stem cell industry is in a nascent stage. There is potential for fast growth and global players will enter the market through mergers and acquisitions, says a study by YES Bank and the Federation of Asian Biotech Associations (FABA).

This article discusses the above subject in detailed manner.

ARTEMISININ - MALARIA DRUG

India has developed a powerful new malaria drug - an alternative to the global drug of choice Artemisinin - that promises to give a major boost to India's pharmaceutical research.What is most exciting about this new drug is that its raw materiel is synthetic (derived chemically in the lab) as against Artemisinin, which is derived from a plant.

This article discusses the above subject in detailed manner.

OTHER FEATURES

SAFETY AND ACCIDENT PAGE

Following safety and accident details are discussed:

  • Numaligarh refinery
  • Explosives storage facility goes up in flames
  • Accident in Visakhapatnam steel plant

ANTI DUMPING PAGE

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

  • Tyres
  • Phosphoric acid
  • Feldspar / Quartz

NEWS ROUND UP

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

INTERNATIONAL

  • BioNitrogen plans plant
  • Isocyanates project
  • Bio-based terpene maker
  • Rare earth processor
  • Bladders for tire industry
  • PET foam
  • Methyl methacrylate
  • FCC Catalyst JV at Abu Dhabi
  • Ammonium nitrate project in Australia
  • PVB film
  • Acetonitrile plant
  • Momentive closes epoxies plant

INDIA

  • Aluminium phosphide
  • Prospects for silicon wafer fab units
  • GSPL-led consortium to invest Rs 12,000-cr on gas pipelines

TECHNOLOGY DEVELOPMENTS

The recent developments on the following technology efforts are highlighted

  • Scientists develop ultra thin solar cells
  • Whale compound in perfumes
  • Lysine based nylon collaboration
  • Novel catalyst for safe storage and release of hydrogen
  • Molecular catalyser to oxidize water to oxygen
  • Carbon dioxide to isobutanol
  • Genetically engineered bacteria
  • Solar cells on paper and clothes

CHINA NEWS

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

  • EPDM Plant
  • Ethylene project
  • Acetic acid / 1,4-butanediol

AGRO CHEMICAL PAGE

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

  • Dow divests dithane fungicide
  • New maize variety developed

PHARMA PAGE

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

  • Anti-germ products may be adding to antibiotic resistance, says study
  • Vitamin C
  • Nimesulide

 ENERGY PAGE

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

  • Biodiesel tests by Volkswagen of America
  • Wind farms for energy prospects
  • Suzlon Energy at the cross roads
  • 89 power projects await green nod

ENVIRONMENTAL PAGE

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

  • EPA’s final dioxin assessment sets more stringent standard
  • IISc Bangalore joins GreenTouch to reduce carbon footprint
  • Methyl iodide
  • EPA proposes ‘new use’ rules for five substances

PRICE DETAILS

 Global price trends on the following products are provided

  • Butadiene
  • Methyl acetate
  • Pentaerythritol
  • SIS & SIBS
  • Poly vinyl chloride
  • Neopentyl glycol
  • 2-ethylhexanoic acid
  • Price of i-nonanoic acid
  • Solvents
  • Butyl ethyl propanediol
  • Propionic acid
  • Acrylic based emulsions
  • Ultra molecular weight polyethylene
  • Phosphoric acid
  • Price trends in China (March 2012)
OTHER ARTICLES
  • Oman cuts gas price to $1.5 per mmBtu
  • Tender
  • Chemicals imported at Chennai port during the month of February 2012
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