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Extracts from Nandini Chemical Journal, Oct 2012

Triflic Acid|Styrene Monomer|Floating LNG Plants
Highlights of Some of the Articles

TALK OF THE MONTH : INDIA IS YET TO MAKE A MARK IN SCIENCE GLOBALLY, SAYS PRIME MINISTER
SPOTLIGHT ON SPECIALITY CHEMICAL TRIFLIC ACID
DIMETHYLAMINOPROPYLAMINE (DMAPA) - INVESTMENT OPPORTUNITY
STYRENE MONOMER – PRODUCT PROFILE
UNNECESSARY PROTEST AGAINST NUCLEAR POWER PLANT AT KOODANKULAM
RAJASTHAN CRUDE GOVERNMENT SHOULD RE EXAMINE IT’S POLICY
INCREASING DEMAND FOR COAL AND SUPPLY SHORTFALL
FLOATING LNG PLANTS IN THE OFFING
CHINESE CHEMICAL INDUSTRY NOW NEEDS CONSOLIDATION
IS EUROPEAN CHEMICAL INDUSTRY VULNERABLE?
GERMAN OUTPUT FORECAST DOWNGRADED
OTHER FEATURES
OTHER ARTICLES

TALK OF THE MONTH

GERMAN OUTPUT FORECAST DOWNGRADED

In an address at Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) function got up to celebrate the 70th Foundation Day, the Prime Minister Dr.Manmohan Singh  said: “As a nation, we need to recognise that excellence has not percolated across all research and academic institutions. We have not been able to make an impact on a world-scale commensurate with our large scientific manpower pool.”
 
Now, we need to ponder as to who is responsible for this situation.
 
Who is responsible for this situation ?

While the Prime Minister is correct in expressing his disappointment about the inadequate research efforts in India, it would have been more appropriate,  if he had  made an in depth analysis about the possible reasons for such situation  and spelled out the appropriate policy measures that he would  push forward to  accelerate the scientific research pursuits in the country

INDIA IS YET TO MAKE A MARK IN SCIENCE GLOBALLY, SAYS PRIME MINISTER

If the Prime Minister had  done that  during his address at the CSIR function, then he would have found  that the large part of the blame should be laid on the door steps of his own government,  for the inadequate policy guidelines and lack of appropriate initiatives to boost the research  in the country. There are enormous opportunities for doing research in India in multiple areas and certainly competence and capability level are not lacking. It is necessary that proper climate for research has to be developed  and sustained. It can be done only by the government  by adopting  policies that would meet the needs of research and development and setting up purposeful target for the scientific community. It appears that the government is still to prove itself equal to the task.

CSIR Labs

Huge amount of money have been invested   by the government in the last few decades in creating large number of CSIR laboratories and lot of money continues to be pumped into these labs to maintain and  sustain their activities. Nobody can accuse the government of not spending adequately in these well established research laboratories, set up in specialized fields with specific objectives.

It needs to be recognized that in spite of some deficiencies , several CSIR labs have come out with striking results of great promise but they are too few and far between. Unfortunately, these CSIR labs have not turned out results and output commensurate with  the investments made and in tune with the needs of the nation and expectation of the countrymen. This need not be considered as a reflection on the caliber of the scientists working in these institutions but should be only attributed to several  issues facing them, which are consequently leading to counter productive conditions and inability to develop appropriate  overall work culture. 

There is general view even amongst those serving in these labs that the  administration of these CSIR labs largely follow the bureaucratic style  of functioning of the government and the bureaucrats in government , more than the scientists, often decide the fund allotment and spending. In such situation, many scientists are seen spending more time in the administrative tables and in holding conferences  to convince the bureaucrats , rather than in the laboratories . 

It is certainly true that the CSIR labs have not been able to function with the type of scientific temper that are required  to achieve the high standards and objectives of research, in the pattern of the developed countries. Anyone can know this by simply walking  into CSIR labs , when he would feel the lack of sense of  urgency  and the painfully slow movement of men and matters.

INDIA IS YET TO MAKE A MARK IN SCIENCE GLOBALLY, SAYS PRIME MINISTER

There are  many cases of research projects being pursued for several years without  any sort of accountability.  There is also inadequate scientific audit to assess the quality of performance of the labs in relation to the objectives and  the time and the efforts spent.
 
Unfortunatley, in recent times, we have also seen some instances of scientists and researchers being accused of favouritism and nepotism and unseemly quarrels between the scientists are not uncommon.  These incidents are not many but nevertheless disturbing.
 
Role of  industries (private and public sector)
 
Role of industries in private  and public sector in research efforts appear to be minimal and is a cause for great concern. 
 
It appears that many segment of  industries  would take efforts to carry out  research only to  the  extent  that the government would provide  tax benefits and grants towards  the money invested in research activities. Therefore, it is strange situation that often the research budgets are decided  by the industries largely under the  active guidance of the auditors rather than the decisions  being  taken entirely by the research scientists. 
 
Of course, there are a few large industries particularly in pharma and biotech sector who make  creditable efforts in research efforts but even these institutions often have an eye on the government funding support  while deciding on research projects. and are often reluctant to spend money by way of investment in a big way, inspite of the substantial profits that they generate in their operations. They are reluctant to do so, since many of them think that the large investment in research ( whose results  are not predictable)  may  affect their reserves and level of  residual profit in operations.  
 
In the case of multi national companies abroad , research efforts are viewed as compelling need to sustain the growth and their market share in future.  However, in India, the research efforts are considered as optional even by large companies, since majority of the entrepreneurs appear to be banking on buying of technology from abroad irrespective of cost factors, which possibly they think is the safe option.  If the country were to depend on purchased technology for its growth, then the  country will always be one or two steps behind the developed countries.
 
In the case of small and medium level industries , most of the so called research laboratories essentially function as quality control and trouble shooting laboratories, instead of being involved in long  term research activities.
 
INDIA IS YET TO MAKE A MARK IN SCIENCE GLOBALLY, SAYS PRIME MINISTER

The role of universities
 
While large  number of universities have come up in recent years in the country, most of them essentially function as production centres for graduates and post graduates.  Many of them rarely involve themselves in any significant and long term research activities.  Their  laboratory facilities created at huge costs remain considerably under utilized.

The lack of understanding, confidence and cooperation between the industries and universities in jointly pursuing research efforts, utilizing the latent talent available in universities  is a disappointing condition.

What can the Government of India do ?

It is certainly the duty and responsibility of the government to lay down the appropriate areas in which research and development efforts should be targeted.  The government will certainly know the need of the country much better than the research laboratories and industries and the government should take the initiative to fix the priority for the country.  

This is not happening in adequate measure. There are many areas where research efforts are urgently required  (for example, algae biofuel) , where government has failed to give lead to the scientific community and set targets. The government appears to think that its job would be only to allot funds and scientists would take on from there. It cannot happen in this way, in the absence of the government deciding on the areas of research in tune with its policies and national priorities. Research efforts should not be pursued in isolation.  

While in  some areas like space  science and atomic energy, targets have been worked out well by the government , in other areas  the research planning appears to be  in vacuum.

Under the circumstances, research projects are being identified by individual research agencies and industries without any co ordination at national level. Therefore, many  research programmes have ended  up without providing  tangible benefits to the country.

It is high time that the government comes out with five year plan for R&D pursuits and strategies in India in multiple directions,  that would create huge enthusiasm amongst the scientific community and provide  sense of direction and goal for research efforts.   Separate national and state level planning  commission should be constituted for this purpose.

SPOTLIGHT ON SPECIALITY CHEMICAL - TRIFLIC ACID

Triflic acid is one of the small group of reagents commonly known as "super acids" and is used as a catalyst in the manufacture of pharmaceuticals, agricultural chemicals and polymers, while the anhydride form is used in fine chemical synthesis.

Alternative name Trifluoromethanesulfonic acid
CAS Number 1493-13-6
Appearance Colourless to pale yellow liquid
Molecular Formula CHF3O3S

Triflic acid is miscible in all proportions with water and it is soluble in many organic solvents including dimethylformamide, dimethylsulfoxide, sulfolane, and acetonitrile.

Specification

Description

Value

Assay

99.0% min

Colour

150max

Water

0.1% max

Chlorides

20ppm max

Fluorides

20ppm max

Sulphates

0.5% max

Due to the strong electron-withdrawing effect of fluorine atoms, some triflic derivatives are superacids:

  •         Triflic acid is one of the strongest Brønstedt organic acids
  •         Trimethylsilyl triflate and rare earth triflates are lewis acids

This article discusses the following details

  •         Applications
  •         Synthesis of Active Ingredients
  •         Electronic Applications
  •         Environmental applications
  •         Process
  •         Producers
  •         Indian Imports
  •         Sample of  individual Imports
  •         Prognosis
DIMETHYLAMINOPROPYLAMINE (DMAPA) - INVESTMENT OPPORTUNITY
CAS number 109-55-7
Molecular formula C5H14N2
Appearance Colourless liquid

Dimethylaminopropylamine (DMAPA) is completely soluble in water, benzene, heptane and other organic solvents.

DMAPA is incompatible with strong oxidizing agents, acid chlorides, carbon 
dioxide, aliphatic amines, and acid anhydrides .

Safety

DMAPA is a flammable material

DMAPA as the undiluted product is severely irritating to the eyes, skin and mucous membranes of exposed individuals.

Carbon steel is a satisfactory material for storing and handling dimethylaminopropylamine.

Specification

Parameter

Value

Appearance 

Clear and substantially free of foreign matter

Color, Pt- Co

25 max

DMAPA, wt. % 

99 min

Water, wt. %  

0.2 max

This article discusses the following details

  •         Applications
  •         Manufacturing Process.
  •         Producers
  •         Thrust area for demand
  •         Imports in India
  •         Sample of imports in India
STYRENE MONOMER – PRODUCT PROFILE

Product characteristics

Appearance Colourless to yellowish liquid
Molecular formula           C6H5CH = CH2

Specification

Purity 99.7%
Aldehyde 200 mg per kg
Peroxide 100 mg per kg
Polymer                          10 mg per kg

This article discusses the following details

  •         Application sector
  •         Indian Import of styrene                                                
  •         Export                                               
  •         Indian production
  •         New projects under planning stage in India
  •         Indian demand supply scenario
  •         Pattern of application sectorwise demand
  •         Global Scenario
  •         Important global producers
  •         China’s Styrene Monomer Producers 
  •         New projects
  •         China’s styrene units being built or planned 
  •         Plant closures / Mergers / Acquistion
  •         Growth in demand
  •         Scenario in China
  •         Process outline
  •         Prognosis
UNNECESSARY PROTEST AGAINST NUCLEAR POWER PLANT AT KOODANKULAM

World over, some section of people have been protesting against nuclear power plants for quite some time now. They call themselves as environmentalists or green people.  

Number of nuclear plants have been operating around the world for many years now, with good safety record and with some countries like France receiving around 75% of its power requirement from nuclear power plants.

The protests against nuclear power plant in Koodankulam is very unusual and peculiar. The protestors are innocent fisher men , most of whom do not have much of education and cannot understand the intricacies of nuclear technology and safety issues.  What is even more unusual is that the religious bodies such as church and priests belonging to church have openly associated themselves with the agitation by the fisher men and  instigating  them,,though it is not known  that the church have opposed nuclear power plants in any other part of the world.  Church have not protested against nuclear power plants in France, where around 75% of power is nuclear power.
                            
This article discusses the importance of atomic energy in detail.

RAJASTHAN CRUDE GOVERNMENT SHOULD RE EXAMINE IT’S POLICY

Quality characteristics of Rajasthan crude oil

Rajasthan crude is very heavy with API (American Petroleum Institute) gravity between 25—30. Also, waxiness of the crude turns it into solid at room temperature.

Transportation of the Rajasthan crude therefore, requires special heating arrangements in the pipeline to keep the crude in a liquid form. Most Indian domestic refineries lack the configuration to process Rajasthan crude due to its quality.

Due to the quality characteristics of Rajasthan crude oil, PSU buyers (Indian Oil Corp’s Panipat and Koyali refineries) are able to offtake only a part of the production, resulting in high dependence on private refineries for ensuring continuous production of crude in Rajasthan by Cairn India.

This article also discusses the following details

  •         Production and sale of Rajasthan crude
  •         Government’s policy
  •         Need for government of revise its policy
INCREASING DEMAND FOR COAL AND SUPPLY SHORTFALL

The Planning Commission said that the country’s coal demand is likely to touch 1,000 million tonnes by 2016 -17, much higher than estimated supply of 750 million.

The Plan panel has projected a growth of 7 per cent for commercial energy which includes coal, petroleum, hydro.

In order to achieve expected GDP growth rate of 8.2 per cent, it is necessary to plan to increase the availability of energy by 7 per cent in terms of commercial energy which includes mainly coal.

This article discusses the above matter in detailed manner.

FLOATING LNG PLANTS IN THE OFFING

Floating LNG plants represents a generational change for a land-based LNG industry that started about 50 years ago in Algeria, where Shell provided technology for Camel, the first commercial LNG plant.

Today, those facilities typically cost at least $20 billion to build.

This articles also discusses the following matter in detailed manner

  • Global demand for LNG
  • Gas in deep water
  • Shell’s project
  • Other plants in the pipeline
  • Cost for off shore LNG plants
  • Cost for onshore LNG plants
CHINESE CHEMICAL INDUSTRY NOW NEEDS CONSOLIDATION

Swaminathan Venkataraman,
Director, Nandini Consultancy (S) Pte. Ltd, Singapore
E-mail:swaminathan.v@nandinichemical.com

After great global admiration for the rapid pace of chemical industry development in China in multiple directions, now the world view is slightly changing. Many observers at present seem to think as to whether chemical industry in China should have grown at such pace   at all . It is now realized that in the case of several chemicals and allied products, China’s installed capacity is greater than what the world needs. In other words, China itself is in a position to meet the entire world demand for number of  chemicals and then there would be still surplus capacity in China.

As a result of this rapid growth scenario, capacity utilization of several industries in China  particularly chemical industry is now only in the region of around 65 percent. In other words, around 35% of the capacity built in  China for several projects remain under utilized due to demand constraint in the Chinese and global market. This scenario is not due to lack of growth in demand in  the expected lines, but only due to overambitious capacity creation efforts.

Case study of methanol and solar panel industry in China are readily cited, as examples of such over capacity creation and resulting scenario of  operating the projects at  capacity utilization level of around 65% or less.

This article discusses the following details

  •         Highly competitive conditions
  •         Does over capacity cration make sense?
  •         The strategies
  •         Anti dumping measures against China
  •         Need for consolidation
CRITICS OF CHINESE CHEMICAL INDUSTRIES WILL BE PROVED WRONG

Swaminathan Venkataraman,
Director, Nandini Consultancy (S) Pte. Ltd, Singapore
E-mail:swaminathan.v@nandinichemical.com


In recent times, there have been number of research articles and investigative reports in the media about the problems faced by chemical industries in China, due to over capacity creation and low industry capacity utilization  at present.

Even as some observers are predicting that the chemical   industries in China  would face problems on the marketing front and the global media is full of such news (views ?), it is necessary  to remember that no economy has collapsed due to over capacity creation in the manufacturing sector in appropriate areas , that has been built considering the  future projections of demand , even if the capacities  would  be more than  the immediate requirement.

This article discusses the following details in depth

  •         Strong base that has been built 
  •         Gains of rapid and large investment
  •         Capacity creation in growth oriented products  with strong base
  •         Multinational companies now more dependent on China
  •         Chinese chemical industries will be the winners
IS EUROPEAN CHEMICAL INDUSTRY VULNERABLE?

According to Cefic, the production of chemicals decreased 2.1% in the European Union (EU) in the first five months of 2012 compared with the corresponding period of 2011.

Chemicals output slipped 0.7% in the EU in the month of May compared with May 2011, EU chemical output in May 2012 was 4.7% below peak levels reached in 2007.

This article discusses the above subject in detailed manner.

GERMAN OUTPUT FORECAST DOWNGRADED

German chemical industry association VCI (Frankfurt) has downgraded its 2012 forecast for chemical production in Germany, citing the effects of the European Union (EU) debt crisis.

VCI cut its full-year prediction for output by Germany’s chemical sector and says that  it now expects that chemical production will decline by 3% compared with 2011. VCI had previously forecast zero growth in German chemical production this year. The revision follows a 2.8% decrease in chemicals output in Germany during the second quarter of 2012, compared with the previous quarter.

This article discusses the above subject in detailed manner.

OTHER FEATURES

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

  • Chlor alkali closure
  • Asahi Kasei Fibers closes spandex operations in U.S.

ANTI DUMPING PAGE

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

  •         Soda ash
  •         Polysilicon
  •         Nonyl phenol
  •         Paracetamol
  •         Phosphoric acid
  •        WTO to probe anti subsidy duties by US on Chinese imports

RECENT PROJECTS OF BASF

Recent developments of  following products of BASF are discussed in this article

  •         PolyTHF
  •         Biobased Acrylic Acid Collaboration
  •         Butadiene plant
  •         Chemical content of automobiles – Initiatives of BASF

GLOBAL POLYSTYRENE LICENSING ALLIANCE

Total Petrochemicals and the energy & chemicals division of Shaw Group , an engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) firm have formed an exclusive alliance to jointly market and licence Total Petrochemicals’ polystyrene technology on a worldwide basis.

With this new alliance, Total Petrochemicals and Shaw will complement their existing licensing alliance for styrene monomer, the primary feedstock for polystyrene, offering unique synergistic opportunities. Styrene monomer technology is currently marketed through US-based Badger Licensing LLC, a joint venture between affiliates of Shaw and ExxonMobil Chemical Company.

This article discusses the above matter in detailed manner

PLANS OF BASF FOR STYRENICS

BASF has 1.325 million tonnes per year of styrene capacity and 540,000  tonnes per year of PS capacity in Europe. Its capacity in Asia is 350,000 tonnes per year of styrene and 460,000 tonnes per year of PS. The company also owns 150,000 tonnes per year of PS capacity in North America.

This article discusses the above matter in detailed manner

NEWS ROUND UP - INTERNATIONAL

The recent developments on the following products/events are discussed

  •         Butanol Plant
  •         Polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA)
  •         Propane dehydrogenation (PDH) unit in Canada
  •         Adiponitrile
  •         World’s biggest renewable energy plant in U.K.
  •         Bio based butanol plant in Brazil
  •         Tri methyl gallium
  •         Cellulosic ethanol plant in North Carolina
  •         Pectin

NEWS ROUND UP - INDIA

ROAD MAP FOR INDIAN BIOTECH INDUSTRY

Association of Biotech Led Enterprises (ABLE), an industry body for Indian biotech sector, has chalked out a plan to make biotech a $100 billion industry by 2025.

“This is achievable if the biotech industry’s operating landscape becomes more innovation friendly, spurred by government’s policies and nudge then the industry could possibly grow at 30 per cent CAGR,” ABLE said.

ABLE recently submitted a report ‘Indian Biotechnology: The Roadmap to the Next Decade and Beyond’ to the Union Department of Biotechnology.

This article discusses the above matter in detailed manner

  • Potential
  • Need for innovation
  • Plastic Park 

The recent developments on the following products/events are discussed

  •  Ammonium nitrate
  •  Lanxess’ biocides business

TECHNOLOGY DEVELOPMENTS

The recent developments on the following products/events are discussed

  •         Methane to Ethylene project
  •         Enzyme for production of adipic acid
  •         ACI launches product ingredient inventory

CHINA NEWS

The recent developments on the following products/events are discussed

  •         Methane to Ethylene project
  •         Enzyme for production of adipic acid
  •         ACI launches product ingredient inventory

CHINA NEWS

The recent developments on the following products/events are updated

  •         Coal gasification project
  •         Fluoropolymer
  •         Polybutadiene rubber
  •         Cellulose fiber tows project
  •         Melamine unit
  •         Potassium permanganate project
  •         China’s  Switch to green tyres
  •         PVDF

AGRO CHEMICAL PAGE

The recent developments on the following products/events are updated

  •         Coconut oil helps combat tooth decay, says study
  •         Syngenta to acquire DuPont Professional Insecticide Unit
  •         Glyphosate

ENERGY PAGE
WIND CAPACITY  TOUCHES 100 GIGAWATT MARK IN EUROPEAN UNION

Installed EU wind capacity has reached the 100 gigawatt mark.

EU have been adding about 10 gigawatts per year for a couple of years and it will be around the same this year.

*  UK offshore growth

This article discussed the above matter in detailed manner

SOURCING OF LNG BY GAIL

India’s declining natural gas production

Natural gas in India’s energy mix is around 11 percent against a world average of around 24 percent .With domestic output on the decline, the dependence on imports is growing. The country’s natural gas output had fallen 13.5% percent in August year on year

The drop was for the 21st straight month mainly because of continued drop in production from the country’s largest gas fields in the East Coast operated by Reliance Industries Gas production from offshore fields including D6, fell by almost 16.3 percent in August year on year.

  • Natural gas demand for 12th & 13th five year plan
  • Gazprom to supply LNG to GAIL for 20 years
  • Other supply source from GAIL
  • This article discussed the above matter in detailed manner

ENVIRONMENTAL PAGE

BURNING  MUNICIPAL WASTE IN CEMENT KILNS

Burning waste in cement kilns is better than destroying them in incinerators or using them as landfill.

  • Need for appropriate government policy and initiatives
  • Need for `waste banks’

This article discusses the  above matter in detailed manner.

OTHER ARTICLE
  • Price Details
  •  Import & Export Price In China - July, 2012
  • Tender
  • Chemicals Imported At The Chennai Port During The Month Of July 2012
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