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Extracts from Nandini Chemical Journal,  Feb 2015

UREA PROJECTS|OMEGA 3|ETHANOL FROM ALGAE
Highlights of Some of the Articles

INDIA’S PROPOSED UREA PROJECTS ARE THE TARGETS ACHIEVABLE?
CAN INDIAN DEMOGRAPHY BE AN INCENTIVE FOR INVESTMENT?
OMEGA 3 FATTY ACID FROM SEWAGE WATER - INVESTMENT OPPORTUNITY FOR INDIA
POLYETHYLENE WAX (PE WAX) INVESTMENT OPPORTUNITY
ETHANOL FROM ALGAE INVESTMENT OPPORTUNITY FOR INDIA
ALGAE PROJECT IN BANGLADESH
RESEARCHERS PRODUCE TWO BIOFUELS FROM A SINGLE ALGAE
UPDATE ON GLOBAL ETHANOL SCENARIO
RECENT DEVELOPMENTS IN GLOBAL POLYSILICON SECTOR
IMF’s MISLEADING PREDICTION ON INDIA’s GROWTH OUTBEATING CHINA
LANZATECH, IOC-DBT RECYCLES CO2 INTO OMEGA 3 FATTY ACIDS
METHANOL FROM SEWAGE WATER INVESTMENT OPPORTUNITY FOR INDIA
OTHER FEATURES
OTHER ARTICLES

TALK OF THE MONTH

INDIA’S PROPOSED UREA PROJECTS; ARE THE TARGETS ACHIEVABLE?

Minister of Chemicals and Fertilisers of Government of India has stated that government has set the target of achieving self sufficiency in urea fertiliser production in the next 5 years. He has even hoped that India can become an exporter of urea after 5 years just as China.

While it is pleasing to hear about such targets and ambitious growth plans, careful investigation of ground realities make one wonder as to whether such targets are really achievable. One may doubt as to whether the various imponderable factors have been taken into careful consideration while fixing the target on  whether the plans have been made in vacuum by  ignoring the ground realities and the problems that may be encountered in realizing the dreams.

Indian urea scenario

Indian demand for urea:             Around 30 million metric tonne per annum

Indian production:            Around 22 million metric tonne

Year

Import

Production

 

Million metric tonne

2007 to 2008

6.928

19.838

2008 to 2009

5.667

19.923

2009 to 2010

5.210

21.120

 2010  to 2011

6.610

21.872

2011 to 2012

7.834

21.992

2012 to 2013

8.04

22.586

2013 to 2014

7.08

-

India has been a large importer of urea for several years and the domestic production has remained nearly stagnant.

Government policies

Previous UPA government announced plans to revive fertilizer units of Fertiliser Corporation of India and Hindustan Fertiliser Chemicals, which have been remaining closed for over a decade.

NDA government  also proposes to revive a few closed state run urea plants.
Under the New Investment Policy, which was notified in October 2014 by NDA government,  private players are required to furnish bank guarantee of                Rs.300 crore for each of the proposed new project, while the public sector firms are exempted from paying any bank guarantee. Bank guarantees have been sought under the new policy to ensure that only serious players apply.

Proposed projects

In the wake of the new investment policy, the Fertiliser Ministry has now received 11 proposals for urea projects,  out of which a few proposals are for setting up new units and the rest for capacity expansion of existing plants.

Private companies including Zuari Agro Chemicals, Indo Gulf Fertilisers, Chambal Fertilisers, Bharat Coal Chemicals and Nagarjuna Fertilisers and Chemicals Ltd have submitted proposals. Also, four PSUs – Rashtriya Chemicals and Fertilisers (RCF), GNFC, GSFC and FACT  have proposed to set up urea projects  under the policy.

National Fertilisers, in joint venture with Engineers India, has proposed to undertake  the revival of Ramagundam unit of  Fertiliser Corporation of India Ltd., (FCIL) in Telangana.The government will also consider a proposal for revival of Gorakhpur fertilizer unit in joint venture with Krishak Bharati Cooperative and FCIL.

The state run Rashtriya Chemicals and Fertilizers (RCF) will go to the public investment board for setting up its third plant in Thal, Maharashtra. The Sindri unit in Jharkhand and Baroni unit in Bihar are also under consideration for revival.

Each of the proposed unit may have urea capacity of 1.3 million metric tonne per annum and it will entail an investment of  around Rs 5,000 crore each. According to government’s expectations, revival of closed units and new projects will ensure production of another 9 million metric tonne annually.

Questionable target schedules

In Indian conditions, as per the past track record, it takes atleast 3 years to design, implement and commission new urea project, after taking  firm decision with regard to choice of appropriate technology tie ups and financial closures. In the case of several such large projects in India, the time taken for the completion of preliminary activities including the financial closures have been well over 2 years in the past.
Ground reality is that the  proposed new and revival projects are only under preliminary study at present. Right now, even the pre feasibility reports have not been completed and scrutinized. Preparation of detailed techno economic feasibility reports have to be further done before taking firm investment decision. Even the capacity of the proposed projects are still under discussion stage. Based on the present status of these projects, it is appropriate to consider that the projects are only  in preliminary planning stage at present.

Under the circumstances, the target schedule of 5 years from now indicated by the minister for completing the proposed projects and India attaining self sufficiency in urea  appears to be far fetched and questionable.

Uncertainty with regard to feed stock tie ups:

Several urea projects in India are facing constraints with regard to availability of the feed stock.

Story of urea project of Matix  Fertilisers and Chemicals’,West Bengal is an immediate example. Three urea units in South India namely Madras Fertiliers, SPIC and Mangalore Chemicals and Fertilisers remained closed in 2014 for several months due to government withdrawing subsidy support for naphtha based urea projects.

Matix Fertilisers and Chemicals’ plant near Panagarh in West Bengal uses coal bed methane (CBM) as feedstock for production of urea.But, this urea manufacturing facility has been idling for nearly two years now for want of gas. Also, idling is the investment of approximately Rs.5000 crore. The 1.3 million metric tonne per annum urea project was to run on 2.8 million metric standard cubic metre (mmscmd) of coal bed methane to be supplied by Essar Oil from its Ranigunj field beginning 2012. But two years later, Essar is producing only 0.3 mmscmd of gas or a little over 10 percent of the promised volume. The non availability of gas has forced Matix to reschedule the plant’s commissioning several times since 2013.

At the time of preparation of pre feasibility report for the new urea projects and revival of closed units, there is likely to be protracted debate with regard to choice of the feed stock and the source of supply, while  evaluating the  economic and technical advantages of using alternate feed stock such as coal or natural gas.

In the case of proposal to revive the closed units, there is  no choice with regard to location of the project. Earlier, when these projects were in operation, the type of feed stock used could be different from the appropriate feed stock that should be used now, depending upon the present availability and price factors. To this extent, location of the project constrain the choice of the feed stock, in the case of reviving the closed projects.

Revival of closed units not straightaway task

Fertiliser units that are sought to be revived have been remaining closed for over a decade now. The technology adopted for the production of urea by these units have undergone substantial improvements over the years.Such improved technology parameters may call  for different type of facilities and operational  sequence in the plant.

Further, the environmental regulations now  in force are far more stringent  than that were a decade back. Moreover, several of the equipments that have been remaining without being operated  for long time in the closed plants should have become considerably damaged and corroded now and it may be difficult to put them back in operation at optimum standards.

Considering the above facts, the revival of the sick units will call for considerable changes in technology practices,  plant layout, equipment design and effluent treatment facilities.

 While on the job, one may even think that it would be more economical and time saving to build an entirely new plant rather than reviving such old or sick plants that have remained closed for long time.

Feed stock  uncertainties

For the urea projects, feed stock can be either coal or natural gas.

In the case of coal, unlike it’s application as fuel, use of coal as feed stock for urea production require stringent specifications.

As the coal produced in one area may not be of the same quality as from another area, possibilities of sourcing coal as feedstock from alternate locations may pose problems and substitution of source of coal procurement may not be feasible in some case. This aspect has to be very carefully looked into while deciding the sourcing of coal, particularly in the case of projects that are sought  to be revived and where location can not be changed.

Indian production of natural gas is nearly  stagnant and it is unlikely that the domestic production of natural gas would be stepped up in significant level in the near future. Therefore, any new projects based of natural gas has to be dependent on import of gas, for which LNG terminals at nearby locations are necessary.

It takes atleast 5 to 6 years to build a new LNG terminal. So linking of natural gas supply to the project on long term basis  and gas transportation network are vital factors that have to be considered.

All such  factors need considerable deliberation, while finalizing the pre feasibility study for the proposed project, which is the first stage of study.

Considering the present status, it is highly doubtful whether the targets indicated by the Minister for Fertiliser can be achieved.

Make or buy decision

China is large producer of urea in the world and will continue to dominate in the global urea market due to surplus production.

The low cost of energy in some regions such as US, Russia, Middle East, Iran will provide definite advantage for these countries in producing urea at low cost.

With India having no particular feed stock advantage, question arises as to whether India would be justified in building large urea capacities. The new and revival projects have to be competitive with urea produced in some other parts of the world.

While it is very important that India should become self sufficient in the production of urea to the extent possible, it  may be appropriate for India to consider setting up urea projects in other regions in the world, where feed stock would be readily available and energy cost would be low.

Such projects can be set up as joint ventures, with firm commitment to supply the product to Indian market.

One is  not sure as to whether the government has considered these options, while chalking out plans for setting up new urea projects and revival of the closed ones.

CAN INDIAN DEMOGRAPHY BE AN INCENTIVE FOR INVESTMENT?

While inaugurating Vibrant Gujarat Summit 2015, Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his characteristic style (of which the country is now familiar ),  told  the dignitaries from abroad that India should be considered as the favourable destination for investment by them in view of three Ds. Mr. Modi went on to describe the three Ds as democracy, demography and demand.

While the statement was certainly striking and was immediately applauded, it set one thinking later on, as to how could demography of India with  large underfed population, can be considered as a matter of pride and  factor for promoting investment.

People may be wondering as to whether the Prime Minister is not concerned about the explosive population growth in India,  with Indians  adding the population of Australia every year. In the last twenty five years, India has added a population greater than north America and Europe.

With the mouths to feed increasing at alarming rate and the production and supply not meeting the surging demand, those who listened to Mr. Modi’s speech can justifiably think that the Indian demography is a drag and not a  gain.

However, one can safely conclude that Mr. Modi cannot be unaware of this fact but was only trying to use the Indian demography as a favourable factor for overseas investment promotion in the country. Obviously, Mr. Modi was pointing Indian demography as a virtue out of  his necessity to  attract the investors to make the best of a difficult situation, considering  the fact that he has no other alternative in the present situation.

OMEGA 3 FATTY ACID FROM SEWAGE WATER INVESTMENT OPPORTUNITY FOR INDIA

Dr.Karthik Gopalakrishnan,Senior Consultant,Nandini Consultancy Centre,Chennai
E-mail: kgopala@g.clemson.edu

Government of India has launched Clean India Campaign which has caught the imagination of the country.

However, the country needs integrated waste management programme to ensure that the value added products would be produced from municipal solid waste and sewage water.

It is possible to produce omega 3 fatty acid from sewage water, which is an important value added product.

Following details are discussed in this article

  • Bioprocess algae LLC
  • Algae Systems
POLYETHYLENE WAX (PE WAX) INVESTMENT OPPORTUNITY

Polyethylene (PE) wax is a kind of polyolefin synthetic wax, with high softening point, very low melting viscosity and good dispersion property. 

It has good compatibility with other wax and polyolefin resins and also has characteristics such as wet resistance at room temperature, chemical resistance as well as excellent electric properties. 

Grade

PE wax can be made in two main grades namely emulsifiable and non emulsifiable waxes.

The difference between both the grades are in relation to the molecular weight.  The products are made in the molecular weight range of around 6000 and in the range of around 2000 to 4000

Following details are discussed in this article

  • Emulsifiable polyethylene wax
  • Non emulsifiable polyethylene wax
  • Application
  • Process outline
  • Supply analysis
  • Indian producer
  • Indian production
  • Indian import/export trade analysis
  • Demand Analysis
  • Global scenario
  • Prognosis
ETHANOL FROM ALGAE INVESTMENT OPPORTUNITY FOR INDIA

The production of ethanol through the fermentation pathway requires a sugar source such as molasses or starch.

The fermentation industry causes the production of 49 g of CO2 for 100 g of glucose utilized and 51 g of ethanol produced. This Implies that , for every gram of ethanol produced, 0.96 g of CO2 is emitted.

On the contrary, Algenol’s DIRECT TO ETHANOL process uses CO2 to produce ethanol, producing 0.37 g of ethanol per g of CO2.

Such negative carbon footprint technologies are needed in a developing country like India, where the availability of sunshine and CO2 is plenty.

Co-location of an algae farm with fermentation, coal burning, cement manufacturing industries may prove to be very beneficial for not only the air quality but also fuel needs.

Considering the inadequate production of ethyl alcohol in the country for industrial use, ethanol project based on algae should be actively pursued in India. This is an excellent investment opportunity.

Algenol is an industrial biotechnology company that is commercializing its patented algae technology platform for production of ethanol and other biofuels.

Following details are discussed in this article

  • Algenol’s technology for ethanol from algae
  • Fuel from algal biomass
  • Proposed algae venture in India by  Reliance Industries
  • Yield
ALGAE PROJECT IN BANGLADESH

Bangladesh Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (BCSIR) and Algasol Bangladesh Limited initiated a collaboration to implement large commercial scale production of algae biomass.

Algasol Bangladesh Ltd is the manufacturing company for the world wide patented floating  Photo Bio Reactor (PBR) concept. Algae Biomass Bangladesh Ltd coordinates the production of algal biomass by independent farmers and other growers in Bangladesh.

Above subject is further discussed in this article.

RESEARCHERS PRODUCE TWO BIOFUELS FROM A SINGLE ALGAE

Algae contain fatty acids that can be converted into fatty acid methyl esters or FAMEs, the molecules in biodiesel

A common algae commercially grown to make fish food holds promise as a source for both biodiesel and jet fuel, according to a new study published in the journal Energy & Fuels.

Above subject is further discussed in this article.

UPDATE ON GLOBAL ETHANOL SCENARIO

Global ethanol production on the rise

The Energy Information Administration (EIA) said that it expected global ethanol production to average 927 000 barrels per day on 2014 and 933,000 barrels  per day in 2015.

Following details are discussed in this article

  • Abengoa begins cellulosic ethanol production from crop waste
  • Ethanol plant restarted in Vicksburg,USA
  • Uganda’s largest ethanol plant from Kakira Sugars
  • Brazil to raise ethanol blend in petrol to help cane sector
RECENT DEVELOPMENTS IN GLOBAL POLYSILICON SECTOR

China’s GCL-Poly is the largest global producer of of polysilicon, with capacity of 65,000 metric tonne per year.

Recent developments in following polysilicon plants are discussed in this article.

  • Wacker’s polysilicon plant
  • Dow Corning to abandon Tennessee polysilicon assets
IMF’s MISLEADING PREDICTION ON INDIA’s GROWTH OUTBEATING CHINA

Views of IMF

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has predicted that India is on track to outpace China in the next few years and become the world’s fastest growing large economy.

In its latest update to its World Economic Outlook (WEO) report, the IMF said that India is likely to grow 6.5 percent in 2016-17, higher than 6.3 percent for China.The IMF has now projected that China’s growth rate will decline to 6.8 percent in 2015-16 and 6.3 percent in 2016.

According to the IMF report, India’s growth will not slide with others, as it is expected to reap huge net gains from the fall in global oil and commodity prices.

Following details are discussed in this article

  • Complex problems confronting India
  • Can India grow faster than China?
  • IMF’s  forecast unacceptable
LANZATECH, IOC-DBT RECYCLES CO2 INTO OMEGA 3 FATTY ACIDS

LanzaTech and research team from the IOC-DBT Center for Advanced BioEnergy Research (an entity co funded by India’s Department of Biotechnology and Indian Oil Corporation Limited) have developed a process that recycles CO2 emissions into omega 3 rich fatty acids.

Recycling carbon dioxide  gas as the sole carbon source for continuous gas fermentation, LanzaTech’s microbes produce acetate that is then consumed as energy and carbon by a proprietary algae developed by the team at IOC-DBT. These algae are rich in omega 3 fatty acids and can be utilized as an omega 3 rich fish meal substitute or the algal oil can be extracted and purified as an independent omega 3 lipid product.

IOC-DBT centre says “Both IOC-DBT and LanzaTech have demonstrated the integration of IOC and LanzaTech process at bench scale at IOC-DBT Centre to produce omega-3 fatty acids (mainly DHA) and lipids”.Co production of lipids can make algal oil economically feasible.

A continuous pilot plant facility shall be set up at IOC (R&D) next year which shall integrate both the processes. This project can be a game changer for production of omega 3 fatty acids and oil from algae in an economically viable method.”

METHANOL FROM SEWAGE WATER INVESTMENT OPPORTUNITY FOR INDIA

The Indian import trend of methanol is growing at AAGR of 7.2%.

Period (From April to March)

Quantity in metric tonne

2009-2010

822247

2010-2011

813421

2011-2012

1199635

2012-2013

1398982

2013-2014

1310438

The availability of natural gas in India is limited and there are no new methanol projects under implementation to cater to the increasing demand for methanol.

India is a sewage rich country and has opportunity to make methanol from sewage water.

Enerkem, a waste to energy company headquartered in Montreal, Canada, operates a commercial scale waste to methanol facility in Edmonton Canada.

Enerkem converts mixed waste into pure synthesis gas, which is then converted to the production of biofuels and chemicals using proven well established and commercially available catalysts.

Above subject is further discussed in this article.

OTHER FEATURES

PLANT CLOSURES

The articles discusses about the closure of following plants

  • ITC decides to shut matchbox unit at Bareilly,India
  • Olin to close part of its Canada chlor alkali production site
  • Huntsman ponders closure of TiO2 capacity in Europe

ANTI DUMPING PAGE

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

  • Sodium citrate 
  • Pentaerythritol 
  • Melamine

SAFETY AND ACCIDENT PAGE

The following articles discussing about the accidents occurred at various places

AkzoNobel report fire
Fire accident GAIL pipeline

NEWS ROUND UP –INTERNATIONAL

The recent developments on the following products/events are discussed

  • Liquid hydrogen plant in USA
  • New superabsorbent technology by BASF
  • Biosuccinic acid based plasticizers
  • Distillation unit at Maruzen MEK plant
  • DuPont to sell neoprene elastomer business to Denka-Mitsui JV
  • Perstorp bioplastics
  • Ethylene expansion at Sweeny complex in USA
  • Alpha olefin/hexane
  • Biopropylene
  • US$2.5m grant to bioplastic supplier Nature Works
  • Kuraray develops new acrylic film
  • New York to ban hydraulic fracking

TECHNOLOGY DEVELOPMENT

The recent developments on the following products are discussed

  • Insecticide resistant mosquito discovered
  • New nanowire clothes 
  • Genomatica halves time to produce micro organisms
  • Transparent solar panels

CHINA NEWS

TECHNOLOGY INITIATIVES OF
PETROCHEMICAL INDUSTRY IN CHINA

Exploration and resource utilization.

Shaanxi Yanchang Petroleum (Group) Co.Ltd.,China National Petroleum Corp.’s East China branch and the Chinese Academy of Sciences have jointly conducted “The Key Exploration and Development Technology for the Steady Output Increase” in Yanchang’s 10 million metric tonne per annum large oilfield project.

Proven reserve estimate was raised by 1.51 billion metric tonne, while output has reached  26 million metric tonne.  Water flooding controllable reserve rose to 1.72 billion metric tonne from 20 million metric tonne; natural decline rate fell to 12.6% from 18.2%, while composite decline rate was down to 8% from 14.7%, along with a steady increase in output for seven consecutive years.

In addition, certain bottlenecks were solved in the projects such as “The Safe and Efficient Development Technologies in Super large Ultra deep High sulphur Gas Fields and Their Industrial Applications” and “The Development of Complete Set of Technologies in 1.2 million metric tonne per annum potassium project in the Lop Nur Salt Lake”.

Following details are discussed in this article

Coal to chemical technology
Process development for specialty chemicals
Ionic liquid alkylation

The recent developments on the following products are discussed

New PC Production Line of Bayer MaterialScience
Hydrogen purification technology 
34-2 Gas field commences production
New polystyrene plant in Ningbo
High purity electronic gas project
PTMEG project 
LNG from coke oven gas
Catalysts plant in Shanghai
Mitsui-Sinopec JVs start up EPT, phenol-acetone plants
Phenol –acetone plant

NEWS ROUND UP – INDIA

The recent developments on the following fields are discussed

Pilot project to produce urea from coal in Odisha
Subsidy payment mechanism for SSP
Govt. revives Iran fertiliser plant proposal
ONGC, IITs in technology tie up
PEEK and PAEK polymers 
Marginal fields’ auction

AGRO CHEMICAL PAGE

Recent developments in  following agro products are discussed in this article

Focus on castor oil in Brazil
Govt removes 35% cap on neem coated urea production
‘Declare chemicals used in growing tea’
Natural vanilla 
Biological crop protection technology-3AEY
Mentha oil

PHARMA PAGE

Recent developments  in the following pharma  field is discussed in this article

Bluetongue vaccine for cattle launched

ENERGY PAGE

Recent developments  in the following energy  fields are discussed in this article

Regulations on sale of biodiesel 
Impact on low oil price on greener fuels in USA
Installed solar capacity crosses 3 GW in India

ENVIRONMENTAL PAGE

Recent developments  in the  environmental fields are discussed in this article

REACH update
EPA plan for stricter ozone standards

OTHER ARTICLES
  • Spot price of polymers in China - December 2014
  • Tenders
  • Chemicals imported at Chennai port during the month of November 2014
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