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May 1, 2012
The technology surrounding a hydrolysis- and fermentation-based process that is capable of utilizing municipal solid waste (MSW) and biomass waste to produce cellulosic bioethanol at low cost is now available for licensing from its developer, TMO Renewables Ltd. (Guildford, U.K.; Several of the cost-saving measures depend on the capabilities of a heat-loving bacterium that has been...
April 1, 2012
Construction of a 1-hectare (ha) carbon-capture and recycling “synthesizer” demonstration plant has started at Tarong Power Station near the town of Nanango in southeast Queensland, Australia. Tarong Power Station comprises four coal-fired units with a gross generating capacity of 1,400 MW. The plant — a joint initiative between MBD Energy Ltd. (Melbourne, Australia;
April 1, 2012
  Biobutanol milestones Last month, Cobalt Technologies (Cobalt; Mountain View, Calif.; announced two achievements toward commercial-scale production of bio-based n -butanol: the demonstration of its biomass pretreatment process, and the demonstration of its advanced-strain fermentation process. In cooperation with Andritz Group (Graz, Austria;, Cobalt tested its...
April 1, 2012
Invensys Operations Management (IOM; Plano, Tex.;, a division of Invensys, has expanded its certification for virtualization technology, making its industrial automation systems the first to be certified for high availability, disaster recovery and fault tolerance in supervisory control applications using both the VMware and Microsoft Hyper-V virtualization platforms. The traditional way...
April 1, 2012
New biocomposite plastics that combine soybean-meal protein with conventional plastic resins allow significantly lower use of petroleum-based chemicals in polyethylene (PE) and polypropylene (PP) manufacturing. The new class of bioplastics incorporates soybean-meal protein, which is chemically bound to...
April 1, 2012
A Samsung petrochemicals facility in South Korea will be the first to feature a suite of energy efficiency technologies developed by UOP LLC (Des Plaines, Ill., for improved aromatics production. A number of UOP aromatics-processing design features and materials will be integrated to allow the facility to reduce its energy consumption by 33%. The facility will produce 1 million m.t./yr of para...
April 1, 2012
A new process for generating sheets of polyethylene terephthalate (PET) eliminates several production steps used in the traditional process, offering greatly reduced energy use and improved polymer properties. Developed by Octal Petrochemicals LLC FZC (Muscat, Oman;, the direct-to-sheet PET (DPET)...
April 1, 2012
A distillation process that consumes 85% less energy than traditional methods has been demonstrated by researchers from the University of Tokyo’s Institute of Industrial Science ( and Nippon Steel Engineering (NSE, both Tokyo, The technique, which involves the incorporation of a compressor for self-heat recuperation (exergy recuperation), was first...
April 1, 2012
In conventional hydrogen and ammonia plants, the final conversion of CO to H2 occurs across the low-temperature shift (LTS) catalyst. This makes the LTS catalyst one of the most important catalysts in the plant — even small changes in its performance will have a significant impact on operating costs, says Kristina Svennerberg, marketing manager, shift and synthesis catalysts at Haldor Topsøe...
April 1, 2012
A process to make polylactic acid (PLA) that requires no solvent or metal catalyst has been developed by Ricoh Co. (Ricoh; Tokyo,, in cooperation with Shizuoka University. Ricoh’s continuous PLA process is based on a commercially available organic catalyst (1,8-diazabicyclo[5.4.0]-7-undecene), the supercritical (SC) CO2 technology of professor Takeshi Sako and the organic reaction...
April 1, 2012
A six-stage water treatment process involving electrocoagulation (EC) and multi-stage flash (MSF) distillation could improve options for the disposal of sludge and brine in applications that include the treatment of water from hydraulic fracturing of oil and gas wells (see also Frac Water Reuse, Chem. Eng., February, pp.14–16), as well as desalination. The first small-scale demonstration of the...
March 1, 2012
Researchers from the Dept. of Chemical Engineering, Monash University (Clayton, Victoria, Australia;, have reported on a new composite polymer hydrogel with light-absorbing particles incorporated within it, that can be used as draw agents in the forward osmosis (FO) process of desalination. The researchers, led by professor Huanting Wang, aimed to develop new...
March 1, 2012
A technique for protecting structural steel from fire using the endothermic decomposition of magnesium hydroxide has been developed by a team from the Dept. of Chemical Engineering and Materials Engineering, the University of Auckland (New Zealand; Led by professor Mohammad Farid, the team designed a system consisting of an outer layer of gypsum board and an inner mass of Mg(OH)2. The...
March 1, 2012
Outotec Oyj (Espoo, Finland; has introduced a new partial roasting process to purify copper and gold concentrates that are contaminated with arsenic, antimony and carbon. The process is a pretreatment stage for Cu- and Au-extraction plants, and enables the extraction of metals from ores that had previously been unattractive because the impurities create a “huge problem” of...
March 1, 2012
A challenge in recovering fissile material from spent nuclear fuel is separating radioactive components that cannot be reused as fuel. Researchers at Sandia National Laboratory (Albuquerque, N.M.; have fabricated metal-organic frameworks...
March 1, 2012
Earlier this year, the first polylactic acid (PLA) plant based on a new polymerization process was put into service by Synbra Technology in Etten Leur, the Netherlands. The plant — capable of producing up to 5,000 ton/yr of PLA — was built by Sulzer Chemtech Ltd. (Winterthur, Switzerland;, and uses a PLA process jointly developed by Sulzer Chemtech and Purac (Gorinchem...
March 1, 2012
A naphtha-cracking process with improved yield, reduced coking and longer catalyst life is being developed in a five-year Japanese project led by professor Takashi Tatsumi at the Tokyo Institute of Technology (TiTech;, with participation from the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST), Hokkaido University, Yokohama National University, three petrochemical...
March 1, 2012
A carbothermal process for obtaining magnesium — developed by CSIRO ( Light Metals Flagship (South Clayton, Victoria, Australia) — overcomes previous limitations to commercial viability. For several years, magnesium has been produced mainly by electrolytic routes, from magnesium chloride sources such as seawater and natural brines. More recently, world production has been mainly in...
March 1, 2012
The first commercial-scale biobutanol plant using the Gevo Integrated Fermentation Technology (GIFT) process is set to come online in mid-2012 at the former site of an ethanol facility in Minnesota. In late January, Gevo (Englewood, Colo.; was awarded a U.S. patent for the GIFT separation technology, a key component of the process that allows the separation of C3–C6 alcohols from the...
March 1, 2012
A new catalyst design, in which gallium atoms are integrated into the zeolite catalyst structure, can increase yields of aromatic compounds from biomass by 40% in a catalytic fast-pyrolysis process. The higher yields of benzene, toluene and xylenes (BTX), as well as ethylene and propylene, achieved with the gallium-containing zeolite...
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