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November 1, 2011
A facility that produces high-purity lithium carbonate for use in the growing market for electrolytes in electric-vehicle batteries has begun commercial operations in Imperial Valley, Calif. The 500-ton/yr plant, operated by Simbol Materials (Pleasanton, Calif.;, is the only producer of high-purity Li2CO3 in the U.S., and one of three worldwide. “We can produce the...
November 1, 2011
Sugar is a critical feedstock for many emerging bio-based-chemical and biofuel processes, but harvesting sugar from low-value, nonfood biomass cost-effectively and at large scale remains a challenge. Renmatix Inc. (King of Prussia, Pa.; has developed a process that uses water above its critical temperature and pressure to hydrolyze a range of biomass materials to make C5 and C6 sugars...
November 1, 2011
  New block copolymer Nexar is the tradename of a block copolymer product recently commercialized by Kraton Performance Polymers (Houston; that has unique water-transport properties. Building on its earlier work in anionic polymerization of styrene-butadiene block copolymers, the company has developed a sulfonated, multiblock copolymer that allows a high level of selective moisture...
November 1, 2011
To date, the difficult-to-treat contaminants and their related biological inhibition in petroleum refinery wastewater have defied efforts to bring predictive and mathematical process control to biological wastewater-treatment systems. Now, for the first time, engineers at Refinery Water Engineering & Associates Inc. (RWEA; Los Angeles, Calif.; have determined the key...
November 1, 2011
The Fine Chemicals div. of Takasago International Corp. (Tokyo, Japan; has commercialized Deneb: Oxo-Tethered Ruthenium (II) Complex, which shows higher catalytic activities compared to conventional RuCl (arene)(N-sulfonylated diamine) catalyst systems. The higher activity enables a reduction in...
November 1, 2011
Base-catalyzed decomposition (BCD) is a commercially used process developed in the early 1990s by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA; Washington, D.C.) for the destruction of persistent organic pollutants (POPs). It has been used as an...
November 1, 2011
Researchers at the University of Minnesota (Minneapolis/St. Paul; have produced thin-film zeolite membranes that are only 200 nm thick, compared to 5–10 µm for conventional zeolite membranes. The new membranes could cut energy and capital costs by 90% for the production of petrochemicals, says Michael Tsapatsis, a professor of chemical engineering and materials science...
November 1, 2011
Last month, KBR (Houston; was awarded a license and process-design-package contract for a new olefins-production unit using the Advanced Catalytic Olefins (ACO) technology. The contract represents the first license of the ACO process, which catalytically cracks naphtha and other “straight-run” feeds to produce higher olefins yields than traditional steam-cracking technology, says...
November 1, 2011
The two basic energy-storage devices — dielectric and double-layer capacitors — entail serious limitations. Dielectric capacitors have low capacitance, on the order of 0.1 to 1.0 µF/cm2, while the double-layer capacitor has a high capacitance, on the order of 0.5 to 5.0 F/cm2, but suffers from difficulties in scaling up and high fabrication costs. Now researchers from the National...
October 1, 2011
Impending standards requiring that cellulosic ethanol be used in gasoline blending have focused attention on building a capacity for bioethanol from non-food sources. In a development that may begin to meet that need, a plant employing a unique method for fermenting synthesis gas (syngas) to produce ethanol will begin commercial operation in the second quarter of 2012. According to its builder, Ineos Bio...
October 1, 2011
China produces about 98% of the world’s electrolytic manganese metal (EMM), a vital ingredient used in specialty steels, aluminum and electronics. In contrast, the U.S. produces no EMM, says Nick Weir, an executive with U.S. American Manganese Inc. (AMY; White Rock, B.C., Canada; www.american AMY plans to change that by using a patented hydrometallurgical process to extract the...
October 1, 2011
A 60% reduction in the sludge volume was achieved at the sewage treatment plant of Noboribetu City, Hokkaido, Japan, after installing a Bio-Diet SBD-1200 system from Nippon Steel Kankyo Engineering Co. (NSKE; Tokyo, The demonstration unit, developed at the Wakayama Cleanup Center of Noboribetu City, was tested during the...
October 1, 2011
A rapid pressure-swing-adsorption (rPSA) system to separate carbon dioxide from fluegas is being developed by W.R. Grace & Co. (Columbus, Md.; and three partners under a $3 million grant from the U.S. Dept. of Energy (DOE; Washington, D.C.; The goal is to develop a process that costs half as much as current amine systems, whose cost is $50–70 per ton...
October 1, 2011
A huge market for lithium ion batteries is expected to develop as car makers move toward electric vehicles. However, improvements in the batteries’ energy and power density are needed. It is also desirable to replace the common, high-cost lithium cobalt oxide cathodes with those based on more abundant and more environmentally friendly materials. Now, a group from the Dept. of Energy Engineering...
October 1, 2011
  Renewable jet fuel Houston-based bioenergy company Terrabon Inc. ( has been awarded a $9.6-million, 18-month contract from Logos Technologies (Arlington, Va.; www.logos-technologies) to produce 6,000 L of renewable jet fuel for the Defense Advanced Research Products Agency (DARPA; Arlington, Va.; using its MixAlco biorefining process. The MixAlco process converts...
October 1, 2011
An underground coal-to-liquids (UCTL) technology is undergoing pilot testing at Oak Park, near Melbourne Australia, where a metric ton of brown coal is expected to yield about one barrel of oil suitable for use as refinery feedstock on an oil-parity price basis. UCTL takes place within the underground coal seam, whereby low rank coals are liquefied into crude oil substitute product at 300°C. Heat...
October 1, 2011
At the 2nd Annual ChemInnovations Conference and Expo (Houston; September 13–15), Hemi-O Technologies LLC (Corpus Christi, Tex.; introduced its patent-pending technology that enables external access to individual tubes in a heat exchanger while the exchanger is in service and operating at full capacity. The so-called Hemi-O (heat exchanger maintenance and inspection...
October 1, 2011
A technique that improves the efficiency of ethanol plants by lowering the cost of dewatering the byproduct stillage (a slurry of corn solids and water) from the fermentation process has been developed by scientists at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Eastern Regional Research Center (Wyndmoor, Pa.; The process has been demonstrated at full scale in a commercial plant...
October 1, 2011
Professor Yuki Taniguchi at the Chemicals Research Institute, Tokyo Institute of Technology (Japan, has developed a new catalyst system that decomposes volatile organic compounds (VOCs) at lower temperatures than that required by conventional catalysts. The SILP (supported ionic liquid phase) catalyst is composed of silica gel impregnated with an ionic...
September 1, 2011
Cellulosic biomass pretreated with ammonia undergoes structural changes that make it more susceptible to enzymatic attack, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory (Los Alamos, N.M.; and collaborators at the...
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