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March 1, 2014
Construction is underway in France on a pilot plant for what is believed to be the first fermentation process capable of directly producing the light olefin isobutene. Global Bioenergies (Evry, France; expects to begin operations of a 500-L fermentation facility in the second half of 2014 and plans to follow that with a 5,000-L fermenter in Germany the following year. Isobutene...
March 1, 2014
  Renewable 5-HMF Last month, commercial-scale production of high-purity 5-hydroxymethylfurfural (5-HMF) started at the Biochem-1 facility operated by AVA Biochem (Muttenz, Switzerland; In the first phase, the facility will produce 20 metric tons (m.t.) per year of 5-HMF — a compound that has been identified as one of the top ten platform chemicals that can be used for...
March 1, 2014
A new chemical process is set to create bio-based p-xylene from cellulosic waste. Micromidas (West Sacramento, Calif.; opened a pilot plant in December 2013 that converts cellulosic waste materials, such as rice hulls, switchgrass, sawdust and cardboard to bio-based p-xylene. The Micromidas process is unusual in that it does not require the cellulose to be saccharified first, and both...
March 1, 2014
A new process-intensification technology to accelerate the rate of enzymatic reactions has been developed by researchers from the Dept. of Chemical Engineering, University of Bath (U.K.; The so-called spinning cloth disc reactor (SCDR) is based on, but extends the principles of, the conventional spinning disc reactor (SDR). The SCDR also uses centrifugal forces to allow the spread of a...
March 1, 2014
A novel battery chemistry that uses a water-based electrolyte has allowed developer Aquion Energy Inc. (Pittsburgh, Pa.; to achieve a low-cost and safe battery with long cycle life for stationary energy-storage applications. The Aquion battery technology, now entering its commercial launch process, employs an aqueous sodium-sulfate electrolyte. The water-based electrolyte makes the...
March 1, 2014
Geo-Cleanse International, Inc. (Mata- wan, N.J.; has developed a new method for ridding soil and groundwater of chloromethanes, Freon and other difficult-to-treat contaminants without the need for digging and offsite soil treatment. The Geo-Cleanse process was inspired by research at Washington State University by Rick Watts, who found that hydrogen peroxide could react with MnO2 to...
March 1, 2014
GlyEco Inc. (Phoenix, Ariz.; has developed a process for recovering and purifying ethylene glycol from a number of industrial byproduct and waste streams so that it meets an ASTM International (West Conshohocken, Pa.;; formerly American Society for Testing and Materials) specification for use in virgin-grade antifreeze. Processes for recycling ethylene glycol currently exist...
March 1, 2014
Researchers from Curtin University’s Fuels and Energy Technology Institute (Perth, Western Australia;, led by professors Gordon Parkinson and Chun-Zhu Li, have won the Mitsubishi Corp. Western Australia Innovator of the Year award for creating a new membrane that speeds up the transfer of oxygen. Currently, industrial oxygen production relies on a cryogenic process, which requires...
March 1, 2014
The chemical process industries (CPI) are, by their very nature, global in scope. While chemical process operators share many common aspects (in terms of the use of chemical engineering unit operations), the location of their operation brings about different requirements when it comes to managing gaseous and particulate pollutants, because different countries have different regulations with regard to air...
February 1, 2014
  Cellulose nanocrystals New research from Purdue University (West Lafayette, Ind.; has shed some light on the physical properties of cellulose nanocrystals. The nanocrystals, which are about 3-nm wide and 500-nm long, have historically been difficult to analyze, but the Purdue researchers used quantum mechanical calculations to make some predictions about the crystals’...
February 1, 2014
Techniques for manufacturing carbon adsorbent materials with highly tuned pore properties have been developed by EnerG2 Technologies Inc. (Seattle, Wash.; The technology platform produces carbon adsorbents that enable the storage of natural gas at significantly lower pressures than those required for compressed natural gas (CNG) and liquefied natural gas (LNG). EnerG2’s carbon...
February 1, 2014
Water treatment technology from Alcoa Inc. (Pittsburgh, Pa.; that includes engineered areas of natural wetland vegetation is now available commercially for the first time. The engineered wetlands technology can lower capital and operating expenses, as well as energy consumption, compared to conventional tank-based water-treatment systems, according to scientists and engineers at Alcoa and...
February 1, 2014
Dealing with wastewater streams in petroleum refineries and petrochemical operations is often a trying task — environmentally, economically and logistically — especially as regulations on salinity in waste streams are tightened. However, many waste streams actually contain useful components, such as chloride compounds that can be converted electrolytically to oxidizers or disinfectants, such as...
February 1, 2014
Professor Susumu Kitagawa’s group at Kyoto University (Kyoto, has developed a new soft nanoporous material that selectively adsorbs carbon monoxide from gas mixtures. The researchers believe their achievement will enable the separation and recycling of CO from the emissions of many large-scale industrial...
February 1, 2014
Gasoline-like fuel suitable for internal combustion engines can be obtained from the pyrolysis of plastic waste, according to a study conducted by a team of people from Gadjah Mada University (Yogyakarta, Indonesia;, University Sains Malaysia (Penang, Malaysia;, and Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo, Japan; To resemble real plastic wastes, the team studied...
February 1, 2014
Scientists at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL; Richland, Wash.; have developed a continuous process for generating crude oil from algae that they believe can lower the cost of producing algae-based fuel. The process works by combining hydrothermal liquefaction and catalytic hydrothermal...
February 1, 2014
A new water-gas shift catalyst has undergone 1,000 h of successful operation in a demonstration carried out by the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO, Kawasaki; and Hitachi, Ltd. (Tokyo, both Japan; The tests were performed at the Eagle pilot plant ( Chem...
February 1, 2014
FilterMag International (Scottsdale, Ariz.; has developed neodymium magnetic devices that can boost the performance of lubricant filters for mining vehicles and industrial machinery. When the device is in place, filters retain 50–75% of contaminant particles that would otherwise be missed, a level that translates into a 30–60% increase in engine life, says the company. The...
February 1, 2014
Converting CO2 into methane is a way to mimic the natural carbon cycle and close the energy cycle by producing synthetic hydrocarbons (see, for example, CO2 Utilization, Chem. Eng., July 2013, pp. 16–19). However, the Sabatier reaction (CO2 + 4H2 —> 2H2O + CH4) is a complex surface reaction that is kinetically limited, says Andreas Borgschulte, a group leader at the Laboratory for Hydrogen...
January 1, 2014
Australian researchers have developed a method of cleaning arsenic out of contaminated water by combining the effects of bacteria and microalgae. Professor Megh Mallavarapu and his team, from the Cooperative Research Center for Contamination Assessment and Remediation of the Environment (CRC CARE; and the University of South Australia (both Mawson Lakes, South Australia;
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