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April 1, 2009
Calibration-free pH The world’s first continuously self-calibrating pH measurement system was previewed at the Interphex show in New York last month by Sensorin (Burlingame, Calif; According to the manufacturer, all currently available pH sensors including glass, optical and ion-selective field effect transistors (ISFET) require calibration, whereas Sensorin’s approach, which...
March 1, 2009
Nearly 30 years ago (May 6, 1979), U.S. President Jimmy Carter made the following prophetic statement at the inauguration of a solar-thermal water heater installed on the White House roof: "In the year 2000, the solar heater behind me will still be here, supplying cheap, efficient energy. A generation from now, this solar heater can either be a curiosity, a museum piece, an example of a road not...
March 1, 2009
Despite various studies and process automation supplier suggestions that wireless sensing technologies cost less and provide tighter control than their wired counterparts, chemical processors are still proceeding with caution when it comes to implementing wireless instrumentation. Wireless supporters hope the introduction of WirelessHART and the eventual publication of ISA 100 will help break down the...
March 1, 2009
A process that produces hydrogen from coal with close to 80% energy conversion efficiency, plus coproduction of a carbon-dioxide-rich stream for sequestration, is being developed at Ohio State University (Columbus, Ohio; This compares with around 60% conversion efficiency for traditional coal gasification processes, says Fanxing Li, a research associate and co-inventor of the process along...
March 1, 2009
In the framework of the Impulse project (Integrated Multiscale Process Units with Locally Structured Elements; CE, April 2005, p. 19), researchers from the Industrial Chemistry Group at RWTH Aachen University (Germany; have developed a continuous production plant capable of producing 20 kg/d of an ionic liquid (IL). Normally, this IL is manufactured by a semi-batch process via the...
March 1, 2009
Mitsubishi Chemical Corp. (MCC; Tokyo, Japan; has developed a new technology for producing 1,3-butadiene (butadiene) from waste butenes using a self-developed, proprietary catalyst. The process has been pilot tested (200-ton/yr capacity) at MCC’s Mizushima site in Japan, and the firm plans to complete process design this year with the aim to commercialize the technology by 2010...
March 1, 2009
A less-expensive way of making the raw materials for carbon anodes (for aluminum smelting) and graphite electrodes (used to make steel in electric arc furnaces) has been developed by West Virginia University (UWV; Morgantown, W.Va.; The conventional starting materials for making electrodes are needle-grade coke (from petroleum) and binder pitch, which comes from petroleum distillation residue...
March 1, 2009
Milkweed, a plant that is toxic to farm animals and other creatures, may be a future source of a base material for sunscreen and other skin care products. Milkweed is harvested for floss, used as a hypoallergenic filler for pillows and comforters, and a byproduct of that work is an unsaturated oil. A process that converts triglycerides in that oil to ultraviolet- (UV)...
March 1, 2009
CSIRO Energy Technology (Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia; is developing a solar-powered air conditioning unit for residential use, using a desiccant-evaporative process to provide cool and dehumidified air. Thermally driven ab- or adsorption chillers are commonly used to provide cooling using heat, but these entail disadvantages: they are expensive, bulky, they produce chilled water...
March 1, 2009
A photocatalyst that is more active for decomposing volatile organic compounds (VOCs) with visible light than existing catalysts has been developed by researchers from the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO; Kawasaki City, Japan) in a project lead by professor Kazuhito Hashimoto at the University of Tokyo. The catalyst — a copper ion supported tungsten oxide —...
March 1, 2009
Last month, GE Oil & Gas (Florence, Italy; received a contract to supply Eni S.p.A. (Rome; with the largest refinery reactors of their type ever to be manufactured. GE Oil & Gas’ components-production facility in Massa, Italy, will manufacture the heavy-wall, slurry reactors — each weighing about 2,000 tons — and then transport them to Eni’s...
March 1, 2009
Bioethanol Ethanol from plant and forestry waste and dedicated energy crops could replace approximately one-third of U.S. gasoline requirements by 2030 on a sustainable basis, according to a study by Sandia National Laboratories (Livermore, Calif.; and General Motors Corp. (Detroit, Mich.; The researchers found that 90 billion gal of ethanol could be produced annually by 2030...
February 1, 2009
In these hard economic times, people working in troubled businesses may well envy the situation of Alberta’s oil sands industry. The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP, Calgary, Alberta; predicts that the production of synthetic crude from oil sands will reach 3.3-million bbl/d by 2020, up from 1.2-million bbl/d in 2007. Much of this oil will be sent to the U.S. via an...
February 1, 2009
Globally, water reuse and recycling are not uncommon — with parts of Australia, South Africa and the Middle East rather heartily embracing the practice. Even in Europe, it is estimated that 75 to 80% of water is reused. However, because fresh water is prevalent and plentiful in most parts of the U.S., few domestic chemical processors, or other industrial consumers of water, have yet to take the...
February 1, 2009
Thanks to a €171-million financing deal, construction can begin on what is claimed to be the world’s first utility-grade solar power plant with central tower and salt receiver technology. When the so-called Gemasolar plant — located in Fuentes de Andalucia, Spain — is operational in 2011, it will produce 17 MWe of power, reducing CO2 emissions by more than 50,000 metric tons per year...
February 1, 2009
A continuous process for producing biodiesel that has a residence time of about one minute, versus several hours for a conventional batch process, has been developed at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL; Oak Ridge, Tenn.; The process uses a centrifuge for simultaneous synthesis of biodiesel and separation of the biodiesel from the glycerol byproduct. ORNL has done laboratory tests and is...
February 1, 2009
Mitsunori Shimura and colleagues at the R&D Center of Chiyoda Corp. (Yokohama, Japan; have developed a new catalyst for producing a synthesis gas (syngas; hydrogen and carbon monoxide) from steam reforming of methane. The catalyst consists of precious metals selectively loaded on the surface of the firm’s commercial, egg-shell-shaped support, which results in an effective...
February 1, 2009
Lurgi GmbH (Frankfurt, Germany; is building a pilot plant to demonstrate the viability of its three-stage bioliq process for producing liquid fuels from biomass. The pilot plant — an entrained-flow gasifier for the production of synthesis gas — will be located at the Karlsruhe Research Center (FZK; Germany;, and is part of a joint project with the Karlsruhe Institute of...
February 1, 2009
For separating two components with similar volatilities, extractive distillation is typically used, whereby a high-boiling, non-volatile solvent is added to "break the azeotrope" — a process that is both energy intensive and often involves the use of hazardous solvents. In an effort to reduce the energy requirements and avoid the use of hazardous solvents used in extractive distillation, an...
February 1, 2009
Ultrasound has been applied, with limited success, for the remediation of contaminated soil. Up to now, the approach has been to first extract the contaminant from the soil into a liquid, which is then passed through a sono-reactor where the contaminants are destroyed by high temperatures and pressures (more than 5,000K and 1,000 atm) generated by cavitating bubbles. A new process developed by a team from...
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