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christa.jpg (5628 bytes) Chemical Industry News Editor Christa Semko
Every two weeks, Christa will bring you the latest chemical industry news from around the world.  If you have a press release that you'd like to share with us, please mail it to us through our online contact form here.

Dateline: October 13, 2009

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North America

Solar Roof Shingles

Dow Chemical Co. has introduced a solar roof shingle designed to be woven into a roofing system that uses standard asphalt shingles. The shingles will be available in limited quantity by the middle of next year and the company has plans for wider distribution in 2011. The shingle incorporates a low-cost, thin-film photovoltaic cell device for capturing solar energy.


Call for Chemical Law Reform

The Obama administration has asked Congress to draft a tougher law for how the government regulates tens of thousands of chemicals. This call for reform is in response to more and more toxic chemicals turning up in peopleís bodies and the environment. The Obama administration wants Congress to craft a law that will require chemical manufacturers to provide enough information so that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) can evaluate the risks, and to give the agency the authority to act against chemicals it determines to be dangerous. The EPA is immediately launching a review of six chemicals that have raised concerns, including Bisphenol A (BPA) and Perfluorinated chemicals.

Chemical Leak

Safety officials say an improperly operated pump was responsible for a chemical leak at Indspec Chemical Corp.ís Petrolia, Pennsylvania plant. The leak forced 2,500 residents from their homes last year. The company faces more than $150,000 in environmental and workplace safety fines for the oleum leak. The U.S. Chemical Safety Board said that a transfer tank overflowed because its pump was connected to an outlet with an automatic shut-off. Workers often used the outlet with the automatic shut-off to save time. The offending worker in this case has been fired.

Federal Complaint

Federal authorities have filed a one-count criminal complaint in federal court against fired DuPont researcher Hong Meng for improperly accessing a protected computer belonging to DuPont. If tried and convicted, Meng faces a maximum prison sentence of five years and a fine up to $250,000. The federal complaint alleges that Meng, whose work involved the development of low-cost organic light-emitting diode (OLED) materials, downloaded 595 documents from his work-issued laptop computer to an external storage device even though the company prohibited from doing so. In addition, the complaint says that Meng allowed DuPont to examine his personal computer, which was found to contain 543 proprietary DuPont files.


Start Up

UOP LLC has announced that Sinopec Shanghai Petrochemical Co., Ltd. has successfully started up a new para-xylene complex using UOP process technology at the Sinopec facility in Shanghai, China. The aromatics project was completed in just 30 months from initial kick-off through commissioning, with UOP providing the technology license, basic engineering, equipment packages and key products. The new complex produces 600,000 metric tons/year of para-xylene using the UOP Parex process. It will also produce 280,000 metric tons/year of benzene.


Reining In

In order to rein in the blind development of the traditional coal chemical industry, China will not allow new modern coal chemical demonstration projects in principle, will stop approving coke and calcium carbide production capacity expansion projects, and will accelerate eliminating obsolete production capacity in the next three years. The State Council has highlighted that some coal production areas in China have been developing the coal industry blindly in pursuit of fast economic development regardless of the environmental damage and the strain on Chinaís water resources. In recent years, this has directly led to redundant construction of traditional coal chemical industry plants.


Investment in NG and Chemicals Base

Chinaís Sichuan province is planning to invest 82.5 billion yuan to develop a heavyweight natural gas and chemicals base. About 137 natural gas and chemicals projects will be built for the base, providing a complete industrial chain.

Ethylene Expansion Project

Daqing Petrochemical has recently started the construction of a 1.2 million ton/year ethylene expansion project in Daqing, China. The 14-billion-yuan project will expand the companyís current 600,000 ton/year ethylene cracking capacity into 1.2 million tons/year. A 300,000 ton/year polypropylene facility, a 600,000 ton/year gasoline hydrogenation facility and a 400,000 ton/year aromatic hydrocarbon project will also be built. Completion is expected in 2011.


Oman Oil Co. S.A.O.C. (OOC) and International Petroleum Investment Company (IPIC) have entered into a memorandum of understanding of joint cooperation between the two companies with regard to the potential development of a refinery and petrochemical complex in Duqm, Oman. The memorandum of understanding entails an in-depth assessment of both the feasibility and implementation of the proposed project.


Nobel Prize in Chemistry

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences awarded the 2009 Nobel Prize in Chemistry to scientists in the U.S., England and Israel for studies of the structure and function of the ribosome. Structural biologists Venkatraman Ramakrishnan (MRC Laboratory of Modular Biology, Cambridge, U.K.), Thomas A. Steitz (Yale University); and Ada E. Yonath (Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot, Israel) will share the $1.4 million prize. These researchers used X-ray crystallography to map the ribosomeís structure, and the resulting 3-D models cast light on the ribosomeís complicated mechanism of action.

Polymer Research Center

Saudi International Petrochemical Company (Sipchem), King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals (KFUPM) and the Ministry of Petroleum and Mineral Resources have announced plans to establish a research center for the development of polymer technologies and applications. The center will be a nucleus for future expansion and create new communication channels between Saudi universities and the industrial sector. The center is expected to be operation by 2012.


Trial Production Starting Next Year

Shenhua Ningxia Coal Industry Groupís coal-based polypropylene production project in Yinchuan, China will start its trial operation next year. The project will cost approximately $2.5 billion with a designed capacity of 520,000 tons of polypropylene/year. The project will also be able to product 184,800 tons of gasoline/year and 13,800 tons of sulfur/year as by-products.

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