Article | February 19, 2020
A bill recently passed by the Pennsylvania General Assembly would subsidize the use of fracked gas to produce petrochemicals. At some point—i.e., at a time chosen by the state Senate—H B 1100 will be sent to Governor Wolf, who has promised a veto despite override threats. Meanwhile, Pennsylvanians are trying to understand the bill and its potential impacts. That hasn't been easy, because as with the petrochemical subsidy bills Pennsylvania enacted in 2012, the General Assembly has not held a single hearing on the legislation. The purpose of this blog is to help fill that gap.
Article | June 3, 2021
ONE OF THE GREATEST achievements of the last 30 years has been the fall in the number of people living in extreme poverty.In 1999, 1.9bn of the world’s population were living on less than $1.90, the Word Bank’s definition of extreme poverty. Despite setbacks caused by the pandemic, this had fallen to 698m by October 2020.
Income levels alone are not enough to escape the life-threatening agony of extreme poverty. There is no point in having money if the essential goods and services to spend your money on are not available.
Critical to poverty alleviation has been sufficient supply of all the things that people in the rich world take for granted. The raw materials to make the vast majority of manufactured goods include petrochemicals and polymers.
Nearly all the major manufacturing chains would not have been able to function without petrochemicals.
Think of medical equipment, syringes, blood bags, hospital gowns, face masks, pill bottles and medicine blister packs. None of the above could have been produced without petrochemicals.
As people emerged out of extreme poverty and as economies became wealthier, modern-day medical services became more widely available.
Article | May 13, 2021
NICE WORK, if you get can get it. A trucking company in Fort Worth, Texas, is offering to pay experienced drivers $14,000 a week – $728,000 a year – as the US struggles with a nationwide shortage of truckers or lorry drivers.
This reminds me of perhaps an apocryphal tale, from the height of the last Australian mining boom. Before iron ore prices collapsed in late 2014, there was a story about workers at mining site road junctions who operated manual “Stop and Go” signs. They were said to be earning more than Australian dollar (A$) 200,000 a year.
Before you pack in your job as, say, a petrochemicals sales manager and head to Texas or mine sites in Western Australia, there is the risk that when you arrive at the door of your new prospective employer, the bubble might have already burst. This is assuming we are in bubble conditions.The pressure is clearly building in petrochemicals and other commodity markets as prices in some regions remain at record highs or continue to rise.
Today’s prices are the results of shortages of commodities supply (for example in petrochemicals, an outcome of the US winter storms), very strong demand and supply chain disruptions.I am beginning to believe that the latter is the biggest reason for commodity price inflation which is feeding through into sharp rises in the cost of finished goods – and a lack of goods availability.
It is delivering and manufacturing enough stuff that seems to be at the heart of today’s problems due to shortages of everything from container freight space and semiconductors to wooden pallets, tin cans, metal drums, cardboard – and US truck drivers.
Article | May 19, 2021
The market size for polymeric and resin binders in the global printing ink marketwas estimated to be over 1,200,000 MT in 2020, with a CAGR of about five percent. A major driver of this growth comes from the packaging industry, due to increases in consumer spending and online shopping, as well as demand for processed and packaged foods and beverages.
In addition, increased use of water-based inks is promoting market growth, off-setting environmental and health concerns regarding solvent-based inks in addition to strict environmental protection policies. Water-based inks are projected to overtake solvent-based inks due to environmental regulations, the reduction of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in the pressroom, and improvements in overall print quality.
Ink formulations are complex mixtures, consisting of four basic component classes: pigments, polymeric binder resins, solvents or an aqueous dispersant media, and additives, such as surfactants, waxes, and rheology modifiers that enhance print quality. The purpose of the resin binder is to disperse and carry the ink pigment to the substrate, stabilize the pigment and additives dispersion to prevent settling, and provide print properties such as ink transfer behavior, setting, and drying characteristics. The binder also contributes surface appearance and gloss, strength and flexibility, chemical and solvent resistance, and also rub resistance. Ink binders can be categorized into the following polymer and resin types: acrylics, polyurethanes, polyamides, modified resins, hydrocarbon resins, and modified cellulosics.