How a US-UK trade deal threatens our protection from hazardous chemicals

A central tenet of Brexit has long been the promise of free trade agreements for the UK outside the EU. Specifically, a US-UK trade deal is trumpeted as the single biggest economic benefit of Brexit, though the prospect alone has already sparked heated debate. It is clear that a US-UK trade deal is likely to reintroduce many of the controversial elements that arose during past trade negotiations between the EU and the US on the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). Further, negotiations will likely take place amidst an aggressive approach to trade from the Trump administration, continued divisions across the UK parliament and will reflect the reality that the UK is in a weaker negotiating position than the EU due to its smaller size. One acute risk from the pursuit of a free trade deal with the US is the relaxation of the UK’s laws protecting us from hazardous chemicals.

Spotlight

Air Liquide

Provider of specialty gases and chemicals for semi-conductor and solar panel industries, with over 5,000 employees in the U.S. Air Liquide has signed an agreement to acquire Voltaix Inc., a U.S. based electronics materials company. The acquisition is expected to close later this summer, pending applicable regulatory approvals. Founded in 1986, Voltaix is a manufacturer of materials used in the production of semiconductor devices and advanced solar cells, with expertise and global stewardship in silicon, germanium, and boron chemistries. It operates manufacturing facilities in the U.S. in Branchburg (New Jersey), High Springs (Florida) and Portland (Pennsylvania) and in South Korea in Sejong-si (South Chungcheong Province). The company employs 185 employees.

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Chemical Technology

Organic Oil Recovery improves productivity of existing reservoirs

Article | July 20, 2022

MAY 2021 ///Vol 242 No. 5 FEATURES Organic Oil Recovery improves productivity of existing reservoirs A transitional technology producing excellent results in extracting hard-to-reach oil is attracting the attention of many large operators. Ancient, resident microbes are used to liberate large oil deposits in depleted reservoirs, thanks to science uncovered by studying the humble Australian koala. Roger Findlay, Organic Oil Recovery It began in almost outlandish fashion, with a scientist’s fascination with the complex digestive system of an Australian marsupial, the koala. Today, it has evolved into a green technology that is helping major producers around the world potentially reach billions of dollars of oil that they feared they could never access or bring to the surface. As the pressure on the oil and gas industry continues to grow, to find new ways to operate with less impact on the environment, Organic Oil Recovery (OOR) is reducing the need for further exploration. Instead, it is helping producers focus on the reservoirs already in situ to extract even more precious resource—at very low cost—from deep below the ground or seas, across a myriad of jurisdictions and geographies.

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Chemical Management

We need a global agreement that sets targets for reducing plastic waste

Article | July 13, 2021

What follows is an entirely personal take on the challenge of plastic waste and does not represent the views of ICIS or any other expert opinion I have sought out. The views are put forward in the spirit of debate as we move forward, as an industry, to solve the crisis of plastic waste.

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Chemical Technology

Organic Catalyst Boasts Big Benefits

Article | July 14, 2022

An enzyme-mimicking catalyst opens a new route to important organic molecules such as glycolic acid and amino acids from pyruvate, report researchers in Japan. Moreover, the new catalyst is cheaper, more stable, safer and more environmentally friendly than conventional metal catalysts used in industry, they note, adding that it also displays the high enantioselectivity required by the pharmaceutical industry. “On top of these advantages, our newly developed organic catalyst system also promotes reactions using pyruvate that aren’t easily achievable using metal catalysts,” says Santanu Mondal, a PhD candidate in the chemistry and chemical bioengineering unit at Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology (OIST) Graduate University, Okinawa, Japan, and lead author of a study recently published in Organic Letters. “Organic catalysts, in particular, are set to revolutionize the industry and make chemistry more sustainable,” he stresses. The researchers use an acid and an amine mixture to force the pyruvate to act as an electron donor rather than its usual role as an electron receiver (Figure 1). Effectively mimicking how enzymes work, the amine binds to the pyruvate to make an intermediate molecule. The organic acid then covers up part of the intermediate molecule while leaving another part that can donate electrons free to react to form a new product. Currently, the organic catalyst system only works when reacting pyruvate with a specific class of organic molecule called cyclic imines. So, the researchers now are looking to develop a more-universal catalyst, i.e., one that can speed up reactions between pyruvate and a broad range of organic molecules. The challenge here is to try to make the electron-donating intermediate stage of pyruvate react with other functional groups such as aldehydes and ketones. However, different catalysts create different intermediates, all with different properties. For example, the enamine intermediate created by the researchers’ new reaction only reacts with cyclic imines. Their hypothesis, currently being investigated, is that creation of other intermediates such as an enolate, if possible, would achieve a broader pyruvate reactivity. In terms of cost, the researchers note that a palladium catalyst used in similar reactions is 25 times more expensive than their organic acid — which also is made from eco-friendly quinine. In addition, they believe scale-up of the process for industrial use definitely is possible. However, the researchers caution that the current amine-to-acid-catalyst loading ratio of 1:2 probably would need to be optimized for better results at a larger scale.

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Chemical Technology

Closing the loop: Real-time measurement of oil in water for process facilities

Article | May 10, 2021

When an oilfield’s reservoir pressure is depleted during primary recovery, additional oil can be recovered by recycling the produced water and injecting it back into the reservoir. Water management is critical for such water and water-alternating-gas (WAG) floods. In its Permian basin operations, Occidental recovers, recycles, and re-injects large volumes of water for its enhanced oil recovery (EOR) operations. With real-time monitoring of oil in water (OiW) delivering reliable and continuous data, Occidental identified a way to optimize the recovery process and is working with NOV to expand the use of OiW monitoring equipment.

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Spotlight

Air Liquide

Provider of specialty gases and chemicals for semi-conductor and solar panel industries, with over 5,000 employees in the U.S. Air Liquide has signed an agreement to acquire Voltaix Inc., a U.S. based electronics materials company. The acquisition is expected to close later this summer, pending applicable regulatory approvals. Founded in 1986, Voltaix is a manufacturer of materials used in the production of semiconductor devices and advanced solar cells, with expertise and global stewardship in silicon, germanium, and boron chemistries. It operates manufacturing facilities in the U.S. in Branchburg (New Jersey), High Springs (Florida) and Portland (Pennsylvania) and in South Korea in Sejong-si (South Chungcheong Province). The company employs 185 employees.

Related News

NGOs file suit over transparency of TSCA new chemicals programme

Chemical Watch | March 18, 2020

A coalition of NGOs has sued the US EPA over an alleged lack of transparency in the TSCA new chemicals programme, which "thwart[s] the ability of the public to be informed and to provide input". According to a complaint filed by five environmental nonprofits in federal court today, the EPA has operated its TSCA premanufacture review process in a "black box, denying the public information to which they are legally entitled". Having access to timely information, they contend, is necessary to ensure the members they represent "are able to provide input on the potential risks of new chemicals and the need for protections from those risks prior to completion of EPA’s reviews." And they therefore have asked the court to ensure that the EPA complies with TSCA’s disclosure provisions, including by requiring that it:

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ACC to Trump, governors: Keep chemical industry going during coronavirus crisis

S&P Global | March 18, 2020

The US chemical industry's trade group told President Donald Trump and state governors this week that its sector must maintain operations as the coronavirus outbreak spreads to ensure supply of chemicals needed for disinfectants, plastics for food preservation and medical equipment, and staples like diapers and soap. "The role of chemistry is particularly important today, as chemicals enable countless products that will be needed to support good hygiene and treat those who are infected with the coronavirus in the weeks and months ahead," American Chemistry Council President and CEO Chris Jahn said in a letter to Trump and governors late Tuesday. Efforts to hinder the spread of coronavirus have included cancellations of major sporting events, concerts, conferences, parades, and other large gatherings, as well as closures of bars and limiting restaurants to takeout and deliveries. Companies have increasingly sent employees to work from their homes, while hospitals, grocery stores, and drug stores work to keep up with demand for care and products.

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How small chemical company leaders are dealing with the coronavirus

C&EN | March 17, 2020

As measures to contain the coronavirus—SARS-CoV-2—sweep across the US, the heads of privately owned chemical and instrument companies find themselves in uncharted territory trying to keep their companies going and their employees safe. C&EN reached out to CEOs of several such firms to learn what they are doing to keep business moving forward. We heard stories about setbacks, as expected supplies didn’t come through, but also small triumphs, as needed safety equipment was finally found. Overall, these leaders are keeping a close eye on supplies while planning for the real possibility that orders will drop in the coming months. Keeping staff healthy and maintaining continuity in customer service are the top priorities at Boron Specialties. “We are a pretty small facility, seven people &on-site&, so as best as we can we’re isolating,” CEO and founder Beth Bosley says.

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NGOs file suit over transparency of TSCA new chemicals programme

Chemical Watch | March 18, 2020

A coalition of NGOs has sued the US EPA over an alleged lack of transparency in the TSCA new chemicals programme, which "thwart[s] the ability of the public to be informed and to provide input". According to a complaint filed by five environmental nonprofits in federal court today, the EPA has operated its TSCA premanufacture review process in a "black box, denying the public information to which they are legally entitled". Having access to timely information, they contend, is necessary to ensure the members they represent "are able to provide input on the potential risks of new chemicals and the need for protections from those risks prior to completion of EPA’s reviews." And they therefore have asked the court to ensure that the EPA complies with TSCA’s disclosure provisions, including by requiring that it:

Read More

ACC to Trump, governors: Keep chemical industry going during coronavirus crisis

S&P Global | March 18, 2020

The US chemical industry's trade group told President Donald Trump and state governors this week that its sector must maintain operations as the coronavirus outbreak spreads to ensure supply of chemicals needed for disinfectants, plastics for food preservation and medical equipment, and staples like diapers and soap. "The role of chemistry is particularly important today, as chemicals enable countless products that will be needed to support good hygiene and treat those who are infected with the coronavirus in the weeks and months ahead," American Chemistry Council President and CEO Chris Jahn said in a letter to Trump and governors late Tuesday. Efforts to hinder the spread of coronavirus have included cancellations of major sporting events, concerts, conferences, parades, and other large gatherings, as well as closures of bars and limiting restaurants to takeout and deliveries. Companies have increasingly sent employees to work from their homes, while hospitals, grocery stores, and drug stores work to keep up with demand for care and products.

Read More

How small chemical company leaders are dealing with the coronavirus

C&EN | March 17, 2020

As measures to contain the coronavirus—SARS-CoV-2—sweep across the US, the heads of privately owned chemical and instrument companies find themselves in uncharted territory trying to keep their companies going and their employees safe. C&EN reached out to CEOs of several such firms to learn what they are doing to keep business moving forward. We heard stories about setbacks, as expected supplies didn’t come through, but also small triumphs, as needed safety equipment was finally found. Overall, these leaders are keeping a close eye on supplies while planning for the real possibility that orders will drop in the coming months. Keeping staff healthy and maintaining continuity in customer service are the top priorities at Boron Specialties. “We are a pretty small facility, seven people &on-site&, so as best as we can we’re isolating,” CEO and founder Beth Bosley says.

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