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.

Spotlight

The periodic table just got four new elements, but this isn't as groundbreaking as recent headlines would have you believe. Join Speaking of Chemistry's resident killjoy to find out why. Seriously, though, this is some really cool chemistry. We want to thank C&EN's elemental expert Jyllian Kemsley and chemist/chemical linguist Shawn Burdette of Worcester Polytechnic Institute for their help with this episode. If you want more Speaking of Chemistry, like us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/SpeakingOfChem


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CHEMICAL MANAGEMENT

Sonoco Participates in European Recycling Trials That Show Digital Watermarking Yields Accurate Container Sortation Results

Sonoco Products Company | June 27, 2022

The first HolyGrail 2.0 sorting prototype was successfully validated in March this year following semi-industrial trials, using NIR and digital watermarks detection to sort packaging waste with a 99 percent detection rate and the potential to develop new, more granular post-consumer recycling streams. The Digital Watermarks Initiative HolyGrail 2.0, driven by AIM – European Brands Association, and powered by the Alliance to End Plastic Waste, has the goal of assessing whether the digital watermarks technology can enable better sorting and higher-quality recycling rates for packaging in the EU. Today, more than 160 partners across the value chain are working together to refine and commercialize this concept. Sonoco, one of the largest global sustainable packaging companies, is a member of the HolyGrail 2.0 initiative to prove the viability of digital watermarking for sorting packaging waste and the business case at scale, likely with global implications. Trials in Copenhagen found that using digital watermarks on packaging resulted in 98 - 100 percent being correctly detected, with a subsequent total ejection rate of 90 - 100 percent. During the live trial in a mix of five different packaging types of various brands, 96 percent of Sonoco’s rigid paper containers were correctly detected and ejected. This demonstrates an additional approach to sort Sonoco’s EnviroCan™ rigid paper containers into the paper recycling stream. “At Sonoco, we recognize the critical importance of developing sustainable packaging solutions that will protect and preserve our planet for future generations. We are proud to be a member of the HolyGrail 2.0 initiative and are pleased with this successful trial to further our sustainable packaging portfolio. We are committed to advancing sortation and recycling of packaging of all types.” Jeff Schuetz, Staff Vice President, Consumer Technology Imperceptible postage stamp sized, digital watermarks on packaging aim to make it possible to effectively sort the material into specific waste streams. Conventional sorting technologies are not able to reliably identify multi-material packaging, so they can end up in the wrong recycling streams or drop to the refuse stream all together. With this new digital watermarking technology, it becomes possible to separate materials more accurately into distinct streams, even in cases of multi-material packaging. It is even possible to distinguish between packaging coming from food and non-food applications, which becomes increasingly important for the use of recycled material in new packaging. With the trials in Copenhagen, Sonoco can show high compatibility of its rigid paper containers using this technology across all sizes and material specifications. About Sonoco Founded in 1899, Sonoco is a global provider of consumer, industrial, healthcare and protective packaging. With net sales of approximately $5.6 billion in 2021, the Company has approximately 22,000 employees working in more than 300 operations in 32 countries, serving some of the world’s best-known brands in some 85 nations. Sonoco is committed to creating sustainable products, services and programs for its customers, employees and communities that support our corporate purpose of Better Packaging. Better Life. The Company ranked first in the Packaging sector on Fortune’s World’s Most Admired Companies for 2022 as well as being included in Barron’s 100 Most Sustainable Companies for the third consecutive year.

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CHEMICAL MANAGEMENT

Novoloop Extends Series A Round To $21M

Novoloop | June 03, 2022

Advanced upcycling startup Novoloop expands its Series A to $21 million through an oversubscribed extension led by Mistletoe Singapore and Hanwha Solutions. This nearly doubles the company's raise of $11 million announced in February, which sparked additional investor interest. "This round brings together mission-driven financial investors and industry strategics who believe in our vision of a circular economy for plastics. We're thrilled to make that vision a reality by leveraging their access to resources and markets around the world." CEO Miranda Wang The round's investors are decarbonizing energy, textiles, construction, and other industries across Europe, Asia, and the US. Valo Ventures' anchor LP Fortum is a hundred-year-old, publicly-listed clean energy and resource efficiency solution provider headquartered in Finland; SOSV is the world's leader in climate tech investing; Drive Catalyst is the corporate venture arm of the Far Eastern Group, a global player in the polyester and textile industries and PET recycling headquartered in Taiwan; and Alante Capital and S CAP are climate investors focused on deep tech. "Leading this round was obvious," said Taizo Son, founder of Mistletoe. "After seeing Novoloop emerge from R&D with a product that solves real world problems, Mistletoe is a firm believer in the financial and environmental impact the company will create. We're already looking at ways to amplify this impact in places that really need it like Asian countries where the economy is fast-growing and the waste problem is serious." Novoloop uses its proprietary ATOD™ technology to make high-performance chemicals and materials from polyethylene, which is the most commonly used yet least recycled plastic. Their first product, Oistre™ (pronounced OYST-rah), is the world's only thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) made from post-consumer waste that matches the performance of TPUs derived from petrochemicals. With a carbon footprint up to 46% smaller than conventional TPUs, Oistre won the Plastics Industry Association's 2022 People's Choice award for Sustainable Plastic Innovation. It also put Novoloop in the World Economic Forum's 100 most promising Technology Pioneers of 2022. "Hanwha has done an extensive assessment of the advanced plastic recycling landscape. Novoloop's technology is solid and unique," said Hanwha Solutions' spokesman. "We look forward to collaborating with Novoloop on upcycling carbon content in waste for the circular economy." Novoloop will use the capital to begin developing industrial capabilities. Key initiatives include scaling up pilot production to make Oistre more readily available for customers in footwear, apparel, sporting goods, automotive, and electronics. It will also set up a feedstock pretreatment unit to assess the quality of post-consumer plastic waste from material recovery sources. Other Series A investors announced earlier this year include Envisioning Partners, Bemis Associates, and TIME Ventures. About Novoloop Novoloop was founded in 2015 to deliver quality chemicals and materials made from plastic waste through ATOD™, their patented, low-carbon upcycling technology. By transforming hard-to-recycle plastic waste into virgin-quality materials, Novoloop offers superior sustainability and performance at competitive pricing. With their upcycled product Oistre™, Novoloop provides thermoplastic polyurethane solutions for footwear, sporting goods, automotive and more. To learn more, visit novoloop.com and oistre.com. About Hanwha Solutions Hanwha Solutions aims to deliver sustainable solutions for the planet through smart energy solutions and customer-focused materials. The Company operates its business through five divisions: Qcells, Chemical, Advanced Materials, Galleria and City Development. The Qcells Division offers total energy solutions from photovoltaic module manufacturing, power plant operation to electricity retailing service. The Chemical Division, the first in Korea to produce polyvinyl chloride (PVC), manufactures various chemical products and eco-friendly plasticizers. The Advanced Materials Division produces high-tech materials for automotive, photovoltaic and electronic devices. The Galleria Division, an operator of premium department store chain, provides premium fashion and food services. The City Development Division is a leading real estate developer specializing in industrial complexes. With its innovative technologies for sustainable growth, Hanwha Solutions strives to become a global leader in bringing a better future for humanity. About Mistletoe Founded by Taizo Son, Mistletoe is a Collective Impact Community based in Japan and Singapore with a mission to create a sustainable human-centered future using deep technologies. Their international community comprises more than 400 entrepreneurs, investors, researchers, and visionaries who are at the forefront of the global startup movement. They are building an environment for various talents to come together and discover solutions to societal challenges that are impossible for single companies to solve alone.

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CHEMICAL TECHNOLOGY

Ricardo Innovative Climate-Repairing Carbon Negative Technology to Support National Energy Security

Ricardo | July 12, 2022

As part of its mission to support the decarbonisation of the global energy sector, Ricardo, a world-class, strategic environmental and engineering consulting company, has received 3million GBP from the UK Government to design, install and operate a combined heat and power demonstrator plant with a carbon negative footprint which will showcase climate repairing technology. The plant will demonstrate the effectiveness of community scale greenhouse gas removal and clean energy using sustainably-sourced forestry waste. The funding is awarded through the Net Zero Innovation Portfolio under the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. Ricardo is leading the consortium delivering the demonstrator plant. The consortium combines an innovative carbon capture system developed by Ricardo with the hot air turbine technology from Bluebox Energy and pyrolysis technology from Woodtek Engineering. The quarter-sized demonstrator plant, which will be located at Holmsted Farm in West Sussex in the UK, will be commissioned and operational in 2023. It will demonstrate not only a highly innovative greenhouse gas removal technology, that in the full-size system can generate renewable heat and electricity for up to 300 local homes and businesses, but also a realistic carbon negative technology that can significantly contribute to net zero targets. “Ricardo is a trusted advisor to governments around the world on climate change policy and the transition to clean energy, and is also well known for its mission to decarbonise the global transport and energy sectors. In partnership with Bluebox Energy and Woodtek Engineering, this project will demonstrate that our innovative and integrated carbon capture system can be used to benefit local communities, bolster the UK’s reputation as a pioneer in negative emission technologies, and provide a sustainable and commercially viable pathway to net-zero while also delivering national energy security.” Tim Curtis, Managing Director, Ricardo Energy and Environment Ricardo’s project is one of several across the UK which will benefit from a share of over 54 million GBP to develop technologies that remove carbon emissions from the atmosphere. Announcing this investment, UK Government’s Energy and Climate Change Minister Greg Hands said: “This 54 million GBP government investment will help establish a greenhouse gas removal industry in the UK, which could be worth billions to our economy, bringing in private investment and supporting the creation of new green jobs.” The technology works by taking sustainably sourced waste wood from domestic timber production and then processing it in three ways: producing biochar (a product similar to charcoal); generating heat and power; and capturing carbon dioxide from the exhaust. The technology, therefore, captures around 95% of the carbon content in the wood. It also produces commercially marketable carbon products: the biochar can be used by farmers to enrich soil and add to animal feed to reduce ruminant emissions. The industrial-grade carbon dioxide can either be used for making low-carbon concrete or in the food and drinks industry to replace carbon dioxide derived from industrial processes which rely on imported natural gas. A full-size system will remove 16,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year from the atmosphere. Ricardo has been collaborating with Bluebox Energy since June 2020 to deliver innovative technologies that support the transition to a low carbon future. This project is a further boost to Ricardo’s credentials in tackling climate change and meeting national net zero targets. Ricardo is currently actively supporting clients in Europe in innovative carbon capture technologies and has advised the UK Government on the potential of bioenergy with carbon capture in the UK. Ricardo supports clients across a wide range of industries develop their industrial decarbonisation plans on the route to net zero. About Ricardo Ricardo plc is a world-class strategic, environmental, and engineering consulting company, listed on the London Stock Exchange. With over 100 years of engineering excellence and employing close to 3,000 employees in more than 20 countries, we provide exceptional levels of expertise in delivering leading-edge and innovative cross-sector sustainable products and solutions. Every day, we enable our customers to solve the most complex and dynamic challenges to help achieve a safe and sustainable world. Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy This funding has been made available from the government’s £1 billion Net Zero Innovation Portfolio, which looks to accelerate the commercialisation of low-carbon technologies and systems, through its Direct Air Capture and Greenhouse Gas Removal Innovation Competition. This competition will provide funding for developing technologies that enable the removal of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere in the UK.

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CHEMICAL MANAGEMENT

Aramco and Cognite Join Forces in New Data Venture

Aramco and Cognite | June 20, 2022

Aramco and Cognite, a global leader in industrial software, have launched CNTXT, a joint venture based in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Headquartered in Riyadh, CNTXT will support industrial digitalization in the Kingdom and the wider MENA region. CNTXT will provide digital transformation services enabled by advanced cloud solutions and leading industrial software. These solutions and services will help companies in the public and private sectors future-proof their data infrastructure, increase revenue, cut costs, and reduce risks while enhancing operational sustainability and security. CNTXT is Google Cloud’s reseller for cloud solutions in the Kingdom and the exclusive reseller of Cognite Data Fusion® in the MENA region. Additionally, Google Cloud is expected to launch a “Center of Excellence” later this year to provide training to developers and business leaders on how to use cloud technologies. Led by Abdullah Jarwan, appointed CEO of CNTXT, and a management team of local and international talent, CNTXT plans to significantly grow the team this year in hopes of becoming the top tech employer in the Kingdom. The launch of CNTXT is a major milestone in the collaboration between Aramco and Aker ASA, the majority owner of Cognite. The partnership began in 2019 with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to develop synergies and share knowledge on industrial digitalization and sustainability initiatives. Ahmad A. Al-Sa'adi, senior vice president of Technical Services at Aramco, said: “CNTXT brings together industrial legacy, unmatched technology, and a truly talented team that will aid in the digitalization of the public and private sectors in the Kingdom. CNTXT will be an important catalyst of digitalization of the Kingdom.” Øyvind Eriksen, president of Aker ASA and chair of the Cognite Board of Directors, said: “CNTXT will be an important vehicle for driving profitability and sustainability of the Kingdom’s industries through innovative use of technology. I look forward to seeing the company accelerate the digital transformation of the most important sectors in the region.” Abdullah Jarwan, CEO of CNTXT, said: “The untapped potential in the digital transformation of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the greater Middle East is enormous. With Google Cloud and Cognite offerings in our portfolio, we can help the public and private sectors innovate faster, scale AI-driven solutions, and turn data into value.” Abdul Rahman Al Thehaiban, managing director, Middle East, Turkey, and Africa, Google Cloud, said: “Businesses all around the world turn to Google Cloud to enable growth and help them solve their most business-critical challenges. With CNTXT as Google Cloud’s reseller in the Kingdom, we will be leveraging the latest technologies and decades of expertise to help businesses grow and develop safely and securely.” About Aramco Aramco is a global integrated energy and chemicals company. We are driven by the core belief that energy is opportunity. From producing approximately one in every eight barrels of the world’s oil supply to developing new energy technologies, our global team is dedicated to creating impact in all that we do. We focus on making our resources more dependable, more sustainable and more useful. This helps promote stability and long-term growth around the world. About CNTXT Founded in 2022 and based in Saudi Arabia, CNTXT is a joint venture between Aramco and Cognite that delivers premium cloud and digital transformation products and services in the Middle East and North Africa. CNTXT’s digital offerings, including Google Cloud and Cognite Data Fusion, enable customers to achieve greater efficiency, sustainability, and profitability throughout their digital transformation journeys. About Cognite Cognite is a global industrial SaaS company that was established with one clear vision: to rapidly empower industrial companies with contextualized, trustworthy, and accessible data to help drive the full-scale digital transformation of asset-heavy industries around the world. Our core Industrial DataOps platform, Cognite Data Fusion®, enables industrial data and domain users to collaborate quickly and safely to develop, operationalize, and scale industrial AI solutions and applications to deliver both profitability and sustainability.

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Spotlight

The periodic table just got four new elements, but this isn't as groundbreaking as recent headlines would have you believe. Join Speaking of Chemistry's resident killjoy to find out why. Seriously, though, this is some really cool chemistry. We want to thank C&EN's elemental expert Jyllian Kemsley and chemist/chemical linguist Shawn Burdette of Worcester Polytechnic Institute for their help with this episode. If you want more Speaking of Chemistry, like us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/SpeakingOfChem

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