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Friday, 20 January 2017

Chemists create new type of nanomaterial

EVANSTON, US: A team of chemists led by Northwestern University’s William Dichtel has cooked up something big: The scientists have created an entirely new type of nanomaterial and watched it form in real time — a chemistry first.
“Our work sets the stage for researchers interested in studying the fundamental properties of interesting materials and applied systems, such as solar cells, batteries, sensors, paints and drug delivery systems. The findings have enormous implications for how chemists and materials scientists think about nanotechnology and their science in general,” said Dichtel, the Robert Letsinger professor of chemistry at the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences.
The researchers made covalent organic frameworks (COFs) that are stable — a major development. These strong, stiff polymers with an abundance of tiny pores are suitable for storing all kinds of things, including energy, drugs and other cargo. But what limits COFs from realising these applications is that they are usually prepared as powdery substances that can’t be processed into useful forms.
In this study, the nanoparticles stay suspended in a liquid “ink,” creating a new nanomaterial called a COF colloid. This structure allows the unique materials to be processed into useful forms, such as films of arbitrary size and thickness.
Also, for the first time, the chemists demonstrated that the “cooking,” or heating up, of the ingredients for the nanomaterial can take place inside the imaging tool itself, in this case, a powerful microscope called a transmission electron microscope. With this new technique, Dichtel and his team could study how molecules come together to form COF colloids.
The field of COF is only a decade old, and much needs to be learned about how the porous polymers form and how to keep them stable. Dichtel is a leader in the young field, focused on bringing unprecedented functionality and improved stability to COFs.
The study is published in the journal ACS Central Science. Dichtel is a corresponding author of the study.
The COF colloids are nanoparticles (approximately 50 nanometers in diameter, roughly the size of a virus) made from any number of building blocks in a predictable way. The COF colloids also feature small pores, whose size, shape and chemical groups can be designed precisely. (Each pore is approximately 2.5 nanometers wide, big enough to hold a variety of cargo.)
“This is about as close to useful ‘molecular LEGOs’ as I’ve seen,” Dichtel said. “Being able to keep these materials stable in solution is a major step forward towards taking advantage of their unique combination of properties.”
For the study, Dichtel teamed up with Nathan Gianneschi at the University of California, San Diego, who has developed cutting-edge analysis techniques. Gianneschi, a professor of chemistry and biochemistry, is also a corresponding author of the paper.
Dichtel and Gianneschi developed a new way to watch COF colloids form inside a transmission electron microscope, another major advancement.
The inability to observe reactions as they occur using electron microscopy has been a major limitation, Gianneschi said. Usually, samples have to be dried or frozen to use this technique. The microscopy in this study opens the door to a new dimension: allowing scientists to initiate and observe materials as they form in real time.
“This is something that is routine on the macro scale, of course, but has eluded chemists, biologists and physicists at the nanoscale,” Gianneschi added.
The Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation and the US Army Research Office supported the research.
Read More: Chemists create new type of nanomaterial

FMC appoints new director for agricultural solutions, Latin America

PHILADELPHIA, US: FMC Corporation has appointed Ronaldo Pereira as vice president and business director, Latin America for agricultural solutions, and president, FMC Latin America, effective immediately. Pereira most recently served as general manager, Brazil, Agricultural Solutions.
Pereira succeeds Antonio Zem, who retired from FMC after a 38-year distinguished career.
Pereira is uniquely qualified to lead FMC's Latin America business having served extensively in marketing, business development and commercial leadership roles. He joined FMC in 1995 and progressed through a series of market and business development roles in Latin America as well as strategic marketing for FMC's global agricultural business. He also served as Latin America South business director for agricultural solutions and was general manager for Rotam Cropsciences in Brazil. 
Read More: FMC appoints new director for agricultural solutions, Latin America

Quick ceramic-metal processing technology for superior composites

COLLEGE STATION, US: Recent advancements in automotive, aerospace and power generation industries have inspired materials scientists to engineer innovative materials. Ceramic-metal composites or cermets are an example of a new and improved class of materials that can enhance transportation and energy conversion technologies.
Cermets combine useful properties from each of their primary constituent materials such as high-temperature stability of ceramics and machinability and ductility of metals. However, cermets are effective only if their constituent materials do not react with each other during their processing.
Researchers at Texas A&M University have developed a rapid and efficient technology that enables processing ceramics and metals together into cermets with little to no reaction between constituent materials. This breakthrough opens the possibilities for development of new and superior composite materials.
Most ceramics and metals are unstable when combined at high temperatures and are known to react with each other, leaving the final composite materials with undesirable properties such as brittleness or low-temperature resistance.
“This severely limits the number of new composite materials that can be developed for our growing needs,” said Dr Miladin Radovic, associate professor and associate department head in the department of materials science and engineering.
The research is published in the journals Scientific Reports.
Radovic along with Dr Ibrahim Karaman, Chevron Professor I and head of the materials science and engineering department, and former doctoral students Dr Liangfa Hu and Dr Ankush Kothalkar, and Morgan O’Neil, an undergraduate student in the department of mechanical engineering, have developed the current-activated pressure-assisted infiltration (CAPAI) method to combine ceramics and metals resulting in stable, high performance composites.
In only nine seconds, the CAPAI method combines ceramics and metals with little to no reaction between constituent materials. It uses electric current to instantly heat the metal and applied pressure to drive the molten metal into foam made of ceramic.
In their primary study, the researchers selected aluminium for its light weight, corrosion resistance and popularity in automotive and aerospace industries, and ceramic foams of titanium aluminium carbide (Ti2AlC) for their good fracture toughness, electrical and thermal conductivity, and combined them into lightweight cermets with high strength and good temperature stability.
“The electric current and the pressure together provided simultaneous heating and pressure that actively drove the molten metals into the ceramic preform. The fast and controllable heating rate, which was as high as 700 degrees Celsius, offered an easy and efficient way to avoid reactions between ceramics and molten metal,” said Radovic.
The researchers discovered that the resulting composite (Ti3AlC3/Al) was lightweight with competitive mechanical properties at both ambient (room) temperatures and elevated temperatures. It was 10 times stronger at room temperatures and 14 times stronger at 400 degrees Celsius than aluminium alloys and was less prone to severe degradation after exposure to high temperatures.
“Both aluminium and titanium aluminium carbides challenged the conventional methods for producing desirable composite materials because they react to each other at a temperature that is well beyond that needed to combine them in the composite material,” added Radovic. “The CAPAI method allowed processing novel ceramic-metal composites which could not otherwise be obtained using powder metallurgy and conventional infiltration techniques.”
Radovic is optimistic about the limitless opportunities that new and advanced composite materials will offer for both economical and sustainable manufacturing on an industrial scale.
The research was funded by US Air Force Office of Scientific Research, Multidisciplinary Research Program of the University Research Initiative (MURI).
Read More: Quick ceramic-metal processing technology for superior composites

Martin Pugh to retire as COO of Trinseo

BERWYN, US: Trinseo, a global materials company said that Martin Pugh, currently the executive vice president and chief operating officer (COO), will retire, effective 1 March.
The COO position was established as an interim role in 2015 while Trinseo integrated a number of strategic initiatives into the business. The company will not be replacing Pugh in the COO role, as these initiatives have been completed.
Tim Stedman (senior vice president and Business President for basic plastics and feedstocks) and Hayati Yarkadas (senior vice president and business president for performance materials), will now report directly to Chris Pappas, president and CEO of Trinseo.
With a career in the chemical industry spanning nearly 40 years, Pugh has made exceptional contributions to business leadership, marketing management and sales roles around the world. Pugh joined Trinseo (known as Styron at that time) in March 2013 as senior VP and business president for Plastics and later served as SVP and Business President for Performance Materials. During his stay in the company, he held a various leadership position.  
“Martin is a trusted business executive, a respected industry leader, and a friend. In his four years with Trinseo, he has truly made his mark by propelling the company’s evolution and growth to become the successful enterprise it is today. His wisdom, strategic insights and leadership excellence will be missed by Trinseo colleagues and customers alike, and we wish him all the best in his retirement,” said Pappas.
Read More: Martin Pugh to retire as COO of Trinseo

OMC: A new material to trap radioactive elements from water

HOUSTON, US/ KAZAN, RUSSIA: Researchers at Rice University and Kazan Federal University (KFU) in Russia have found a way to extract radioactivity from water and said their discovery could help purify the hundreds of millions of gallons of contaminated water stored after the Fukushima nuclear plant accident.
They stated that their oxidatively modified carbon (OMC) material is low-cost and highly efficient at absorbing radioactive metal cations, including cesium and strontium, toxic elements released into the environment when the Fukushima plant melted down after an earthquake and tsunami in March 2011.
OMC can easily trap common radioactive elements found in water floods from oil extraction, such as uranium, thorium and radium, said Rice chemist James Tour, who led the project with Ayrat Dimiev, a research professor at KFU.
The material makes good use of the porous nature of two specific sources of carbon. One is an inexpensive, coke-derived powder known as C-seal F, used by the oil industry as an additive to drilling fluids. The other is a naturally occurring, a carbon-heavy mineral called shungite found mainly in Russia, Tour said.
The results are published in the journal Carbon.
Treating the carbon particles with oxidising chemicals increased their surface areas and decorated them with the oxygen molecules needed to adsorb the toxic metals. The particles were between 10 and 80 microns wide.
While graphene oxide excelled at removing strontium, the two types of OMC were better at extracting cesium, which he said has been the hardest element to remove from water stored at Fukushima. The OMC was also much easier and less expensive to synthesise and to use in a standard filtration system, he said.
“We know we can use graphene oxide to trap the light radioactive elements of relevance to the Fukushima cleanup, namely cesium and strontium,” Tour said. “But in the second study, we learned we can move from graphene oxide, which remains more expensive and harder to make, to really cheap oxidised coke and related carbons to trap these elements.”
While other materials used for remediation of radioactive waste need to be stored with the waste they capture, carbon presents a distinct advantage. Carbon that has captured the elements can be burned in a nuclear incinerator, leaving only a very small amount of radioactive ash that’s much easier to store,” Tour said.
“Just passing contaminated water through OMC filters will extract the radioactive elements and permit safe discharge to the ocean,” he said. “This could be a major advance for the cleanup effort at Fukushima.”
The two flavours of OMC particles – one from coke-derived carbon and the other from shungite — look like balls of crumpled paper, or roses with highly irregular petals. The researchers tested them by mixing the sorbents with contaminated water as well as through column filtration, a standard process in which fluid is pumped or pulled by gravity through a filter to remove contaminants.
In the mixing test, the labs dispersed nonradioactive isotopes of strontium and cesium in spring water, added OMC and stirred for two hours. After filtering out the sorbent, they measured the particles left in the water.
OMC1 (from coke) proved best at removing both cesium and strontium from contaminated water, getting significantly better as the sorbent was increased. A maximum 800 milligrammes of OMC1 removed about 83 percent of cesium and 68 percent of strontium from 100 millilitres of water, they reported.
OMC2 (from shungite) in the same concentrations adsorbed 70 percent of cesium and 47 percent of strontium.
“Interestingly, plain shungite was used by local people for water purification from ancient times. But we have increased its efficiency many times, as well as revealed the factors behind its effectiveness,” Dimiev said.
In column filtration tests, which involved flowing 1,400 millilitres of contaminated water through an OMC filter in 100-milliliter amounts, the filter removed nearly 93 percent of cesium and 92 percent of strontium in a single pass. The researchers were able to contain and isolate contaminants trapped in the filter material.
Co-authors of the paper are Artur Khannanov, Vadim Nekljudov, Bulat Gareev and Airat Kiiamov, all of the KFU. 
The Russian Government Program of Competitive Growth of KFU supported the research.
Read More: OMC: A new material to trap radioactive elements from water

US Water names current VP as its new CEO

ST MICHAEL, US: US Water Services Inc, a wholly owned subsidiary of Allete Inc has named current senior executive vice president of marketing and strategy, LaMarr Barnes as its new chief executive officer (CEO).
Barnes replaces former CEO Allan Bly, who resigned his position after a 20-year career with the company.
Barnes has more than 25 years of experience in industrial water treatment and technology management. Hired in 2010 as VP of marketing, Barnes assumed added responsibilities as VP of marketing and business development before being named senior executive VP of marketing and strategy in 2015. Barnes is recognised as an expert in plant operations and integrated water treatment program applications.
“I sincerely thank Al Bly for his service to US Water as one of the company’s co-founders and leading our organization as CEO, and wish him the best in his new endeavours,” said Barnes.
“I look forward to assuming the role of CEO and working with our talented employees on continuing customer service excellence and enhancements to our innovative products and services. Our initial focus will be on ensuring an effective transition and maintaining U.S. Water’s growth in an expanding market,” added Barnes.
Bob Adams, incoming Allete chief financial officer and chief risk officer, echoed Barnes’ thanks to Bly, and said he is confident in Barnes’ leadership and knowledge of US Water’s culture and customers.
“We foresee a seamless transition as LaMarr and the U.S. Water leadership team continues to seek growth opportunities by providing sustainable solutions for customers. Allete believes the demand for sustainable water management solutions will increase as large users seek ways to enhance efficiency and improve their bottom line,” concluded Adams.
Read More: US Water names current VP as its new CEO

New method could enhance drug discovery, protein study

LA JOLLA, US: A team led by scientists at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) has developed a versatile new method that would enhance the discovery of new drugs and the study of proteins.
The new method empowers researchers to quickly find small molecules that bind to hundreds of thousands of proteins in their native cellular environment. Such molecules, called ligands, can be developed into important tools for studying how proteins work in cells, which may lead to the development of new drugs.
The technique can be used even without prior knowledge of protein targets to discover ligand molecules that disrupt a biological process of interest—and to quickly identify the proteins to which they bind.
“This new platform should be useful not only for discovering new drugs but also for discovering new biology,” said co-lead author Christopher Parker, a research associate in the laboratory of TSRI professor Benjamin Cravatt, chairman of the department of chemical biology.
This research is published in the journal Cell.
Finding new partners for un-targetable proteins
About 25,000 proteins are encoded in the human genome, but public databases list known ligands for only about 10 percent of them. Biologists have long sought better tools for exploring this terra incognita.
The new method involves the development of a set of small, but structurally varied, candidate ligand molecules known as “fragments.” Each candidate ligand is modified with a special chemical compound so that, when it binds with moderate affinity to a protein partner, it can be made to stick permanently to that partner by a brief exposure to UV light. A further modification provides a molecular handle by which scientists can grab and isolate these ligand-protein pairs for analysis.
For a primary demonstration, the team assembled a small “library” of candidate ligands whose structural features include many that are found in existing drugs. By applying just 11 of them to human cells, the researchers identified more than 2,000 distinct proteins that had bound to one or more of the ligands.
These ligand-bound proteins include many from categories—such as transcription factors—that previously had been considered “un-ligandable” and therefore un-targetable with drugs. In fact, only 17 percent of these proteins have known ligands, according to the widely used DrugBank database.
The researchers used further methods to identify, for many ligand-protein interactions, the site on the protein where the coupling occurred.
The candidate ligands initially used to screen for protein binding partners are generally too small to bind to their partners tightly enough to disrupt their functions in cells. But the team showed that, in multiple cases, that these initial small (“fragment”) ligands could be developed into larger, more complex molecules that display higher affinity interactions and disrupt their protein partner’s functions.
A new type of functional screen
For a final demonstration, collaborating chemists at Bristol-Myers Squibb helped create a library of several hundred slightly more complex candidate ligands. With TSRI colleagues associate professor Enrique Saez and co-first author research associate Andrea Galmozzi, the team then tested these ligands to find any that could promote the maturation of fat cells (adipocytes)—a process that in principle can alleviate the insulin resistance that leads to type 2 diabetes.
Traditional functional screens of this type do not pinpoint the proteins or other molecules through which the effect on the cell occurs. But with this new discovery method, the researchers quickly found not only a ligand that strongly promotes adipocyte maturation but also its binding partner, PGRMC2, a protein about which little was known.
“We found a new ‘druggable’ pathway, and we also seem to have uncovered some new biology—despite the fact that adipocyte maturation and other diabetes-related pathways have been studied a lot already,” Parker said.
“With this method, we look forward to exploring much more thoroughly the druggability of human proteins and accelerating investigations of protein biology,” Cravatt added.
Co-authors of the study include TSRI’s Yujia Wang, Kenji Sasaki, Christopher Joslyn and Arthur S. Kim; Bruno Correia of Ecole Polytechnique Federal in Lausanne, Switzerland; and Cullen Cavallaro, Michael Lawrence and Stephen Johnson of Bristol-Myers Squibb.
The work was supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health.
Read More: New method could enhance drug discovery, protein study

PPG appoints current VP as its new chief financial officer

PITTSBURGH, US: PPG Industries Inc has appointed current vice president, finance, Vincent Morales as its new senior vice president (VP) and chief financial officer (CFO), effective 1 March.
Morales is replacing Frank Sklarsky as CFO, who has announced his retirement also effective 1 March. Morales will report to chairman and CEO Michael McGarry. Morales will also join PPG’s executive and operating committees.
Morales (51), joined PPG in 1985 and advanced through various finance roles of increasing responsibility in the company’s corporate controller’s function, shared financial service centre, plants and business units. He also served as VP, investor relations, and treasurer before assuming his current role as VP, finance.
“Throughout Vince’s more than 30 years at PPG, he has been a change agent and played a key role in our transformation to become a leading provider of paints, coatings and speciality materials. His appointment to this role recognises his leadership, demonstrated experience in finance, and deep understanding of PPG’s global businesses and strategies. In this new role, he will further assist PPG as we continue to grow and expand around the globe and work to create additional shareholder value,” said McGarry.

Thursday, 19 January 2017

Blood-repellent materials: A new tactic to medical implants

FORT COLLINS, US: Medical implants like stents, catheters and tubing introduce risk for blood clotting and infection – a perpetual problem for many patients.
Colorado State University (CSU) engineers offer a potential solution: A specially grown, “superhemophobic” titanium surface that’s extremely repellent to blood. The material could form the basis for surgical implants with a lower risk of rejection by the body.
Biomedical, materials approaches
It’s an outside-the-box innovation achieved at the intersection of two disciplines: biomedical engineering and materials science.
The work is published in the journal Advanced Healthcare Materials, is a collaboration between the labs of Arun Kota, assistant professor of mechanical engineering and biomedical engineering; and Ketul Popat, associate professor in the same departments.
Kota, an expert in a novel, “superomniphobic” materials that repel virtually any liquid, joined forces with Popat, an innovator in tissue engineering and bio-compatible materials. Starting with sheets of titanium, commonly used for medical devices, their labs grew chemically altered surfaces that act as perfect barriers between the titanium and blood. Their teams conducted experiments showing very low levels of platelet adhesion, a biological process that leads to blood clotting and eventual rejection of a foreign material.
Chemical compatibility
A material “phobic” (repellent) to blood might seem counterintuitive, the researchers say, as often biomedical scientists use materials “philic” (with affinity) to blood to make them biologically compatible.
“What we are doing is the exact opposite,” Kota said. “We are taking a material that blood hates to come in contact with, in order to make it compatible with blood.”
The key innovation is that the surface is so repellent, that blood is tricked into believing there’s virtually no foreign material there at all.
The undesirable interaction of blood with foreign materials is an ongoing problem in medical research, Popat said. Over time, stents can form clots, obstructions, and lead to heart attacks or embolisms. Often patients need blood-thinning medications for the rest of their lives – and the drugs aren’t foolproof.
“The reason blood clots are because it finds cells in the blood to go to and attach,” Popat said. “Normally, blood flows in vessels. If we can design materials where blood barely contacts the surface, there is virtually no chance of clotting, which is a coordinated set of events. Here, we’re targeting the prevention of the first set of events.”
The researchers analysed variations of titanium surfaces, including different textures and chemistries, and they compared the extent of platelet adhesion and activation. Fluorinated nanotubes offered the best protection against clotting, and they plan to conduct follow-up experiments.
Growing a surface and testing it in the lab is only the beginning, the researchers say. They want to continue examining other clotting factors, and eventually, to test real medical devices.
Read More: Blood-repellent materials: A new tactic to medical implants

LyondellBasell announces changes in leadership management

HOUSTON, US/ LONDON, UK: LyondellBasell Industries NV announced a planned executive leadership change.
After 7 years with LyondellBasell, Kevin Brown, executive vice president – manufacturing and refining and a member of the company's management board, has announced he will be retiring in mid-February.
Kevin will be replaced by Daniel Coombs, who currently serves as the executive VP– global olefins & polyolefins (O&P) and technology and is a member of the company's management board.
In addition to manufacturing and refining, in his new role, Coombs will have additional responsibility for the company's technology business, global projects, global engineering services and procurement functions. Coombs has more than 38 years of industry experience, including 22 years in manufacturing in US and the Middle East as well as major capital project management.
As a result of these changes, Paul Augustowski, currently senior vice president – O&P Americas, will no longer report to Coombs and will report directly to Bob Patel, LyondellBasell CEO and chairman of the management board.
Similarly, Richard Roudeix, currently senior VP– O&P Europe, also will report directly to Patel. Roudeix will expand his responsibilities to include the entire O&P Europe, Asia and International segment, which includes joint ventures and related marketing and PP compounding. In connection with these responsibilities, Roudeix's title will change to senior vice president – O&P Europe, Asia and International.
"Since joining the company in 2009, Kevin has played a key role in our company's success and development. His work has helped to establish a solid foundation for sustainable performance over the longer term and I want to thank him for his hard work and significant contributions," said Bob Patel.
"I am also very pleased that Daniel will be taking on this important role. Having a deep bench of quality talent like Daniel ensures a seamless transition of responsibilities," added Patel.
Read More: LyondellBasell announces changes in leadership management

Breakthrough in making plastic from pine trees

BATH, UK: Most current plastics are made from oil, which is unsustainable. But, researchers from the Centre for Sustainable Chemical Technologies (CSCT) at the University of Bath have developed a renewable plastic from a chemical called pinene found in pine needles.
Pinene is the fragrant chemical from the terpene family that gives pine trees their distinctive “Christmas smell” and is a waste product from the paper industry. The researchers hope the plastic could be used in a range of applications, including food packaging, plastic bags and even medical implants.
Creation of renewable plastics from trees
Degradable polyesters such as polylactic acid (PLA) are made from crops such as corn or sugar cane, but PLA can be mixed with a rubbery polymer called caprolactone to make it more flexible. Caprolactone is made from crude oil, and so the resulting plastic isn’t completely renewable.
Published in the journal Polymer Chemistry, the researchers used pinene as the raw material to make a new type of plastic that can be used in the place of caprolactone.
“We’re not talking about recycling old Christmas trees into plastics, but rather using a waste product from an industry that would otherwise be thrown away, and turning it into something useful,” explained Helena Quilter, PhD student at the CSCT. “So if we can make a plastic from sustainable sources, it could make a big difference to the environment.”
Substituting fossil fuels
“This research is part of a wider project that looks at using bio-based chemicals like pinene as a sustainable starting material for making a range of useful products, in the place of petrochemicals. This reduces our reliance on fossil fuels and provides a renewable feedstock that has the potential to revolutionise the chemical industry,” added professor Matthew Davidson, director of the CSCT and Whorrod professor of sustainable chemical technologies.
The research is still in the early stages - only a few grammes have been made so far - but the scientists aim to scale up the process to produce larger quantities in the near future.
The project is funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and is also investigating using other terpenes, such as limonene from citrus fruit, as a substitute for petrochemicals to make a range of products from plastics to pharmaceuticals.
Read More: Breakthrough in making plastic from pine trees

ExxonMobil, Synthetic Genomics extend algae biofuels research agreement

LA JOLLA, US: ExxonMobil Corporation and Synthetic Genomics Inc have extended their agreement to conduct joint research into advanced algae biofuels, after making significant progress in understanding algae genetics, growth characteristics and increasing oil production.
Synthetic Genomics is a private company located in La Jolla, California that is focused on the field of synthetic biology.
The companies have been jointly researching and developing oil from algae for use as a renewable, lower-emission alternative to traditional transportation fuels since launching the program in 2009. Work continues toward developing strains of algae that demonstrate significantly improved photosynthetic efficiency and oil production through selection and genetic engineering of higher-performance algae strains.
The contract continues to focus on Synthetic Genomics’ core strengths in synthetic biology and builds on recent discoveries of biological pathways regulating lipid production and growth in advanced algal strains.
The development of algae biofuels and a path toward commercial-scale production remain key components of ExxonMobil’s suite of research projects focused on producing energy to meet global demand while reducing greenhouse gas emissions to mitigate the risk of climate change.
ExxonMobil is engaged in a broad range of research on advanced biofuels, partnering with universities and other companies. The purpose of these research and development programs is to explore new technologies and seek the best pathways toward the scalable and cost-effective production of advanced biofuels.
“Together, we have made significant strides to identify and enhance algal strains capable of high oil production while still maintaining desirable rates of growth. This extension reflects the tremendous progress made to date, and the promise in using our core synthetic biology technologies to build cell production systems capable of reshaping industries,” said Oliver Fetzer, PhD, CEO of Synthetic Genomics.
“The renewal of the agreement highlights the importance of the research and recognition of milestones the team has achieved together over the past few years. Both companies remain committed to advancing the scientific fundamentals of algal biofuels. We know this will be a long-term endeavour and are optimistic based on the results we have seen to date,” added Vijay Swarup, vice president for R&D at ExxonMobil Research and Engineering Company.
Read More: ExxonMobil, Synthetic Genomics extend algae biofuels research agreement

Merck opens new meglumine production facility in Spain

DARMSTADT, GERMANY: Merck has opened a meglumine manufacturing facility in Mollet des Valles, Spain. Meglumine is an amino sugar derived from glucose. It is an FDA-approved excipient for pharmaceuticals and a component of medical imaging contrast media.
The facility, validated by the FDA, is the only location in Europe that manufactures meglumine. The facility in Spain is solely dedicated to the production of meglumine, thereby ensuring continuity of supply to customers as well as meeting increasing demand for the excipient. As an excipient, meglumine interacts directly with active pharmaceutical ingredients to increase solubility. Hence, the manufacture of meglumine must meet the same stringent regulatory and quality requirements as APIs.
“Our new facility was enhanced around the manufacturing process to achieve greater efficiencies and meets the most stringent quality standards for manufacturing meglumine. The result is a high level of confidence in quality and security of supply for our customers,” said Andrew Bulpin, head of process solutions strategic marketing & innovation, Life Science.
Read More: Merck opens new meglumine production facility in Spain

Sabic’s polycarbonate resins used in new-generation MPVs

SITTARD, THE NETHERLANDS: SAIC General Motors (SGM) has launched in China its new-generation Buick GL8 and GL8 Avenir luxury multi-purpose vehicles (MPVs), which sport the world’s largest polycarbonate (PC) rear quarter window, moulded from Sabic’s LEXAN resin.
The new rear quarter window is 40 percent (3kg) lighter and significantly more impact resistant than a comparable glass window. The PC window also features design elements that cannot be achieved with glass, contributing to the more innovative exterior of the new-generation GL8.
SGM chose Ningbo Shentong Auto Decorations as its tier one supplier for this key window part. Shentong, a long-time manufacturer of automotive plastic applications, provided design assistance and technical support across the entire development cycle from concept to validation.
In addition, Shentong invested in a new production facility for PC glazing. This facility is located in Yuyao City, China, and is the first mass production PC glazing line in the country. Manufacturing capabilities include the latest PC glazing technologies, including advanced two-component injection compression moulding and flow coating processes.
Sabic worked very closely with Shentong to support the development of the window system and enable production readiness. Specifically, Sabic provided technical assistance and transferred expertise to Shentong on part design, process simulation, equipment selection, testing, prototyping and coating.
The establishment of new PC glazing manufacturing capability in China comes at a time when automakers in the country and across the world are under pressure to adopt lightweight technologies that can help them comply with increasingly stringent emission and fuel economy standards, in addition to improving the driving range of electric vehicles.
The new rear quarter window measures a record-breaking 1200mm by 450mm. It is two-shot injection compression moulded at Shentong’s facility, using Sabic’s transparent LEXAN PC resin and CYCOLOY resin, a PC/acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene (ABS) material (used for the blackout area).
This resin combination helps meet the specific needs of the part’s design and the tight dimensional tolerance requirements of the large rear quarter window. A silicone hard coat protects the part against abrasion and weathering.
“This unique window in LEXAN resin meets SGM’s requirements for a lightweight solution, and we are delighted to see it go into production. We have enjoyed our collaboration with Shentong to help make this possible, and we look forward to more potential opportunities to work with them to bring the benefits of PC glazing to automakers in China and elsewhere,” said Scott Fallon, Sabic’s automotive business leader.
“In addition to significant weight reduction, PC glazing allows for greater innovation than is now possible in a glass, like design and styling freedom, thermal efficiency and parts integration. With our investment in this new manufacturing capability, combined with the benefit of Sabic’s support and expertise, we are now in a strong position to help automakers realise the value from this technology and, ultimately, speed up its wide-scale adoption in the industry,” added Jun Luo, Shentong’s deputy general manager.
Read More: Sabic’s polycarbonate resins used in new-generation MPVs

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