Thursday, 12 May 2011

Change of platform for this blog

Hi! This will be the last post on this blog on this platform. From today I'm transfering Chemicals and Innovation to a new site, under the slightly different name of ICIS Chemicals and Innovation, to reflect the fact this is part of the ICIS free online offering. You can see more of ICIS and its other blogs at

You can find me and all I've written so far at this address: I hope you'll continue to follow the news and opinion on innovation in the chemical sector.

If you are interested, you can also follow the progress of the ICIS Innovation Awards 2011 at These were launched mid-April and the deadline for entries is 4 July.

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Quick source of innovation ideas

Keeping up with my fellow bloggers on innovation, I came across this useful list of articles that had generated plenty of traffic on innovation strategy in April. It's on the Blogging Innovation site, which I have referred to previously and find has good articles on general innovation if not always chemical.

Also featuring here this week is another look at open innovation - and the main road blocks that have to be addressed to make it work.

It's by Paul Hobcraft, who runs an advisory business that stimulates sound innovation practice, researches topics that relate to innovation for the future, as well as aligning innovation to organizations' core capabilities

Monday, 9 May 2011

DSM, Roquette scale up bio-route to succinic acid

Innovation in the bio-based material sector continues to make ground. Amongst latest news is the decision by Netherlands-based major DSM to proceed with a 10,000 tonne/year commercial-scale facility for bio-succinic acid in collaboration with France's Roquette Freres. The plant, using yeast fermentation of crop-based materials, will be built on Roquette's site in Cassano Spinola in Italy, and be onstream in the second half of 2012.

Succinic acid can be used in packaging to footwear
Succinic acid is a chemical building block that can be used in the manufacture of polymers, resins, food and pharmaceuticals, says DSM, and provides an alternative to fossil-fuel based intermediates such as adipic acid and 1,4-butanediol. The two partners already have a demonstration plant running flat out in Lestrem in France and intend to create a joint venture company, Reverdia, to carry out business together.

Rob van Leen, chief innovation officer of DSM, commented: "The time is right to capitalize on the tremendous progress we have made together with Roquette in the last two years. Our proprietary yeast-based fermentation process not only allows cost effective production; it also eliminates salt waste and other by-products and thus improves the overall eco-footprint of end-products. This bio-based chemical building block is a substitute for various fossil feedstock derived monomers and proves that the bio-based economy is no longer a distant prospect."

And at an event in North America, DSM CEO Feike Sijbesma commented: "The so-called fossil-age will make a shift to the bio-based-economy. In two or three centuries from now, people will look back on our civilization as a merely brief moment in history where we in a period of just about 250 years shifted our total economy to coal, oil and gas. To make the shift back to living with, and especially off, nature, we need to start this shift now. We are at a turning point towards a next green industrial revolution to secure our feed and fuel needs in the future."

Sijbesma was receiving the prestigious George Washington Carver Award for Innovation in Industrial Biotechnology in recognition of his outstanding contribution and vision to the development and innovation in industrial biotechnology. He delivered a keynote address during a plenary session of the 2011 World Congress on Industrial Biotechnology and Bio-processing in Toronto, Canada.

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Tree bark may be used in polyurethanes

News has just come my way that Huntsman Polyurethanes is to join the Bark Biorefinery Consortium Project, a four-year Canadian joint venture between academia and industry that is exploring how best to extract value from tree bark, a forest residue left over by the lumber industry.

The collaborative research program has a total budget of Can$5.25m and is being funded by the province of Ontario together with participating institutions and industry partners. As part of consortium activities, representatives from Huntsman’s CoreScience unit in the US will work closely with scientists from the University of Toronto, who are leading the project.

Leveraging combined academic and commercial know-how, the Huntsman team will focus on one core element of the initiative: converting bark into value added intermediates for polyurethane to achieve improved properties and more renewable content. Previous research in this area has shown that incorporating bark products into other polymers can result in improved thermal stability and fire resistance, as well as improved adhesive properties. 

Niek van Wiechen, Global CoreScience Director at Huntsman Polyurethanes, said: “When the University of Toronto invited Huntsman to join the Bark Biorefinery Consortium, we leapt at the chance. The program has many parallels with our own corporate research and development (R&D) strategy. Huntsman is committed to developing renewable technologies that increase the natural content in our products, provide cost effective solutions for our customers, and offer significant sustainability benefits. This is a great opportunity to turn forest residue into valuable commercial products.”