Monday, January 22, 2018

Versarien to establish graphene manufacturing centre in Shandong, China

Versarien, the British advanced materials engineering group, has announced that it has signed a Letter of Intent (LOI) to establish a graphene manufacturing centre in China.

The non-binding LOI has been entered into by Versarien together with the Shandong Institute of Industrial Technology Fund, Jinan Qing Na Material Technology Co Ltd and Jinan Innovation Zone Administrative Committee with the view to establishing the "China-UK Jinan Graphene Industrial Park" in the Jinan Innovation Zone, Shandong Province, China. The Jinan Innovation Zone, established as a national hi-tech zone in 1991, currently has ten industrial parks with businesses including software, intelligent manufacturing and life sciences.

The LOI envisages as a first stage the establishment of a 100,000 square foot manufacturing facility to produce and sell Versarien's proprietary Nanene few layer graphene nano-platelets. Versarien will provide its intellectual property (IP) on a licensed basis together with production know how, whilst the other joint venture partners will provide the factory and funding for plant and equipment.
The second stage objective is the establishment of the first Chinese graphene industrial park, the "Jinan Graphene Valley" including a graphene research institute with funding coming from the joint venture partners. The total project cost is anticipated to be in the region of CNY 500 million (approximately £55 million).

It is the Company's intention to form a wholly owned Hong Kong company which will become one of the joint venture partners, whilst ensuring the strongest protection of its IP. 

Neill Ricketts, CEO of Versarien, commented: "It is intended that this facility will form the centre of the "Jinan Graphene Valley" and pave the way to Versarien establishing a world class base in the Asian region. We have been afforded great support from the Chinese government and we are working with all parties to deliver this facility in record time and to capture the excitement and support for our Nanene product in China.


Saturday, January 20, 2018

Researchers Detect Benzyl Butyl Phthalate in Avocado Seed Husks

Scientists report that avocado seed husks yielded benzyl butyl phthalate, a plasticizer used to promote flexibility in numerous synthetic products.

Trash-to-Treasure Transformation

The least appreciated part of an avocado could soon undergo a trash-to-treasure transformation. In a first-of-its-kind study, scientists report that avocado seed husks, which are usually discarded along with the seed, are hidden gold mines packed with a previously unrecognized plethora of chemical compounds. They say these compounds could eventually be used to treat a host of debilitating diseases, as well as to enhance the allure of cosmetics, perfumes and other consumer goods.

Seed Husks - Potential Source of Chemicals

It could very well be that avocado seed husks, which most people consider as the waste of wastes, are actually the gem of gems because the medicinal compounds within them could eventually be used to treat cancer, heart disease and other conditions,” says Debasish Bandyopadhyay, Ph.D. “Our results also suggest that the seed husks are a potential source of chemicals used in plastics and other industrial products.”

Extraction of Avocado Oil

  • In all, nearly 5 million tons of avocados are produced worldwide annually. Americans consume almost 1.9 billion pounds each year, according to the Hass Avocado Board.
  • In most cases, the “meat,” or flesh, is eaten and the seed is tossed in the trash.
  • Some edible oil manufacturers extract avocado oil from the seeds, but they remove the husk surrounding the seed and discard it before processing. 

Bandyopadhyay and his students Valerie Cano, Orlando Castillo, Daniel Villicana and Thomas Eubanks at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley sought to find out more about what manufacturers are really throwing away when they discard these seed husks.

Finding Seed Husk Wax

  • The researchers ground about 300 dried avocado seed husks into 21 ounces of powder. 
  • After additional processing, the powder yielded about three teaspoons of seed husk oil and slightly more than an ounce of seed husk wax.
  • Using gas chromatography–mass spectrometry analysis, the research team found 116 compounds in the oil and 16 in the wax. 
  • Many of these compounds do not appear to be found in the seeds themselves.

Among the Constituents in the Oil was:

  • Behenyl alcohol (also known as docosanol)
  • Heptacosane, which might inhibit the growth of tumor cells; and dodecanoic acid, which increases high density lipoprotein (known as HDL) and, as a result, could reduce the risk of atherosclerosis.

Benzyl Butyl Phthalate Discovered

In the wax, the researchers detected benzyl butyl phthalate, a plasticizer used to promote flexibility in numerous synthetic products; bis(2-butoxyethyl) phthalate, which is used in cosmetics; and butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT), which is a food additive.

Source: American Chemical Society

First Biomass-balance Polyamide Yarns for Carpet Industry by Beaulieu International

Beaulieu Yarns introduces EqoBalance®, the first biomass-balance polyamide yarns for carpets.
The EqoBalance® family of “biomass-balance” yarns was launched at Domotex 2018, held on January 12-15 in Hannover, Germany. Beaulieu Yarns is on Stand B56 in Hall 11. 

Renewably-sourced Polymer for Yarns

A first for the carpet industry, new EqoBalance PA6 yarns follow the biomass balance approach, which ensures that at the very start of the supply chain, natural renewable raw materials can partially or even completely replace fossil resources in the production of polymers processed into yarns. By choosing these yarns, carpet tufters can contribute to a sustainable future through less use of fossil resources and reduced greenhouse gas emissions. 

Sustainable Yarns

  • The sustainable yarns from Beaulieu Yarns are conform the TÜV SÜD certification standard CMS 71 "Certification of the use of renewable resources", which confirms the saving in fossil resources. 
  • The potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions as a result of the replacement of fossil use is calculated in a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA). 
  • EqoBalance yarns hereby allow a reduction of up to 75% of CO2 eq/kg compared to our fossil based yarns. 

Key Properties & Applications of EqoBalance Yarns

EqoBalance yarns do not compromise on either quality or performance, as their formulation remains identical to their fossil-based equivalents.
Since they are a drop-in alternative solution, tufters need to make no alterations to their manufacturing processes or final products.
Beaulieu Yarns offers a wide variety of PA6 yarns for use in carpet tiles, carpet planks and broadloom carpets for commercial offices, hospitality & leisure, education & healthcare premises, automotive, and residential.

Karena Cancilleri, Vice President of Engineered Products, Beaulieu International Group, commented:

“Carpet tufters are requesting more environmentally-compatible yarns to support their overall commitment to greater sustainability and more efficient resource use. We see biomass balance as the fastest path forward and, through EqoBalance, are excited to pioneer this milestone for the contract market as part of our long-term strategy to give customers a fundamental new choice to step into sustainable products and contribute to a better world.”

Biomass Balance in Practice

The principle of biomass balance in production of yarns is comparable to that of green electricity.

The basic idea involves using renewable resources such as biogas or bio-naphtha, together with fossil resources, in production of the polyamide.
The share of biobased resources is then arithmetically assigned to certain products using a method certified by the TÜV SÜD technical control board.
Product characteristics are absolutely identical to those of the fossil-based equivalent.

Source: Beaulieu International

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Researchers discover new catalyst for efficiently recycling waste carbon dioxide into plastic

'Paired with carbon capture technology, this could lead to an incredibly green production mechanism for everyday plastics, meanwhile sequestering harmful greenhouse gases'
Researchers have developed a method for efficiently converting carbon dioxide into plastic.
They say their findings could help divert carbon dioxide – a major contributor to climate change – from entering the atmosphere.

They could also help to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels.

A team of scientists from University of Toronto, University of California, Berkeley and the Canadian Light Source (CLS) successfully managed to work out the ideal conditions for converting carbon dioxide to ethylene.

Ethylene is used to make polyethylene, the most commonly used plastic in the world.
At the heart of the experiment was the carbon dioxide reduction reaction, which can be used to convert the gas into a variety of different substances.

Different metals can be used as a catalyst in this type of reaction, but the researchers chose copper, as its use can lead to the production of ethylene.

“Copper is a bit of a magic metal. It’s magic because it can make many different chemicals, like methane, ethylene, and ethanol, but controlling what it makes is difficult,” said lead researcher Phil De Luna.

The researchers were able to design a catalyst and identify the precise conditions that maximise ethylene production during the reaction, while minimising methane and carbon monoxide production.
“I think the future will be filled with technologies that make value out of waste. It’s exciting because we are working towards developing new and sustainable ways to meet the energy demands of the future,” De Luna added.

The researchers say it is now possible to engineer a catalyst to meet those conditions, and that their findings could have “dramatic” positive effect.

“Paired with carbon capture technology, this could lead to an incredibly green production mechanism for everyday plastics, meanwhile sequestering harmful greenhouse gases.
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China develops subway car made of carbon fiber

CRRC Changchun Railway Vehicles, a subsidiary of State-owned trainmaker CRRC, announced that it has developed subway train made of carbon fiber.

The company said the new subway car is 35 % lighter than traditional metal ones, which can effectively improve its carrying capacity, save energy and operational cost, and reduce the wear and tear on the subway line.

As carbon fiber can better resist fatigue, corrosion, and UV radiation, subway cars made of such material are expected to have an operational life of at least 30 years, said experts with CRRC Changchun.

In addition, the thermal and sound insulation performance of carbon fiber is also better than traditional metal, which makes the new car more energy-saving and less noisy during operation.

CRRC Changchun has more than 18,000 employees and annually manufactures more than 8,000 trains. Its products have been exported to more than 20 countries and regions, including the United States, Australia and Brazil.

The advance will lead to the mass application of carbon fiber as a material in the area of rail transit, noted the company. While it did not say when it plans to apply carbon fiber in mass production, it said its intellectual property rights guaranteed the mass adaptation of the material.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Airbus and its Chinese partners strengthen cooperation

In the presence of visiting French President Emmanuel Macron and Chinese President Xi Jinping, Airbus has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the National Development and Reform Commission of China (NDRC) on the further development of industrial cooperation in Tianjin.

The agreement was signed by He Lifeng, Chairman of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) of China and Fabrice Brégier, Airbus COO and President Commercial Aircraft in Beijing today. Both sides agree to further enhance their industrial partnership in Tianjin and strengthen the cooperation with regards to technical innovation, engineering capabilities and supply chain expansion.

On the same day, Airbus and its Chinese partners have also signed a framework agreement on ramping-up its A320 production rate at its final assembly line in Tianjin to six aircraft per month. 
This industrial ramp-up targets five aircraft by early 2019 and six per month by early 2020. Since its inauguration in 2008 the Final Assembly Line in Tianjin has assembled a total of 354 A320 Family aircraft (by 31st December, 2017). Deliveries to Chinese customers and to operators throughout the Asia-Pacific region have included the first A320neo in the second half of 2017.
“The industrial cooperation between Airbus and China and its continued success are a true role-model of a winning partnership between China and Europe. Together with our Chinese partners we are proud to lift our cooperation to new heights”, says Fabrice Brégier, Airbus COO and President of Commercial Aircraft. 
Airbus’ industrial footprint in China dates back to 1985, when the first product sub-contracting agreement was signed with Xi’an Aircraft Company. The total value of industrial cooperation between Airbus and Chinese aviation industry in 2017 amounts to nearly 600 million US dollars.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Developing 100 Percent Biodegradable Plastics from Bacteria

 His idea is to use bacteria to make plastics, specifically employing cyanobacteria, a photosynthesis-happy bug, as one of the starting materials. Weiss recently published a paper in Metabolic Engineering that outlines a new production method that would be powered by cyanobacteria and the naturally occurring Halomonas boliviensis.

Weiss recently joined ASU’s Polytechnic campus, where he will work on scaling up the process at the Arizona Center for Algae Technology and Innovation (AzCATI). Here, Weiss describes his idea for making environmentally friendly bioplastics.

Present Issues with Today’s Plastics

Plastics fall into two very distinct categories:

  • Those that can be melted down and reused
  • Those that cannot be reused

Recycling some plastics can save energy, but all plastics don’t ultimately degrade like biological materials down to “nothingness” or become metabolized by a living creature. Most plastics degrade like rocks: They just break down into smaller and smaller pieces that accumulate in the environment.

Plastics Produced are 100% Biodegradable. Over what time frame?

Degradation times depend on the object and conditions, but bioplastics typically break down faster than plant celluloses, like wood. With lots of biological activity, like in a compost pile, fibers and films will biodegrade within two months. The human body takes about three months to completely dissolve bioplastic suture threads. Something like plastic utensils in the ocean would take longer, but still be unrecognizable within a year.

Essentially, because the average usage-lifetime of a disposable plastic bag in the U.S. is 12 minutes, yet take hundreds of years to degrade, we're looking to bioplastics to create the benefits of disposability without the long-term negative consequences.

How these Bioplastics are Made

Taylor Weiss said:
“We created a symbiotic partnership between two bacteria, each specializing in a specific task. The cyanobacteria use photosynthesis to create sugar and are engineered to constantly excrete that sugar. A second bacteria (Halomonas boliviensis) then consumes the sugar to alternately grow and produce bioplastics in cycles. Additionally, the cyanobacteria are captured in hydrogel beads (made from seaweed extract) that are submerged in saltwater filled with the bioplastic-producing bacteria.”

Process Advantage

Taylor Weiss said:
“In the big picture, we don’t use resources better spent on food production (fresh water and farmable land) to first grow a crop that can be processed into sugar and then fed to the bacteria to make bioplastics. We’ve done this by efficiently bringing together two bacteria species that are among the best on Earth at making sugar and bioplastics.”

Trapping the cyanobacteria in a hydrogel is also critical — it means that the same cyanobacteria can be reused instead of regrown, and because the trapped cells barely grow at all, energy otherwise spent on growth can be redirected toward even greater sugar production. As a bonus, the system seems to stand up to contamination. Weiss didn’t tightly control the system to keep out contaminating bacteria, or add chemicals to kill them. What contamination was present simply didn’t interfere — for more than five months — because our bioplastic-producing bacteria was simply so good at consuming all of the sugar.

Make Process Industrially Viable

The cyanobacteria, the Halomonas boliviensis bacteria and hydrogel have already been industrialized, so each has a lot of proven potential. Using as little of the hydrogel as possible and for as long as possible needs to be further explored. That will help keep costs down. Bringing all these elements together and in real-world conditions at large scales needs to be done. Fortunately, we have a one-of-a-kind academic test bed facility here at AzCATI that is uniquely suited to answer the remaining production questions and push development of the technology.

Source: University of Arizona