Friday, June 30, 2017

Some Information Related to Nanocellulose

The use of nano-size materials in several commercial applicatiosn has been the subject of much research and development activity for several years.  Recent estimates of global sales of nano-size materials are mostly in the $5 billion range.   Applications for nano-size materials have been shown to exist in many sectors such as health and personal care, electronics, energy, and others.  It is likely that the beneficial uses of nano-size materials will grow at a high rate.

The importance of this area (nanotechnology) is reflected in that the United States Government maintains a separate website devoted to the area.   Click here to go to that website and to read much on nanotechnology and its current and potential applications.

Many materials (for example, carbons, metal oxides, and ceramics) can be processed to become nano-size (and in doing so acquire the unique properties that provide new, useful uses).   Cellulose is also a material that can be processed into the “nano” state.  As for other materials, much research and development is ongoing to discover better ways of processing cellulose into nanocellulose and to advance the applications of nanocellulose.

Nanocellulose is finding its way into commercial products, such as packaging, but still at a low level, probably at most a few hundred million dollars of sales a year.   A National Nanotechnology Institute/USDA Forest Service report provides information on commercializing nanocellulose.  Click here to read this report (PDF file).

Monday, June 19, 2017

Russia’s Petrochemical Clusters

A 2012 ICIS report (click here to read the report) indicated that the Russian Federation was setting out on a policy for building up petrochemical clusters.  Six petrochemical cluster projects were identified as being targeted for “build-up”.  The locations of these projects are:

            1.      Nakhodka City, Primorsky Region, Far Eastern Federal District;
2.      Novy Urengoy City, Yamolo Nenetsky Autonomous Region, Urals Federal Distract;
3.      Tobolsk City, Tyumen Region, Urals Federal District;
4.      Kstovo City, Nizhny Novgorod Region, Volga Federal District;
5.      Nizhnekamsk City, Tatarstan Republic, Volga Federal District; and
            6.      Salavat City, Bashkortostan Republic, Volga Federal District.       

The following are short overviews of the recent statuses of these projects.  The statuses are based on research conducted on the Internet and using Google Maps to analyze satellite imagery of the projects.  (A caveat is that Google Maps imagery can be 2 to 3 years, or more, old.)

1.       The Nakhodka Project.  I could find no areas in, or around, Nakhodka City on satellite imagery that shows evidence of petrochemical processing facilities, or that such facilities are being built.  Storage tanks and piping associated with a loading pier in the Vostochnyy Port area near Nakhodka City exist but nothing to indicate petrochemical processing.
2.      The Novy Urengoy Project.  Reportedly a gas and chemical complex has been under construction about 19 miles from the city of Novy Urengoy.   Satellite imagery shows area under developing at Korottsjajevo, which is about 19 miles west of Novy Urengoy.   This site’s size is about 2 square miles, which also agrees with reporting on the gas and chemical complex, so it is likely that this is the location of the complex.  Click here (PDF file) to read a Gazprorm (a Russian oil and gas company) report describing the gas and chemical project.  Some construction is observed.
3.      The Tobolsk Project.    Satellite imagery shows significant construction activity on a 9 square-mile site, just adjacent to Tobolsk City.  Click here to read a Sibur Petrochemical Company (a Russian company) article on their activities at the Tobolsk site.
4.      The Kstovo Project.  This project is at an approximately 5 square-mile site and includes a refinery and a recently-developed polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plant, which appears to be completed.   Click here to read about the PVC plant.  Little construction is observed at this site.
5.      The Nizhnekamsk Project.  Located on an approximately 12 square-mile site, the Nizhnekamsk location apparently is at the center of what seems to be a strong chemical industry sector in the Tatarstan Republic.  More details on the Nizhnekamsk site can be read by clicking here.  Major construction appears to be going on in one section of the site.  The rest of the site is well built-out.
6.      The Salavat Project.   This approximately 9 square-mile petrochemical production site is anchored by a company named Gazprorm Neftekhim Salavat.  More details on this company can be read by clicking here.  The site appears to be well-developed (little construction is obvious).

Of the six sites described above, the Kstovo and Nizhnekamsk sites seem to me to be the most likely of achieving “cluster status” in the sense of generally-accepted concepts and attributes associated with clusters.   (Generally-accepted concepts and attributes associated with clusters can be read by clicking here.)   One reason for Kstovo is its closeness to the cities of Nizhny Novgorod and Dzerzhinsk, which have chemical sector development histories.  And both Kstovo and Nizhnekamsk are in locations that support cluster development such as numerous universities, skilled work forces, and high population densities. 

The locations and other factors associate with the Nakhodka, Novy Urengoy, Tobolsk, and Salavat sites seem to suggest these sites could not easily become “chemical clusters”, for example, they are in remote areas with low population densities.  These sites are more likely to be in the “industrial park” category.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Chemical and Metal Shortage Alert – May 2017

The purpose of this blog is to identify chemical and metal shortages reported on the Internet.  The sources of the information reported here are primarily news releases issued on the Internet.  The issue period of the news releases is May 2017.

Section I below lists those chemicals and metals that were on the previous month’s Chemical and Metal Shortage Alert list and continue to have news releases indicating they are in short supply.  Click here to read the April 2017 Chemical and Metal Shortage Alert list.

Section II lists the new chemicals and metals (not on the April alert).  Also provided is some explanation for the shortage and geographical information.  This blog attempts to list only actual shortage situations – those shortages that are being experienced during the period covered by the news releases.  Chemicals and metals identified in news releases as only being in danger of being in short supply status are not listed.

Section I. 

Cobalt:  global; mining not keeping up with demand
Sand/gravel/cement:  India; supply not keeping up with demand
Section II.   Shortages Reported in May not found on the Previous Month’s List

Cobalt:  global; mining not keeping up with demand
Copper foil:  global; production not keeping up with demand
Methyl methacrylate (MMA):  global; production not keeping up with demand
Methylene diphenyl diisocyanate (MDI):  Ireland; production not keeping up with                                                                                  demand

Reasons for Section II shortages can be broadly categorized as: 

1.  Mining not keeping up with demand: cobalt
2.  Production not keeping up with demand:  copper foil; MMA; MDI
3.  Government regulations: none
4.  Sources no longer available: none
5.  Insufficient imports:  none

6.  Supply not keeping up with demand:  none