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Extracts from Nandini Chemical Journal, February 2012

Chinese chemical industries|Lithium Titanate|Precipitated Silica
Highlights of Some of the Articles

TALK OF THE MONTH : AGITATORS  STALL NATIONAL PROJECTS AND PROGRESS
NEXT STRATEGY FOR CHINESE CHEMICAL INDUSTRIES
INDIA SHOULD IMPLEMENT LARGE TITANIUM DIOXIDE PROJECT
LITHIUM TITANATE – PRODUCT PROFILE
PRECIPITATED SILICA - INVESTMENT OPPORTUNITY
OTHER FEATURES
OTHER ARTICLES

TALK OF THE MONTH

AGITATORS  STALL NATIONAL PROJECTS AND PROGRESS

The agitation against Koodankulam  nuclear plant in Tamil Nadu  is an immediate example, when a few thousand agitators can stall the project  and not listening to any appeal and explanations  by experts . Even the appeal by the former President and renowned scientist Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam has fallen on deaf ears and the agitation is being continued “successfully” . 

The net result is  that more than Rs.13,000 crores invested in the Koodankulam nuclear plant threatens to go waste. Tamil Nadu is now facing severe power cuts with shortage of around 2000 MW, leading to closure of tiny and small industries and loss of employment.

Even as some protestors are blocking the Koodankulam nuclear power plant in Tamil Nadu, a national level coordination committee of   so called environmental activists  was formed in Chennai city recently to fight through courts what they called the unwarranted expansion of thermal  power plants along the coast.  The committee said that it would ask the centre and state governments for an immediate halt to the expansion of the thermal plants until a cumulative assessment of the actual energy needs were spelt out clearly in a white paper.

Some agitators do not want nuclear power plants and want thermal power plants should be set up in their  place.  Some other agitators do not want thermal power plants.  There are some other agitators in central and western India who are protesting against the  hydro electric power projects.  All these agitators are getting huge media publicity and they are interviewed here , there 
and everywhere making them look like   environmental heroes.  

This scenario is creating confusion in the minds of the common man in India who do not have technological awareness, as to whether the environmentalists have valid case. Such publicity is encouraging a number of other professional agitators and local politicians to enter the fray, all in the name of environmental protection. Probably, all these agitators want India to be driven to a dark age in the name of environmental protection. 

NMDC’s mines in Chhattisgarh

Recently,  local  protestors have forced the country’s biggest  iron ore  miner National Mineral Development Corporation (NMDC)  to suspend  production and shipments from Jharkhand, which accounts  for two thirds of its 25 million tonnes annual output. NMDC’s mines in Chhattisgarh produce daily about 40,000 tonnes of the ore, which is vital for the steel industry.   It is reported that the railways refused to supply wagons  on fears that they could be attacked by agitators. Piling stocks then forced suspension of the production. 

There are many other agitations now going on such as the protest against nuclear power project in Maharashtra, against opening of uranium mines in Meghalaya etc. The proposal of Tata group to invest around Rs.2000 crores in Tamil Nadu was given up due to agitation by the local population against land acquisition for the project.  Of course, the agitation against  Tata's project in Singhur in West Bengal is a common knowledge , driving the project away from West Bengal   that resulted in huge economic loss to the state.

Several rules and regulations do exist with regard to the implementation of  projects such as environmental clearance, public hearing etc. but the agitators seem to have their own “rules and regulations”.

Where do we go from here ? 

Now, where do we go from here ?  If such conditions persist and agitators continue to have field day , there would be huge industrial and economic set back for India which will prove to be too costly.

One gets an impression that the main reason for such  frequent agitations is that the governments have  given an impression  that they would be guided by only vote bank politics in dealing with the agitators and in the process making it look that the governments have no conviction .

It is high time that  national opinion should be built up against such  counter productive agitations, that would   discourage  the professional agitators from becoming ”environmentalists”. 

It is nobody’s case that  any violation of environmental stipulations should be tolerated or lands should be acquired for the projects displacing poor people.  But, there should be proper forum and methodologies to take decision on such matters without they becoming a subject of street agitations and violent protests.

NEXT STRATEGY FOR CHINESE CHEMICAL INDUSTRY

Swaminathan Venkataraman, Director,Nandini Consultancy (S) Pte.Ltd., Singapore
E-mail: swaminathan.v@nandinichemical.com

China has  thrown open its territory to the investors all over the world and in the process has created huge investment opportunities and market outlet for the overseas companies.  In the absence of China facilitating such opportunities to the overseas organizations, the global chemical industry itself would  most probably have faced a negative  or a stagnant condition.

With constraints in space for investment, almost stagnant demand for products  due to their nearly stagnant and ageing population, in Europe and USA, the companies based in Europe and USA   were facing uncertain future, when China came to their rescue by opening its territory and market for their entry.

Instead of thinking that they have benefited China, the companies based in Europe and USA should be grateful to China for  such  opportunities  extended to them.

While  the growth of chemical industries in China have been highly impressive in terms of increase in production  and the range of products that are now made, the chemical industries in China should also realize the fact that such growth would not have been possible without massive influx of investment  and technologies  from the overseas companies. Of course, the strategy of Government of China in  framing such appropriate policies have to be proved to be wise and rewarding  as of now.

Having achieved  the objective so far, it may prove to be counter productive for China to adopt the same policies and strategies  for the coming years .  
There is a strong case for Government of China to revise and fine tune its future strategies for growth of chemical industries in China , appropriate to the developing scenario.

Chinese chemical industry not without problems

The big leap forward of chemical industries in China during the last one decade has been impressive but it is not without its problems and failures. 

Huge capacity creation has resulted in  surplus production  for several products  much above the demand level in China and even global demand  such surplus production have resulted in  steep fall in the export price of the products produced in China  due to the dumping in the overseas market  by Chinese companies.

China has certainly lost heavily in terms of financial returns  , as the price realization for several products in the global market have been much less than what it should be.  The immediate example is the over production of solar cell , solar panel and  other solar products in China that has forced the Chinese industries to sell the products in the global market at low price to gain market share. 

While several  overseas units, particularly in Europe and USA,  have been forced to close down the operations due to their  inability to compete with the Chinese products in price terms in the global market, the fact is that the industries in China have also suffered in the process.  In recent years, many units in China producing variety of products have been forced to close down the operations  due to such mindless over capacity. 

The glaring example is the indiscriminate over capacity creation for coal based methanol projects in China,  that has forced the Chinese methanol industry to operate at around  50% capacity utilization. 

It is certainly not a desirable situation that capacities should be built up and then large part of them remaining unutilized due to inadequate demand in the market or lack of competitive production costs.

Now, where would China go from here ?

The present compulsions  and the future need  clearly point to the necessity  for the chemical industries in China to start fine tuning  the various aspects and resort to discreet capacity creations  in areas of strength,  keeping the global relevance in view. 

While it is true that China is large country with huge population, such factors by themselves would not  contribute to  rapid expansion of demand base.  The expansion of  demand base  would take place only at a steady and gradual pace in tune with the overall economic growth . Jumping the demand by huge over capacity creation would only prove to be counter productive. Chinese chemical industry have to be careful to avoid such pitfall in the coming years.

Now, it is gratifying that there are some realization in China , both at the government as well  as the chemical industries ,  about the need for appropriate change in the future strategies. China has to decide  the next target keeping in view the need to compete  with the developed countries and multi national companies by way of  product  and application development  efforts  , technology breakthrough  etc.  This can be done only by strengthening and enlarging the technology base  and providing the due place  and recognition for the scientists and technologists. 

The recent initiatives

The recent efforts of the government of China in building top notch research establishments  and  encouraging its best scientists to work in China and luring back those technologists working abroad  to return to China are bound to prove rewarding in the long run.  

There are now healthy indications about such Chinese initiatives. 2010 Batelle report stated that American spending on research was reaching a plateau, while China was overtaking Japan as the second largest financier of scientific work. Overall, the report stated that  the US spent close to  $396 billion on research  and  development in 2010, compared to about  $141 billion in China.. China’s R & D  expenses are rising  quickly -  about 9% in 2010-11, the report estimated- while American spending  was projected  to rise at a rate of 2.7 %.

China’s capacity to consolidate its gain and work out its future competitive strategies to emerge as the world leader in chemical industries, are now being watched with great interest by the chemical industries across the world.

INDIA SHOULD IMPLEMENT LARGE TITANIUM DIOXIDE PROJECT

Titanium dioxide is an important chemical and white pigment , extensively used in the paint, polymer, textile, paper and a host of other industries.

Titanium dioxide is produced from ilmenite , which is a mineral. Ilmenite mineral deposits are  available in large  quantity in the sands of Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Orissa, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra.  

While  India  mines and produces ilmenite ore in Kerala,  Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Orissa , large quantity of ilmenite is presently  exported  , without converting it into value added product namely titanium dioxide.

Indian deposits of ilmenite is estimated to be around more than 12% of the world reserves but Indian production of titanium dioxide is less than 1% of the total world production.

There are four titanium dioxide  units  in operation in India and their capacity is small compared to the capacities of the plants being operated in other parts of the world.

This article discusses the following details

  • World demand supply scenario
  • Indian demand supply scenario
  • Project cost
  • Titanium dioxide should be thrust area for growth
  • Tata’s Efforts in Tamil Nadu
  • Investment opportunity with huge potential
LITHIUM TITANATE – PRODUCT PROFILE
Formula Li2TiO3                  
Formula Name Lithium Metatitanate
Description Off-white coloured powder
CAS number r                    12031-82-2 
Solubility in H2O   Insoluble

Lithium titanate is a compound containing lithium and titanium.

Product specification                

Details

Value in percentage

Li2O

26.80

Li2O

72.00

A12O3

<0.05

Fe2O3

0.10

Na2O

<0.05

K2O

<0.05

CI

<0.05

SO4

0.15

Theoretical Lithia to Titania Mole Ratio 1:1

Specific Gravity:             3.42

This article contains the following details :

  • Application
  • Lithium titanate battery
  • Process
  • Product development efforts
PRECIPITATED SILICA - INVESTMENT OPPORTUNITY
Appearance White free flowing powder
Chemical formula            SiO2. xH2O
Solubility Insoluble in water or acid except hydrofluoric acid, Soluble in alkali

Specifications

Characteristics

Limit

Silica content SiO2 min

Around 170 m 2 per gm (by BET – N2)

Moisture at 110 deg.C

5 to 7%

pH of 5% slurry

7± 0.3

Iron content

Less than 0.05%

Soluble salts

Less than 1%

Sieving requirement dry sieving through-200 mesh IS method

97% passing

Wet sieving through 325 mesh Is method

99% passing

Loss on ignition

Around 5 to 7%

Bulk Density
Before compression

0.09 to 0.10 g per cc

After compression

0.10 to 0.12 g per cc

This article discusses the following details :

  • Product applications
    • Important application sector
    • Rubber Sector
    • Pesticides/Insecticides sector
    • Other application sectors
    • Areas with potential applications
  • Indian import
  • Indian export
  • Indian manufacturers
    • Indian production
    • Capacity expansion
  • Indian demand scenario – Period April 2011 to March 2012
    • Indian demand for precipitated silica
    • Growth rate in demand
    • Application sectorwise demand
  • Global scenario – Period 2011
    • Global installed capacity
    • Global production level
    • Major producers
    • Global demand – Period 2011
  • Scenario in China
  • Process
    • Process for sodium silicate from silica sand
    • Process for precipitated silica from sodium silicate
    • Reaction chemistry
  • Prognosis
OTHER FEATURES

UPDATE ON BIOFUEL

The recent developments on the following products/events are highlighted:

  • Falling  global production trend of biofuel
  • Switchgrass shows potential as biofuel material
  • Novozymes to make biofuel from seaweed

PLANT CLOSURES

This article discusses the plans for closure of Wafer Plant, Japan.

ANTI DUMPING PAGE

The antidumping measures introduced in  the various countries in the last few weeks on the following products are discussed:

  • Silk
  • Polyethylene terephthalate
  • Polypropylene
  • Morpholine
  • Phthalic anhydride

NEWS ROUND UP

The recent developments on the following products/events are discussed:

INTERNATIONAL

  • Sasol’s  Plans $4.5-Billion Ethane Cracker in Louisiana,USA
  • North American Ethylene investment
  • Iron oxide pigments
  • Ethylidene norbornene plant in Southeast Asia
  • Polyether sulfone plant
  • Silica Gel
  • R22 Fluorocarbon
  • DuPont fined
  • Formulated electrolytes JV
  • Petchem Projects in Qatar
  • Canadian potash capacity
  • Cellulose ether
  • Propane dehydrogenation unit
  • New methionine production complex in Singapore

INDIA

  • Butyl lithium projects in india by global companies
    • Chemetall Lithium
    • FMC Lithium

TECHNOLOGY DEVELOPMENTS

The recent developments on the following products/events are discussed:

  • Dimethyl ether through biomass gasification
  • Diphenyl carbonate technology
  • Renewable PET fiber
    • Sugarcane-derived MEG
    • Bio based p-xylene
    • Renewable PET bottle
  • Plans for research programme in Europe
  • Cellulosic sugar technology

CHINA NEWS

The recent developments on the following products/events are discussed:

  • Strategy for China’s coalbed methane industry
  • High purity on site ammonia plant
  • Acetate tow manufacturing facility in Hefei
  • Glycidyl Esters
  • Caprolactam
  • Evonik Industries

SAFETY AND ACCIDENT PAGE

Following safety and accident details are discussed:

  • Three die of asphyxiation in resin unit in Tamil Nadu
  • Mangalore refinery blast

AGRO CHEMICAL PAGE

The recent developments on the following products/events are discussed:

  • Ethaboxam Fungicide
  • Fungicide in orange juice: USFDA test results soon
  • 'Tulsi' to be used for anti-radiation medicine
  • Aloe Vera based anti-frostbite cream
  • Herbal drink

PHARMA PAGE

The recent developments on the following products/events are discussed:

  • Development of automated labeling process for pharma industry
  • Nano-tech project
  • First legal marijuana based drug that can kill pain
  • Synthetic nano particle
  • Pfizer recalls one million  packs of birth control drug
  • Pharma cos need to compensate clnical trial victims, rules govt.

ENERGY PAGE

The recent developments on the following products/events are discussed:

  • US natural gas price trend
  • SHELL’S plans for shale gas
  • Solar power projects in Europe
    • United Kingdom
    • Subsidy policy
    • Germany and Italy
  • Price trend of solar panel
  • Solar panel price drop slowing amid subsidy cuts
  • Solutions for rooftop solar power systems
  • ONGC, Cairn start production in Bhagyam fields
  • Saudi’s price target for oil
  • Offshore wind farm  project  in TN coast
  • Estimates of reserves in Raniganj CBM block
  • Formula for coal pricing
  • Canada Withdraws from Kyoto Protocol
  • ECHA Names 13 Chemical Substances for Reach Authorization
  • Butadiene Platts launches new pricing based on lower calorific coal
OTHER ARTICLES
  • Increasing  import trend of petrochemicals in India
  • Import / export price in China in November 2011
  • Tender
  • Chemicals imported at the Chennai port during the month of November 2011
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