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at its production site in Indonesia. The technology directly adds ethylene to acetic acid, enabling efficient production of high-quality ethyl acetate, and uses a solid heteropolyacid catalyst developed by SDK. Demand for the product is expected to continue growing inside and outside Japan. Original Source: Showa Denko, 2013. Found on SpecialChem Adhesives and Sealants Formulation, 2 Aug 2013, (Website: http://www.specialchem4adhesives.com) NEW TECHNOLOGY Two new technologies making chemicals from CO 2 Two research groups are studying the potential use of carbon dioxide as feedstock for the production of alkanes and acrylates. The researchers from the University of Bath were inspired by the Fischer- Tropsch process. The team leader, Davide Mattia, is using another iron catalyst that has a simpler preparation method. It can produce a mixture of alkanes for use as a fuel, and works with both carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide. Another research group from the Brown and Yale Universities reported the possibility of producing acrylate out of the reaction of carbon dioxide with ethylene in the presence of nickel and other metal catalysts. The process is thought to be cheaper than the conventional process since carbon dioxide is essentially free and overabundant, while ethylene is cheaper than propylene. Ethylene can also be sourced from biomass. Original Source: Green Chemistry Network Newsletter, Apr 2013, 12 (Website: http://www.greenchemistrynetwork.org) © Green Chemistry Network 2013 Waste CO 2 -derived plastic hits tonne scale US-based company Novomer has initially produced 7 tonnes of short- chain polypropylene carbonate (PPC) diols with a molecular weight of about 1000 using a catalytic process that react carbon dioxide waste from an ammonia plant with propylene oxide. The diols can be used as a feedstock to manufacture a range of polyurethane plastics that could be used in different applications. The company believes that an ethanol fermentation plant is the desired source of waste carbon dioxide in the long run. However, the chosen plant of speciality chemical company Albemarle needed minor adjustments to fit with Novomer’s process. Original Source: Chemistry World, Jul 2013, 10 (7), 19 (Website: http://www.rsc.org/chemistryworld) © Royal Society of Chemistry 2013 3-hydroxypropionic acid from sugar BASF, Cargill, and Novozymes have announced their successful develop- ment of 3-hydroxypropionic acid (3- HP) from sugar. The acrylic acid precursor was successfully developed in a pilot scale test. Novozymes and Cargill made a genetically altered microbe capable of producing 3-HP, while BASF developed techniques in dehydrating 3-HP into acrylic acid. Original Source: Cargill Inc, website: http://www.cargill.com (3 Jul 2013) © Cargill Incorporated 2013. Original Source: Chemical and Engineering News, 15 Jul 2013, 91 (28), 15 (Website: http://www.cen-online.org) © American Chemical Society 2013 Glucose to sorbose in one step Chemical engineers from Caltech have discovered a simple method of converting D-glucose to L-sorbose intermediates for the production of L- ascorbic acid (vitamin C). The study reported that D-glucose can be isomerized to L-sorbose stereospecifically in a single step by using an acidic zeolite catalyst. Original Source: Chemical and Engineering News, 3 Jun 2013, 91 (22), 31 (Website: http://www.cen- online.org) © American Chemical Society 2013 Soya bean catalyst splits water A cheap, soya bean and molybdenum- based ‘MoSoy’ catalyst has been developed through research conducted by Brookhaven National Laboratory chemists. This catalyst can split hydrogen from water; it is a possible alternative to established platinum catalysts. No costly noble-metals were used in its production and the catalyst remained efficient and stable up to 500 hours. The researchers claim that their findings offer the possibility of developing catalysts out of cheap biomass and transition metals for electrocatalytic applications. Original Source: TCE (formerly The Chemical Engineer), Jun 2013, (864), 19 (Website: http://www.tcetoday.com) Chemical Engineers 2013 PATENTS Bio-oil conversion Biomass needs first to be converted to a ‘bio-oil’, by a fast pyrolysis process. This is then converted to another liquid which can be processed like petroleum. These two almost identical patents describe such a conversion process, using super- critical water, which acts like an acid catalyst. US Patents 8,500,829 and 8,502,003, ExxonMobil Research and Engineering Co, Annandale, NJ, USA, 6 Aug 2013 Selective oxidation using ozone Ferrous salts in acetonitrile catalyse the selective oxidation of alcohols to aldehydes, rather than carboxylic acids, using ozone. Ozone is generally regarded as an unselective oxidant. US 8,507,730, Iowa State University, Ames, USA, 13 Aug 2013 Alcohol homologation An aliphatic alcohol is carbonylated with CO, using a rhodium catalyst. The resulting carboxylic acid is then hydrogenated to the next higher alcohol using a copper chromite catalyst. US 8,507,735, John E. Stauffer, Greenwich, CT, USA, 13 Aug 2013 Catalyst powder manufacture by spray pyrolysis A process for making multi-purpose catalyst powders by spray pyrolysis. This is an alternative to the usual sequence of wet stages. It can, for instance, make the established 3-way catalyst which combines hydrocarbon oxidation, NOx reduction, and oxygen storage. The components are dissolved or suspended in a liquid medium and sprayed into a heated reactor. US 8,507,403, Cabot Corp, Boston, MA, USA, 13 Aug 2013 SEPTEMBER 2013 7 FOCUS ON CATALYSTS

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Page 1: Alcohol homologation

at its production site in Indonesia. Thetechnology directly adds ethylene toacetic acid, enabling efficientproduction of high-quality ethylacetate, and uses a solidheteropolyacid catalyst developed bySDK. Demand for the product isexpected to continue growing insideand outside Japan.

Original Source: Showa Denko, 2013. Found onSpecialChem Adhesives and Sealants Formulation, 2 Aug 2013, (Website:http://www.specialchem4adhesives.com)

NEWTECHNOLOGY

Two new technologies makingchemicals from CO2

Two research groups are studying thepotential use of carbon dioxide asfeedstock for the production ofalkanes and acrylates. Theresearchers from the University ofBath were inspired by the Fischer-Tropsch process. The team leader,Davide Mattia, is using another ironcatalyst that has a simpler preparationmethod. It can produce a mixture ofalkanes for use as a fuel, and workswith both carbon monoxide andcarbon dioxide. Another researchgroup from the Brown and YaleUniversities reported the possibility ofproducing acrylate out of the reactionof carbon dioxide with ethylene in thepresence of nickel and other metalcatalysts. The process is thought tobe cheaper than the conventionalprocess since carbon dioxide isessentially free and overabundant,while ethylene is cheaper thanpropylene. Ethylene can also besourced from biomass.

Original Source: Green Chemistry Network Newsletter,Apr 2013, 12 (Website:http://www.greenchemistrynetwork.org) © GreenChemistry Network 2013

Waste CO2-derived plastic hits tonnescale

US-based company Novomer hasinitially produced 7 tonnes of short-chain polypropylene carbonate (PPC)diols with a molecular weight of about1000 using a catalytic process thatreact carbon dioxide waste from anammonia plant with propylene oxide.The diols can be used as a feedstock

to manufacture a range ofpolyurethane plastics that could beused in different applications. Thecompany believes that an ethanolfermentation plant is the desiredsource of waste carbon dioxide in thelong run. However, the chosen plantof speciality chemical companyAlbemarle needed minor adjustmentsto fit with Novomer’s process.

Original Source: Chemistry World, Jul 2013, 10 (7),19 (Website: http://www.rsc.org/chemistryworld) © Royal Society of Chemistry 2013

3-hydroxypropionic acid from sugar

BASF, Cargill, and Novozymes haveannounced their successful develop-ment of 3-hydroxypropionic acid (3-HP) from sugar. The acrylic acidprecursor was successfully developedin a pilot scale test. Novozymes andCargill made a genetically alteredmicrobe capable of producing 3-HP,while BASF developed techniques indehydrating 3-HP into acrylic acid.

Original Source: Cargill Inc, website:http://www.cargill.com (3 Jul 2013) © CargillIncorporated 2013. Original Source: Chemical andEngineering News, 15 Jul 2013, 91 (28), 15 (Website:http://www.cen-online.org) © American ChemicalSociety 2013

Glucose to sorbose in one step

Chemical engineers from Caltechhave discovered a simple method ofconverting D-glucose to L-sorboseintermediates for the production of L-ascorbic acid (vitamin C). The studyreported that D-glucose can beisomerized to L-sorbosestereospecifically in a single step byusing an acidic zeolite catalyst.

Original Source: Chemical and Engineering News, 3 Jun 2013, 91 (22), 31 (Website: http://www.cen-online.org) © American Chemical Society 2013

Soya bean catalyst splits water

A cheap, soya bean and molybdenum-based ‘MoSoy’ catalyst has beendeveloped through research conductedby Brookhaven National Laboratorychemists. This catalyst can splithydrogen from water; it is a possiblealternative to established platinumcatalysts. No costly noble-metals wereused in its production and the catalystremained efficient and stable up to 500hours. The researchers claim that theirfindings offer the possibility ofdeveloping catalysts out of cheap

biomass and transition metals forelectrocatalytic applications.

Original Source: TCE (formerly The ChemicalEngineer), Jun 2013, (864), 19 (Website:http://www.tcetoday.com) Chemical Engineers 2013

PATENTSBio-oil conversion

Biomass needs first to be convertedto a ‘bio-oil’, by a fast pyrolysisprocess. This is then converted toanother liquid which can beprocessed like petroleum. These twoalmost identical patents describe sucha conversion process, using super-critical water, which acts like an acidcatalyst.

US Patents 8,500,829 and 8,502,003, ExxonMobilResearch and Engineering Co, Annandale, NJ, USA, 6Aug 2013

Selective oxidation using ozone

Ferrous salts in acetonitrile catalysethe selective oxidation of alcohols toaldehydes, rather than carboxylicacids, using ozone. Ozone isgenerally regarded as an unselectiveoxidant.

US 8,507,730, Iowa State University, Ames, USA, 13Aug 2013

Alcohol homologation

An aliphatic alcohol is carbonylatedwith CO, using a rhodium catalyst.The resulting carboxylic acid is thenhydrogenated to the next higheralcohol using a copper chromitecatalyst.

US 8,507,735, John E. Stauffer, Greenwich, CT, USA,13 Aug 2013

Catalyst powder manufacture by spraypyrolysis

A process for making multi-purposecatalyst powders by spray pyrolysis.This is an alternative to the usualsequence of wet stages. It can, forinstance, make the established 3-waycatalyst which combines hydrocarbonoxidation, NOx reduction, and oxygenstorage. The components aredissolved or suspended in a liquidmedium and sprayed into a heatedreactor.

US 8,507,403, Cabot Corp, Boston, MA, USA, 13 Aug2013

SEPTEMBER 2013 7

F O C U S O N C A T A LY S T S