Saturday, August 13, 2011

Merck KGaA: Udit Batra to Lead Consumer Health Care Division

 Merck announced that Udit Batra will become Head of the Consumer Health Care Division as of September 1, 2011. He will succeed Peter Shotter, who has decided to leave the company by the end of 2011. Udit Batra will report to Stefan Oschmann, Executive Board Member of Merck and responsible for the pharmaceutical business.

After completing a degree in Chemical Engineering at the University of Delaware, USA, Udit Batra obtained his PhD from Princeton University and started as a research engineer at Merck & Co. (outside North-America: MSD). In 2001, he joined McKinsey, where he worked across the healthcare, consumer and non-profit sectors as a senior engagement manager. In 2004, Udit became global brand director for the Wound Care Franchise at Johnson & Johnson and joined Novartis in 2006, where he held several positions. He was the global head of corporate strategy at Novartis headquarters in Basel, Switzerland, as well as country president in Australia. In 2009, he was appointed as head of global public health and market access for the Novartis Vaccines and Diagnostics business, where he also was a member of the Global Executive Committee.
Udit Batra was born in India and is a US citizen.


Dow to Invest in Water Technology in Saudi Arabia

The Dow Chemical Company announced plans to invest in a best-in-class manufacturing facility for DOW FILMTEC™ reverse osmosis (RO) elements in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

“Dow has a 50-year history of innovation and market leadership in the water industry. Saudi Arabia and nearby emerging markets represent a tremendous opportunity for Dow. Our plan is to complement our commercial presence with a manufacturing footprint, thereby bringing us closer to regional customers and strengthening the global competitiveness of our water business,” said Jerome Peribere, Dow executive vice president and president and chief executive officer, Dow Advanced Materials.

The proposed facility would deliver local supply security of cutting-edge technologies for water desalination and water re-use for potable, non-potable and industrial water serving Saudi Arabia, the surrounding Middle East and North Africa region and emerging markets worldwide. Additionally, these water membrane technologies will deliver cost-savings through reduced energy usage and superior operational efficiencies for customers in desalination, industrial, municipal, commercial and residential sectors.

“The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is a key market for Dow Water & Process Solutions. This new proposed world-class facility will increase our ability to deliver the most advanced, affordable and sustainable water sourcing and treatment options for desalination, wastewater treatment, and other applications,” said Dr. Ilham Kadri, commercial director for Europe, Middle East and Africa, Dow Water & Process Solutions.

Dow is committed to investing for growth in Saudi Arabia. This announcement builds on the recent decision by The Dow Chemical Company and Saudi Aramco to form Sadara Chemical Company, a joint venture to build and operate a world-scale, fully integrated chemicals complex in Jubail Industrial City, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Upon completion, the joint venture is projected to be among the world’s largest petrochemical facilities and would represent the largest foreign direct investment into Saudi Arabia’s petrochemical sector. In 2009, Dow entered into a comprehensive Research and Development (R&D) collaboration agreement with the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST), the region’s leading graduate-level research university.


World's fastest nickel-based complex

Scientists at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory's Center for Molecular Electrocatalysis and Villanova University designed a nickel-based complex that more than doubled previously reported hydrogen gas production rates and increased the energy efficiency of the reaction. Additionally, the team found that adding water to the reaction significantly increased the reaction speed.  As a result of the discoveries, researchers are closer to finding energy storage solutions for surplus energy generated from green technologies.

"These catalysts are, to the best of our knowledge, the fastest reported molecular electrocatalysts for hydrogen production," said PNNL postdoctoral associate Dr. Uriah Kilgore, first author of the study's findings.  "Small changes in their structure and small amounts of water led to significant increases in catalyst turnover frequencies."

Retooling America's energy industry requires storing surplus energy generated from renewable technologies.  Storage of energy is needed due to the intermittent nature of renewable energy sources such as solar and wind power. One answer, storing energy in the creation of hydrogen gas, requires efficiencies that seem to be contradictory.  To avoid losing energy generated by wind turbines, for example, hydrogen gas must be generated quickly. Generation of hydrogen gas must also be energy efficient to convert all of the electricity to chemical energy in hydrogen.

Storing energy in hydrogen gas requires an energy source to power a catalytic chemical reaction that results in the creation of hydrogen gas. This catalytic reaction is limited by the cost of the key catalyst. Platinum catalysts excel at two key energy-storage factors:  turnover frequency and overpotential, but platinum is an expensive precious metal of low abundance.  Turnover frequency describes the number of hydrogen gas molecules created by a catalyst over a period of time.  Overpotential, the difference between the theoretical energy and the actual energy required to produce the hydrogen gas, often works against turnover frequency—typically, the faster hydrogen gas is created, the more energy it requires. Likewise, lower overpotentials usually translate to inefficiencies from slower turnover frequencies. The key for energy storage via the creation of hydrogen gas lies in finding a low-cost catalyst whose turnover frequency and overpotential matches or exceeds that of platinum.

The study completed by Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and Villanova University researchers led to important discoveries in the advancement of catalysis for production of hydrogen gas.  First, small changes in the catalyst have a significant effect on hydrogen gas production rates.  Additionally, the team found that adding small volumes of water to the conversion led, in some cases, to an increase in turnover frequency of more than a factor of ten. The combined effect of the discoveries led to catalysts with higher rates of hydrogen gas production, lowered the overpotential, and provided insight for further research for as an storage solution.

The research team synthesized nickel-based complexes and mixed the complexes with acids with a range of pH values.  Electrochemical reduction of the acid produced hydrogen. The catalysts (in solution) were studied by cyclic voltammetry, in which an electrical current repeatedly sweeps between two set voltages, leading to the determination of the turnover frequencies.

The research team will continue to develop the nickel-based complexes to increase the turnover frequency and decrease the overpotential.  Additionally, the effects of water on catalytic rates will continue to be evaluated.

More information: Kilgore UJ, et al.  2011.  "[Ni(PPh2NC6H4X2)2]2+ Complexes as Electrocatalysts for H2 Production:  Effect of Substituents, Acids, and Water on Catalytic Rates."  Journal of the American Chemical Society 133(15):5861-5872.

Provided by Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (news : web)

New X-ray camera will reveal big secrets about how chemistry works

Designed to record bursts of images at an unprecedented speed of 4.5 million frames per second, an innovative X-ray camera being built with STFC's world-class engineering expertise will help a major new research facility shed light on the structure of matter.

The unique device will be delivered to the billion-euro European XFEL ( Free-Electron Laser) next year and will contribute to and other vital research once this facility starts operating in 2015.

The go-ahead for continuation of the L3 million prototype collaboration contract for the camera's construction has been confirmed following a visit to STFC by a delegation from the European XFEL's Detector Advisory Committee.

The decision to entrust construction of this crucial piece of equipment to STFC recognises the organisation's outstanding capabilities in advanced microelectronics and the design of high-tech imaging devices (e.g. for the Large Hadron Collider at CERN).

Now under construction near Hamburg in Northern Germany, the European XFEL is a 2-mile-long facility that will use superconducting accelerator technology to accelerate electrons which then generate X-ray flashes a billion times brighter than those produced by conventional X-ray sources. Each flash will last less than one hundred million billionth of a second. With the properties of laser light, these short, intense flashes will, for example, make it possible to take three-dimensional X-ray images of single molecules.

Current leading-edge X-ray cameras are designed to capture when matter is bombarded by a constant beam of X-rays. But the extreme brevity and intensity of the flashes produced by the European XFEL means such cameras will not be suitable for use at the new facility.

STFC's new device, which is being built in collaboration with University of Glasgow, is specifically designed to work in conjunction with hyper-short, hyper-brilliant X-ray flashes. It will be installed in one of the first experimental endstations incorporated in the European XFEL.

The device will help ensure that the European XFEL provides a unique opportunity for science and industry to understand matter and its behaviour, mapping the atomic details of viruses, for instance, or pinpointing the molecular composition of individual cells.

Dr Tim Nicholls of STFC says: "We're delighted that the European XFEL has turned to STFC to build this pioneering camera. It demonstrates how the UK can provide the high-tech excellence that world markets need, leading to scientific advances that make a real difference to people's lives."

Dr Markus Kuster, Group Leader of European XFEL GmbH's Detector Development says: "The European XFEL will represent a major step forward in equipping Europe with a new generation of research infrastructure that can meet the requirements of the 21st century. STFC's unique skills are creating an imaging device which will help this remarkable facility realise its vast potential".

Provided by Science and Technology Facilities Council (news : web)

Pigment discovery expanding into new colors

Chemists at Oregon State University have discovered that the same crystal structure they identified two years ago to create what may be the world's best blue pigment can also be used with different elements to create other colors, with significant potential in the paint and pigment industries.

First on the list, appropriately, is a brilliant orange pigment – appropriate for the OSU Beavers whose team are black and orange, and a university in a "Powered by Orange" advancement campaign.

But the broader potential for these pigments, researchers say, is the ability to tweak essentially the same chemical structure in slightly different ways to create a whole range of new colors in pigments that may be safer to produce, more durable and more environmentally benign than many of those that now exist.

Among the possibilities, they say, are colors that should be of interest to OSU's athletic rival 40 miles down the road at the University of Oregon – yellow and green.

"The basic crystal structure we're using for these pigments was known before, but no one had ever considered using it for any commercial purpose, including pigments," said Mas Subramanian, the Milton Harris Professor of Materials Science in the OSU Department of Chemistry.

"All of these colors should share the same characteristics of being extremely stable, durable, and resistant to heat and acid," he said. "And they are based on the same , so minor adjustments to the technology will produce very different colors and very high quality pigments."

OSU has already applied for a patent on this technology, samples are now being tested by private industry, and the latest findings were published recently in Inorganic Chemistry, a journal of the American Chemical Society. The research has been supported by the National Science Foundation.

This invention evolved from what was essentially an accidental discovery in 2009 in an OSU lab, where Subramanian was exploring some manganese oxides for interesting electronic properties. At one stage of the process, when a sample had been heated to almost 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit, the compound turned a vivid blue.

It was found that this chemistry had interesting properties that affects the absorption of light and consequently its color. So Subramanian and his research team, including OSU professor emeritus Art Sleight, quickly shifted their electronics research into what may become a revolution in the paint and pigment industry. Future applications may range from inkjet printers to automobiles or even ordinary house .

The work created, at first, a beautiful blue pigment, which had properties that had eluded humans for thousands of years, dating back to the Han dynasty in China, ancient Egyptians and Mayan culture. Most previous blue pigments had various problems with toxicity, durability and vulnerability to heat or acid. Some are carcinogenic, others emit cyanide.

Expanding that research, the scientists further studied this unusual "trigonal-bypyramidal coordination" of crystalline structure, atoms that are combined in a certain five-part coordinated network. The initial blue color in the pigment came from the manganese used in the compound. The scientists have now discovered that the same structure will produce other colors simply by substituting different elements.

"The new orange pigment is based on iron, and we might use copper and titanium for a green pigment," Subramanian said. "Yellow and deep brown should be possible, and we should be able to make a new red . A lot of red pigments are now made with cadmium and mercury, which can be toxic.

"These should all be very attractive for commercial use," he said.

Provided by Oregon State University (news : web)