Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Jeff Kolstad joins Avantium as Chief Scientist to accelerate bioplastics development

Avantium announced that Dr. Jeffrey J. Kolstad has joined Avantium as Chief Scientist. Jeff Kolstad will strengthen Avantium’s team in developing a next generation of bioplastics on the basis of its YXY technology.

Previously Chief Scientist at NatureWorks (formerly Cargill-Dow) he was one of the founding team members for developing and commercializing PLA (polylactic-acid), a biobased polymer. The team developed the process and polymer technology, moving it from laboratory scale, to pilot plant, into a fully commercial 140,000 MT/yr manufacturing facility in Blair, Nebraska, USA. Jeff was also responsible for managing the intellectual property portfolio and IP strategy of NatureWorks. Prior to NatureWorks, Jeff worked in the Corporate Research centers at Cargill,Inc. and Amoco Oil Company. He holds a PhD in Chemical Engineering from the Princeton University. 

Avantium is developing its YXY technology for the cost effective production of Furanics building blocks. The company is building a pilot plant to demonstrate its YXY technology and to produce larger volumes of YXY building blocks for application development of new, green plastics, chemicals and materials. Earlier this year, Avantium announced that is actively developing PEF, a 100% renewable and 100% recyclable polyester as alternative to petroleum based PET. Avantium has also partnered with Solvay for the development of green polyamides for engineering plastics and with Teijin Aramid for the development of green high-performance fibers.


Bayer among favorites for German Sustainability Award

A novel process for the production of plastics using carbon dioxide has made Bayer AG a favorite for this year’s German Sustainability Award. The company is among the top three candidates in the category “Germany’s Most Sustainable Initiatives.” Bayer was nominated for the Dream Production research project, which aims to turn the greenhouse gas CO2 into a useful raw material. This could ultimately provide the chemical industry with an alternative to increasingly scarce resources such as petroleum.

The winners in the various categories will be announced in Düsseldorf on November 4 as part of the celebration of German Sustainability Day. The jury’s nomination of Bayer acknowledges the company’s commitment to the “energy efficient, conservational and environmentally compatible use of CO2.” The use of CO2, a waste product that is harmful to the climate, in a production process is a “dream” that Bayer is pursuing with a “viable prospect of success” according to the citation.

“We are pleased and proud to be among the leading candidates for this important award,” says Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Plischke, the member of the Bayer Board of Management responsible for Technology, Innovation and Environment. “At the same time, we see this as a confirmation of our comprehensive sustainability strategy that is reflected in numerous processes, products and solutions in the fields of health care, nutrition and high-quality materials.”

According to Patrick Thomas, CEO of the Bayer MaterialScience subgroup which has overall responsibility for the project, “Dream Production has the potential of triggering a significant change in the raw material base of the chemical industry thanks to the exemplary combination of intercompany collaboration and applied research.”

The new process is currently undergoing thorough testing with the objective of beginning industrial production in 2015. A pilot plant brought on stream by Bayer in Leverkusen in February is using carbon dioxide from the power generation industry to produce a chemical precursor for the production of polyurethanes. Polyurethanes are used in many aspects of everyday life and help to save energy and protect the climate. When used to insulate buildings against heat or cold, they can save around 70 times more energy than is used in their production.

The CO2 used is sourced from a power plant operated by RWE Power, which in addition to Bayer Technology Services, the CAT Catalytic Center in Aachen and RWTH Aachen University, is among the partners participating in the project. The university’s responsibilities include subjecting the new process to comprehensive ecological and economic scrutiny while also comparing it with conventional processes and products.

The German Sustainability Award has been each year since 2008 and is under the patronage of German Federal Chancellor Dr. Angela Merkel. The award recognizes companies that are exemplary in their efforts to combine economic success with social responsibility and conservation of the environment.


CFD collaboration between GEA Niro and DTU

 GEA Niro is working hand-in-hand with the Technical University of Denmark (DTU), to simulate the fluid dynamics that take place within a full-sized spray dryer. This is done using a scaled down model with water instead of air.  The process allows experiments to be performed at a laboratory level that would otherwise require full-scale equipment of several meters in all dimensions. The data gathered helps GEA Niro refine the development of its spray drying equipment and ensures that its technology keeps pace with, and sometimes drives, its customers’ production needs.

The laboratory equipment, financed by GEA Niro, looks impressive.  Inside the scaled-down clear polycarbonate spray dryer containing swirling water thousands of microscopic particles are turned alive by two green flashes from a laser. Meanwhile a powerful computer shows a picture full of arrows, in different shapes and sizes, indicating the speed and direction of the flow.

 “We let the water run through the container and then create vertically aligned laser light,” explained associate professor Knud Erik Meyer, DTU Mechanics. “We shoot twice in a row and record each laser pulse. As the particles in the water move from the first to the second picture we can see how fast and in which direction the particles move.”
Thorvald Ullum, Fluid Mechanics Manager at GEA Niro, has been working on the development of spray dryers primarily used for powder production in food, chemical and pharmaceutical products for many years. “This research collaboration makes it possible for GEA Niro to optimize our systems to be as compact and energy efficient as possible. At the same time, it makes it possible to improve the drying process, allowing the systems to produce better products by controlling the temperature of the particles during the drying process,” he says.  “Today, we dedicate resources to understand, in detail, what happens locally in the different parts of the spray dryer. We can now make computer simulations of the spray drying process very accurately. By using CFD (Computational Fluid Dynamics) we can predict how the air moves and thereby how the particles dry. It is essential to know how close the simulations are to reality. How much can we trust our computer simulations? In truth the simulations are only part of the evaluation process.  Although the simulation results are very accurate, every assumption has to be tested and validated on production equipment.”

Using water rather than air allows the experiments to be performed on a smaller scale. “When one uses streaming water, it equals simulating the flow of air at the same Reynolds number but in a container fifteen times bigger. It is simply possible to make the setup smaller when you use water,” explained Knud Erik Meyer.  It’s in the basement laboratory at DTU Mechanics that the arrows on the computer screen are thoroughly analysed. “We definitely have a jet stream that shoots downwards and centrally in the spray dryer,” explained Jonas Hansen, who is one of the many DTU students performing advanced flow-analyses as part of the collaboration with GEA Niro, under the supervision of Knud Erik Meyer.


BP and JBF Group Agree to Build New Co-located PET Facility in Geel, Belgium

 BP has entered into agreements with JBF RAK LLC under which JBF RAK LLC is to build a new 390,000 tonne per year polyethylene terephthalate (PET) production unit in Geel, Belgium, subject to required approvals.

The agreements provide JBF rights to build and operate this PET unit on BP’s existing petrochemicals complex in Geel, adjacent to BP’s world-class purified terephthalic acid (PTA) facility. BP will in return supply PTA directly to this new PET manufacturing unit. Startup of the unit is scheduled in 2014.

Frédéric Baudry, Vice-President for BP Petrochemicals Europe said: “We are delighted that JBF has decided to invest in Geel. This new PET plant leverages BP’s scale, technology and location advantages at Geel to deliver a competitively integrated PX-PTA-PET manufacturing complex in Europe. Such a complex will help maintain and develop BP’s position in the region and underpins BP’s long term commitment to its merchant customers.”

Patrick Van Acker, Manufacturing Director of BP Geel, said: “This agreement demonstrates that our region can attract significant investments by looking for synergies with foreign investors. Moreover, by avoiding unnecessary PTA transportation in the PET supply chain and by reducing the corresponding environmental impact, we create a sustainable and long term anchorage for PTA and PET production in Geel.” BP in Geel belongs to the BP group of companies. The company in Geel employs more than 400 people.

BP in Geel produces paraxylene and PTA. Paraxylene is the main raw material to produce PTA. In Europe, PTA is mainly used to make PET. Worldwide PTA’s main use is in the manufacture of polyester.


Matthias Greiner appointed Head of Department at the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment

 Risks which can be involved in foods and articles of daily use are diverse and complex. In order to determine a possible risk for consumers, information about the intake amounts of pathogens and contaminants are necessary. A focal area or research at the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) is, therefore, the development of methods to collect data within the framework of risk assessment and exposure evaluation. This research area has now been strengthened by BfR through a joint appointment with the University of Veterinary Medicine Hannover, Foundation (TiHo). Private lecturer Dr. Matthias Greiner is appointed as both a university professor at TiHo Hanover and will take over the lead of the Department Scientific Services at BfR.

As a veterinary medical scientist and statistician Matthias Greiner has been working at BfR in the fields of epidemiology, biostatistics and mathematical modelling since 2006. He regularly acts as an expert for the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and is also involved in the promotion of junior scientists as the upcoming President of the European College for Veterinary Public Health. Greiner's professional career shows that he has acquired the relevant scientific and administrative competency as an inter-disciplinarily researcher.

Greiner graduated as a Veterinary Medical Scientist from the Free University (FU) of Berlin and obtained a PhD in a medical laboratory about the diagnostic detection of mycobacteria. After his Master of Science in Statistics at the Hallam Sheffield University in the United Kingdom, he habilitated in veterinary medicine at the FU Berlin in the fields of epidemiology and biostatistics. Between 1989 and 2002 Greiner was head of the serological laboratory at the Institute for International Veterinary Medicine and the Institute for Parasitology at the FU Berlin. After four years as Head of the International Research Centre for Veterinary Epidemiology (International EpiLab) at the then Danish Institute for Food and Veterinary Research (DFVF) in Copenhagen he started his activity with BfR. Greiner's research focus is on the validation of diagnostic processes and the methodological developments for risk assessment and exposure evaluation.

The Department Scientific Services currently includes six units: international chemicals programmes, poisoning and product documentation, epidemiology, biostatistics and mathematical modelling, exposure assessment and standardisation, information technology and the GLP Federal Bureau and quality management. The inter-connection of the different areas within BfR and the scientific consulting of federal authorities constitute challenging tasks. Greiner will represent BfR in the relevant national and international bodies.

As a Professor for quantitative risk assessment and exposure modelling at the TiHo Hannover Greiner will act both as a lecturer and extend scientific research.

This first joint appointment of BfR and the University targets an even closer intertwinement in the fields of research and support of young scientists. In this way the joint appointment of Greiner to BfR and TiHo Hannover serves as a model for science-based consumer protection in Germany.