Sunday, August 28, 2011

Eastman Acquires Dynaloy, LLC

: Eastman Chemical Company announced that one of its wholly owned subsidiaries has acquired from E&A Industries, Inc., the assets of Dynaloy, LLC, a specialty chemical business based in Indianapolis, Indiana. This acquisition, which includes Dynaloy’s inventory, equipment, intellectual property, and customer contracts, supports Eastman’s growth efforts for the electronic materials product line of its Coatings, Adhesives, Specialty Polymers and Inks (CASPI) segment. 

Dynaloy manufactures and sells advanced cleaning solutions for multiple applications on a global basis, with particular focus on the semiconductor industry. The business will remain headquartered in Indianapolis.

“Dynaloy brings a strong market connect along with material science capabilities that are complementary to our own,” said Scott Ballard, industry director, Electronic Materials. “As we continue to develop and grow Eastman’s presence in electronic materials, the expertise and reliability that Dynaloy customers have come to expect will be a great asset to our overall growth strategy.”


BASF with strong first half 2011

In the first half of 2011 – the International Year of Chemistry – BASF’s business remained dynamic. The previous year’s excellent results were exceeded. “The economic environment in the first half of 2011 was favorable for our business. Our numbers show that we successfully took advantage of this momentum,” said Dr. Kurt Bock, Chairman of the Board of Executive Directors of BASF SE at the presentation of BASF’s results in Ludwigshafen.

Following a strong start to the year, BASF had a good and very solid second quarter. Sales improved by 13.9% to €18.5 billion and income from operations (EBIT) before special items by 1.4% to €2.2 billion despite the suspension of oil production in Libya. In the second quarter of 2010, the Libyan activities contributed an EBIT before special items of €280 million. On a comparable basis, EBIT before special items thus increased by 16%.

Compared with the extraordinary growth in the first quarter, the growth rates have normalized in the second quarter as expected. In addition, for the first time since the first quarter of 2010 currency effects were negative (minus 6%) due to the weak U.S. dollar. The inclusion of the Cognis businesses made a positive contribution to sales. In the chemicals business, sales volumes increased 5%. Due to the suspension of oil production in Libya, the contribution to earnings before taxes from Oil & Gas was lower compared with the same quarter of the previous year.

For the first half of 2011, sales were €37.8 billion, an increase of 19.4% compared with the same period of the previous year. EBIT before special items rose by 19.4% to around €5 billion.

BASF continues to view the economic outlook as positive for the second half of the year, but expects growth to be less dynamic, as could be observed towards the end of the second quarter. Bock said: “The economic risks remain: We continue to be concerned about the development of the euro as well as the debt situation in some European countries and the United States. Added to this is the persistently high oil price, which is having a negative impact on margins across our value chains and is leading to some customers being more cautious in their orders.”

Price increases were necessary in several business areas and will continue to be necessary in the future. Domestic tensions – particularly in North Africa – continue to unsettle the markets. As announced at the beginning of May, due to the ongoing hostilities in Libya, BASF does not anticipate being able to resume oil production there in 2011.

In the chemical sector, the company anticipates worldwide growth in chemical production of 5% to 6%, which can differ considerably from region to region. However, BASF wants to grow faster than the market in all regions. For the full year 2011, BASF estimates an average exchange rate of $1.40 per euro. Due to the persistently high and further rise in the price of oil, the company’s forecast for the annual average price of Brent crude is being raised by $10 to $110 per barrel.

Bock said: “Based on the positive business growth in the first half, we remain confident for 2011. Despite the reduction in oil production, we expect significant sales growth for the BASF Group in 2011. Adjusted for non-compensable income taxes on oil-producing operations, we continue to aim to significantly exceed the record 2010 level in EBIT before special items. We expect to once again earn a high premium on our cost of capital in 2011.”

In the Chemicals segment, sales were significantly higher than in the second quarter of 2010. Sales prices increased in all divisions, particularly in the Petrochemicals division. EBIT before special items was impacted by scheduled and unscheduled plant shutdowns and almost reached the level of the previous year.

In the Plastics segment, sales volumes were higher in both divisions. Increased prices also contributed to sales growth. EBIT before special items improved thanks to higher volumes and margins.

The Performance Products segment posted a strong increase in sales thanks largely to a considerable contribution from the acquired Cognis businesses. They also contributed to the increase in EBIT before special items.

All divisions contributed to the strong growth in sales in the Functional Solutions segment. EBIT before special items rose slightly compared with the same quarter of 2010. This was due primarily to the volume-related strong contribution from the Catalysts division.

In the Agricultural Solutions segment, sales volumes increased. With stable prices, sales were at the same level as in the second quarter of 2010 due to the weak U.S. dollar. EBIT before special items slightly improved.

Sales in the Oil & Gas segment rose slightly compared with the second quarter of 2010, thanks to higher crude oil and natural gas prices. Due to the suspension of oil production in Libya at the end of February 2011, production volumes decreased. Therefore, EBIT before special items did not reach the level of the second quarter of 2010. However, net income improved substantially.

BASF’s business in the first half of 2011 was positive in all regions. Growth in sales and earnings was partially double-digit.

Sales and earnings in Europe rose significantly. The Performance Products segment made a strong contribution to this growth. In the Chemicals segment, higher raw materials costs were passed on to the market. Sales also grew substantially in the Plastics segment thanks to good demand from the automotive industry.

In North America, sales also increased. The inclusion of the Cognis businesses considerably bolstered sales growth in the Performance Products segment. The chemicals business developed successfully overall. In the Agricultural Solutions segment, sales declined in particular as a result of the weaker U.S. dollar and difficult weather conditions. Earnings were above the level of the first half of 2010.

Sales in Asia Pacific rose thanks to good demand. The Cognis businesses and price increases due to higher raw materials costs, especially in the Petrochemicals, Performance Polymers and Catalysts divisions, contributed to this growth. Earnings improved substantially in particular due to good margins in the Performance Products segment.

In South America, Africa, Middle East sales and earnings increased significantly. The inclusion of the Cognis businesses made a significant contribution to the sales growth. The successful business with crop protection products contributed to the substantial increase in earnings.


Phone losing charge? Novel technology allows LCDs to recycle energy

We've all worried about the charge on our smartphone or laptop running down when we have no access to an electrical outlet. But new technology developed by researchers at the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science could finally help solve the problem.

The UCLA engineers have created a novel concept for harvesting and recycling energy for electronic devices — one that involves equipping these devices' LCD screens with built-in photovoltaic polarizers, allowing them to convert ambient light, sunlight and their own backlight into electricity.

LCDs, or liquid crystal displays, are used in many of today's electronic devices, including smartphones, TV screens, computer monitors, laptops and tablet computers. They work by using two polarized sheets that let only a certain amount of a device's backlight pass through. Tiny liquid crystal molecules are sandwiched between the two polarizers, and these crystals can be switched by tiny transistors to act as light valves. Manipulating each light valve, or pixel, lets a certain amount of the backlight escape; millions of pixels are combined to create images on LCDs.

The UCLA Engineering team created a new type of energy-harvesting polarizer for LCDs called a polarizing organic photovoltaic, which can potentially boost the function of an LCD by working simultaneously as a , a photovoltaic device and an ambient light or sunlight photovoltaic panel.

Their research findings are currently available in the online edition of the journal Advanced Materials and will be published in a forthcoming print issue of the journal.

"I believe this is a game-changer invention to improve the efficiency of LCD displays," said Yang Yang, a professor of materials science at UCLA Engineering and principal investigator on the research. "In addition, these polarizers can also be used as regular solar cells to harvest indoor or outdoor light. So next time you are on the beach, you could charge your iPhone via sunlight."

From the point of view of energy use, current LCD polarizers are inefficient, the researchers said. A device's backlight can consume 80 to 90 percent of the device's power. But as much as 75 percent of the light generated is lost through the polarizers. A polarizing organic photovoltaic LCD could recover much of that unused energy.

"In the near future, we would like to increase the efficiency of the polarizing organic photovoltaics, and eventually we hope to work with electronic manufacturers to integrate our technology into real products", Yang said. "We hope this energy-saving LCD will become a mainstream technology in displays."

"Our coating method is simple, and it can be applied in the future in large-area manufacturing processes," said Rui Zhu, a postdoctoral researcher at UCLA Engineering and the paper's lead author.

"The polarizing organic photovoltaic cell demonstrated by Professor Yang's research group can potentially harvest 75 percent of the wasted photons from LCD backlight and turn them back into electricity," said Youssry Boutros, program director for the Intel Labs Academic Research Office, which supported the research. "The strong collaboration between this group at UCLA Engineering and other top groups has led to higher cell efficiencies, increasing the potential for harvesting energy. This approach is interesting in its own right and at the same time synergetic with several other projects we are funding through the Intel Labs Academic Research Office."

More information: http://onlinelibra … 514/abstract

Provided by University of California Los Angeles (news : web)

Physicists explore the key energy transport process underlying solar energy harvesting

Two Lehigh physicists have developed an imaging technique that makes it possible to directly observe light-emitting excitons as they diffuse in a new material that is being explored for its extraordinary electronic properties. Called rubrene, it is one of a new generation of single-crystal organic semiconductors.

Excitons, which are created by light, play a central role in the harvesting of solar energy using plastic solar cells. The achievement by Ivan Biaggio, professor of physics, and Pavel Irkhin, a Ph.D. candidate, represents the first time that an advanced imaging technique has been used to witness the long-range diffusion of energy-carrying excitons in an organic crystal.

One way to understand the mechanics of excitons, says Biaggio, is to pour a cup of milk on the floor. The milk spreads out in all directions from the point of impact. How far it goes depends on the type of surface on which it lands. Now imagine that the milk has been replaced with particle-like bundles of energy and the floor with an ordered arrangement of organic molecules.

Biaggio's group used a focused laser beam to create the particles -- the excitons -- in a crystal made of organic molecules. They tracked the movements of the excitons over distances smaller than the size of a human hair by directly taking pictures of the light that they emit. Unlike the spilled milk, the excitons spread only in a direction corresponding to a particular arrangement of molecules.

Hope for overcoming a solar bottleneck

An understanding of exciton diffusion is critical for plastic solar cell technology, in which the absorption of light creates excitons instead of directly inducing a current, as it does in the most commonly used silicon systems.

After they are created in plastic solar cells, excitons diffuse toward specially designed interfaces where they drive electrons into an external circuit, creating the flow of electrons we know as electric current. This diffusion process is one of the technical challenges limiting the efficiency of plastic solar cells.

"This is the first time that excitons have been directly viewed in a molecular material at room temperature," said Biaggio. "We believe the technique we have demonstrated will be exploited by other researchers to develop a better understanding of exciton diffusion and the bottleneck it forms in plastic solar cells."

When will we have cheap and efficient plastic solar cells? It is the goal of researchers around the world to improve exciton diffusion lengths until they become as large as the light absorption -- that's the point when sunlight is most efficiently collected and converted into energy.

An article by Irkhin and Biaggio was published in the journal Physical Review Letters.

The work was supported by a Faculty Innovation Grant from Lehigh, which provides resources to develop novel ideas and demonstrate new approaches to important research questions.

Thanks to the direct imaging of the diffusing excitons, Irkhin and Biaggio were able to obtain precise measurement of their diffusion length. This length was found to be very large in a particular direction, reaching a value several hundreds of times larger than in the plastic solar cells that are presently used. This is the first time that excitons have been directly viewed in a molecular material at room temperature, and it is believed that the widespread adoption of the technique developed by Irkhin and Biaggio will lead to significant progress in the field.

"It is important that physicists explore the most fundamental phenomena underlying the mechanisms that enable solar energy harvesting with cheap organic materials," said Biaggio. "Organics have lots of unexplored potential and the very efficient exciton diffusion that we have observed in rubrene may build the basis for new ideas and technologies towards the development of ever more efficient and plastic solar cells."

Story Source:

The above story is reprinted (with editorial adaptations) from materials provided by Lehigh University.

Journal Reference:

Pavel Irkhin, Ivan Biaggio. Direct Imaging of Anisotropic Exciton Diffusion and Triplet Diffusion Length in Rubrene Single Crystals. Physical Review Letters, 2011; 107 (1) DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.107.017402