ICIS reveals 2010 Innovation Awards shortlist

Seconds out... final round!

02 August 2010 00:00  [Source: ICB]

The short list for the ICIS Innovation Awards has been decided, and the judges are preparing to select the best in each category and an overall Innovation of the Year. Study the field and see if you concur with our panel of judges when their selections are revealed on October 11

Rex Features
The economic downturn does not seem to have stymied chemical companies' innovation efforts, in the short term at least. Entries for this year's ICIS Innovation Awards maintained the usual high standard and gave our panel of judges (see box on page 30) an interesting challenge in selecting those worthy of progressing to the final round of judging.

The awards, again sponsored overall by global silicon technology company Dow Corning, are now in their seventh year and continue to grow. This year we have two category sponsors: global consultancy CRA International is once again sponsoring the Best Product Innovation category. And we are joined by US distributor U.S. Chemicals for the first time as sponsor for the Innovation with Best Environmental Benefit category.

Both categories turned out to be the most heavily supported in terms of entries, although nearly all innovations submitted could be regarded as having some environmental benefit. This gives a welcome sign that companies are clearly involved in planning for their own and society's sustainability and offering solutions to pressing problems.

On the following pages, we describe the best of this year's entries - the ones the judges selected for the short list. These will go on to a second round of judging later this month, and the winners in each category will be revealed in a special 12-page supplement to ICIS Chemical Business on October 11.

This year, for the second time, we will be choosing an overall winner, selected from the five category winners. This will be presented by Dow Corning as lead sponsor of the ICIS Innovation Awards.

We are confident that you will find the short-listed entries up to the usual standard, and we hope they will prompt fresh thinking and sustained, if not renewed, efforts for innovation across the sector.

Best Product Innovation
Oihana Elizalde, Stephan Amthor, Konrad Roschmann and Martijn Fossen
Waterborne coatings to protect metal surfaces from water
German major BASF offers improved performance for waterborne anticorrosion coatings through its Acronal PRO range. The key to the development lies with the new acrylic binders used in the product, which combine recent innovations in polymer colloids and hybrid materials. The product not only offers lower volatile organic compound (VOC) content, but can be used at lower film thicknesses, minimizing the amount of raw material needed.

Bayer Technology Services
Martin Kuerten, Verena Haverkamp and Bernd Erkes
Bayqik process for treating high-concentration SO2 gases using the latest developed technology
Bayer Technology Services, in Leverkusen, Germany, has developed the Bayqik process to treat highly concentrated SO2 process gases with strongly fluctuating flow rates, as found in nonferrous metallurgical plants. The unit uses catalytic oxidation and the output is SO3 and subsequently sulfuric acid. The key is the use of a new multi-tubular reactor with an integrated and intensified cooling/heating system.

Eastman Chemical
Christopher Killian
Eastman Tritan copolyester
This new family of engineering plastics from US-based Eastman Chemical has involved the development of a new monomer - 2,2,4,4-tetramethylcyclobutanediol (TMCD) - in just four years and at a cost of more than $100m (€78m). Eastman now has two plants for the Tritan copolyester family, which is rapidly entering the market. Nine companies have signed up to take brand licenses with Eastman, allowing them to use the wording "Tritan from Eastman" on their products.

Tata Chemicals
Ramakrishnan Mukundan
Tata Swach nanotech water purifier
Mumbai, India-based Tata Chemicals has designed a novel purifier for drinking water that uses a combination of natural materials - ­silicaceous material derived from rice husks - and cutting-edge nanotechnology in the form of minute particles of silver. The Tata Swach delivers safe drinking water at low cost and has a safety cut-off so that when the purifying capacity of the filter cartridge is exhausted, the water flow is stopped.

Hideshi Kurihara
Heat-resistant bioplastic Biofront - an alternative to polyethylene terephthalate (PET) and polybutylene terephthalate (PBT)
Japan's Teijin has improved on the basic bio-polymer polylactic acid (PLA), by controlling the stereocomplexity, to offer a polymer with a 40oC higher melting point than conventional PLAs. Its Biofront thus meets requirements for use in high-end applications such as automotive, office and electronic equipment and can compete with PET and PBT resins. Teijin has also improved PLA's performance in terms of hydrolytic degradation and is now working on improving impact and flame-resistance.


Christophe Schilling and Mark Burke
Achieving lower development and production costs for sustainable chemicals based on renewable feedstocks
US-based Genomatica has developed technology that shaves years and tens of millions of dollars in research and development costs from developing bio-based sustainable chemicals. The technology has already proven itself in the development of a process that allows production of 1,4-butanediol from sugars, completed in just 30 months. The technology includes an integrated bio-process engineering platform.

"This gives a welcome sign that companies are involved in planning for their own and society's sustainability"
John Baker, global editor, ICIS custom publishing 

NiTech Solutions
Ian Laird and Xiong-wei Ni with Peter McDonnell (Genzyme)
Use of innovative NiTech reactor by Genzyme to manufacture one of its products
Working with Genzyme, Scotland's NiTech has commercialized its novel tubular baffled reactor (TBR) to make a pharmaceutical active ingredient (API) in the multi-hundred tonne/year range. The continuous reactor has advantages over batch reactors conventionally used. It creates uniform mixing throughout the reactor and works well with a three-phase solid/gas/liquid system. It has a smaller footprint than conventional stirred tank reactors and reduces the carbon footprint and capital cost.

Huntsman Advanced Materials
Philippe Michaud
New generation of rapid manufacturing equipment and resins
With its Araldite Digitalis polymeric additive fabrication system, Huntsman Advanced Materials, based in Basel, Switzerland, believes it has taken rapid manufacturing of 3D parts using stereolithography a significant step further, opening up potential for its UV-curable photopolymers in what it estimates is a $1.2bn/year market. At the heart of the innovation is a radical new exposure system, which uses computer-controlled micro-mechanical shutters, allowing a large surface area of photopolymer to be exposed and avoiding the use of laser technology.

Michael Efting
Solving the specialty chemical distribution dilemma: the Viachem model
Marketing, selling and distributing specialty and fine chemicals to Tier 2 and 3 customers presents a dilemma to producers - the materials are often expensive, technically complex and frequently sold in less-than-load quantities. Ex-Univar executive Mike Efting, founder and CEO of Plano, Texas, US-based Viachem, saw this dilemma and pioneered the concept of a producer-centric, partnership-oriented distribution channel for specialty chemicals. Viachem uses sophisticated customer relationship management technology.

3E Company
Tamie Webber and Isaac Powell
3E's Green Product Analyzer (GPA) helps products make the grade
3E, of California, US, has developed the GPA system to support sustainability and green initiatives by providing access to critical data and information needed quickly to assess the environmental, health and safety footprint of chemical products. GPA aids development and selection of safer and more environmentally friendly products. It can be used to compare products and create a baseline methodology to measure improvement. The result is a systematic assessment of a products' toxic footprint.

Pailin Chuchottaworn and Chitra Thawara
Development of a green acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene (ABS) resin
The styrenic business management division of Rayong, Thailand-based IRPC (part of PTT) has succeeded in formulating an acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene (ABS) engineering polymer using natural rather than synthetic rubber. This green ABS, claimed to be the first in the world, cuts the amount of synthetic rubber used by 20% and will save the company $8.5m/year in imported butadiene costs. The development is seen by the company as part of its overall sustainable business strategy.

Hubert Fink and Bernd Kaletta
LARA - climate protection by LANXESS
As part of its commitment to climate protection, LANXESS resolved to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 80% in Germany between 2007 and 2012. A major initiative has been the installation of a second unit (LARA) to cut nitrous oxide emissions from its Krefeld-Uerdingen adipic acid facility. This enabled LANXESS to meet its overall goal in 2009, three years ahead of plan. The facility is the first industrial joint implementation project in the country and LANXESS can refinance its €10m ($13m) investment through the sale of allocated emission certificates.

Goran Karlsson, Aija Jantunen, Hakan Wiktorsson and Steve Laborda
KemiCond innovative sludge-treatment technology
Finland's Kemira has developed KemiCond as an integrated service for sludge treatment, responding to the rising costs and increasing legislation affecting sludge disposal. The innovation comprises three key steps: acidification using sulfuric acid; oxidation by hydrogen peroxide; and Fentons regent and flocculation. The technology works in conventional dewatering systems and with newer technologies such as the Bucher press, but uses lower amounts of polymer flocculants. The oxidation step breaks down water-retaining structures and provides improved sludge dewatering, reduces malodors and kills bacteria.

NSR Technologies
Kris Mani
Electrodialysis and ion exchange chromatography technology to produce a 45-50% potassium hydroxide solution
Based in Decatur, Illinois, US, NSR Technologies has developed an innovative commercial route to potassium hydroxide, offering the first alternative to the chlor-alkali route in decades. The process has lower energy costs, gives products free of oxidizing species such as chlorates and hypochlorite, and offers lower capital investment costs and a reduction in the transport of hazardous materials. At the heart of the technology is the IonSel electrodialysis cell, which includes a layer of cation-selective, anion-selective and bipolar-selective membranes.

Teijin Fibers
Nobuyoshi Miyasaka
Eco Circle innovative closed-loop recycling system for polyester
Japan's Teijin Fibers has addressed the problem of polyester recycling using a chemical recycling technology that decomposes polyester in clothes and textiles into new polyester raw materials with purity comparable to virgin materials. Marketed as Eco Circle, the technology is claimed to reduce energy consumption and CO2 emissions by around 80% compared to producing polyester from new raw materials and disposing of the product at the end of life by incineration. Teijin is working with more than 130 companies worldwide to close the recycling loop using a plant at its Matsuyama factory in Japan.

Dow Corning - "Much to learn"
There is much to learn from this year's crop of ICIS Innovation Awards entries. Despite a volatile global economy and widespread geo-political uncertainty, we saw a high number of entrants. This tells me two things: that the competitive spirit of my fellow chemists is alive and well; and more importantly, that innovation sees no boundary, hurdle or chasm.

This unrelenting focus on innovation was very much apparent in all of the entries. And while the projects represented by the finalists are diverse, it is clear the theme of sustainability continues to fuel our innovation pipelines.

This steadfast focus on improving not only our businesses, but also the world we live in will characterize this generation of innovators. I strongly believe that in my lifetime, there has never been such an imperative for game-changing innovation targeted at making our world a better place to live.

How we deal with the sustainability challenges of today - energy, environment and a rapidly growing and developing world - will help determine our quality of life well into the future.
Dr. Gregg Zank, senior vice president, chief technology officer, Dow Corning

U.S. Chemicals - "Meet the challenge"
U.S. Chemicals congratulates those companies reaching the final round of these Awards. Their ideas and products are the leading edge in an industry at the center of the green revolution.

At the end of the first decade of the 21st century, there has never been a more critical need for new ideas, products and services that will advance the growth of industries and create jobs, while at the same time protecting and enhancing the quality of life we all share.

Our industry must meet the challenge of providing solutions that improve businesses, personal lives and public services, while doing no harm to our global community. U.S. Chemicals is committed to this mission and believes creative minds, sound business principals and commitment to excellence will always bring success.

CRAI International - "Impressive diversity"
At CRA International, we believe that focused, long-term investment in technology and product innovation will continue to be critical for future success in the chemical industry. We have been particularly impressed with the range of award submissions this year.

The degree of innovation seen is reflected in our own client work, where we are supporting firms to leverage and extend knowledge in order to broaden their technology and business platforms in sectors as diverse as nutrition to renewables.

CRA is proud to be a sponsor of the Innovation Awards, and we look forward to recognizing the selected winners in October.

Dr. Neil Checker is vice president and head of the Europe and Middle East region for ­chemicals at US-based CRA International. He specializes in strategic planning, mergers and acquisitions.

Dr. Alfred Oberholz was a member of the management board of Germany's Evonik Industries and is a former president of Sus-Chem. He holds board positions on ­several start-ups.

Simon Smith is CEO of UK-based RockTron, a leader in technology for recycling waste fly ash from power stations into valuable minerals. His career has been in engineering and business management.

Dr. Graham Hillier is director of strategy and futures at the Centre for Process Innovation in the UK. He is also a visiting professor at the UK's Salford University.

Dr. Gregg Zank is senior vice president and chief technology officer at US-based Dow Corning.

For more information on the ICIS Innovation Awards, the judging panel and the short-listed companies

By: John Baker
+44 20 8652 3214

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