01 August 2011 00:00 [Source: ICB]
This year's ICIS Innovation Awards has attracted a good number of high-quality entries, and the panel of five judges has labored long and hard to select the front-runners, as set out in the shortlist below. Winners in each category will be decided shortly and announced on October 17. Which are your favorites?
As in previous years, the categories for Best Product Innovation, sponsored again by international management consultancy CRA, for Innovation with Best Environmental Benefit - sponsored by US-based chemical distributor U.S. Chemicals - and for Best Innovation by a Small and Medium-sized Enterprise (SME) have been well supported.
Product innovation, with a focus on the environment and sustainability, evidently continues to be the mainstay of chemical company innovation efforts.
Drawing up the shortlist gave the judges (see page 38) quite a challenge, especially in the Product Innovation category, given the diverse nature of the entries. For this reason, we have decided to include four entries in the Product and Environment categories this year. The category for Best Business Innovation and the new category for Best Innovation for Sustainability, sponsored by Netherlands-based health, nutrition and materials specialist DSM, have attracted their fair share of interesting entries.
But, given the ever-growing importance of sustainability initiatives in the chemical sector - and the fact that this is a new category this year - ICIS is looking for more entries in this area, so you still have time to enter. Go to www.icis.com/awards for more details and the entry form.
Because of this, the shortlist of entries in this category will be published at a later date, on the ICIS Innovation Awards website.
On the following pages, we describe the best of this year's entries - the ones the judges selected for the shortlist. These will go on to a second round of judging at the beginning of September, and the winner in each category will be revealed in a special 12-page ICIS Chemical Business supplement, to be published on October 17.
This year, as usual, 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 Awards.
BEST PRODUCT INNOVATION
Steve Blankenship, Mike Urbancic, Mingyong Sun, Phil Stevens, Denise Cooper
OleMax 207 selective hydrogenation catalyst
German catalysts and adsorbents specialist Sud-Chemie (now part of Clariant) has been adding value to the ethylene industry for more than 50 years, and selective hydrogenation is one of its core competences. Its OleMax 207 catalyst adds even more value, due to its higher selectivity - the benefit is estimated at $1.4m/year (€1.0m/year) for a typical, mid-sized ethylene plant. Development took seven years, and the first charge of OleMax 207 has been operating since 2007. Customers are reporting unprecedented cycle lengths and an average of 35% improvement in ethylene selectivity.
World's first mass production technologies for carbon fiber reinforced plastic (CFRP)
With automotive exhaust regulations becoming increasingly strict, there is a mounting need to reduce vehicle weight by using materials such as CFRP. Japanese fiber and films producer Teijin, the world's second-largest producer of carbon fiber, has developed the world's first mass-production technologies for CFRP. This allows a significant reduction of the cycle time required for molding an automobile cabin frame to less than one minute. Teijin's new technologies include intermediate materials made of thermoplastic resin instead of thermosets for molding-use CFRP.
Xiaoming Jin, Qizhou Dai and Nikki Sparacino
Surefil SDR Flow simplifies tooth restorative procedures
US-based dental specialist Dentsply has created a composite material for permanent and aesthetic restoration of tooth structure after removal of caries. SureFil SDR Flow fills the majority of the cavity with one large placement of a flowable material. It has self-leveling and adaptation properties, which allow equivalent placement characteristics for both upper and lower tooth restoration. The key innovation is a new low-stress resin chemistry which allows 4mm of SureFil SDR Flow to be placed in one bulk insertion, due to the 60% reduction of stress, compared with conventional fillers.
STYRON EMULSION POLYMERS
Improving fuel efficiency where the rubber meets the road
Tires are obliged to meet stringent safety requirements and provide precision and control in varying weather and surface conditions. At the same time, they are expected to offer a smooth and quiet ride, and to increase fuel savings through a low rolling resistance. US-based styrenics and elastomers producer Styron's second-generation functionalized solution styrene butadiene rubber (S-SBR), Sprintan SLR 4602 helps achieve an optimum performance balance. Sprintan SLR 4602 contributes to advancements in low rolling resistance tires which, in addition to powertrain improvements, helps to improve fuel efficiency and reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.
BEST INNOVATION BY AN SME
Charles R. (Chas) Eggert and Michael D. Lynch
OPXBIO's proven EDGE for developing high-return petrochemical alternatives
OPX Biotechnologies, the US-based bio-materials start-up, uses its proprietary Efficiency Directed Genome Engineering (EDGE) technology platform to manufacture renewable bio-based chemicals and fuels that are of a lower cost, higher return and more sustainable than existing petro-based products. In just 18 months it successfully developed and piloted the microbe and the bioprocess to produce BioAcrylic, at a 30-50% lower cost than current petro-based acrylic, and with a 75% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. OPXBIO has partnered with Dow Chemical to develop an industrial-scale process for BioAcrylic.
Sean Simpson and Jennifer Holmgren
An efficient route to carbon capture and re-use producing high-value chemicals and fuels
New Zealand-based biomaterials start-up LanzaTech has developed a gas fermentation process that produces both fuels and high-value chemicals from low-cost resources, such as industrial flue gases from steel mills and processing plants, syngas generated from any biomass resource, coal-derived syngas and steam-reformed methane. LanzaTech's technology uses a modified Clostridium to convert gas (rich in carbon monoxide (CO) and hydrogen (H2)) into ethanol and 2,3-butandiol. The organism can be modified further to yield butanol, propanol, isoprene, succinic acid and other chemicals. LanzaTech's process, proven at pilot scale using unconditioned steel mill waste gases, will be operating at commercial scale in 2013.
Innovative catalyst platform for producing acrylic acid, butanediol and succinic acid
Novomer, a US-based sustainable chemistry company, is commercializing a homogeneous catalyst system capable of producing acrylic acid, acrylate esters, butanediol, tetrahydrofuran and succinic acid at a significantly reduced cost and with a lower carbon and energy footprint. Novomer's proprietary catalyst system allows carbon monoxide to combine with ethylene oxide, to produce a versatile chemical intermediate called propiolactone. This intermediate can then be converted to the wide range of value-added chemicals mentioned above. Novomer is in active discussions with Praxair to integrate a new technology which uses an electrochemical ceramic membrane technology to convert waste CO2 to CO.
INNOVATION WITH BEST ENVIRONMENTAL BENEFIT
CO2-based polyols for high-performance coatings, adhesives, foams and composites
Novomer has developed a technology platform based on an innovative, proprietary catalyst system that transforms waste CO2 into valuable polymers. These polypropylene carbonate and polyethylene carbonate materials are approximately one-half CO2 by weight. The catalyst is more than 25 times more active, and produces a precise CO2-epoxide molecular structure which maximizes CO2 incorporation. Novomer has developed a chain transfer technology to produce low molecular weight CO2-based polyols for thermoset applications, making them commercially viable in coatings, adhesives, foams and composite resins.
Roberta Gamarino, Licia Trimarco and Claus Reineking
Swiss specialty chemical company Clariant's EasyWhite Tan process is the first fundamental advance in tanning in the past 125 years, claims Clariant. It offers the leather industry a viable, scientific and commercial alternative to the traditional tanning methods based on metals (such as chrome, accounting for 85% of leather produced), phenols, aldehydes or vegetable extracts. The technology has major environmental advantages for the global industry. EasyWhite Tan is based on the company's liquid, non-hazardous Granofin Easy F-90, a synthesized organic self-reactive compound.
A chlorine-free, green chemistry route to producing 45% potassium hydroxide solution
NSR Technologies, a US-based green chemistry technology developer, has commercialized a new chemical pathway for producing 45%-50% potassium hydroxide solution and 7% hydrochloric acid. NSR's technology is the first environmentally-friendly, cost-effective alternative to electrolysis (chlor-alkali) in decades. The process yields high purity, mercury-free products and does not produce chlorine. Global implementation of NSR's process could eliminate billions of pounds of unnecessary chlorine production, and pave the way for greener chemical plant design.
Paladin: an alternative to pesticides
Paladin helps disinfect agricultural soils in an environmentally sound manner, replacing methyl bromide, which has a negative environmental impact, with dimethyl disulfide (DMDS) - a product that forms part of the natural cycle. DMDS is a natural sulfur-based product, present in every area of the biosphere, be it air, soil or ocean, and in the production of many living organisms. Its ozone depletion potential is nil. Work conducted by French specialty chemical producer Arkema, in cooperation with vegetable crops research institutes, has shown the effectiveness of DMDS on the main pathogens of the soil, and in particular on nematodes and fungi.
BEST BUSINESS INNOVATION
Innovation in biosuccinic acid
US renewable chemistry start up BioAmber has been first-to-market with bio-based succinic acid, creating a portfolio of renewable chemicals and polymers from the biomaterial. Open innovation has allowed BioAmber to utilize deep, existing industry know-how and global infrastructure, while reducing capital expenditure and accelerating development. It has licensed E. coli technology from the US Department of Energy, and will build on this with bacterium technology from Japanese firm Mitsubishi Chemical, and develop yeast technology from US-based company Cargill. BioAmber combines this advantage with a unique downstream purification technology developed with US non-profit research company Matric.
Reshaping the economic and environmental footprint for chemical production
US-headquartered sustainable chemicals specialist Genomatica is bringing new technology and processes to the chemical industry - with the potential to transform the business. Genomatica uses renewable feedstocks to produce the same high-volume chemicals currently made from fossil fuels. It offers better economics, projecting compelling project rates of return, supported by 50% less capital per plant and lower cash costs. This is especially true for C3 and C4 chemicals, which it focuses on, and which are experiencing long-term price increases in fossil feedstocks due to the shift to lighter feeds. Genomatica has established strategic partnerships with Tate & Lyle, Mitsubishi Chemical, Gruppo Mossi & Ghisolfi and Waste Management.
Bio-based chemicals for packaging
Colorado, US-based ZeaChem is a developer of bio-refineries, for the conversion of renewable feedstocks into sustainable and economical fuels and chemicals. It has entered into a multi-year joint development agreement with US giant Procter & Gamble, which will accelerate the development of a new ZeaChem product platform through the commercialization of "drop-in" bio-based chemicals and other products. In 2010, P&G announced its new environmental sustainability vision, which includes using 100% renewable or recycled materials for all products and packaging. P&G and ZeaChem will research, develop, demonstrate, scale-up and commercialize this new product platform in the future.
Category sponsor: DSM
TAKING THE WORLD'S ISSUES
At DSM we are using our innovative strengths to address some of the most important trends and challenges, such as climate change, increasing energy scarcity, overstretched healthcare systems and hidden hunger.
Innovation at DSM is all about finding effective, sustainable and commercially viable solutions for these issues facing the world today and tomorrow. For instance - our breakthrough biomedical innovations are helping people lead more active and healthier lives. Another example is our successful drive to create bio-based performance materials, that are helping the world switch from a fossil feedstock-dependant economy to a sustainable biobased one. Thus, DSM helps create brighter lives for people today and generations to come.
DSM is proud to be a sponsor of the ICIS Innovation Awards for the Best Innovation for Sustainability category.
We have been impressed with the submissions and congratulate the companies that have reached the final round.
Rob van Leen
Chief innovation officer, DSM
Category sponsor: CRA
INNOVATION IS THE INDUSTRY'S LIFEBLOOD
For the third year running, CRA is once again pleased to sponsor the ICIS Innovation Awards in the Best Product Innovation category. As part of the judging panel, we find it increasingly difficult to identify a clear winner each year - not from a lack of submissions, but due to the high quality of entrants in this category.
The diversity of submissions - from more traditional, but important, developments in resins and plastics, to personal care and bio-based chemistries - is reflective of the increasing innovative nature of the chemical industry, which is to be encouraged and applauded.
CRA's extensive work in technology and innovation strategy with leading companies affirms that product innovation will continue to be the lifeblood of the chemical industry, and that maintaining a robust product development pipeline will be a key driver of competitive advantage.
We look forward to working again with ICIS and our fellow sponsors for the 2011 Innovation Awards in recog-nizing product innovation leaders in the industry.
Dr. Neil Checker
Vice president, CRA
Category sponsor: U.S. Chemicals
INGENUITY WILL BENEFIT US ALL
U.S. Chemicals is once again excited to participate in the ICIS Innovation Awards, and is particularly pleased to continue to sponsor the Innovation with Best Environmental Benefit category.
U.S. Chemicals believes the chemical distribution industry must be a major player in meeting the challenge of providing the components for the building blocks of industry, while minimizing environmental impact and improving this world we share.
The companies competing for the Innovation Awards will create the solutions to keep us moving forward.
These companies believe ingenuity and continued adherence to better and more holistic solutions are fundamental business principles that will allow them to thrive, as well as the rest of our global community.
U.S. Chemicals is proud to a part of this initiative. Bravo!!
CEO and president, U.S. Chemicals
Overall sponsor: Dow Corning
This year is an important one for everyone in the chemical industry, as we celebrate the International Year of Chemistry. This milestone is generating worldwide recognition of the achievements and contributions chemistry has made to humankind.
As we celebrate our past, we also need to focus on the future, and charge forward with new approaches to innovation and the development of new products and processes that enrich people's lives and benefit the environment, all the while helping our businesses and employees thrive.
While today's challenges are significant there is excitement in this quest, and growing optimism grounded in the industry's history of finding solutions through its unbridled focus on innovation.
This will be critical as we address new approaches to sustainability, both social and environmental - perhaps the single-most important megatrend of our generation.
The world is looking to us for leadership in renewable energy, solutions to global warming, safe food and clean water, regenerative medicine and energy-efficient housing and transportation. We are responding with advanced research, innovative public/private partnerships and continuous improvements in our own manufacturing processes and technologies. The results are impressive, but I'm convinced that the best is yet to come.
As it has for decades, chemistry will continue to be a primary driver for growth and sustainable development.
We and our partners throughout the value chain will remain competitive, based on technology leadership and innovation.
Dow Corning is honored to sponsor the ICIS Innovation Awards, because we understand the importance of putting new ideas into action. More than ever, the world needs the game-changing innovations that only the chemical industry can deliver.
Dr. Gregg Zank
Senior vice president, chief technology officer, Dow Corning
THIS YEAR'S JUDGES
Editor of New Scientist, a leading weekly science magazine and website. He was science editor of UK national paper The Daily Telegraph for two decades, and still contributes a column for it. He has written and co-authored several books.
Dr. Marcel Wubbolts
Vice president of research and technology at the DSM Innovation Center in the Netherlands. He also heads the industrial biotechnology section of SusChem, the European Technology Platform for Sustainable Chemistry.
Dr. Neil Checker
Vice president and head of the Europe and Middle East region for chemicals at CRA, where he specializes in strategic planning, mergers and acquisitions. He has worked internationally in the chemical industry for 25 years.
Dr. Gregg Zank
Senior vice president and chief technology officer at Dow Corning. He leads the company's innovation efforts, which include a unified approach to advancing and managing innovation for maximum future growth based on megatrends.
Dr. Adrian Higson
Head of biorefining at the UK Centre for Biorenew-able Energy, Fuels and Materials. He specializes in issues related to bio-based chemicals and biorefineries. He was formerly project manager at SAFC Pharma.
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