And the finalists are....

10 August 2012 11:53  [Source: ICB]

Competition is very much in the air with the success of the London 2012 Olympic Games. And ICIS is pleased to maintain the excitement as we publish the shortlist of innovations that will go through to final round of the ICIS ­Innovation Awards 2012.

Now in its ninth year and sponsored ­overall by silicon technology specialist Dow Corning, the Awards are designed to highlight the very best in innovation in the chemical sector.

Once again a wealth of entries has been garnered from around the world, and the judges (see page 28) have had a difficult but interesting time coming up with the 14 innovations highlighted on these pages.

These will go forward to a final judging round and the winners in each category - and an overall winner - will be announced in ICIS Chemical Business on October 22.

Once again, bio-based innovation has been a strong theme of the Awards, with six of the shortlisted entries featuring renewable ­technologies and products. Another theme to emerge this year has been resource efficiency, with entries covering water reduction technology in denim production and recovery of rare earths and other ­valuable waste products.

But whatever the area, the entries this year continue to show that innovation is a key part of the chemical industry, and one that is very much alive. New products, new processes, greener materials and greater sustainability of products are all addressed by the innovations described here. By continuing to innovate, the chemical industry will ensure that it is itself a winner in the long term.

ICIS thanks the sponsors of this year's Awards, which make the competition possible and provide valuable input in terms of advice and judging. Dow Corning has been the overall sponsor since the start of the Awards in 2003, and makes the award to the overall winner each year.


Germany-based Roland Berger Strategy ­Consultants has just taken over the sponsorship of the Best Product Innovation category from US-based consultancy CRA, which has generously supported the Awards for the past four years. The switch had been agreed as Neil Checker moves from CRA to Roland Berger.

Chemical distributor U.S. Chemicals, which sponsors the Innovation with Best Environmental Benefit, is also a long-term sponsor. This year ICIS has welcomed two new category sponsors: German polymers major Bayer MaterialScience (Best Innovation for Sustainability) and UK/Netherlands-based Shell Chemicals (Best Business Innovation).

So, all that remains for me to do is wish all the shortlist entries on the following three pages the very best of luck!


Dr Martin Sicken
DEPAL - a breakthrough in non-halogenated fire protection

The search for effective and environmentally safer non-halogenated flame retardants (FRs) for use in engineering thermoplastics has led Swiss specialty chemical producer Clariant to develop a series of products based on aluminum salts of diethyl phosphinic acid (DEPAL), sold under its brand name of Exolit OP. These have wide potential for use as FRs in polyesters, polyamides and also thermoplastic elastomers. Clariant describes the DEPAL products as a "substantial breakthrough already being realized in electrical and electronic products", where they can achieve the highest fire safety ratings. Clariant also points to the product's excellent ecological and health ­profile and good price/performance ratio.

Dr Ted Carnahan, Dr Phil Hustad, Karen ­Fennessy-Ketola, Dr Angela Taha, Dr Colin Li Pi Shan, Dr Pradeep Jain, Lisa Madenjian and Jennifer Adamson
INFUSE olefin block copolymers - establishing new boundaries of polymer science

Dow Chemical's INFUSE olefin block ­copolymers (OBCs) have enabled new combinations of property performance in olefinic elastomers thanks to their innovative block architecture. Dow has developed these breakthrough materials using a proprietary catalytic system that allows for more precise control of the polymer microstructure. A chain-shuttling agent transfers growing polymer chains between two distinct catalysts with different monomer selectivities in a single polymerization reactor. Soft blocks of flexible polymer are blended with hard blocks of high melting point polymer in a continuous process. The result is material with improved high temperature performance, faster set up in processing and better abrasion resistance.

Christophe Schilling
Making BDO with better economics and a smaller environmental footprint

Bio start-up Genomatica has developed a ­direct, one-step bio-based process for production of chemical intermediate 1,4-butanediol (BDO) from renewable feedstocks. The process is currently at the demonstration scale and California, US-based Genomatica expects the first full commercial plant to start up in 2013, with a capacity of 18,000 tonnes/year. The plant will be located in Italy and be operated as a joint venture between Genomatica and Italy's Novamont, a producer of biodegradable plastics. Genomatica has also signed with Japan's Mitsubishi Chemical to explore a joint Asian production venture. The Genomatica process is a direct biocatalytic route using ­carbohydrate feedstock and a specially ­engineered strain of Escherichia coli.


Manel Domingo, Manel Jimenez and Nuria Estape
Advanced denim by Clariant

Production of denim, which accounts for 14% of global cotton usage, usually requires large quantities of water - an increasingly scarce commodity. Swiss specialty chemical producer Clariant has developed technology that simplifies the finishing and dyeing of the fabric, reducing water consumption by as much as 92%. In addition, cotton waste is reduced by two-thirds and energy savings by 30%. The two processes, called Denim-Ox and Pad/Sizing Ox, use innovative Diresul RDT sulphur dyes that reduce the number of vat stages needed. If the technology were used for just a quarter of world denim production, water ­saving would amount to 62m m3/year.

Jeff Dorman
Make it greener with Myriant's Myrifilm

US-based Myriant specializes in developing technology to produce chemicals from renewable, non-food-based feedstocks, and will begin commercial production of bio-succinic acid from low-cost sugars in the US in early 2013 at a 136,000 tonne/year plant in Lake Providence, Louisiana. It is carrying innovation downstream and is now offering a bio-succinic acid-based coalescing solvent for use in coatings and adhesives, called Myrifilm. The product has zero volatile organic ­compounds, is free from hazardous air ­pollutants and is also ­odorless, providing environmental benefits over and above its renewable nature. Used with acrylics, styrene-acrylics and ethylene-vinyl acetate copolymers it offers a replacement for conventional coalescing solvents.

Michael Wurst
Rare metal and specialty material ­reclamation

US-based waste stream expert WTS has been working with a Chinese minor metals technology group to develop a technology to recover selenium from the sludge by-product produced by a multinational chemical company. The sludge was previously land-filled. To recycle the selenium, WTS modified the traditional refining process used on metal sulphide ores. The process includes acid digestion, precipitation and purification to 5N/6N grade. WTS says the benefits include avoidance of selenium-containing landfill, recycling of a rare and useful metal, re-use in development of solar cells, reduction of disposal costs and the establishment of a revenue stream. Selenium is used in photocopying, photocells, light meters and solar cells.


Marc Audenaert
A polymer composite 100%-based on renewable materials

Automotive and electronic producers are seeking lighter and more environmentally-friendly materials based on renewable feedstocks. In response, France's Arkema has developed a fibre-reinforced polyamide using flax fibres to replace glass fibres, resulting in an all-bio-based thermoplastic composite with comparable mechanical performance. Arkema worked with flax fibre specialist Dehondt and extruder producer Clextral to identify a suitable technical flax fibre and ways to incorporate it into Arkema's castor-oil based Rilsan polyamide 11. The innovation provides lighter weight, better recyclability and a lower environmental footprint in terms of energy and water use. The new material can compete with conventional glass-fibre-­reinforced polyamide 66, offering a 30% weight saving.

David Darwin
Hycrete concrete admixtures for sustainable construction

Concrete is a major construction material, and by improving its in-use lifetime and reducing landfill after demolition, there are big sustainability gains to be won. US-based Hycrete has developed an admixture technology that makes concrete hydrophobic - prolonging its life by reducing chloride and sulphate attack and steel-reinforcement corrosion. The innovation is based on the use of water-based, low odor, nonhazardous additives, such as salts of alkenyl-substituted succinic acid which, in addition, mean Hycrete liquid admixtures are comprised of 75% recycled materials. Mixing the waterproofing system into the concrete avoids traditional high-VOC surface applied systems. Avoidance of adhered asphalt ­membranes means the concrete need not be landfilled after demolition.

Nicolas Barthel, Jean-Jacques Braconnier, Alain Rollat and Frederic Carencotte
The new rare earths urban mine

With growing usage in hi-tech products and tight supply, a sustainable supply of rare earth elements is a growing concern. France's Rhodia, part of Belgium's Solvay, has been looking at innovative ways of recycling rare earth metals from various sources. Its Coleop'Terre project focuses on the recovery of phosphor powders from energy-saving lightbulbs. The powder, containing 10-20% rare earths, is processed to recover a range of compounds using liquid-liquid separation technologies. These can then be re-used to prepare new phosphor precursors, thus closing the loop. Rhodia expects to treat 1,500 tonnes/year initially at plants in Saint Fons (concentration) and La Rochelle (separation and precursor production).


Christophe Schilling
Transforming the chemical industry through new enabling technology

A transformation of the route to petrochemicals is the bold aim of Genomatica in its role as technology enabler for bio-based production of chemical intermediates. It is seeking to create new bio-based process technologies to today's high-volume petrochemicals, but with better economics and smaller environmental footprints. It is working on a range of materials such as butanediol (BDO), butadiene (BD), and 20 others. In pursuit of its business it is embracing a licensing approach to partnering, to speed the scale-up and uptake of its proprietary technology, working with the likes of Novamont of Italy, Mitsubishi Chemical of Japan and Waste Management in the US.

Genet Garamendi
Breakthrough renewable oil creates new class of dielectric fluids

California, US-based start-up Solazyme is helping drive innovation in bio-based materials with its tailored algal oils, which it claims provide a unique opportunity to develop and produce next-generation bio-based dielectric insulating fluids that boast a number performance benefits over products currently available. Key properties are biodegradability, increased thermal and oxidative stability and close viscosity control. Solazyme has developed a biotech platform using the oil-producing capabilities of microalgae in a scalable, reliable and cost-effective manner using standard industrial fermentation. Solazyme is currently commercializing these oils for specific markets with Dow Chemical. It estimates the global market for dielectric insulating ­fluids at over 2m tonnes/year.


Dr Klaus Last
New formaldehyde-free stable core−shell ­microcapsules for industrial applications

Family-owned Follmann & Co of Germany has brought innovation to bear on the process of microencapsulation to eliminate the potential of formaldehyde release from the amino resin encapsulants (melamine-formaldehyde) widely used today. In its process, suitable protective colloids are reacted with aromatic polyhydroxy compounds and reactive dialdehydes to give microcapsules that "set new standards" through their performance and characteristics. It has been looking at materials such as glyoxal, succinaldehyde and glutaraldehyde, with phloroglucinol appearing to be an interesting alcohol. Follmann says toxicological evaluations show its products could be interesting for use in industrial areas such as laundry products, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, medical engineering and automotive.

Jim Mahoney
Innovative catalyst platform for producing acrylic acid, BDO and polypropiolactone

US-based Novomer is commercializing a homogeneous catalyst system capable of combining carbon monoxide with ethylene oxide (EO) to produce the versatile intermediate propiolactone. This can be used to produce chemicals such as acrylic acid (AA), acrylate esters, butanediol (BDO), tetrahydrofuran, succinic acid and polypropiolactone (PPL) - a new polymer type with good material properties and biodegradability. The innovative technology promises reduced cost and lower carbon and energy footprints. Novomer says its vision is for low molecular weight (MW) PPL to be shipped globally and converted to AA or acrylate esters, and for high MW PPL to be used as a packaging thermoplastic and for upgrading into glacial AA on recycling.

Mike Hamilton, Manuk Colakyan and Fred Moesler
Enabling large-scale conversion of non-food biomass to affordable cellulosic sugars, as an alternative to petroleum feedstocks used in chemicals and fuel

Use of waste cellulosic materials to provide bio-feedstock is receiving plenty of attention, and US-based Renmatix believes it has developed a cost-effective way to reduce woody biomass to C5 and C6 sugars, leaving just the lignin component, which it uses as a fuel for the process. The key to the process, which it calls Plantrose, is to mix the cellulosic waste material with supercritical water to breakdown the plant matter in an economically efficient manner. This avoids use of enzymes or chemicals. The process has two distinct steps - hemi-hydrolysis to convert the hemicellulose to C5 sugars and cellulose hydrolysis to create a C6 sugar stream.

Web plug: Full details of the ICIS Innovation Awards 2012, including categories, the shortlist and sponsors, can be found at



At Dow Corning, "We help you invent the ­future;" in fact, we have been doing so for nearly 70 years. And while I'm very proud of the work we've done to enhance the lives of people throughout the globe through our innovative products, I'm inspired by the formidable challenges ahead of us.

Our journey toward the future will be guided by chemists, scientists and engineers charging forward with new approaches to innovation and the development of new products that enrich people's lives and benefit the environment, all while enabling our businesses and employees to thrive. As it has for decades, chemistry will ­continue to be a primary driver for growth and sustainable development.

Dow Corning sponsors the ICIS Innovation Awards because we understand chemistry's role in inventing the future.

These Awards offer a front-row seat to the future, and more than ever the world needs the game-changing innovation that only the chemical industry can deliver.

Dr Gregg Zank, senior vice president, chief technology officer, Dow Corning



ICIS is delighted to welcome leading global management consulting firm Roland Berger Strategy Consultants as a sponsor of the ICIS Innovation Awards this year. It is assuming responsibility for the Best Product innovation category from CRA, on the transfer of Neil Checker from CRA to Roland Berger.

The sponsorship, says Checker, is reflective of Roland Berger's commitment to and investment in the chemical sector, and reflects its consulting services advising clients over a range of areas from innovation and technology-led organic growth to acquisition support, portfolio and business unit performance improvement and organizational design.

The international, German-headquartered company has just added 25 chemical sector focused consultants, the majority in North America but with key hirings in Europe, to complement its existing established capacity.

Dr Neil Checker is a partner at Roland Berger Strategy Consultants



Competition in the chemical industry is ­always fierce. Chemical companies can ­distinguish themselves with quality of product, pricing, expedient and accurate delivery and customized services.

The chemical industry has been challenged with additional regulatory requirements in recent years. Successful companies will meet these requirements and go beyond by developing new technologies that minimize environmental impact and improve sustainability. These are the companies with an edge, value-added services that customers will demand.

ICIS has recognized these changes in the chemical industry and has been rewarding innovation annually. U.S. Chemicals is very proud to participate in these Awards, sponsoring the innovation with the Best Environmental Benefit. Congratulations to the companies considered for this award. We can think of no greater value to add.

Carol Piccaro, president and CEO, U.S. Chemicals



Bayer MaterialScience is pursuing new ­avenues to turn greenhouse gas carbon dioxide into a useful raw material that can replace petroleum as a building block for plastics. The company has initiated a number of projects for this purpose, with a goal to bring the first CO2-based products to the market in 2015.

The project, called Dream Production, is supported by funding from the German government and also involves energy provider RWE, which supplies separated CO2 from a coal-fired power plant. Bayer MaterialScience has been chemically processing carbon dioxide from the energy industry at a pilot plant in Leverkusen, Germany, since the beginning of 2011.

This new technology represents a major step forward in reaching the ultimate goal of zero-impact industrial production.

Prof Dr Hans-Wilhelm Engels, senior vice ­president, Innovation & Specialties, Bayer MaterialScience



For more than 80 years, Shell Chemicals has been a leading player in the manufacture and sale of bulk petrochemicals to large industrial customers. Our strong technical heritage and market-leading proprietary technologies underpin our strong product portfolio and world-class manufacturing plants in major markets around the world.

Innovation is at the heart of everything we do. We continuously seek to improve our manufacturing processes, maximise yields, minimise energy use and reduce waste. We create innovative products and technical solutions to meet customers' needs and position us as an attractive partner for growth. Our constant need to innovate has delivered the proprietary processes and powerful catalysts that give us a competitive edge in our core markets.

But, we recognize that innovation goes ­beyond traditional product and process development - we also look at how we can innovate in the way we do business - our service offerings to customers, partnerships with suppliers, route-to-market, or supply chain and operations. As the sponsor of the Best Business Innovation category for the ICIS Innovation Awards, Shell Chemicals is looking for the player who breaks the mould in ­conventional innovative thinking to deliver ­outstanding business value.Alexander Farina, general manager, ­chemicals strategy, Shell Chemicals



Peter Vanacker

Until July, a senior ­executive of Bayer MaterialScience, he has just become CEO of Treofan. His place for the final judging will be taken by Prof Dr Hans-Wilhelm Engels, senior vice president Innovation & Specialties at Bayer MS.

Dr Steve Fletcher

Director of delivery programs at Chemistry Innovation, one of the UK's Knowledge Transfer Networks. He is a chemist with more than 25 years' experience in the industry in management and research roles.

Professor James Clark

Professor of chemistry and director of the Green Chemistry Centre of Excellence at the University of York in the UK. He is director of the BioRenewable Develop-ment Centre and president of the Green Chemistry Network.

Dr Gregg Zank

Senior vice president and chief technology officer at Dow Corning. He leads the company's innovation efforts, which take a unified approach to advancing and managing innovation for maximum growth based on global megatrends.

Dr Neil Checker

Recently joined Roland Berger Strategy Consultants as a partner in its pharma and chemicals practice. Until July, he was a vice president for chemicals at CRA. He has worked internationally in the chemicals industry for over 25 years.

Alexander Farina

General manager for chemicals strategy, at Shell Chemicals. He has a masters degree in chemical engineering and is a member of Shell Chemicals' leadership team. He is also esponsible for Shell Chemicals' technology activities.

By: John Baker
+44 20 8652 3214

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