The Best Product Innovation category gives entrants a chance to show how innovative they are in the more traditional but still vital areas of product and process development. It is this, after all, that brings in new business and/or makes existing products more attractive and competitive.
After the first round of judging in mid-July, three companies and their innovations were successfully shortlisted and went forward to the final judging session on 6 September.
The 2013 winner is:
Solvay Aroma Performance
Govanil: pioneering the new reference of vanilla flavours
SOLVAY Aroma Performance has developed a new generation of vanilla flavours that enables fat and sugar reduction in recipes, providing strong cost reductions for industrial producers as well as well-being improvements (less obesity disease) for final consumers. Govanil is a global patented innovation integrating Solvay’s expertise in chemistry; chemical and process engineering, using a new Controlled Reactive Formulation technology; application (new smart/advanced functional formulations for food); and marketing, within the growing aroma ingredients business. External expertise centres guided the value assessment of Govanil’s organoleptic properties and the value of its nutritional and health benefits.
Shortlisted entries for 2013:
Non-ethoxylated high-performance surfactants
Novus’s Novusol is an innovative class of proprietary nonionic surfactants with good potential replacement for nonylphenol ethoxylates (NPEs) and alcohol ethoxylates. Novus developed this breakthrough technology in collaboration with the Institute of Applied Surfactant Research, University of Oklahoma, within an open innovation effort to identify potential new applications for hydroxyl methyl thiobutyric acid (HMTBA), a widely used feed additive. The surfactants are prepared from HMTBA and alkyl alcohols in two simple steps. The Novusol product has excellent solubility, phase behaviour, and lower surface tension/better wetting performance.
The first genuine commercial-grade bio-process for any major intermediate chemical: Genomatica’s BDO process
Starting in November 2012, Genomatica has achieved a breakthrough product innovation: the chemical industry’s first bio-based process for genuine commercial-grade production of a major intermediate chemical. Genomatica’s innovation, a process for 1,4-butanediol (BDO, a $4bn market), included commercial-scale production of 5m lbs in five weeks, more than any of its peers did in all of 2012, or 2013 to date. All 5m lbs was shipped immediately, confirming its competitiveness. Customer confirmation of usability has been achieved in applications by BASF, Novamont, Mitsubishi Chemical, Toray, LANXESS, DSM, Ashland, Nova Molecular, Far Eastern, Dow Chemical, COIM, Segetis, and more.
The winner in this category for 2012 was:
Dr Ted Carnahan, Dr Phil Hustad, Karen Fennessy-Ketola, Dr Angela Taha, Dr Colin Li Pi Shan, Dr Pradeep Jain, Lisa Madenjian, Susan Gill and Jennifer Carnahan
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.
Shortlisted entries for 2012:
CLARIANT PRODUKTE (Deutschland)
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 aluminium 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.
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.
The winner in this category (and the Overall Winner) in 2011 was:
World’s first mass production technologies for carbon fibre 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 fibre and chemicals producer Teijin, the world’s second-largest producer of carbon fibre, has developed the world’s first mass-production technologies for CFRP. This allows a significant reduction of the time required for moulding an automobile body structure to less than one minute. Teijin’s new technologies include intermediate materials made of thermoplastic resin instead of thermosets for moulding-use CFRP and methods to weld CFRP parts together and bond CFRP with other materials such as steel.