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Rohm and Haas, DOE Partner on Energy Efficiency

PHILADELPHIA ," Chemical producer Rohm and Haas Co. recently announced the signing of an Allied Partnership agreement with the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. Such partnerships are designed to promote increased energy efficiency and productivity in the chemical, petrochemical and other energy-intensive industries participating in DOE's Industries of the Future Strategy.

Although the Allied Partnership program traditionally has taken in energy-savvy service and equipment providers, trade associations and utilities, a Rohm and Haas/DOE partnership seemed inevitable. At its Houston site alone, the Philadelphia-based chemical company has slashed energy use by four trillion British Thermal Units (Btus) annually during the past six years ," an amount equivalent to the energy used by 40,000 typical U.S. homes.

"DOE's overall mandate for the Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy program is to help industry as a whole reduce their energy usage," stressed Fred Fendt, a technical fellow with Rohm and Haas. "They recognized early on that companies like Rohm and Haas and DuPont and Dow have large staffs and can afford to have people like me who are primarily focused on energy efficiency, so we can go around to our different plants and do things."

 

Rohm and Haas President Bob Brinly (left) and David Garman, assistant secretary for DOE's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, sign the Allied Partnership agreement.

In the late 1990s, DOE asked Fendt and other experts from large manufacturing companies to serve on its newly created Steam Best Practices steering committee. The committee, which Fendt said he now chairs, has been essential to the agency in its development of tools and training materials for outreach efforts aimed at smaller companies.

"What we do is look at all the energy-efficiency tools and training materials [and] the outreach program DOE runs, and we make recommendations on what they should be doing and how they could be most effective," Fendt explained. "That alone has been a huge benefit to us at Rohm and Haas because there are a lot of those kinds of tools and things that I would really like to have access to, but I can't really justify doing that. But DOE can develop them and then use them among a whole range of companies," he said, "so I can have some influence and get the tools I think are useful."

As an Allied Partner, Rohm and Haas is charged with disseminating DOE energy-efficiency tools and training materials to other facilities, including its own small plants across the globe. "DOE recognized at one point that they are really good at developing tools and training materials and technical things," stressed Fendt, "but what they didn't do terribly well was distributing them to the end user because they are not a sales organization ," they're a government [agency]. "

 

Rohm and Haas' Houston facility has made remarkable strides in energy efficiencies during the past six years.

Being an Allied Partner, said Fendt, essentially formalizes Rohm and Haas' long-standing relationship with DOE and allows the company to use the agency's resources to extend energy savings.

Such savings positively impact the bottom line. In fact, in calculations performed a few years ago, Fendt determined that a 10 percent increase in energy savings would have approximately the same impact as a 50 percent growth in sales.

For more information about DOE's Allied Partnership program, visit www.oit.doe.gov/bestpractices/partnerships.shtml.

Kathie Canning

 

Will Safety Concerns Stick to Teflon?

WASHINGTON ," First bacon and eggs took a hit from the health police. Now the pans we cook them in could be in trouble.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the launch of its most extensive overview ever of perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and its salts, essential processing aids used in the manufacture of fluoropolymers and fluoroelastomers ," which in turn appear in such household staples as nonstick cookware and stain-resistant carpet. The most commonly used PFOA salt is ammonium perfluorooctanoate or APFO, sometimes called "C8."

According to EPA, fluoropolymers and fluoroelastomers have hundreds of uses in products from almost all industry segments, including aerospace, automotive, building/construction, chemical processing, electrical and electronics, semiconductors and carpet and textiles. Although fluoropolymers and fluoroelastomers are made using PFOA, the finished products themselves are not expected to contain the chemical.

EPA released a preliminary risk assessment of PFOA because studies showed exposure-related detrimental effects on lab animals. According to the EPA announcement, "The agency is interested in collecting additional information because new laboratory studies recently evaluated by the agency show that PFOA may cause developmental toxicity and other health effects. Further, the available data indicate that the general U.S. population may be exposed to PFOA at very low levels."

Don't panic

Don't tear up the living room carpet yet. Much remains to be learned about PFOA and its toxic effects. It is unclear, said EPA, how humans are exposed to PFOA (though air, water, food, etc.); how the PFOA gets into these pathways; and what, if any, steps should be taken to mitigate the risks.

EPA has not yet determined whether PFOA poses an unreasonable risk to the public and "does not believe there is any reason for consumers to stop using any consumer-or industrial-related products."

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