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In the News

June 2, 2003

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."

Richard Angiullo, a vice president and general manager at DuPont, maker of the Teflon brand fluoropolymers, said PFOA has been in unregulated use for 50 years.

Wilmington, Del.-based DuPont now is the only U.S.-based manufacturer of fluoropolymers. 3M Co., headquartered in St. Paul, Minn., phased out their manufacture between 2000 and 2002. DuPont, Germany-based Clariant GmbH, Japan's Daikin Industries and Asahi Glass Inc. all make telomers, which could break down or degrade to form PFOA in the environment.

Companies back study

EPA has embarked on a process to enter into an enforceable consent agreement (ECA) with major fluoropolymer manufacturers. Under the ECA, the companies would agree to generate data about PFOA and telomers and submit them to EPA on a specified schedule. No such agreement is yet in place, however.

Angiullo said DuPont agreed to provide data for the study, and the company shares EPA's concerns about safeguarding human health and the environment and respects "the position that there are still questions to be answered."

Other companies and organizations signing the ECA include the Society of the Plastics Industry, the Telomer Research Program, 3M, Aga Chemicals., Asahi Glass Fluoropolymer USA Inc., Clariant GmbH, Daiken America Inc.and Dyneon LLC.

Nancy Bartels


Chemical Accident Coincides with Mouse Abnormalities

CLEVELAND ," A handler's use of the wrong cleaner at a genetics laboratory damaged mouse cages and might be linked to a sudden increase in chromosome abnormalities noted in the animals.

According to the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), scientists at a Case Western University genetics laboratory and associated animal research center noted deterioration in a mouse colony's semi-rigid plastic cages after a handler used a harsh detergent to clean them. The cages' plastic then released small amounts of bisphenol A. The researchers believe the low-level exposure led to the "highly significant" increases subsequently observed in the mice's developing eggs.

Patricia A. Hunt, Ph.D., who works in the Department of Genetics at the Cleveland-based university, stated in an NIEHS-supported report that the sudden increase in abnormalities occurred in a mouse colony used as a control group. "We suspected it might be caused by something environmental," she said, "so for several weeks we looked for an explanation ," especially for any recent changes in the lab."

After confirming the bisphenol A accident, said NIEHS, the researchers deliberately exposed mice to small amounts of the chemical. Once again, they found the eggs to exhibit high rates of two chromosome abnormalities. The types of abnormalities identified are the leading causes of miscarriages, congenital defects and mental retardation in humans, added NIEHS.

"We don't know what the effects, if any, may be on humans at these low levels," cautioned Dr. Hunt. "Certainly we should be concerned enough to carry out extensive further study," she added.

Bisphenol A is used in the manufacture of many different plastics.

CP Staff


Taking the Pain out of Process Development

MISSISSAUGA, Ontario ," Paul Szabo, laboratory manager for the scale-up engineering lab at the Xerox Research Centre of Canada, has a message he wants to share: He has perfected an unconventional approach to chemical process development that promises to save you time, money and more than a little frustration.

Traditionally, said Szabo, chemical process development involves three steps: lab research, scale-up and manufacturing plant design. Each step requires a different set of experts ," from chemists to chemical engineers to designers. Each of these specialists not only must document all aspects of his or her work, but also somehow must transfer that knowledge to the experts involved in the next step.

"This is a time-consuming and, by definition, imperfect method," Szabo told Chemical Processing. "And you cannot really transfer information into one brain from another," he emphasized.

Szabo uses a multidisciplinary team to accomplish process development. The chemist, chemical engineer and design engineer are involved in the process from beginning to end, he explained, making knowledge transfer and truckloads of documentation unnecessary.

Of course, Szabo noted, it typically would be much easier for a large organization to loan out the personnel necessary to implement this approach than it would be for a small facility. In addition, he stressed, "the model has to be adopted to reality" ," meaning the approach taken with small-volume/high-value chemical processes should differ from those taken with large-volume/lower-value processes.

By using a multidisciplinary team approach, Szabo said facilities can slash research and development time by a factor of two. "Time is money," he emphasized.

The approach, however, is just half of Szabo's winning process-development plan. He also improves the development cycle by going straight from the laboratory to a virtual manufacturing design, which usually is a pencil and paper rendering.

"Once we have the virtual design," said Szabo, "we scale it down to the pilot plant." What results is an accurate design that catches problems a scale-up would not.

Szabo believes many facilities could benefit by combining his two approaches. Although the approaches require more human resources during a project's duration, the project itself will be much shorter and successful. With the traditional approach, added Szabo, "the company will pay for it later on many times over."

To learn more about Szabo's methods, contact him via e-mail at paul.szabo @crt.xerox.com.

Kathie Canning


Alliance Introduces Industry Performance Tool

NEW YORK and CAMBRIDGE, Mass. ," Accenture and Aspen Technology Inc. (AspenTech) announced the development of the Performance Management solution, which aims to help chemical companies and petroleum refiners improve productivity, quality and customer service. Consisting of business processes and software, the solution is the latest offering from Accenture's alliance with AspenTech.

According to the companies, the Performance Management solution incorporates the Aspen Performance Scorecard application. This technology not only allows manufacturers to track the way their plants and supply chains are operating, but also enables them to review their progress against key performance indicators (KPIs), analyze situations in which business objectives are not being met and manage corrective actions.

The Aspen Performance Scorecard uses a Web-based architecture to capture operating data from many systems across an organization, said the companies, including standard business systems and complex plant and supply-chain systems such as planning, yield accounting, quality management, modeling and simulation applications. The product collects raw data, structuring it in a form suitable for analysis and storage.

The application uses "a range of carefully selected best-of-breed' data management, scorecarding, reporting and analysis components," said the companies, "to transform the data into information that can be used for decision-making." The system provides reports based on KPIs, analysis using historical performance data, support for corrective action and initiative tracking and alerts related to expected performance deviations.

"Traditional performance-management products have failed to provide process manufacturers with the information and decision-support tools they need to improve operating performance," said David McQuillin, president and CEO of AspenTech. "Our next-generation solution breaks new ground by enabling companies to integrate valuable data from operational systems across their enterprises and make better decisions based on a clear understanding of the business impact. The launch of this solution represents an exciting milestone in our alliance with Accenture," he added.

"We've really looked at moving the Aspen solutions to the next level," said David Crow, Accenture's managing partner in chemicals, "to come out with an enhanced enterprise platform. [We're] basically looking at moving from a focused application to more of an enterprise view of manufacturing and supply chain areas."

Accenture not only has alliances that go across the entire company, but also has those that focus strictly on specific industry verticals. For example, said Crow, the company looks to ABB as a valuable partner in the discrete manufacturing space.

"[We] saw Aspen as one of the leading companies in terms of manufacturing and supply-chain applications in the past," noted Crow. "Their client base pretty much mirrors ours in terms of who's who in petroleum refining and chemical companies. So it was a natural combination."

Kathie Canning


SOCMA, ACC Announce Leadership Changes

WASHINGTON and ARLINGTON, Va. ," The Synthetic Organic Chemical Manufacturers Association (SOCMA) and the American Chemistry Council (ACC) both recently announced changes in their leadership.

SOCMA said Ed Fording was retiring as the association's president. Fording spent five years in that post.

His replacement is Joseph Acker, most recently chairman of the board for SOCMA. Acker has more than 20 years of experience in the fine chemical/pharmaceutical and custom-manufacturing segments of the chemical industry, said SOCMA, with his most recent industrial position being president and CEO of DanChem Technologies in Danville, Va.

"As president," said Acker, "I look forward to leading SOCMA, its talented staff and member companies toward even greater strides and contributions."

In the meantime, ACC announced the appointment of Dell E. Perelman as vice president, member relations and corporate secretary. At press time, the appointment was still subject to approval by ACC's board of directors. Perelman has been with the council since 1989, holding a variety of general counsel, senior counsel and other positions, said ACC.

Greg Lebedev, ACC president and CEO, said: "Dell has an outstanding knowledge of ACC's member companies and the issues facing the industry. He's a strong addition to the council's senior management team."

CP Staff


Water Watchers

U.S. Water Treatment Chemical Market ($ millions)

The U.S. water treatment chemical market is projected to grow at an average annual rate of 4.1 percent, reaching more than $2.7 billion by 2007. Although growth in the corrosion inhibitor market is moving along at a snail's pace, the biocides market is enjoying a healthy annual growth rate of 7.8 percent. Source: "RC-002X Specialty Water Treatment Chemicals: What's Ahead?"; Business Communications Co. Inc., Norwalk, Conn., 2003.

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