Owens Corning and Constellation today announced the development of a 2.6-megawatt solar generation project that will supply clean energy to the company’s thermal and acoustical insulation plant in Delmar, N.Y. Scheduled for completion in late 2013, the solar project is designed to supply more than 6 percent of the plant’s annual electricity needs and will support Owens Corning’s 2020 Environmental Footprint Goals for energy use and greenhouse gas emissions reduction. “The Delmar Plant is committed to environmental sustainability and advancing both our plant and Owens Corning toward our 2020 sustainability goals,” says John Becker, Delmar plant leader for Owens Corning. “In addition, this project is part of our continuing efforts to implement innovative programs that improve and protect New York State’s environment, and have a positive impact on the state’s economy.” Constellation will finance, build, own and maintain the system. Electricity generated by the system will be purchased by Owens Corning under a 20-year power purchase agreement with Constellation.
A recently added market report by Transparency Market Research on “Energy Efficient Materials Market—Global Industry Size, Share, Trends, Analysis And Forecasts 2012-2018″ is now available. Energy efficient materials are largely used for thermal insulation of buildings as a result of which, demand for these materials is on the rise. Thermal insulation is the most efficient and effective way to improve the energy utilization and efficiency in the building. This method will preserve the indoor heat during winter while keeping the building cool from inside in summers thus improving comfort and saving energy. Some important factors which are necessary for energy saving potential include thermal insulation, efficient lighting system, insulation of windows etc. The most common energy efficient material is fiber glass which is largely used in constructing energy efficient windows. Energy efficient materials industry has a huge market potential in developed countries of America and Europe however, this technology is expected to catch momentum in developing markets of Asia Pacific in near future owing to the increasing adoption of the concept of energy efficient homes. Energy efficient materials market is also driven by increasing consumer demand for operating various appliances and increasing standard of living. In America about 38 percent of total energy consumption is used for heating and cooling purpose in buildings while China accounts for 47.2 percent of total energy consumption.
U.S. Silica exceeded all of its 2012 Sustainability Targets including those for workplace safety, community investment and environmental protection. The company released its third annual Sustainability Report, Connected, which provides a summary of the company’s goals and accomplishments over the past year. Under the guidance of the company’s Sustainability Council, the 2017 Bold Goals and Annual Targets are focused on three distinct areas: People, Planet and Prosperity. Building off of the company’s last two reports, Connected reflects U.S. Silica’s commitment to employees, neighbors, shareholders and the natural environment. It also underscores U.S. Silica’s leadership in sustainability efforts, ranging from tree plantings and wildlife preservation initiatives to financial and in-kind support for local charities and outreach groups.
(Reuters News) From whitewares to solar panels, ceramic products imported from China are about to become much more expensive for European consumers after the European Commission agreed to impose punitive duties on Chinese ceramic imports to counter what it says is dumping at artificially low prices. Imported Chinese whitewares are now subject to tariffs of between 13.1 and 36.1 percent, according to the EU’s official journal. The European Commission says ceramic tableware and kitchenware imports from China totaled €728 million in 2011. After an investigation of alleged dumping by Chinese producers of €21 billion of solar panels and components, the commission also imposed punitive tariffs of 47 percent on Chinese solar goods and said it is also ready to launch an investigation into Chinese imports of mobile telecom equipment.
Growth in industrial markets, more regulations and a shortage of skilled metallurgists all mean the same to NSL Analytical Services Inc.: more business. The independent commercial testing company recently invested more than $1.6 million to buy and renovate a new metallurgical laboratory in Warrensville Heights, Ohio, thus expanding that component of its business. At 11,500 square feet, the new building offers more than double the space of its old metallurgical lab, with more than $560,000 of that investment going to new microscopes, testing machines and other equipment. NSL Analytical, made up of a chemical testing lab and a metallurgical lab, has embarked on an aggressive growth plan in recent years, doubling its revenues and adding 17 employees since 2007, says company president Larry Somrack. He declined to share the company’s annual revenues, but cited the hiring increase as a sign of success. NSL is setting itself up to double its revenue again during the next three years, and Somrack says he plans to hire another 19 employees in the next three to five years. NSL currently has 66 employees. Somrack thinks opportunities exist to support that growth. A rise in regulations in recent years has led to a greater need for outside testing. Also, chief metallurgist Kevin Holland says in an email that he’s seen growth in the oil and gas industry and in manufacturing since the end of the recession.
After spending years supporting charitable work in Africa, John Coors, chief executive of CoorsTek, the US ceramics manufacturing giant, reached the conclusion that philanthropy was not the answer to fostering economic development. A defining moment came in rural western Kenya about two years ago, when he and a team of doctors and dentists had to turn away lines of people seeking medical help at an orphanage they supported because they could not meet the demand. High quality global journalism requires investment. The experience was the catalyst for Mr Coors to come up with an alternative view, shifting from a charitable approach to capitalism. The result is an initiative that aims to attract investment from influential, wealthy families into a private equity-type fund that has an initial target of raising $300m to invest in sub-Saharan Africa. The One Thousand & One Voices (1K1V) project was launched at the World Economic Forum on Africa in Cape Town with the concept that money would be put to better use if it was invested in growing African businesses and boosting job creation.
3M reports first-quarter earnings of $1.61 per share, an increase of 1.3 percent versus the first quarter of 2012. Sales rose 2.0 percent year-on-year to $7.6 billion, an all-time first-quarter record. Organic local-currency sales grew 2.1 percent and acquisitions added 1.7 percent to sales. Currency impacts reduced sales by 1.8 percent year-on-year. Operating income was $1.6 billion and operating income margins for the quarter were 21.6 percent. First-quarter net income was $1.1 billion and free cash flow was $670 million. “We achieved record first-quarter sales and solid operating margins in the face of a low-growth economic environment and the strong U.S. dollar,” said Inge G. Thulin, 3M chair, president and chief executive officer. “At the same time, we further strengthened the company through increased investments in innovation, commercialization and manufacturing.” The company paid $440 million in cash dividends to shareholders and repurchased $805 million of its own shares during the quarter.
A unique Michigan-based startup company that is attempting to leverage a proprietary method of what it describes as thermosetting ceramics is on something of a roll. Covaron Advanced Materials (formerly called Kymeira Advanced Materials, as in the above video) announced that it has just secured $300,000 in seed money from a variety of sources, this after winning a $25,000 prize last November in the Accelerate Michigan innovation contest.
The idea of a thermoset ceramics isn’t entirely new. For example, several patents discuss thermosets and ceramic composite materials, and the Navy has a 2004 patent for a method of making boron-carbon-silicon ceramic using thermosetting polymers.
The main person behind the invention of Covaron’s technology is Vincent Alessi, an Oberlin College graduate whom is describes as “a serial inventor in the areas of material chemistry, medical devices, fluid dynamics, and neuroscience.”
Alessi has been able to surround himself with several people of considerable experience in the materials business world, including former Walmart sustainability manager Cameron Smith (featured with Alessi in the video), as well as Dave Hatfield, who helped commercialize thermoplastics technology at Dow Chemical, and Reed Shick, previously the intellectual capital manager for Dow R&D.
I had a chance to speak with Hatfield, the Covaron CEO, who tells me they aren’t anxious to publish research on the papers until a number of intellectual property safeguards are in place. He said Alessi has several patents pending on the technology. He also says Covaron is attempting to develop the technology as a platform to develop a number of unique materials, the first of which has been given the Petraforge brand by the company.
Covaron’s website says Petraforge “has physical properties similar to advanced ceramics yet eliminates the need for heat sintering at 3,600°F.” It goes on to say that Petraforge is “specially formulated to provide the strength, heat conductivity, and abrasion resistance needed to create long lasting patterns and molds for plastics and cast metals.”
When I pressed him for some details about the composition of the Petraforge or other materials, Hatfield deferred to the company’s official description: “[It is a] polymetallic oxide with a nominally amorphous polymeric (glassy) microstructure. … Covaron formulates multiple types of two-component systems, comprising an “A” and a “B” side, similar to thermosetting polymers such as two-part epoxies. … The “A” side is primarily made up of inorganic compounds. Low cost fibers such as glass or carbon can be added to improve strength and alleviate brittleness. The “B” side includes liquid reactants. These components are combined and first undergo a gelation followed by a unique “chemical sintering” reaction, progressing from a liquid phase, to a “green” phase, and then to a low temperature cure process.”
Hatfield said the curing takes place between 160°C and 210°F and can require several hours. The company claims that in regard to certain properties, such as flexural strength, compressive strength-to-weight ratio and thermal stability, its materials are on par with silicon carbide and alumina.
One obvious benefit in regard to traditional advanced ceramic approaches would be considerable manufacturing savings from not having to sinter, but the company also says the pre-cured material is like cake batter and can be molded into any shape. Hatfield says post-cured material is easily machined and not nearly as brittle as some ceramics.
The company also claims, “more than 70 percent of the raw materials used in Covaron products can come from industrial waste sources.”
Hatfield tells me that Covaron will use the $300,000 seed funding to further the characterization of the materials, perfecting the mold and pattern making application techniques (for use in plastic injection molding, metal sand casting, etc.) and laying the groundwork for an “A” round of venture capital infusion of around $2.5-$5 million targeted for the end of 2013 or early 2014.
Current investors include Mercury Fund in Houston, Texas; First Step Fund in Detroit, Michigan; Huron River Ventures in Ann Arbor, Mich. and Two Seven Ventures in Denver, Colo. According to a story in Crain’s Detroit Business, Hatfield asked one of the leaders of Two Seven Ventures, Dave Cornelius, to do some initial investigation of Alessi’s technology based on Cornelius’ previous stint as director of new ventures for Dow Corning.
Hatfield also mentions the company, at some future point, hopes to develop products for the oil and gas industry, such as proppants for fracking, and pipes and fittings. Could Covaron be another MesoCoat in the making? Stay tuned.
Oxide CMC exhaust ground test demonstrator consists of a 1.60-m diameter nozzle and 1.14-m diameter × 2.34-m conical centerbody with titanium end cap inspection portal. Credit: Steyer; IJACT.
Ceramic matrix composite (CMC) materials can benefit aerospace in propulsion and exhaust, thermal protection, and hot primary structure applications, according to Todd E. Steyer of The Boeing Company (Huntington Beach, Calif.).
Reviewing aerospace-related presentations from last July’s 4th International Congress on Ceramics in a recent paper in the ACerS International Journal of Applied Ceramic Technology, Steyer outlined several emerging aerospace opportunities for CMCs, including propulsion and exhaust, thermal protection, and hot primary structure applications.
In the propulsion area, gas turbines have long been dominated by the use of nickel-based superalloys and titanium alloys. According to Steyer, engine manufacturers are now taking a closer look at CMCs for use in engine hot sections. Silicon carbide-based composites can handle temperatures to 1200°C while reducing weight and cooling requirements, resulting in reduced fuel burn and improved performance.
According to an article in MIT Technology Review, new engines being developed by CFM, a partnership between GE and France’s Snecma, feature CMC components that will reduce fuel consumption by about 15 percent—enough to save nearly $1 million per year per airplane, assuming a fuel cost of $2.50 per gallon.
CFM’s LEAP engine uses SiC-reinforced CMC parts that don’t require cooling, enabling air that would normally be diverted to keep superalloy components from melting to be used to generate thrust. It also uses parts produced using a 3-D printing process, according to the MIT article.
The company already has orders for 4,500 of the new engines. In addition to saving money, the engines will help users comply with current and anticipated emissions regulations.
In engine exhaust systems, work is underway to produce an alumina-fiber reinforced aluminosilicate matrix composite centerbody and exhaust nozzle for commercial aircraft. Currently in ground testing, the ceramic nozzle will reduce weight and engine noise and increase component lifetime, Steyer wrote.
Ceramic materials have long been used in aerospace thermal protection applications—for 30 years, ceramic tiles with glass-based coatings provided thermal protection for the US’s now-retired space shuttle fleet. Initially composed of silica fibers with a nominal density of 0.14 g/cm3 and a glaze aimed at controlling emissivity and limiting catalysis for oxygen and nitrogen recombination from the plasma on reentry, the tiles provided effective insulation but required heavy maintenance between flights. Engineers improved durability over the shuttle’s service life using new tile substrates and coatings.
For new thermal protection applications, Steyer reported on CMCs developed and tested by NASA researchers for use at temperatures to 1700°C. Toughened Uni-piece Fibrous Reinforced Oxidation-Resistant Composite (TUFROC) materials build on the success of insulating fibrous tiles with high-emissivity/low-recombination-efficiency coatings using a refractory ceramic carbon-insulated layer for dimensional stability.
Supersonic and hypersonic flight vehicles present unique challenges for primary hot structural materials, and ultrahigh-temperature ceramics (UHTCs) have been emerging as a promising class of materials for leading edges for hypersonic vehicles. The refractory nature of this class of carbides, borides, and nitrides makes them good candidates for the highest heat flux areas as well as areas with high integrated heat load as a function of time, Steyer wrote.
Particulate, whisker, and chopped or continuous fiber reinforcements are resulting in improved mechanical properties, but the materials’ relatively high density and difficulty in large-scale processing are potential drawbacks. Steyer reported one recent example in which CMCs consisting of 0.5- to 1-mm long chopped Hi-Nicalon SiC fibers in a ZrB2 matrix hot-pressed at 1700°C showed significantly improved chevron-beam fracture toughness at compositions containing up to 20 vol.% fiber.
Increased use of CMCs in aerospace will require microstructure optimization, a path to entry into service, and improved affordability. Steyer believes fundamental and applied research in damage accumulation mechanisms/models, life prediction methodologies and modeling, nondestructive inspection techniques, and robust field and depot-level repair methods will result in more CMCs in aerospace applications.
• At meeting on May 3, the supervisory board of RHI AG approved a concept presented by the management board to adjust the production capacity in Europe to the growth rates, which are expected to stay low in the future. For this reason, the Duisburg plant in German will be closed this year. The Duisburg site currently employs 122 people and primarily produces magnesia-carbon bricks for the steel industry.
• Is glass cullet burning in US?: 1) In Lawrenceburg, W.V.: A pile of recycled glass caught fire Friday afternoon in Lawrenceburg, releasing a smoke cloud that could be seen for miles away. Fire officials in Anderson County received the from the Dlubak Glass Co. on Industry Road, that one of their piles of glass was engulfed in flames. 2) In North Las Vegas, Nev.: Fire officials are investigating what caused a glass recycling plant to go up in flames on May 5 afternoon. It happened near Craig and the I-15. Firefighters said the wind was a huge concern, because it helped the fire accelerate quickly; the plant was open and operating at the time of the fire, and firefighters estimated the flames grew to nearly 50 feet.
• Talga Resources has discovered near surface, high grade flake graphite in first drilling at its Raitajärvi project in northern Sweden. Importantly, initial assays have delivered both high grades over significant thicknesses and broad zones of mineralization not previously recorded by historic works.
• Alcoa has sent a fresh wave of nervousness through its 2,800-strong Western Australia workforce after announcing it could close more of its global aluminium operations because of the metal’s continued price decline. In yet another indication of the tough conditions sweeping through the global aluminium market, Alcoa said yesterday it would review 460,000 metric tons of smelting capacity over the next 15 months “for possible curtailment.”
• The globally respected entrepreneur Chandra Kumar Somany (known to the glass industry fraternity as “C K”), has been honored with the 43rd Phoenix Award, “Glass Person of the Year 2013.” Somany is presently serving the HNG Group as the non-executive chairman.
• Ardagh Group and US food processing company HJ Heinz have formed a packaging development partnership to create a 300g jar for the European launch of a new culinary ketchups range.
In the last few weeks, GlaxoSmithKline finally (and relatively quietly) began the sale of its renowned Sensodyne Repair & Protect toothpaste in the United States, and if you think maybe I am going to write one of those good news/bad news stories, I am not. There is no good news here and I have scratched a bald spot in my wrinkled gray scalp over the past five days trying to make sense of GSK’s decision.
There are a lot of international readers of this blog, so some background is necessary to avoid confusion for those who live outside North America. For years, GSK has sold a unique and remarkable toothpaste outside North America called Sensodyne Repair & Protect. Materials scientists, particularly those that work with advanced glass materials, took interest in this Sensodyne product because it contained a form of the 45S5 Bioglass invented by Larry Hench. As far as I know, it was the first broad-based consumer product that contained a bioactive ingredient that was designed to stimulate the body to rebuild dental tissue that, heretofore, was not rebuildable.
Repair & Protect was reported to be a godsend to people (including most adults) whose teeth have become annoyingly sensitive to heat and cold. Typically, the sensitivity occurs as one ages because some of the tooth enamel gets worn off over the years, which exposes the dentinal tubules that connect with the tooth nerves.
The 45S5 glass particles in Repair & Protect solve this by triggering an ionic reaction. When the glass particles contact saliva and water, the glass releases calcium and phosphate ions that form a calcium phosphate layer. The body then converts this to hydroxyapatite, which creates a physical barrier over the tubules much like the original enamel. Brush twice a day with Repair & Protect and after two weeks the heat/cold sensitivity disappears.
Just for the record, it wasn’t a direct path from Hench’s lab to the innovative toothpaste. Hench licensed his 45S5 to a US startup company, NovaMin, created by a group of dentists who saw the enormous potential for the glass in dental applications. GSK also saw the enormous potential and bought NovaMin for $135 million three years ago.
Quickly, GSK started bringing Repair & Protect to markets in Europe, Asia, Australia, and South America, to name a few. Anecdotally, the product seems to have been well received by consumers (despite being priced at a premium) and dental professionals. I have not read any definitive reports on sales, but according to a December 2011 story on the Consumer Goods Technology website, “As of September 2011, GlaxoSmithKline had sold 20 million units of Sensodyne Repair & Protect in more than 30 international markets.” Not bad for a few months of sales.
And it got better. According to GSK’s 2011 Annual Report, its Sensodyne Sensitivity & Acid Erosion business “grew 16%, driven by the launch of Sensodyne Repair & Protect… . Since its launch in February 2011, Sensodyne Repair & Protect has been available in 30 markets across Europe, Asia and the Middle East, with 20 additional launches planned for 2012. The Sensodyne franchise has registered double-digit growth for 11 consecutive quarters.“
GSK’s 2012 Annual Report (pdf) makes it sound like the toothpaste quickly became one of its cash cows:
“The Oral care category led growth at 8% versus market growth of approximately 4%. Sensodyne became the business’s first ‘billion-dollar brand’ in 2012, boosted by the global roll-out of Sensodyne Repair & Protect and the launch of Sensodyne Repair & Protect Whitening and Extra Fresh.”
But, one of the obvious omissions, marketwise, was that GSK wouldn’t (or couldn’t) sell Repair & Protect in the US marketplace. The reason? Over the years I have spoken with several glass experts at various ACerS meetings and the story they gave was nearly always the same: GSK couldn’t get FDA approval. As recently as two months ago, I was told by someone involved with the product’s development—but not the FDA process—whose understanding was that US sales was delayed because the regulatory agency was fine with the toothpaste composition, but uneasy with the term “repair.” Regardless of the cause of the delay, you couldn’t buy similar Repair & Protect in the US. Even online outlets, such as Amazon, refused to ship the product to the US.
So far, I have been unable to confirm the story about the FDA delays, and I don’t know if there is any truth to it.
What I do know is true is that in the past three weeks, I suddenly starting hearing from friends and ACerS contacts that they either had seen Repair & Protect commercials on US networks or had seen an actual box of the product in US retail outlets. Great, I thought. No more having to sneak it into the US!
But, in fact, I still was a little skeptical because just a week or so ago, when he was receiving the Toledo Glass Award, Larry Hench stated something to the effect that Repair & Protect was unavailable in the US. Coincidentally, my colleague Eileen De Guire excitedly shot out an iPhone picture of a box of Repair & Protect that she just found in a drugstore in Michigan.
Weird, I thought. Then even my chiropractor on Monday mentioned to me that he had seen an ad for the toothpaste.
Curiosity fully piqued, I jumped online to look for GSK’s press release about the start of Repair and Protect sales in the US. There wasn’t one. I did look for the product on GSK’s website and was eventually directed to the US Sensodyne website. Indeed, the main story proclaimed, “Now a Sensodyne toothpaste that can actually repair sensitive teeth.” A-ha! It is true.
But… there was also button to click on to “Learn more about Repair & Protect.” I clicked hoping read carefully composed marketing copy about the benefits of the NovaMin/45S5 glass particles in Repair & Protect like that on the UK Sensodyne website.
Boy, was I disappointed. Instead of a discussion of NovaMin, the webpage discusses the benefits of stannous fluoride. Stannous fluoride! The webpage also has video from a dentist whose chopped up testimonial has him saying, “I’m always open to new advances…” Now, if you are old enough to remember the old “Crest with Fluoristan” commercials, you know that there is nothing “advanced” about stannous fluoride.
I was certain there was a mistake. I was so certain there was a mistake that I went out to my local CVS to buy a tube so I could read the ingredients myself. Sure enough, the only active ingredient is “stannous fluoride 0.454%.”
I should have been tipped off by the relatively quiet start of the sales of Repair & Protect in the US. Yes, GSK/Sensodyne is running TV ads in the US, but it defies logic that a major consumer product company rolls out a “billion-dollar” brand in a huge market without 1) a press release and press push, 2) social media promotions ($1 off coupon campaigns don’t count), 3) an education campaign aimed at dentists, and 4) some nearly-over-the-top promotional events. But, that is what it appears GSK is doing.
I twice requested an interview with a GSK representative to explain why GSK switched the formulation for the US version of Repair & Protect and why there was such a lackluster product rollout. GSK refused to provide an interview opportunity. Instead, I had to settle for an insipid exchange of emails with GSK’s media contact for North America consumer products, Deborah Bolding.
Bolding wrote to me, “Sensodyne Repair and Protect is a new product here in the US and does not contain NovaMin. The FDA approved the formulation. We work with regulatory authorities in each market on formulations for the specific product to be marketed and sold in that specific market. There are variances by market depending on the local regulatory body and other factors.”
When I asked for examples of other markets where Repair & Protect doesn’t contain 45S5/NovaMin, she didn’t respond other than to write, “As mentioned earlier, formulations vary by market because each market has its own regulatory authorities.”
When I requested that Bolding supply me contact information of the dentist featured in the testimonial video, Bolding responded, “I am pleased that I could address a number of your questions regarding Sensodyne Repair & Protect here in the US. Unfortunately, further comment will not be available on our strategy, rationale and future plans.”
So, advanced materials aficionados, I am sorry to conclude that if you want to buy Sensodyne Repair & Protect in the US, save your money and buy some Crest. If you want “real” Repair & Protect, you are still going to have to go abroad to buy it.
I am confident the story eventually will emerge about why GSK would invest $135 million in a US startup (NovaMin), but not leverage the technology to create a powerful product in the startup’s home nation—all at the risk of diluting and potentially damaging the Repair & Protect brand reputation outside the US. GSK is a publicly traded company, and maybe analysts and stockholders should start asking.