Archive for China
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Onyx Solar has rolled out a complete new full range of colored photovoltaic glass. The new product, which allows any sustainable project to configure a customized design in any color (or combination of colors) while generating clean and free energy. The wide range of tones and colors provides to any architectural design-curtain wall, brise soleil, skylight, ventilated façade, canopy, etc.—a new world of possibilities to integrate photovoltaic materials into buildings. With this innovative product, Onyx Solar shows that implementing green building solutions is compatible with an aesthetic architectural design and gives an absolute freedom of choice to integrate renewable energy into buildings. In addition to energy generation, Onyx Solar multifunctional solutions also provide other benefits to the buildings that incorporate them: Provide both thermal and sound insulation and filter out harmful radiations of natural light (IR & UV).
Chinese ceramic products are flooding the Indian market that has been impacting the interest of domestic manufacturers to the extent that many small units are on the verge of closure, an Assocham study has said. Ceramics manufacturers are not able to pass on the rise in input costs to consumers owing to the emerging competition from Chinese ceramic imports, which further hurt their profitability, the industry body said its study. “This has even lead to closure of certain ceramic units unable to bear rising production costs,” says D.S. Rawat, secretary general of Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (Assocham). The production of ceramics has been significantly falling short of the prevailing local demand in India and despite making rapid strides for enhancing domestic production capabilities, China continues to be a major supplier of ceramic products to India, the study says. Also, it says the rate of growth for import of Chinese ceramics into India has substantially risen from about eight per cent till a few years ago to over 42 per cent now.
Morgan Technical Ceramics (MTC) of Stourport-on-Severn, UK, has opened a new production facility for piezoelectric ceramic discs, which can be used in heat-, gas- and water-metering applications. The company says it is responding to growing global demand for ultrasonic domestic utility metering. MTC’s site in Southampton, UK, is now able to produce in excess of ten million piezoelectric ceramic discs a year. Cogeneration is an increasingly popular method of simultaneously generating both electricity and heat. Essentially, excess heat from a central power station is used to heat water, which is then pumped to homes. As a result, heat metering, which measures the flow of water ultrasonically and monitors any drop in temperature, presents a significant opportunity, according to MTC. Meanwhile, ultrasonic products are rapidly replacing mechanical meters in gas- and water usage measurement, as the drive to measure usage more accurately for energy efficiency reasons continues.
TechNavio’s analysts forecast the Nanotechnology Drug Delivery market in the US to grow at a CAGR of 84.79 percent over the period 2012-2016. One of the key factors contributing to this market growth is the low R&D cost. The nanotechnology drug delivery market in the US has also been witnessing the trend of emergence of personalized medicines. However, the increasing safety concerns could pose a challenge to the growth of this market. TechNavio’s report, the Nanotechnology Drug Delivery Market in the US 2012-2016, has been prepared based on an in-depth market analysis with inputs from industry experts. It also covers the Nanotechnology Drug Delivery market in the US landscape and its growth prospects in the coming years. The report also includes a discussion of the key vendors operating in this market.
At its First Annual Supplier Forum, BAE Systems Maritime—Submarines has recognized Schott’s Electronic Packaging Business for ten years of outstanding cooperation. The specialist for glass-to-metal sealing technology provides hermetic power, control, and instrumentation penetrations for BAE’s Astute-class submarines. The components safely conduct electricity and data through the containment structure of the submarine’s nuclear reactor. “Since 2003, Schott has consistently been one of our top-performing suppliers,” says Jeannette Medati, BAE Systems Maritime—Submarines Head of Supply Chain Category Management. “The cross-functional, cross-business, and multinational teamwork with Schott serves as a benchmark for what can be achieved by working together with joint aims, open and honest communication, and a will to perform to the highest levels. We hope to continue in a spirit of true partnership for many years to come.” Since the early 1960s, Schott’s glass-to-metal sealed electrical penetration assemblies have been used in naval vessels ranging from civil icebreakers to aircraft and LNG carriers, as well as dozens of active nuclear power plants around the world. In rigorous testing-including seismic simulations and severe accident test programs beyond conditions believed to have occurred in 2011 in Fukushima-the robust components have proven their heat-, pressure-, and radiation-resistant hermeticity and integrity.
Rio Tinto Minerals has formally launched its Asia Technology Centre (ATC) to serve the growing market for borates in Asia. Rio Tinto Minerals is recognized as a world leader in borate supply and science. Borates are found in a variety of products including high technology glass used in flat screen televisions and laptops, fiberglass to make buildings energy efficient, and fertilizers that help farmers increase crop quality and yield. The ATC in Suzhou, China joins research facilities in the US and is fully developed with laboratories, offices and work spaces, and built for growth. The ATC provides important internal capabilities in glass and ceramics, metals and advanced materials, and agriculture and specialty chemicals to support RTM’s research and development expansion in Asia. The company’s research and development strategy is to partner with customers, universities, government labs and other centers of to pursue commercially relevant innovation.
A few days ago—at the European Raw Materials Conference—China’s Zhang Lirong reiterated his nation’s position that despite WTO actions, restrictions, which his country has been placing on rare earth-related exports, are largely the result of concerns about the environmental effects of mining and refining these materials. According to a report from EurActiv.com, Zhang, China’s deputy ambassador to the European Union, asserted that the conflict over rare earths pits the European Union and the United States against “environmental standards we have adopted. …The measures we have taken are a part of the growing awareness of the need for environmental protection and sustainable production.”
As part of its reporting on this story, EurActiv.com noted
Chinese officials have argued that better controls over mining and production of minerals and metals was essential to address worsening environmental and health conditions that have fueled public anger. Recently, Beijing announced it would take steps to tackle urban air pollution that has choked the capital and other cities this winter.
Zhang apparently made his comments as a reflection upon a WTO ruling jointly brought by the EU and the US against China for creating blocks to supplying the two groups with needed strategic materials, such as bauxite, coke, magnesium, manganese, and zinc. While the complaint and the subsequent ruling didn’t explicitly address rare earths, the WTO action was seen as a proxy for a full battle over access to Chinese elements and ores.
While the Great Recession temporarily has turned down the heated dialogue about Chinese rare earths exports (and demand for exports actually was well below the nation’s export ceiling for 2012), it is worth noting that Zhang pledged at the meeting, “China will continue to supply the world market.”
But Zhang, I think correctly, also said China, “calls on other suppliers of raw materials to share their materials.” I take that to mean that, in the long run, countries with domestic rare earth deposits—but not the gumption to deal with the mess that comes with processing the ores—ought to rethink their position.
It’s not exactly parallel, but I have to admit that I have some sympathy and see some similarities between China’s position and the situation faced in my home state, Ohio, that is constantly being told that it legally cannot block companies in other states that want to dump their trash, fracking fluids, and other environmentally risky wastes here.
Further, I have seen nothing that disputes China’s assertions, viz., that the negative effects of rare earth mining are far from being contained. On the contrary, the situation may be growing worse because China’s regulatory structure, so far, is apparently losing the battle to stop bootleg mines and rare earth smuggling.
For example, a 2012 China Daily news report, headlined “Smuggling blights rare earths industry,” revealed that significantly more rare earth products are being smuggled than the amount being legally traded:
The smuggling of mineral resources out of China, especially rare earths, continues to increase, a senior official from the General Administration of Customs said. The minerals are mainly smuggled to neighboring countries such as Japan and the Republic of Korea, Chen Jianxin, deputy director of the administration’s anti-smuggling bureau, recently told China Daily. Chen says the huge demand from foreign markets and China’s high customs duties for rare earths are the main reasons behind the rise in smuggling. He declined to disclose the latest statistics on the smuggling, but China’s first white paper on the rare earths industry, released by the State Council in June, paints a grim picture.
The report said that in 2011, the amount of rare earths smuggled out of China was 20 percent higher than the amount of products that legally left the country. According to customs, China exported about 18,600 tons of rare earths products in 2011, accounting for 61 percent of the rare earths export quota of 30,184 metric tons released by the Ministry of Commerce for 2011. At the same time, more than 21,000 tons were smuggled out, according to the report.
Of the estimated 21,000 tons, only eight cases involving 769 tons of the minerals were detected as part of a campaign to crack down on rare earths smuggling, according to customs.
So, China has some real problems that cannot be overlooked by the rest of the world. One would hope that the US and Europe will stick with initiatives to develop domestic rare earth production capabilities, increase recycling and reuse, and spur research to find substitutes and alternatives, such as the new Critical Materials Hub and the European Innovation Partnership on Raw Materials.
Here is what we are hearing:
For more than 20 years Didier served as representative for many of Zircoa’s products to much of Europe and parts of Asia. The successful relationship of these two respected refractory materials manufacturers expanded both awareness of Zircoa and their market share in areas of world not (at the time) served directly by Zircoa Inc. President Ronne Proch says, “We strive to exceed the customer’s expectations. Didier, as our representative, was an embodiment of that goal. With the torch now passed and with the formation of Zircoa GmbH, we reaffirm our commitment and will continue to back it up with the excellence in product support and customer service. Existing customers may rest knowing that with the formation of Zircoa GmbH; nearly all existing staff will remain.” Zircoa GmbH will further its market development and grow it sales activities into Eastern Europe, Russia and other EMEA member countries. As part of this growth, Zircoa GmbH seeks the development of relationships with other ceramic and refractory materials companies with products complementing Zircoa’s and sharing similar sales objectives in the target markets.
TenCate has reached an agreement on the acquisition of Amber Composites, a UK-based manufacturer of thermoset composites for the industrial and automotive market. The major portion of the global composite market consists of thermoset materials. The activities of TenCate in this market are mainly focused on aerospace, space and radome applications and within TenCate Advanced Composites concentrated in the United States. The acquisition of Amber Composites will help accelerate activities in the European market in the field of thermoset composite materials. As a result of the acquisition of Amber Composites, TenCate increases its presence in the market for industrial and automotive composites, tooling materials and in the aerospace market in Europe, with both thermoset and thermoplastic composites. Thermoset composites are used as an alternative for those applications that can not be met by thermoplastic composites. This creates a one stop shop for customers of TenCate Advanced Composites.
In a move that reflects sustained sales growth throughout North America, powder characterisation company Freeman Technology (Tewkesbury, UK) has appointed ATS Scientific Inc. as its distributor for Canada. Headquartered in Burlington, Ontario, ATS Scientific now assumes responsibility for sales of Freeman Technology’s FT4 powder rheometer throughout this territory. Tim Freeman, managing director of Freeman Technology, says: “It is just one year since we established Freeman Technology Inc. to serve the USA, so it is especially pleasing that we are now able to further extend the support we provide to customers throughout North America.” Freeman Technology provides systems for the measurement of powder flow properties. With a strong process focus and significant commitment to R&D and applications development, the company delivers extensive know-how alongside its universal powder tester, the FT4 Powder Rheometer, with expert teams guiding and supporting users in addressing specific powder challenges.
(Reuters) Saint-Gobain has struck a deal to sell its North American glass container operation to Ireland’s Ardagh Group for $1.7 billion, beginning its planned exit from the low-margin business. While the French group looks to focus on higher-margin building materials operations, Ardagh’s worldwide glass business will increase by 60 percent, Chairman Paul Coulson says in a statement, with about 40 percent of sales generated in the United States. Plans by Saint-Gobain to spin off the whole of Verallia, which makes jars for Nutella spread and bottles for Dom Perignon champagne, had to be shelved in 2011 because of the deepening euro zone crisis.
The RT Vanderbilt Co. announced several business changes for 2013, including the completion of an expansion project and the development of new business-focused subsidiaries, and the reorganization of its North American operations around three new wholly owned subsidiaries. The reorganized NA structure will introduce vertically integrated businesses better equipped to meet customer needs and position the company for market growth—both through mergers and acquisitions and organically. “RT Vanderbilt’s new organizational structure will allow us to concentrate and grow our businesses in our traditional areas of strength, including chemicals and minerals,” says President & COO Roger Price. The reorganization will result in the creation of Vanderbilt Chemicals LLC, for operations of the company’s manufactured and resale chemical business in NA; Vanderbilt Minerals LLC, the company’s industrial and specialty minerals business in NA serving the life sciences, coatings, ceramics, and agricultural markets; and Vanderbilt Global Services LLC, to provide support to the operating businesses. Additionally, RT Vanderbilt’s previously announced $30 million expansion project at a Murray, Ky., chemical facility will be completed by the summer of 2013. The company additionally operates mines in various locations throughout the U.S. to provide kaolin clay, bentonite, pyrophyllite, wollastonite, and other processing aids.
Studies have shown that natural light in hospital operating rooms helps medical staff maintain alertness, while relieving stress and enhancing their mood. These key reasons are why Children’s Hospital Colorado installed dynamic glass from sage in the cardiac operating rooms of its newly built East Tower project. As part of the new 10-story, $230 million East Tower facility that opened in October, Children’s Hospital Colorado installed SageGlass to enhance the working environment and energy efficiency in a unit that performs more than 800 heart catheter procedures and more than 500 heart surgeries annually. SageGlass is electronically tintable dynamic glass that maximizes daylight and outdoor views in buildings while controlling glare and heat gain. The glass can darken or clear on demand or automatically to save energy and help keep building occupants continuously comfortable throughout the day.
Clarvista glass, a shower glass product made by PPG Industries, was named among 2012 “Products of the Year” by editors of USGlass, Metal and Glazing magazine. Clarvista glass is made with a proprietary coating that is fused on the glass, sealing the surface and making it resistant to corrosion caused by heat, humidity, soap, and chemicals in household cleaning products. As a result, with regular maintenance, Clarvista glass can maintain its showroom looks longer than competing shower glass products. Clarvista shower glass is available with conventional clear glass or Starphire ultraclear glass by PPG. When combined with Starphire glass, Clarvista glass produces a highly transparent shower glass.
The Chinese end-market dominated shipments of solar photovoltaic panels during the final quarter of 2012 with 33 percent of global end-market demand, according to new research released in the NPD Solarbuzz Quarterly report. “Just two years ago, the Chinese end-market was less than 10 percent of global PV demand,” states Michael Barker, senior analyst at NPD Solarbuzz. “This is the start of a new chapter for the solar industry, with China potentially taking center stage in both the upstream and downstream channels.” Several factors are contributing to China’s rise, including slowing growth in Europe with declining PV incentives and strong domestic policies within China that were designed to assist domestic Chinese manufacturers. Chinese demand continues to be heavily back-end weighted. In 2012, Q4′12 demand in China accounted for almost 60 percent of annual demand. However, this demand phasing provides a significant dilemma for suppliers as they struggle to balance the rewards of year-end shipments with the risks from rising inventories and potential write-downs earlier in the year.
PyraMax Ceramics LLC a domestic US proppant manufacturing facility with distribution outlets strategically located near the major oil and gas fields supporting the multi-billion pound proppant needs of the fracture stimulation high pressure pumping market. After breaking ground in May 2012, the company believes a new $140 million manufacturing facility located in Wrens, Ga., will be completed in March 2013. PyraMax’s objective is to supply a superior clay-based (high alumina content kaolin) ceramic proppant that will routinely exceed the industry’s expectation for light weight ceramics. PyraMax Ceramics, understanding that quality begins with the right building blocks, turned to the kaolin rich southeast US and secured the rights to minerals and mining operations in Georgia and South Carolina. This allows the company to have total control over quality and ensure multiple decades of an uninterrupted supply from some of the best ore in the world. PyraMax’s corporate headquarters are in Houston, Texas. The company will have about 65 full-time employees at the Wrens facility and the mining company will add up to an additional 20 to 30 for their operations.
Here is what we are hearing:
PPG Industries announced that the Radius Urban Apartment complex in Newport News, Va., is the largest single installation of windows fabricated with Solarban 70XL glass and SunClean self-cleaning glass. By transmitting high levels of daylight while blocking the sun’s heat energy, windows made with Solarban 70XL glass can reduce summer cooling costs by as much as 25 percent. During winter months, the glass can cut furnace heat loss through windows in half, which can lower heating bills. SunClean glass is formulated with a proprietary coating that becomes “photocatalytic” and “hydrophilic” after prolonged exposure to sunlight. Photocatalysis enables the coating to gradually break down organic materials that land on its surface, while hydrophilicity causes water to sheet when it strikes the coating so that decomposed materials are naturally rinsed away when it rains.
(KHL International Construction) Cement producer Holcim has reduced its shareholding in Siam City Cement Company (SCCC) in Thailand and sold its minority shareholding Cementos Progreso in Guatemala—deals worth a combined total of $412 million. Holcim now owns a 27.5 percent stake in materials producer SCCC, reduced from 26.8 percent. The shares have been bought by Bangkok Broadcasting and Television, which itself is owned by the Ratanarak Group. Holcim said it would remain a strategic partner of SCCC, which has a cement production capacity of 16.5 million tons at its Saraburi plant and reported net sales of $755 million in 2011.
Rubicon Technology Inc., a leading provider of sapphire substrates and products to the LED, semiconductor, and optical industries, announced the closing of a three year, $25 million secured revolving credit facility with Silicon Valley Bank. “This undrawn credit facility bolsters Rubicon’s strong liquidity position,” says William Weissman, chief financial officer of Rubicon. “We believe it is prudent to establish this additional financial flexibility for the future,” he concluded. Rubicon currently has no debt. The terms and conditions of the credit facility will be described in the company’s filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
(Mirror) The latest investment fad - rare earth metals - has left clients of one company high and dry. In October, Oliver Whittaker from Tewkesbury, Glos (UK), was called by a firm of brokers in this new market called Galissard—sadly shortly before we exposed their deceptive sales tactics. His investment of £5,000 went to a second firm, Rare Earth Metal Exchange Ltd, which has just collapsed. According to documents published by Companies House on Christmas Eve, Rare Earth Metal Exchange has debts of £1.6million it cannot pay—quite an achievement considering the firm was only incorporated 11 months ago. With one director, 32-year-old Elisha Zinyama of Woodford, Essex, it claimed to have been founded by “leading industry advisers and alternative investment specialists” who would provide “exceptional returns” for investors. What’s more, boasts the company’s website, they would do this with a “rigorous due diligence”.
(Xinhua News) China may almost double its upper limit for solar power installed capacity to 40 gigawatts by 2015 from the current 21 GW, an industry insider says. The exact figure is yet to be finalized, said Meng Xiangan, deputy board chair of the Chinese Renewable Energy Society. Solar cell plants face tough prospects after the United States and Europe launched anti-dumping measures on Chinese solar power products in November. Meng says that some high-ranking government officials have organized closed-door meetings for photovoltaic energy plants to discuss their situation. According to a report released by the National Energy Administration on Sept. 12, 2012, China will expand its installed solar power generation capacity to 21 GW, or 21 million kilowatts, by 2015. This is a five-fold increase from the 3.6 million kilowatts seen at the end of 2011.
Innovative Ceramic Corp., East Liverpool, Ohio, is pleased to announce a newly design website. The site outlines their capabilities in high temperature ceramic ink design and manufacturing, custom ink testing, sampling service, and custom rubber stamp design and manufacturing. The new design provides easy-to-use navigation, request for quotes, the ability to submit your ink product, and rubber stamp specs with the capability to unload related files. Five portfolios servicing different industries are used to illustrate Innovative Ceramic’s capabilities, services, and features/benefits provided in solutions. The company is a manufacturer of creative solutions to product identification and decorations to the ceramic industry. It manufactures ceramic decals, marking devices, and DuraFire Marking Inks. It also provides decal squeegees and other decal tools, high temperature china markers, and underglaze pencils.
My list is much more straightforward than Eileen’s. I find that restraint and discipline comes with age. Mostly. (Eileen adds—See Peter’s fifth story. We’re even!)
Anyway, I crafted my list based on trends, biases, underreporting by commercial news services, murky understanding of two-dimensional phenomena and, well, bad taste. In several cases, the post I picked is just representative of a topic that was covered several times this year.
Two or three years ago, much of the science community (not to mention, quite a few folks on the conspiracy fringe) thought that China’s dominance of rare earth production and experts would bring the end of the world, as we know it. Or at least, delay the production of iPhone 7 until late 2013. And, too, a way to boost your 401k (Buy buy buy US rare earth mining company equities plus be a patriot!). And, a lot of industrialized nations thought they were going to climb on the WTO stool to punch China in the eye because the prices weren’t low enough.
But, its funny how things really worked out, and who would have guessed that China now cannot even sell all of what it produces, even at a discount. Much of the world might have been snoozing when rare earth demand suddenly soared, but the recession in the developed world has provided extra time for finding substitutes and trade negotiations.
There are a number of overlapping goals among the ceramic grand challenges, such as oxide electronics, developing new paradigms for understanding interfaces, and predicting heterogeneous microstructures. A lot of interesting work emerged in 2012 to deepen our understanding in these areas and creating new materials with unprecedented functionalities.
The story above is just one example, and it has to do with the work of Jay Narayan’s group and NC State to control and stabilize titanium dioxide in its desirable rutile phase. They even developed a technique that precisely controls the crystalline structure at room temperature in such a way that it won’t change when the temperature fluctuates. This process may be extremely useful in the development of photovoltaic cells, hydrogen production, optical communication technologies, and smart sensor production. Likewise, researchers led by Ho Nyung Lee at Oak Ridge National Lab are exploiting the properties of functional complex-oxide perovskites thin films to engineer “perfect” heterointerfaces. 2013 should be another great year for oxide research.
Admittedly, it is still difficult for me to believe that the healing powers of borate glass fibers are real. Since I first wrote in 2011 about the ability of these fibers to heal long-festering sores and wounds frequently that frequently bedevil diabetics, I have expected a myth-buster to step forward at any minute. But, they haven’t. On the contrary, the product is starting to find interest among veterinary practices (finding sales in the veterinary marketplace is a well-trod route for novel medical supplies and devices awaiting human testing and FDA approval), where I suspect there will be more risk-taking and use for more extreme applications, such as traumatic wounds and burns. I also suspect that there may be several animal studies that emerge from this work. In the meantime, a second round of human clinical trials is continuing in Missouri, and the results are expected in 2013.
I don’t intend to cover old ground on this topic, and I obviously think this is an interesting story both for engineering reasons and for historical reasons. However, this story is among my top 5 because the legal dimensions of this case are very important to anyone who participates in authoring and publishing scientific research. World Kitchen is suing—absent a scientific or engineering argument—the authors of the Bulletin story, “Shattering Glass Cookware,” and The American Ceramic Society for publishing a reasoned explanation of why soda lime silicate cookware appears to be more prone to thermal failure than borosilicate glass cookware, and, therefore, stating their opinions about its utility. Can a company force a published article to completely “disappear” simply because it doesn’t like the results of an inquiry by veteran glass engineers or their conclusions? The implications are staggering, in my opinion, for technical publishing.
Wait! We didn’t publish a post on this—but we should have!
And, because Psy promises to never perform Gangnam Style live again after New Years Eve, this may be the last time this parody has any relevance. (And, BTW, Bill Nye says he is honored by this version.)