Here’s what we are hearing:

Kyocera remains San Diego’s most-awarded company for environmental programs, honored with 12th consecutive city recycling award; to hold eWaste recycling program in honor of Earth Day 2012

Kyocera Communications Inc., a San Diego-based provider of wireless phones in the Americas and a wholly owned subsidiary of Kyocera International Inc., has received the Director’s Recycling Award for environmental programs by the City of San Diego’s Environmental Services Department. It is the twelfth consecutive year the City has awarded Kyocera Communications for its recycling efforts. Kyocera, which operates multiple divisions in San Diego, now has earned 19 such awards from the City – more than any other business in San Diego, according to the ESD. Kyocera also was recently honored by the state of California with the Waste Reduction Award, recognizing its recycling and environmentally-friendly business practices. In honor of Earth Day, Kyocera Communications will be holding an eWaste collection drive. The drive is part of Kyocera’s city-wide eWaste Recycling Program benefitting Cell Phones for Soldiers. Kyocera Corp. was founded 53 years ago with a philosophy of “harmonious coexistence” and a commitment to social responsibility and environmental protection. In 2011 Kyocera Communications recycled more than 26,730 pounds of paper, plastic, electronic and other waste materials otherwise destined for landfills.

Morgan Thermal Ceramics offers Plascast and Plasgun refractory monolithics for iron and steel applications

Morgan Thermal Ceramics announces the availability of its plastic refractory monolithics in both cast and gun grades. The Plascast and Plasgun materials are ideal for use in lining walls and roofs in iron and steel applications including reheat furnaces, offering an alternative to difficult to place plastic ram material that must be installed with a high pressure pneumatic hammer gun. The unique cement-free binder system in the Plascast and Plasgun products combines the advantages of a plastic refractory’s thermal-shock resistance with the ease and speed of placement benefits of a conventional castable. The clay-bonded Plascast materials are supplied dry. Once mixed with water they can be installed by casting or pumping into place like a conventional castable. Compared with refractory plastics, the Plascast materials significantly reduce installation time, yet provide a high quality material with superior hot strength, thermal shock resistance and reduced drying shrinkage. The end result is a furnace lining with uniform consistency and rapid strength development throughout the working temperature range.

Ceramics drives Aggressive Grinding expanding in Latrobe; hiring 50 over two years

(Keystone Edge) In the 1967 film The Graduate, the future was summed up in one word: “plastics.” Today, for an expanding Latrobe firm, the one word is “ceramics.” Aggressive Grinding Services, which specializes in precision grinding of super-hard materials, is making a commitment to ceramics in the form of a new, dedicated facility, part of a 14,000-plus-square-foot expansion. With new, state-of-the-art equipment and an anticipated 50 added jobs over the next two years, the company anticipates significant growth in ceramics, says Jeffrey Craig, the chief operating officer. Aggressive grinds carbide, ceramics and other such materials into complex geometries to tolerances within the millionths of an inch for industries including oil and gas, aerospace, mining, construction, nuclear energy, transportation and manufacturing. With tungsten carbide prices up dramatically, ceramics is emerging as a cleaner, cheaper alternative for some of these sectors. Ceramics is also gaining favor over titanium in artificial joints, so the facility opens lucrative, new prospective markets for Aggressive such as medical devices.

Chernobyl shield tested by Stoke-on-Trent ceramics firm; the original casing is deteriorating increasing the risk of nuclear leaks

(BBC) A metal shield designed to stop radiation leaking from the Chernobyl nuclear reactor is being tested by a company based in Stoke-on-Trent. Ceram has been testing the strength of the steel dome-shaped cover at its plant in Penkhull. It will replace the concrete casing which was put over the plant in Ukraine after the 1986 accident. Research teams are dropping 25kg blocks of ice on it and simulating extreme weather conditions. The company said the existing casing was deteriorating, increasing the risk of radioactive material leaking into the environment. It said the new shield would confine the site for the next 100 years. Ceram chief executive Tony Kinsella says, “What we’re trying to do here is to make sure that the outer structure can withstand the huge pressure of something like a force 3 tornado. [We need] to make sure it won’t part, that none of the panels will come off and start to expose radioactive material inside.”

Builder of rare-earth plant in Malaysia counters complaints

(New York Times) The Australian company building a rare-earth refinery in Malaysia sought to counter critics who are concerned that the plant could pose radioactive hazards, laying out detailed responses on Thursday that it said refuted the many “false allegations” made about the plant. The company, Lynas, said the first phase of its project would be ready to open in two weeks. But it is unclear when the plant will begin operations, as the Malaysian government has withheld the company’s temporary operating license while it hears appeals from people opposed to the facility. The plant, which has been plagued by delays and protests by residents worried about possible health and environmental risks, is designed to help break China’s stranglehold on the production of rare earths. Another project is under construction in the California desert near Death Valley.

OLEDs, with rapid growth of smartphones, will create $11B market in 2017

With rapid innovation and significant cost-cutting, organic light-emitting diodes represent the technology best-placed to carve off a share of the $100-billion liquid-crystal display market, according to a Lux Research report. OLED technology, which increasingly is used in smartphones, will reach a market size of nearly $11 billion in 2017, up from $1.9 billion in 2011, as it achieves cost parity with LCDs for small-area displays. However, OLEDs will require further innovation in order to successfully target larger-screen displays such as televisions. “Smartphones and OLEDs are a match made in heaven, but higher cost barriers exist for larger-area OLED applications,” says Jonathan Melnick, Lux Research Analyst and lead author of the report titled, “Cutting Up the LCD Pie: Calculating the Billion-Dollar Slices from Display Innovation. Based on our component materials and manufacturing cost analysis, OLEDs will decrease from their current $3,000/m2 for small-area displays to be cost competitive with LCDs by 2016.”

AGC announces laying of cornerstone at first glass manufacturing facility in Brazil

AGC, a world-leading manufacturer of glass, chemicals and high-tech materials, recently conducted a cornerstone-laying ceremony in Guaratinguetá, São Paulo State, Brazil, to commemorate the start of construction on its first manufacturing facility in the country. The facility in Guaratinguetá, which is scheduled to begin operations starting in 2013, will manufacture architectural and automotive glass. By 2016, the facility is expected to have a workforce of approximately 500 people most of who will be hired locally. By then, the production capacity is expected to reach 220,000 tons of construction glass per year. The facility is also expected to produce automotive glass for 500,000 vehicles per year also by 2016. At the ceremony, AGC president & CEO Kazuhiko Ishimura touched on three main points, which were 1) the importance of Brazil to the AGC Group, 2) the group’s endeavors for sustainability, and 3) AGC’s contribution to Brazilian society through its products.

Alfa Aesar digital literature now online

Alfa Aesar, a Johnson Matthey Company, has launched digital versions of all catalogs and brochures. The digital versions are electronic replicas of our popular print catalogs and brochures, featuring page-by-page technology with an easy to navigate table of contents and search function. The new format is a sustainable and environmentally friendly alternative for users who no longer wish to receive our printed literature. The interactive catalogs and brochures can be printed, emailed or saved as a PDF, enabling users to easily find and share the information they need. They have also been designed using HTML5 technology and are optimized for display on both desktop browsers as well as tablet PC’s and iPads.