Winners of R&D 100 Awards must often wait months or even years before the market decides their innovation can become a truly successful product. The editors at R&D follow the fortunes of many these winners, and we are often surprised at the way they can quickly transform entire industries. Recent announcements from R&D 100-winning companies like Newlight, Dow Chemical and Leica Microsystems reflect this level of success.
Scientists at Rice Univ. have created a nanoscale detector that checks for and reports on the presence of hydrogen sulfide in crude oil and natural gas while they’re still in the ground. The nanoreporter is based on nanometer-sized carbon material developed by a consortium of Rice labs led by chemist James Tour, R&D’s 2013 Scientist of the Year.
The stakes are incredibly high for the safety and compliance efforts of today’s oil and gas industry. Engineers and crews must be trained for increasingly complex processes and procedures used aboard drilling rigs and production platforms. The consequences of inadequate training during oil production can be disastrous to both operator crews and the environment.
The Center for Electrochemical Engineering at Ohio Univ. has received a National Science Foundation (NSF) award to establish a new industry university cooperative research center in Athens, Ohio, with partner site Washington Univ.-St. Louis. The new center will focus on electrochemical alternatives to conventional chemical and biological processes, with the goal of enhancing advanced production capabilities.
They need warmth to grow, but algae don’t necessarily need light. Experts in Finland, where warmer weather is rare, say it makes sense to link algae cultivation to industrial operations where residual heat is available to heat algae cultivation ponds or reactors. Recent research there shows that such an approach could be profitably implemented.
Global gas manufacturer and supplier Matheson Tri-Gas Inc. has completed the acquisition of Continental Carbonic Products Inc., an Illinois-based manufacturer and supplier of dry ice and liquid carbon dioxide. Continental Carbonic Products is the largest independent supplier of dry ice in the U.S. and will strengthen Matheson’s North American business.
America's newest, most expensive coal-fired power plant is hailed as one of the cleanest on the planet, thanks to government-backed technology that removes carbon dioxide and keeps it out of the atmosphere. But once the carbon is stripped away, it will be used to do something that is not so green at all. It will extract oil.
The chemicals and advanced materials industry consists of large multinational companies serving nearly every other market, key single market material and application development firms and an array of smaller, niche chemical and material companies.
The outer shell of a droplet of oil on a surface has a thin skin which allows it to hold its shape like a small dome. Researchers at the Univ. of Missouri have developed a technique to form a virtual wall for oily liquids that will help confine them to a certain area, aiding researchers who are studying these complex molecules. The finding could also help halt industrial oil spills.
Dow Chemical is looking to separate about 40 manufacturing plants from its business as it continues to concentrate on moving away from cyclical commodity products. The company said it is considering joint ventures, spinoffs or sales. It expects those deals to happen within the next 12 to 24...
Scientists at The Univ. of Texas at Austin have developed a new method to estimate gas production from hydraulically fractured wells in the Barnett Shale. The approach, which uses a simple physics theory called scaling, is intended to help the energy industry accurately identify low- and high-producing horizontal wells, as well as accurately predict how long it will take for gas reserves to deplete in the wells.
Researchers studying more effective ways to convert woody plant matter into biofuels have identified fundamental forces that change plant structures during pretreatment processes used in the production of bioenergy. Experimental techniques including neutron scattering and x-ray analysis with supercomputer simulations revealed unexpected findings about what happens to water molecules trapped between cellulose fibers.
Across the Dakotas and Nebraska, more than 1 million acres of the Great Plains are giving way to cornfields as farmers transform the wild expanse that once served as the backdrop for American pioneers. This expansion of the Corn Belt is fueled in part by America's green energy policy, which requires oil companies to blend billions of gallons of corn ethanol into their gasoline.
A new process developed at the Univ. of Illinois at Chicago suggests that base metals may be used as catalysts in the manufacture of countless products made from petroleum-based raw materials. The metals, copper and iron, could potentially replace a rare and expensive metal catalyst currently required for the chemical process called borylation.
In waters off Long Beach, Seal Beach and Huntington Beach—some of the region's most popular surfing strands and tourist attractions—oil companies have used fracking at least 203 times at six sites in the past two decades. This discovery made from drilling records and interviews shows that offshore fracking is more widespread and frequent that state officials believed.
Experts from the Univ. of Maryland and a leading university in Spain demonstrate in a new study which sectors could put the entire U.S. economy at risk when global oil production peaks. This multi-disciplinary team recommends immediate action by government, private and commercial sectors to reduce the vulnerability of these sectors.
Rubber can be extracted from the juice of the dandelion, but transitioning this technology to the industrial setting has been a challenge. The Fraunhofer Institute in Germany has joined with Continental tire company to build the first-ever pilot system to extract vast quantities of dandelion rubber for making tires
In the midst of an intensifying global water crisis, scientists are reporting development of a more economical way to use one form of the “ice that burns” to turn very salty wastewater from fracking and other oil and gas production methods into water for drinking and irrigation. The method removes more than 90% of the salt.
This summer's "dead zone" at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico, where there's so little oxygen that starfish suffocate, is bigger than average but doesn't approach record size as scientists had predicted, according to findings released this week. The area of low oxygen covers 5,840 square miles of the Gulf floor—roughly the size of Connecticut.
Researchers in Texas have discovered a new chemical reaction that has the potential to lower the cost and streamline the manufacture of compounds ranging from agricultural chemicals to pharmaceutical drugs. The reaction resolves a long-standing challenge in organic chemistry in creating phenolic compounds from aromatic hydrocarbons quickly and cheaply.
A landmark federal study on hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, shows no evidence that chemicals from the natural gas drilling process moved up to contaminate drinking water aquifers at a western Pennsylvania drilling site. After a year of monitoring, the researchers found that the chemical-laced fluids used to free gas trapped deep below the surface stayed thousands of feet below the shallower areas that supply drinking water
A family of molecules developed at Carnegie Mellon Univ. to break down pollutants in water is one step closer to commercial use. Recently published study results show that the molecules, which are aimed at removing hazardous endocrine disruptors from water sources, aren't endocrine disruptors themselves. They proved to be non-toxic to developing zebrafish embryos.
There is increasing pressure on the chemical and related industries to ensure that their products comply with increasing numbers of safety regulations. Researchers at the Univ. of Kansas have developed a computational technique that could allow the industry to predict whether a given compound will be toxic even at a low dose and thus allow alternatives to be found when necessary.
When petroleum companies abandon an oil well, more than half the reservoir’s oil is usually left behind as too difficult to recover. Now, however, much of the residual oil can be recovered with the help of nanoparticles and a simple law of physics. A partnership of Norwegian and Chinese scientists has succeeded in recovering up to 50% of residual in North Sea rock samples.
Are teeth the latest victims of bisphenol A (BPA)? Yes, according to the conclusions of a team lead by researchers in France. They have shown that the teeth of rats treated with low daily doses of BPA could be damaged the chemical.