December 2010



 

LyondellBasell completes sale of flavours and fragrances

US chemical company LyondellBasell has completed the sale of its flavours and fragrances unit to Pinova Holdings. LyondellBasell says the deal is going to generate $150 million (£97 million). The unit employs 200 staff at two sites in the US and produces terpene fragrance and flavour ingredients for the oral-care, confectionery and beverage markets. It will operate under the name Renessenz in the future. Pinova supplies wood and gum rosin and polyterpene resin speciality chemicals.

LyondellBasell is recovering from  a difficult time. It entered chapter 11 bankruptcy in February 2009 when falling demand and failure to renegotiate debts forced it to seek protection. It exited in April, and in October it listed its shares on the New York Stock exchange.

Dey Pharma settles pricing allegations with $280m

US pharmaceutical company Dey Pharma has agreed to pay $280 million to settle allegations that the company: ‘engaged in a scheme to report false and inflated prices for numerous pharmaceutical products, knowing that federal health care programs relied on those reported prices to set payment rates’. The following drugs were allegedly affected: albuterol sulfate, albuterol MDI, cromolyn sodium and ipratropium bromide. (more…)

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Christmas dinner

To all potential fathers in the upcoming festive season, it might be worth taking note of a study linking your diet with the gene function of your future offspring.


(more…)

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Novozymes buys Merck crop biotech unit

Danish biotech Novozymes, which makes enzymes for industrial processes, has agreed to buy EMD-Merck Crop BioScience from Merck KGaA for $275 million (£178 million). According to Novozymes, the unit will make 2010 sales of about $60 million. It currently employs 165 people. The pundits have said this price is high, but the growth prospects are good, which is what has motivated the purchase. (more…)

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Find out all about the poison that nearly killed James Bond in this week’s Chemistry in its element podcast, as Simon Cotton takes a closer look at the humble pufferfish

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Mike proves to be a fire starter with indoor fireworks for the Christmas and New Year period…

My idea of the perfect celebration at Christmas or the New year involves chemistry that has been around for centuries. I’m talking about loud bangs, whizzes and amazing colours – in my opinion fireworks are fantastic.

You may be thinking that fireworks would make an odd Christmas present, but I beg to differ. There are fireworks on the market that are designed for indoors, and I for one would love to receive a box in my Christmas stocking. (more…)

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Bibi continues the Christmas chemistry series with ‘magic’ crystal growing…

In my quest for the perfect Christmas gift, I’ve come across some pretty cool (if sometimes geeky) stuff. Periodic table shower curtains and wall clocks where the numbers have been switched for element symbols are two examples; however, we have both in the office (the curtains are in the showers in case you were wondering…) and although they are practical, do the job and are chemistry related I thought I should find something a bit more exotic that involves practical chemistry. So the search continued.

Then I discovered the crystal-growing Christmas trees of the Natural History Museum (NHM). They pretty much do what they say on the box: you build a cardboard tree, put it in contact with a solution at the bottom which quickly moves up via capillary action and… hey presto, crystals grow on the branches creating the illusion of fluffy snow over the Christmas tree. The pictures below illustrate the process. 

 Interestingly, the chemical composition of the solution that forms the crystals is not specified anywhere. No reply was obtained from the manufacturers (see Update below) when I enquired and the box unhelpfully states ‘crystals are all around us and include salt and sugar’ so I decided to search elsewhere. A different website reviewing a similar (more colourful) product explains that the ‘magic solution’ is made up using table salt, water, ammonia and ‘Mrs Stewart’s liquid laundry bluing’. (more…)

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In this age of the internet and social networking, you might be surprised to discover that close physical proximity is still a major contributor to successful collaboration.

But according to research published in PLoS ONE recently (DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0014279), the impact of your work, as measured by citations, is strongly affected by where the researchers involved are in relation to each other. (more…)

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20 December 2010: Have something to say about an article you’ve read on Chemistry World this week? Leave your comments below… (more…)

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Sasol pays ZAR 111 million for price fixing

Sasol Polymers, a division of South African petrochemicals company Sasol, has agreed to pay ZAR111 million (£10 million) to settle an investigation into price fixing. The South African competition commission says that Sasol admits ‘indirect’ price fixing through a polypropylene supply agreement with Safripol (although interestingly Sasol says only that this is the conclusion of the commission). (more…)

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Bea finds her inner child as she continues our Christmas chemistry series…

My perfect chemistry Christmas gift has to be something from the Wild Science range. I’ve bought my niece the Bath Bomb factory (think we’re safe, pretty sure she doesn’t read the CW blog). Curiously, when I opened the box, there was a note warning that it’s not suitable for the under 10’s – who might choke on the balloons. I look forward to finding out what children are supposed to be doing with the balloons.

(more…)

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