Naphtha from plastic waste – BASF working on cooling stuff with magnetism – And postive opinion for anticancer drug Zytiga 

CHEMICAL – Brazilian petrochemical giant Braskem says that from the end of 2012 it is going to start making naphtha – a broad mix of liquid hydrocarbons – from ‘post-consumption recycled plastic’. It will spend $25 million (£15 million) on a recycling unit from waste treatment company Novaenergia, which will supply the raw material. The unit will process 450 tonnes of waste per day, churning out about 1400 m3 of naphtha per year, as well as fuel oil. And Braskem says it will halve the amount of material that has to be dumped as landfill.

CHEMICAL – Süd-Chemie, a recently acquired subsidiary of Swiss chemical company Clariant, has started building a plant for converting agricultural waste into cellulosic ethanol as part of a €28 million (£25 million) project. The company says that it will be the largest such plant in Germany, producing 1000 tonnes of cellulosic ethanol per year, primarily from wheat straw. The plant will use the ‘Sunliquid’ conversion process, which involves yeasts for biocatalysis and has already been tested at smaller scales.

GREENTECH – US chemical major DuPont has agreed to buy Innovalight, a company specialising in printing technology for silicon based photovoltaics. The companies have not disclosed financial terms. DuPont says it made  sales in 2010 of $1 billion from the photovoltaic market, and is aiming to reach annual sales of $2 billion by 2014.

CHEMICAL – German chemical major BASF is collaborating with the Foundation for Fundamental Research on Matter (FOM) in the Netherlands on magnetocaloric materials – which the company says might make refrigeration gases obsolete. Magnetocaloric materials heat up when moved into a magnetic field and cool down when moved out. ‘Theoretical considerations reveal an energy savings potential of up to fifty per cent,’ says Thomas Weber, who heads the Future Business unit at BASF. The two organisations have been working on the materials since 2008 – the latest collaboration is to commercialise the materials, which do not need gaseous refrigerants to work as cooling systems.

PHARMACEUTICAL – US healthcare giant Johnson & Johnson has won a positive opinion in Europe for anticancer drug abiraterone, marketed as Zytiga in the US, where it was approved last month. The drug is for the treatment of prostate cancer. In trials, it has delivered a four month increase in overall survival – from 11 months to 15 – for patients who had already received some form of chemotherapy.

PHARMACEUTICAL – Fampyra (fampridine) from US biotech Biogen Idec has been approved in the EU to help patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) improve their walking. Most patients with MS lose the ability to walk as the disease progresses. The drug was developed by Acorda Therapeutics, which markets it as Ampyra in the US. Biogen Idec is licensed to develop and market fampridine in the rest of the world. The approval is ‘conditional’, meaning it must be renewed annually and more trials are needed. The EU uses conditional approvals to deliver new drugs, with the potential to drastically improve treatment, to the patient population faster than would otherwise be possible. Fampyra improves neurologic function by increasing impulse conduction across demyelinated neurons.

Andrew Turley

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