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Writer of The Polymerist newsletter. Talk to me about chemistry, polymers, plastics, sustainability, climate change, and the future of how we live.

Composites are the lightweight materials of our future

The Polymerist is a free newsletter that publishes twice a week with one in-depth article on Tuesdays and a roundup and honest analysis of what happened in the world of chemicals on Fridays. Join the subscriber list to get free updates with honest analysis from someone with a PhD in chemistry from the industry. Subscribe for free emails here.

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In The News

Stanley Reed for the New York Times recently reported on the coming launch of General Electric’s new offshore wind turbine the Haliade-X which can be 12, 13, or 14 megawatts in power generation. When in operation a single Haliade-X 14 MW turbine can generate a maximum of 74 GWh of gross annual energy production (assuming constant output), which could save up to 52,000 metric tons of CO2 and is roughly the the equivalent of the emissions generated by 11,000 vehicles in one year. …

Getting interviews and getting offers are the two hurdles to overcome

This is an excerpt of a longer article that originally appeared in The Polymerist newsletter for free. If you are reading it here on Medium consider going over to our substack page and subscribing — it’s free and delivered directly to your email inbox.

The Polymerist publishes at least twice a week with both long form content such as what is below focused on being useful for people in or wanting to be in the chemical industry and short digestible analysis of what is going on in the world of chemicals, plastics, oil and gas, and materials.

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Source: Glassdoor

1. Getting The Interviews

Landing the interview and getting to the next interview in the process is step 1. For those with a bachelors degree sometimes that first interview is the only interview you need to ace. For those with a higher degree you might have to go through a more lengthy interview process that consists of multiple calls, a technical presentation, and more 1-on-1 interviews with future team members or directors. I present my own stories here on how applying to jobs, attending conferences, networking on LinkedIn, and following up on opportunities will land you an interview. …

A Working Proposal

This is a collection of Tuesday posts I wrote for my newsletter The Polymerist. A free newsletter that publishes twice a week with one in-depth article on Tuesdays and a roundup and honest analysis of what happened in the world of chemicals on Fridays. Join the subscriber list to get free updates with honest analysis from someone with a PhD in chemistry from the industry.

I decided to put this together into one place where people interested in plastic waste could read it, make comments, highlight important sections, and all around tear it up. You should not need a degree in chemistry to understand it either. …

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November 27, 2020

Today is what is known as “Black Friday” here in the United States. This is one of the busiest days of the year when it comes to consumer spending and the origin story can be read about here. Black Friday typically means the start of the holiday shopping season. I believe the motives behind people spending money around this time are for the most part good. People are buying gifts for others. There is a sense of doing good for other people. People donate money to charities or work in soup kitchens. We give thanks to what we have and try to do what we can to make things better for others. I think this is our chance to think about the greater good of our society and try to initiate thinking about how we might tackle our plastic problem. …

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Hexion launched a fire resistant wrap for wood poles to help protect power grid infrastructure during wildfire events that are growing in frequency and magnitude over the last few years. Hexion’s wrap is named ArmorBuilt(TM) and it has passed wildfire simulation burn tests for fire resistance. This is a significant move by Hexion because it is a move into Hexion’s traditional customer space. I suspect the technology behind ArmorBuilt(TM) is based on Hexion’s core competency of phenol-formaldehyde and/or amino resins with some sort of additional flame retardant additive.

BASF and Tecnalia are accelerating R&D of new crop protection technologies through artificial intelligence and machine learning. The technology was developed by Tecnalia in partnership with BASF’s crop protection division and centers around using machine learning and artificial intelligence to process images faster and with more accuracy. Images of crops, pests, and what fields and greenhouses look like are the raw data that comes in from testing and being able to process a large amount of visual data quickly and with more accuracy is a key factor in developing the actual agricultural products that BASF sells. …

The majority of extracted and refined oil goes to combustion engines, but what if that demand goes away?

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Electric Vehicles Taking Market Share

Clean Technica reported last week that Europeans bought more electrified vehicles (electric + hybrids) than diesel powered vehicles in September for the first time in history. Diesel is not gasoline but this is still a significant milestone for Europe because diesel cars represent about 1/4 of new car sales. While Tesla still leads the way in pure electric vehicles the rest of the automotive industry is starting to make significant gains in market share. The shift to electric vehicles is the start of a major shift in oil and ultimately will influence the chemical industry.

We are living in a future that was being built in 2008

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Energy Matters

The New York Times recently published an excellent article and maps detailing how each state in the United States generates their energy over the last decade. An amazing figure is how Iowa has changed their energy consumption from 81% coal in 2001 to 35% coal and 42% wind in 2019. Installation of wind energy in the United States not only means more clean energy, but it increases the demand and need for epoxy resin and glass fibers. Companies like Hexion (epoxy resin producer) and Owens-Corning (glass fiber producer) supply raw materials to make the composite wind turbine blades. Wind turbine blades are massive and they are not something that can made and shipped a long distance (as opposed to solar cells) and thus require more local production and domestic sourcing of raw materials and ultimately generation of jobs.

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Green Chemicals Blog reported that Stora Enso has launched an accelerator program. Stora Enso is partnering with Vertical and Aalto University in their accelerator and they join a host of other companies trying to accelerate or incubate new chemical technology. The United States Department of Energy has also announced the award winners for a recent $27 million for circular plastics economy research. Stora Enso is also one of the industry partners working with the DOE and University of Wisconsin, Madison on making polyesters from biomass.

Who is Stora Enso?

Stora Enso is a Finnish company that is focused on transforming trees into products such as pulp, pine chemicals, and forest products. Their Q3 earnings have improved due to the high demand on paper and cardboard (shipping packages) and the demand for lumber is also strong right now. Stora Enso is representative of a whole swath of chemical companies that rely on forests to produce their products with counterparts being Ingevity, Kraton, Georgia Pacific, and West Fraser to name a few. …

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Expanding Capacity

Johnson Matthey is expanding fuel cell production in China as part of their larger strategy to help the world to transition to a hydrogen economy (as opposed to an oil economy). A turquoise or partially green hydrogen route is splitting it from methane, but the ultimately goal is to get hydrogen from water through electrolysis and is commonly known as “green hydrogen.” A future where we can generate hydrogen from electrolysis of water (perhaps with Johnson Matthey’s help) and then combustion of hydrogen with oxygen back to water is close to perfect. The only catch in the green hydrogen scenario would be production of the electricity, which could be done from solar or wind power. …

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Welcome to The Polymerist a biweekly (twice a week) newsletter focused on the polymer and plastics portion of the chemical industry. If you are reading this for the first time please consider subscribing for a newsletter in your inbox every Tuesday and Friday morning. Tuesdays are deeper dives into specific topics while Fridays are highlights from the week.

In the News

LG Chem is a Korean chemical company that produces a wide array of chemical products for end use markets such as personal care, energy storage, electronics, pharmaceuticals, and consumer packaging. LG Chem has recently announced they have developed a new material that is biodegradable and produced from renewable feedstocks with third party certification of the biodegradability. …

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