Refiners look to pipelines as a source of new revenue | Petrochemical plant costs remain unchanged through Q3 2012 | Shell to take 6 months more to decide on Pa. land for possible cracker
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January 2, 2013
AICHE SmartBrief
Business and technology news exclusively for chemical engineers

Business Update
Refiners look to pipelines as a source of new revenue
With margins on oil-to-gasoline conversion narrowing, many refiners are looking to pipelines as a source of new revenue. "The key to success for these independent refiners is diversity, flexibility," said Harold York of Wood Mackenzie. "When one segment gets hot and the other gets cool, the ability to shift emphasis from the waning segment to the hot segment, that's going to be a critical path for them." Bloomberg (12/27)
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Petrochemical plant costs remain unchanged through Q3 2012
IHS Downstream Capital Costs Index reports that the costs of designing and building petrochemical plants and refineries have remained unchanged since the third quarter of 2011. The IHS index tracks project cost inflation. Oil & Gas Journal (12/27)
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Shell to take 6 months more to decide on Pa. land for possible cracker
Shell Oil continues to assess whether to build a petrochemical plant in Beaver County, Pa., and has received six months more to decide whether to buy land owned by Horsehead. The proposed cracker plant would convert ethane from the Marcellus Shale into chemicals used to make plastics and other products. Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (12/26), The State Journal (Charleston, W.Va.)/The Associated Press (12/26)
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Other News
Chemical Technology News
Enzyme technology has benefits for manufacturers, too
Novozymes has been successful at replacing some chemicals with biodegradable enzymes in detergents; the technology saves consumers on energy costs because the enzymes work in cooler water. But consumers aren't the only ones getting a good deal. The company says its enzymes lower the petrochemical content in each package of detergent by up to 30%, which helps manufacturers depend less on oil-based ingredients. BusinessGreen (U.K.) (12/21)
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Energy, Sustainability & Safety
NREL, U.K. company forge biofuel partnership
The National Renewable Energy Laboratory and Johnson Matthey have struck a 5-year, $7 million partnership aimed at reducing the cost of converting trees and switchgrass into fuel by developing catalysts that will break down the material's lignins. "The challenge is that catalysts are expensive, and the impurities tend to inactivate the catalyst. And that hurts the economics," said Ken Reardon, a Colorado State University professor. The Denver Post (12/27)
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Biological Engineering & Pharmaceuticals
Researchers find method to improve single-cell genome sequencing
Researchers have developed an amplification method that enhances the process of single-cell genome sequencing. The process, called multiple annealing and looping-based amplification cycles, "is about halfway home in terms of making single-cell genome sequencing comparable to bulk DNA sequencing in terms of the uniformity," said Jay A. Shendure of the University of Washington, Seattle. "That is perhaps the clearest indicator that we view it as a potentially important advance." Chemical & Engineering News (12/24)
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Other News
Materials & Nanotechnology
N.Y. is open for nanotechnology business
New York state is ready to take on the challenges of a growing nanotechnology industry, writes Alain Kaloyeros, who leads the State University at Albany's College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering. Increasing private investment means the state must prepare the right workforce, he argues. "While the job is far from finished, the increasing location of high-tech jobs and companies is a sure sign New York is 'open for business,' " he writes. Times Union (Albany, N.Y.) (12/25)
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Education & Government Update
EPA chief to step down in January
Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson, a chemical engineer, will resign from her post after President Barack Obama delivers his State of the Union address next month. "I will leave EPA confident the ship is sailing in the right direction, and ready in my own life for new challenges, time with my family, and new opportunities to make a difference," Jackson said. Oil & Gas Journal (12/27)
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Perciasepe, McGinty among candidates to succeed Jackson at EPA
Environmental Protection Agency Deputy Administrator Robert Perciasepe is considered a potential replacement for Administrator Lisa Jackson. Other options include the agency's air-pollution chief, Gina McCarthy, California Air Resources Board Chairwoman Mary Nichols and Kathleen McGinty, who has held top environmental jobs in Pennsylvania and in the Clinton administration. The Hill/E2 Wire blog (12/27), National Journal (12/27), Chemical Week (subscription required) (1/2)
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Career Focus
Have your skills reached a plateau?
After a certain amount of training, workers tend to reach a plateau where they continue gaining experience without getting any better at their jobs, experts say. Advancing past this plateau is how super-talented professionals separate themselves from everyone else. The key to doing this is to dedicate time each week to practicing a task that expands your skills. The Wall Street Journal (tiered subscription model)/At Work blog (12/27)
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Institute News
Public affairs committee spotlights information on shale gas
With shale gas in the news given increased development and the release of the film Promised Land, AIChE's Public Affairs and Information Committee has put together a compendium of resources to help members better understand and communicate its business, social, and environmental impacts. Finding the right solutions to using shale gas to meet energy needs, while protecting the environment and growing the economy, requires chemical engineering expertise. Learn more.
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Fourth biomolecular engineering conference kicks off Jan. 13
The 4th International Conference on Biomolecular Engineering, organized by AIChE's Society for Biological Engineering, will be held Jan. 13 to 16 at the Hyatt Regency Pier 66 in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. Co-chaired by Ali Khademhosseini of Harvard and Kristala Prather of MIT, the Gordon-style conference includes sessions on cell, tissue, protein and metabolic pathway engineering; biophysical and microscale analyses; and computational tools for engineering biomolecules. Read more.
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Never tell your resolution beforehand, or it's twice as onerous a duty."
-- John Selden,
English jurist and scholar
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