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Kerry Hebden

Whitby, United Kingdom
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About Kerry
Kerry Hebden is a science journalist and writer based in North Yorkshire, UK. She has social media experience, and covers astronomy, space & rockets, chemistry, astrochemistry, astrobiology, conservation and the environment. Kerry has 7+ years writing experience in print, web, and weekly news features, which includes covering breaking news, sourcing relevant news release and producing a variety of original content. As an editor, she can manage multiple manuscripts from submission to acceptance, fact check, work closely with internal editors to remain on schedule, and liaise with authors to keep them up-to-date. She have excellent research, copyediting and proofreading skills and is able to communicate across all levels.

Despite lots of technical expertise, she cannot find a way to remove her profile picture and add a new one so that it is not angled 90 degrees clockwise...
Languages
English
Services
Feature Stories Content Writing Research
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Skills
Technology Science & Environment Natural Disasters
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Portfolio

Xampla and 2M awarded Innovate grant to scale up production of biodegradable materials

13 Jun 2024  |  www.thechemicalengineer.com
Xampla, a spin-off from the University of Cambridge, and 2M Group of Companies have been awarded the Innovate UK Smart Grant to scale up the production of Xampla's Morro range of biodegradable materials. The grant will support the manufacturing scaleup at 2M's Milton Keynes site, aiming to replace significant amounts of single-use plastic coatings and reduce waste. Alexandra French, CEO of Xampla, expressed pride in receiving the grant, emphasizing the partnership's potential to bring Morro Coating to market with the support of key customers and 2M's expertise.

IChemE Fellow Andrew Livingston awarded Honorary Professor title

28 May 2024  |  www.thechemicalengineer.com
IChemE Fellow Andrew Livingston has been awarded an Honorary Professor title by the University of Chemical Technology and Metallurgy (UCTM) in Sofia, Bulgaria, for his contributions to academic staff development and research projects. Livingston, founder of Membrane Extraction Technology (MET), has had a distinguished career in chemical engineering, including pioneering applications in refining crude oil and pharmaceutical purification. He has received numerous awards and currently serves as a professor and vice-principal for Research and Innovation at Queen Mary University of London.

Octopus Energy launches £3bn offshore wind fund with Tokyo Gas

UK government publishes battery strategy

09 Apr 2024  |  thechemicalengineer.com
The UK government has released the UK Battery Strategy to establish a competitive battery supply chain by 2030. The strategy, part of the Advanced Manufacturing Plan, aims to support businesses in designing and developing future batteries, strengthening manufacturing supply chains, and promoting a circular economy. It includes 15 action points, such as £2bn funding for zero emissions vehicles and batteries, £11m for technology development winners, and £12m for the Advanced Materials Battery Industrialisation Centre (AMBIC). AMBIC will be located at Warwick Manufacturing Group and CPI at NETPark, funded by the Faraday Battery Challenge. An additional £38m will enhance the UK Battery Industrialisation Centre (UKBIC), with a new battery laboratory space expected to be operational in 2024.

Drax faced with UK biomass sustainability investigation and US pollution notice as Selby plant CCS consultation launches

09 Apr 2024  |  thechemicalengineer.com
Drax is under formal investigation by OFGEM for potential non-compliance with UK biomass sustainability rules at its Selby plant. A separate issue in Mississippi involves a Drax-owned mill exceeding air pollution limits. Drax asserts its biomass is sustainable, certified by the Sustainable Biomass Partnership, and is confident in its compliance. The UK Environment Agency has opened a consultation on Drax's bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) proposal at Selby, aiming to store CO2 emissions under the North Sea.

Sika's reCO2ver Technology Gains Support for Concrete Recycling and CO2 Sequestration

04 Apr 2024  |  thechemicalengineer.com
Sika, a specialty chemicals company, has developed a novel concrete-recycling technology called reCO2ver, which has gained support from Switzerland's Climate Cent Foundation. The technology allows for complete reuse of old concrete while sequestering a significant amount of CO2. The construction sector is a major contributor to carbon emissions, and Sika's innovation aims to reduce this impact by recycling concrete demolition waste and reducing water consumption. The reCO2ver process has been tested in a pilot plant and has shown that new concrete with recycled content performs comparably to new products. Sika is collaborating with South Pole and aligning with the Swiss FOEN to document the climate benefits of the reCO2ver technology. By 2030, Sika aims to have stored around 17,000 tons of CO2 in recycled concrete, contributing to sustainability in construction.

Imerys and British Lithium to develop UK’s largest lithium deposit while Norway’s Norge Mining makes major phosphate discovery

04 Apr 2024  |  thechemicalengineer.com
Imerys, a French multinational, has partnered with British Lithium to become the UK's first integrated producer of battery-grade lithium carbonate, essential for electric cars. The collaboration will transform Cornwall into a leading lithium hub, with a projected annual production of 20,000 tons of lithium carbonate. This venture is expected to supply two-thirds of the UK's battery demand by 2030 and create a fully-integrated regional electric vehicle value chain. Imerys has acquired an 80% stake in British Lithium, enhancing their long-standing partnership. Additionally, Norge Mining has discovered a significant phosphorus deposit in Norway, which could meet global demand for 50 years and is crucial for various industries, including agriculture and electronics.

Eni and subsidiary Vår Energi to buy Neptune Energy for US$4.9bn

04 Apr 2024  |  thechemicalengineer.com
Italian oil company Eni and its subsidiary Vår Energi are set to acquire Neptune Energy for $4.9 billion, marking the largest European oil and gas sector cash deal in nearly a decade. The deal excludes Neptune's German business, which will remain independent. Eni will purchase Neptune for $2.6 billion, and Vår Energi will buy its Norwegian operations for $2.3 billion. Neptune is a significant player in oil and gas production across the North Sea, North Africa, and Asia Pacific, including a substantial stake in the UK's Cygnus gas field. The deal is expected to enhance Eni's gas production and carbon capture and storage (CCS) projects, aligning with its strategy to increase natural gas production to 60% by 2030. However, the acquisition comes amid criticism of oil majors like BP, Shell, and Aramco for retreating from green energy commitments and continuing to invest heavily in fossil fuels.

National Manufacturing Institute Scotland Opens New Carbon-Neutral Facility

04 Apr 2024  |  thechemicalengineer.com
The National Manufacturing Institute Scotland (NMIS) has inaugurated a new carbon-neutral facility in Renfrewshire, aimed at supporting the manufacturing and engineering sectors. The 11,500 m2 campus is part of the Advanced Manufacturing Innovation District Scotland (AMIDS) and includes technology zones for food and drink, a factory command centre, and a circular economy hub. The facility is equipped with a solar array, a low-carbon heating network, and a rainwater harvesting system. Operated by the University of Strathclyde, NMIS contributes significantly to Scotland's exports and R&D. It has collaborated with the Digital Process Manufacturing Centre, delivering over 150 R&D projects and supporting workforce development. The opening was attended by Scotland’s first minister, Humza Yousaf, who highlighted the facility's role in economic recovery and innovation.

Northern Lithium

04 Apr 2024  |  thechemicalengineer.com
Northern Lithium, Evove, and Sheers, three companies from the north of England, have partnered to construct the UK's first commercial scale direct lithium extraction (DLE) plant. The plant aims to provide a domestic supply of lithium in the UK by late 2026. Northern Lithium has successfully produced battery-grade lithium carbonate using Evove's advanced DLE technology and is planning to build a production site in County Durham. The company targets producing up to 10,000 tonnes per year of lithium to supply UK gigafactories and the electric vehicle industry. The UK currently imports lithium, but domestic companies like Cornish Lithium and Weardale Lithium are also developing sustainable extraction technologies, with Weardale Lithium's process being water neutral and requiring significantly less land.

US Steel to be bought by Japan's Nippon in US$15bn deal

04 Apr 2024  |  thechemicalengineer.com
Nippon Steel, the world's fourth-largest steelmaker, has agreed to acquire US Steel for $14.9 billion, potentially creating one of the largest steel companies globally. This move would end the independence of US Steel, a historic American company, and significantly bolster Nippon Steel's presence in the American market, particularly with the auto industry. The deal comes after US Steel rejected a previous offer from Cleveland-Cliffs. Despite retaining its name and headquarters, the acquisition has faced criticism from the United Steelworkers union and concerns from President Biden regarding supply chain and national security implications. The White House has indicated that the transaction may be subject to a thorough investigation.

Shell to sell stake in German Schwedt refinery to UK's Prax Group

04 Apr 2024  |  thechemicalengineer.com
SHELL has agreed to sell its 37.5% stake in the PCK Schwedt oil refinery to Prax Group. PCK Schwedt, primarily owned by Rosneft, is a major fuel supplier for Berlin and the surrounding region. After Germany nationalized the refinery in 2022 due to Russia's invasion of Ukraine, Rosneft sued the German government. The refinery has been operating at reduced capacity because of EU sanctions on Russian oil. Prax Group's acquisition is part of its strategy to expand its presence in the German market and the European refining sector. This follows Prax's recent purchase of OIL! Tankstellen and Hurricane Energy, as well as a stake in a South African refinery joint venture.

University of Birmingham launches EvoPhase, an AI-powered design approach for industrial processing equipment

04 Apr 2024  |  thechemicalengineer.com
The University of Birmingham Enterprise has launched EvoPhase, an AI-led technology designed to optimize the design of equipment for processing granular materials. Granular materials, which make up about half of the world's products and processes, have complex characteristics that are challenging to model mathematically. EvoPhase uses a novel AI technology, HARPPP, and a numerical method, DEM, to test and find the best equipment designs. The technology can also be validated using PEPT, a technique invented at Birmingham. EvoPhase was created by a team from Birmingham's School of Chemical Engineering and is expected to bring significant cost and energy savings to various industries by improving energy efficiency, mixing effectiveness, and throughput.

Dominican officials accuse plastics company of causing explosion that killed 31 people

04 Apr 2024  |  thechemicalengineer.com
Authorities in the Dominican Republic are investigating a criminal case against Vidal Plast, a plastics company, after an explosion at their facility in San Cristobal resulted in at least 31 deaths, including a four-month-old baby and a bank staff member. The blast, which occurred on August 14th, also injured at least 59 people, with many still hospitalized. The explosion caused extensive damage, including building collapses and a fire that took three days to extinguish. The Dominican authorities have evidence of a previous fire at the company in March, suggesting negligence as the company did not take measures to mitigate known risks. The public ministry has evidence implicating the company's criminal responsibility for the deaths and damages, and several individuals are under investigation.

Molycop to cease steel-making operations at Waratah, leading to 250 job losses

04 Apr 2024  |  thechemicalengineer.com
Molycop, a steel manufacturing plant in Newcastle, New South Wales, is set to cut nearly half of its 540-strong workforce following a restructuring. Molycop Australasia president Michael Parker stated the decision is aimed at positioning the company for long-term success. The Australian Workers’ Union and the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union have criticized the move, highlighting the plant's century-long history and its importance to the community. Molycop, owned by American Industrial Partners, had previously sought tariffs on Chinese-made steel grinding balls to protect its business and was successful in extending these tariffs for an additional five years with the help of the AWU.

US awards US$7bn for seven hydrogen hubs to boost clean energy economy

04 Apr 2024  |  thechemicalengineer.com
The Biden administration has allocated $7 billion from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to fund seven hydrogen hub proposals across the United States. Despite receiving 79 proposals, the selection has faced criticism from clean energy advocates due to the involvement of oil and gas companies and the production methods of some hubs, which will not produce green hydrogen. Two hubs, the HyVelocity Hub in Texas and the ARCH2 in the Appalachian region, will use natural gas and carbon capture for hydrogen production. Other hubs will utilize renewable electricity and nuclear energy for cleaner hydrogen production. The initiative aims to produce over 3 million tons of clean hydrogen annually, create 45,000 jobs, and attract $40 billion in private investment. The ARCHES hub in California includes partners like Chevron, Amazon, Boeing, and Microsoft. The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, signed by President Biden, supports this initiative as part of a larger $1.2 trillion infrastructure plan.

Welsh Water admits illegally spilling sewage at dozens of treatment plants for years

04 Apr 2024  |  thechemicalengineer.com
Welsh Water has been found to have illegally spilled untreated sewage into rivers and estuaries in West Wales, including the Teifi estuary, a habitat for rare dolphins and other wildlife. An investigation by Peter Hammond revealed that 10 out of 11 treatment plants examined had been discharging sewage without treatment, with over 100,000 hours of illegal spills. The worst affected was the Cardigan plant, which spilled untreated sewage on 1,146 days between January 2018 and May of the current year. Despite this, Welsh Water claims Poppit Sands beach maintains excellent water quality. The environmental regulator, Natural Resources Wales, has been criticized for allowing these discharges to continue for years without significant action. Welsh Water, which is a not-for-profit company, has announced plans to invest £1.9 billion into environmental measures and is also spending £20 million on a new wastewater treatment works at Cardigan.

New novel use of glycerol helps make renewable hydrogen and propane fuel gases

04 Apr 2024  |  thechemicalengineer.com
Researchers at Aston University, led by IChemE member Jude Onwudili, are working on a project called HYDROGAS, which aims to produce hydrogen gas and biopropane from glycerol, a byproduct of biodiesel production. The project seeks to utilize an abundant supply of crude glycerol in a two-stage catalytic reforming process that first generates hydrogen from glycerol and then uses it to convert glycerol into biopropane. This innovative approach could reduce reliance on expensive external hydrogen, typically derived from fossil fuels, and contribute to environmental sustainability. The project has successfully developed a process to generate sufficient hydrogen for the conversion but is still working on achieving high yields of biopropane. Funding for the project has come from Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions and Aston University, with plans to establish a dedicated research programme for transforming biomass-derived feedstocks into sustainable fuels.

Sunak's Net Zero Policy Changes Spark Controversy

04 Apr 2024  |  thechemicalengineer.com
UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has faced criticism for policy changes that delay the country's net zero environmental targets. Sunak postponed the ban on new petrol and diesel cars to 2035, delayed phasing out gas boilers, scrapped landlord energy efficiency upgrades, and halted a ban on new North Sea oil and gas licenses. He argues these measures are to ease financial burdens on families. Critics, including Dave Reay and Al Gore, see these actions as detrimental to climate goals. The UK's previous leadership in climate action is now questioned, with the Climate Change Committee expressing concerns. High-profile figures and companies like Ford and E.ON UK have also voiced their disapproval, fearing negative impacts on business certainty and jobs. Despite the backlash, Sunak's announcement included positive notes on energy infrastructure reforms and the introduction of the Green Future Fellowship, led by the Royal Academy of Engineering, to develop engineering expertise for a low-carbon economy transition.

Coolbrook's large-scale pilot plant in Brightlands Chemelot Campus, the Netherlands

04 Apr 2024  |  thechemicalengineer.com
Coolbrook has successfully tested its electric steam cracking technology for naphtha at its large-scale pilot plant in the Netherlands. The company's RotoDynamic Reactors (RDR) offer a more efficient and decarbonized alternative to traditional fossil fuel-based cracker furnaces used in the petrochemical industry. The RDR technology, which uses electricity and high-velocity rotor blades, could potentially eliminate CO2 emissions from steam cracking. Coolbrook's RotoDynamic Heater (RDH) technology also shows promise for reducing emissions in hard-to-abate sectors like chemicals, steel, and cement. With successful tests, Coolbrook, in partnership with Linde, plans to deploy the RDR technology at industrial scale and integrate it into customer projects, aiming to launch the first projects this year.

MURA Technology's New Recycling Facility Aims to Tackle Plastic Waste

04 Apr 2024  |  thechemicalengineer.com
MURA Technology has initiated the commissioning of its first site, ReNew ELP, at the Wilton International industrial site in Teesside, UK. This facility employs a novel Hydrothermal Plastic Recycling Solution (HydroPRS) to transform 'unrecyclable' plastics into liquid hydrocarbon products, which can be used to manufacture new plastics and materials. The process, which takes about 30 minutes, uses supercritical water to break down plastics into naphtha, distillate gas oil, and heavy gas oil. The technology is expected to process up to 80,000 tonnes of plastic waste annually, reducing CO2 emissions by an estimated 120,000 tonnes compared to incineration. Mura Technology has also partnered with Mitsubishi Chemical Corporation to develop a similar facility in Japan and is exploring expansion in the USA and Germany. Additionally, the trade body Plastics Europe has proposed a comprehensive plan to redesign the European plastics sector towards circular practices.

Denham and East Kimberley earmarked for green hydrogen facilities in Western Australia

04 Apr 2024  |  thechemicalengineer.com
Western Australia is advancing its renewable hydrogen industry with plans for two new green hydrogen facilities in Denham and the East Kimberley region. The state's high solar irradiance, strong wind resources, and vast land area with low population density make it an ideal location for large-scale green hydrogen production. The state government has invested almost A$90m to support the industry, with projections of A$2.2bn in exports by 2030. Horizon Power is developing a hydrogen demonstration plant in Denham to test renewable hydrogen for baseload power in remote microgrids. The East Kimberley clean energy project, a collaboration between traditional owner groups and a clean energy investor, aims to produce green hydrogen using solar and hydro energy, with a final investment decision expected in 2025 and production starting in 2028.

Shell's New CEO Faces Environmental Critique Over Fossil Fuel Commitment

04 Apr 2024  |  thechemicalengineer.com
Shell's new CEO, Wael Sawan, has faced criticism from environmental groups for the company's commitment to maintaining its oil production levels and expanding its LNG business. At Shell's Capital Markets Day 2023, Sawan emphasized the importance of hydrocarbons for energy security and outlined investment plans favoring oil and gas over low-carbon solutions. Despite a reduction in oil production and a commitment to halving emissions by 2030, environmentalists remain unimpressed, with Greenpeace UK's Charlie Kronick accusing Shell of not taking climate change seriously. The article also mentions BP's rollback of climate goals, Saudi Aramco's production increase, and Exxon's abandonment of algae-based renewable fuels, highlighting a trend among energy companies to prioritize fossil fuel investments over renewable energy commitments.

Carbon Capture Scotland to capture biogenic CO2 from Whyte & Mackay whisky distillery

04 Apr 2024  |  thechemicalengineer.com
Carbon Capture Scotland, previously known as Dry Ice Scotland, has partnered with Scottish whisky producer Whyte & Mackay to capture biogenic CO2 from the fermentation process at the distillery. The company, which uses a combination of proprietary and standard technology, aims to either reuse the CO2 or store it permanently in geological formations. The initiative, part of Project Nexus, seeks to remove 1 million tons of CO2 annually by 2030 and create over 500 jobs. The project also received a significant investment from Steyn Group to fund the development of carbon capture units and storage sites, potentially utilizing old North Sea oil reservoirs for permanent CO2 sequestration.

Rio Tinto Advances in Battery Metals with New Melbourne Lab

04 Apr 2024  |  thechemicalengineer.com
Rio Tinto is advancing its position in the battery metals sector by constructing a battery manufacturing laboratory in Melbourne, set to be operational by November. Announced at the World Mining Congress in Brisbane by Rio's minerals boss Sinead Kaufman, the lab aims to enhance the company's understanding of battery production and test the performance of its minerals in batteries. Rio Tinto has been expanding its battery materials business, including starting pilot lithium production in California, investing in European battery producer Inobat, and acquiring the Rincon lithium project in Argentina for US$568m. The company also attempted to establish lithium extraction in Serbia but faced a revocation of its licenses. With the global demand for lithium batteries expected to increase significantly, Rio Tinto is positioning itself to meet this demand through its portfolio of lithium projects.

Chesapeake set to become largest player in upstream US gas supply after acquiring Southwestern

04 Apr 2024  |  thechemicalengineer.com
Chesapeake, an American exploration and production company, has agreed to acquire Southwestern Energy in a $7.4 billion all-share deal, which will make it the largest independent natural gas producer in the US by output and market value. The deal involves combining shale assets in Appalachia and the Haynesville Shale basin in Louisiana, with a projected output of 7.9 billion cubic feet equivalent per day. Chesapeake, which emerged from bankruptcy in 2021, plans to rebrand the combined company and build a global marketing and trading presence in Houston. The acquisition is part of a larger trend of mergers in the US energy industry, with recent deals including ExxonMobil's purchase of Pioneer, Chevron's acquisition of Hess, and Occidental Petroleum's takeover of CrownRock. The deal is expected to close in the second quarter, subject to regulatory and shareholder approval.

Aquaporin partners with PUB to install its biomimetic membranes in NEWater facilities

04 Apr 2024  |  thechemicalengineer.com
Aquaporin, a Danish water technology company, has partnered with Singapore's National Water Agency, PUB, to implement its CLEAR Brackish Water Reverse Osmosis (BWRO) modules at PUB's NEWater facilities. The company's technology utilizes aquaporins, proteins that efficiently transport water molecules, discovered by Nobel Prize winner Peter Agre. Aquaporin's membranes are unique in the market, offering faster water transport than traditional synthetic membranes. The collaboration will see 504 of these modules supplied to one of the five operational NEWater plants, with potential future use in PUB's membrane replacement projects. Aquaporin's CEO, Matt Boczkowski, expressed gratitude for the partnership and the company's commitment to developing innovative water solutions for Singapore.

Harbour Energy to Acquire Wintershall Dea in $11.2bn Deal

04 Apr 2024  |  thechemicalengineer.com
UK-based Harbour Energy has agreed to acquire German oil company Wintershall Dea for $11.2 billion, excluding its Russian business. This acquisition will significantly increase Harbour's production capacity and transform it into one of the largest independent oil and gas companies globally. The deal includes Wintershall Dea's assets across several countries and its CO2 capture and storage licenses in Europe. BASF, a part-owner of Wintershall Dea, will receive a substantial share in Harbour but intends to divest from the oil and gas sector. LetterOne will hold non-voting shares in Harbour. The acquisition is Harbour's fourth since its inception and follows a series of significant deals in the oil and gas sector. The deal is expected to complete in Q4 2024, pending various approvals.

Planning for Carlton Power’s major £750m battery storage project in Manchester given green light

04 Apr 2024  |  thechemicalengineer.com
Carlton Power has received planning permission for a £750m battery storage project in Greater Manchester, aimed at supporting the region's net zero 2038 target and the UK's net zero 2050 target. The 1 GW Trafford battery energy storage system (BESS) will use lithium-ion technology and is expected to begin construction in Q1 2024, with operations starting in Q4 2025. Carlton is also developing a 200 MW green hydrogen scheme at the same site, with the first phase set to be operational in Q4 2025. This is part of four green hydrogen projects Carlton is working on, with three shortlisted for government funding. The projects contribute to the UK's goal of 10 GW of hydrogen production by 2030. Highview Power is also developing a cryogenic energy storage system at the same site.

TotalEnergies and Petronas to collaborate on solar project to decarbonise Australia’s Gladstone LNG

04 Apr 2024  |  thechemicalengineer.com
TotalEnergies and Gentari Renewables, a subsidiary of Petronas, are collaborating to develop a solar farm in Queensland to reduce emissions at Gladstone LNG, a significant greenhouse gas emitter in Australia. The partnership aims to meet Australia's emissions reduction target by developing the 100 MW Pleasant Hills Solar Project, which will power the Roma field's gas production and processing facilities. TotalEnergies and Petronas each hold a 27.5% stake in GLNG, with Santos being the majority owner. Gentari is also partnering with Sembcorp to expand renewable energy in Southeast Asia, and TotalEnergies is working with Petronas and Mitsui on a carbon storage hub in Malaysia. Australia's LNG industry is booming but faces challenges with rising GHG emissions. Chevron and Santos are undertaking CCS projects to mitigate emissions, but currently, there is no CCS facility planned for Gladstone.

Plastic Energy’s pilot plant in its labs at the Loughborough University Science & Enterprise Park

04 Apr 2024  |  thechemicalengineer.com
Plastic Energy, a chemical recycling firm, has commissioned a new pilot plant at Loughborough University Science and Enterprise Park in the UK to advance its TAC (Thermal Anaerobic Conversion) recycling technology. This technology processes non-mechanically recyclable plastic waste into hydrocarbon vapours, which are then condensed into a recycled oil called TACOIL, substituting fossil oils in new plastic production. The pilot plant will enable the company to optimize the efficiency and design of its technology for future projects. Plastic Energy, which has received IChemE's top honor for its TAC technology, is also developing a digital twin of the pilot plant to monitor the performance of its recycling plants. The company aims to process up to 5 million tons of plastic waste annually by 2030 and operates two chemical recycling plants in Spain.

Chevron Acquires Hess in Major Oil Industry Consolidation

04 Apr 2024  |  thechemicalengineer.com
Chevron is set to acquire Hess in an all-stock transaction valued at US$53 billion, marking a significant consolidation in the oil and gas industry. This follows ExxonMobil's recent purchase of Pioneer Natural Resources. The acquisition will provide Chevron with a substantial presence in Guyana, a rapidly developing oil region. Hess holds a 30% interest in the Stabroek block, a major offshore oil reservoir in Guyana. The deal also includes Hess' shale assets in North Dakota's Bakken and Three Forks formations. John Hess, representing the founding family, expressed positive sentiments about the deal. The transaction will result in Hess shareholders receiving Chevron shares, and John Hess is expected to join Chevron's board. The deal raises questions about the future of oil industry consolidation and its environmental implications, with the International Energy Agency criticizing the oil sector's claims about energy security and climate impact.

Compact Syngas Solutions receives £4m in funding for carbon capture project

04 Apr 2024  |  thechemicalengineer.com
COMPACT SYNGAS SOLUTIONS (CSS), based in Deeside, Wales, has been awarded nearly £4m in UK government funding to develop a carbon capture method for its clean fuel production process. CSS specializes in converting waste wood and non-recyclable materials into syngas and hydrogen through a patented gasification process. The company's technology, which is modular and comes in two sizes, can produce syngas, heat, power, green hydrogen, or biocrude. The new funding will support the construction of a full-scale rig to demonstrate water-based CO2 separation and storage, a more environmentally friendly alternative to amine-based capture. CSS plans to build over 50 hydrogen modules across approximately 15 sites, aiming to produce 11,000 tons of hydrogen and capture 29,000 tons of CO2 annually. This initiative is part of the UK's efforts to achieve Net Zero emissions and is supported by the H2BECCS Innovation Programme under DESNZ.

US unveils up to US$3.5bn funding to expand domestic battery manufacturing

04 Apr 2024  |  thechemicalengineer.com
The White House has announced a funding initiative of up to $3.5 billion to enhance domestic battery manufacturing as part of President Biden's Investing in America agenda. This move aims to reduce reliance on imports, particularly from China, which currently leads the global electric vehicle battery supply chain. The funding, derived from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, will support the production of advanced batteries and critical materials within the United States. The Department of Energy is focusing on next-generation technologies and is also planning to recover rare earth elements and critical minerals from coal waste and ash. This strategy is intended to boost the U.S.'s global competitiveness, create jobs, and support the clean energy economy.

TATA STEEL secures £500m UK government backing for decarbonisation but thousands of jobs at risk

04 Apr 2024  |  thechemicalengineer.com
TATA STEEL has been granted a £500m support package from the UK government to decarbonise its Port Talbot site in Wales, with plans to invest an additional £750m to build a new electric arc furnace (EAF). This transition aims to reduce the UK's carbon emissions by 1.5% but may result in the loss of 3,000 jobs from the current 8,000 Tata Steel UK workforce. Welsh secretary David TC Davies expressed sadness over the job losses. The Tata group, which owns Tata Steel UK, had previously threatened to close UK operations without government subsidies. The EAF is expected to be operational within three years post-approval. The government is also providing £100m to support affected staff. Additionally, Tata has been in discussions for funding a £4bn battery factory and is involved in the Celtic Freeport development expected to create 16,000 new jobs.

UK government’s targeted approach proposal for UK REACH, ‘a step in the right direction’

04 Apr 2024  |  thechemicalengineer.com
The UK government is working on a new model, the alternative transitional registration model (ATRm), to streamline the process of chemical registrations post-Brexit. This model will allow UK companies to provide only use and exposure information to UK regulators, rather than duplicating hazard information already submitted to EU REACH. The Chemicals Industry Association supports this move, highlighting the unnecessary duplication of efforts under the current system. The European Chemical Industry Council has outlined the high costs associated with chemical registration, which UK firms have been facing anew for UK REACH despite previous payments for EU REACH. The UK government is also considering a review of the fee structure for chemical registrations. The Chemical Business Association has expressed support for the ATRm but emphasizes the need for further regulatory refinement. The government plans to consult on the policy details in early 2024.

David Bogle Awarded the Jacques Villermaux Medal for Contributions to Chemical Engineering

04 Apr 2024  |  thechemicalengineer.com
David Bogle, a past president of IChemE, has been honored with the Jacques Villermaux Medal by the European Federation of Chemical Engineering (EFCE) for his contributions to chemical engineering education and training, and his role as scientific vice-president of EFCE from 2018 to 2021. The award also recognizes his work on a report about the European Chemical Engineering Skills Pipeline, which analyzed the state of chemical engineering education across Europe. Bogle's research in process systems engineering and systems biology, as well as his involvement with the EFCE working party on computer-aided process engineering and chemical engineering in medicine, were also acknowledged. He holds several prestigious positions, including with SusChem and UCL. The medal will be presented at the 14th European Congress of Chemical Engineering in Berlin on September 18, 2023.

UK government declares a 'nuclear revival' as a public body launches to support industry and boost energy security

04 Apr 2024  |  thechemicalengineer.com
The UK government has launched Great British Nuclear (GBN) to promote the rapid expansion of nuclear power plants, aiming to provide 25% of the UK's electricity from nuclear energy by 2050. GBN, led by Gwen Parry-Jones and Simon Bowen, will focus on small modular reactors (SMRs), with companies like General Electric and Rolls-Royce developing the technology. A competition for funding support is now open, with winners to be announced by Energy Security Secretary Grant Shapps in autumn. The government remains committed to large nuclear projects like Hinkley Point C and Sizewell C. However, environmentalists and academics criticize the focus on nuclear, suggesting investment should be directed towards renewables and energy efficiency. The government also announced £157m in grant funding, which appears to be part of previously publicized packages, to support nuclear business development and advanced nuclear designs.

46 miners killed in methane gas explosion at ArcelorMittal mine in Kazakhstan

04 Apr 2024  |  thechemicalengineer.com
A devastating methane explosion at the Kostenco coal mine in Kazakhstan, operated by ArcelorMittal Temirtau, has resulted in the death of 46 workers, marking the country's worst mining disaster in over a decade. At the time of the incident, 252 miners were underground, but 206 were safely evacuated. ArcelorMittal has expressed deep regret and has announced comprehensive support for the families of the deceased, including financial assistance and educational fees for children. The company, which has faced multiple fatal accidents and pressure from the Kazakhstan government, had already agreed to transfer ownership to the state prior to the disaster. President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev has criticized the company's partnership with the government and has ordered the termination of investment collaborations.

International Collaboration to Establish Global Centers for Clean Energy Innovation

04 Apr 2024  |  thechemicalengineer.com
The article discusses the establishment of four Global Centers aimed at accelerating clean energy innovation through international collaboration involving the US, Canada, UK, and Australia. The centers are supported by funding from the US National Science Foundation and UK Research and Innovation. The centers include the Global Hydrogen Production Technologies Center, Electric Power Innovation for a Carbon-free Society, the Global Center for Clean Energy and Equitable Transportation Solutions, and the Global Nitrogen Innovation Center for Clean Energy and the Environment. These centers will focus on developing technologies for clean hydrogen production, establishing a 100% emissions-free power grid, reducing emissions from road transport, and producing green ammonia for fertilizers. The projects involve multiple universities and research institutions across the participating countries.

UK Extends Horizon Europe Applicant Support Amid Ongoing EU Negotiations

04 Apr 2024  |  thechemicalengineer.com
The UK government has extended the support for UK Horizon Europe applicants until the end of September 2023, ensuring that successful UK applicants can receive their funding without leaving the country. This comes amid ongoing negotiations with the EU regarding the UK's participation in EU research programmes, which have been delayed due to disagreements over Northern Ireland trade rules. The UKRI is managing the funding, having issued over 2,000 grants worth £1.05bn. The government has also introduced the 'Pioneer' programme as a contingency plan, offering equivalent funding to what would have been contributed to Horizon Europe from 2021 to 2027. Concerns have been raised about the UK's commitment to science funding after £1.6bn intended for Horizon Europe was returned to the Treasury.

Artist impression of the CQ-H2 hydrogen production facilities near Gladstone, central Queensland

04 Apr 2024  |  thechemicalengineer.com
Worley has been awarded the front-end engineering and design (FEED) work for the CQ-H2 project, which is set to be central Queensland's largest renewable hydrogen project. The project, led by Stanwell since 2020, is expected to start commercial operations in 2028 and aims to produce up to 200 t/d of renewable hydrogen initially, scaling up to 800 t/d by 2031. The development includes a hydrogen production facility and a hydrogen liquefaction facility at the Port of Gladstone for export purposes. Japan and Singapore are among the expected offtakers, with Japan being a significant investor in Australia. The project is part of Queensland's broader push for renewable energy, with a target of 70% by 2032 and 80% by 2035. It is expected to create over 8,900 jobs and contribute significantly to Queensland's economy.

Royal Society launches fellowship to support underrepresented black researchers

04 Apr 2024  |  thechemicalengineer.com
The Royal Society is launching a Career Development Fellowship (CDF) to support researchers from black heritage backgrounds in UK STEM academia, addressing the underrepresentation highlighted by recent studies. The fellowship will provide funding and mentorship to five scientists annually. In Australia, CSIRO has expanded its Indigenous STEM Scholarship program with the University of Wollongong, offering perpetual financial support to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students. The initiatives come in response to data showing high non-completion rates among black STEM students and low representation at higher academic levels. CSIRO's commitment includes over A$5 million in Indigenous STEM scholarships, aiming to reduce barriers to higher education for Indigenous students.

Heineken to pour £25m into low carbon heat system for Manchester brewery

04 Apr 2024  |  thechemicalengineer.com
HEINEKEN UK, known for brands like Heineken, Birra Moretti, and Foster's, is investing £25m into a new low carbon heat technology at its Manchester brewery, aiming to cut emissions significantly. The technology will repurpose waste heat from brewing for other processes, reducing gas usage by an estimated 45%. GEA will implement the heat network, which will use environmentally friendly ammonia refrigerant. The project is supported by a £3.7m grant from the Department of Energy Security and Net Zero and is part of Heineken's broader goal to achieve net zero emissions by 2030 for scope 1 and 2, and by 2040 for scope 3. Heineken is also focusing on sustainable sourcing and has reported a decrease in scope 3 emissions in its 2022 carbon footprint report.

RWE, Mitsui, and Port of Tilbury sign MoU on green hydrogen projects to decarbonise port operations

04 Apr 2024  |  thechemicalengineer.com
RWE, Mitsui, and the Port of Tilbury have signed an MoU to develop two green hydrogen projects aimed at decarbonising the port's operations in Essex. The Port of Tilbury, owned by Forth Ports, is the largest multi-modal port in the South East with significant cargo throughput. The initial project involves a 10 MW green hydrogen production demonstrator, with potential expansion to 100 MW. This initiative aligns with the Port of Tilbury's goal to become carbon neutral by 2032 and Net Zero by 2042. The project is part of the larger Thames Freeport venture, backed by Ford, Forth Ports, and DP World, which is expected to attract significant investment and create thousands of jobs. The UK government views hydrogen as a key element in achieving net zero by 2050 but not as a complete solution, emphasizing its suitability for hard-to-electrify sectors and cautioning against over-reliance in the short to medium term.

Amgen Completes Acquisition of Horizon Therapeutics Amid Antitrust Concerns

04 Apr 2024  |  thechemicalengineer.com
Amgen, a US biotech company, has finalized its acquisition of Horizon Therapeutics for $27.8 billion after overcoming a legal challenge from the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The FTC had sought to block the deal due to concerns that Amgen might use its portfolio to stifle competition, particularly in the anti-inflammatory drug market. Horizon is known for its medicines treating rare autoimmune and severe inflammatory diseases, including Tepezza for Thyroid Eye Disease and Krystexxa for uncontrollable gout. The FTC's concerns were addressed by prohibiting Amgen from bundling products and using rebates or contracts to disadvantage competitors. The agreement also includes several conditions and requirements for Amgen, such as submitting annual compliance reports, and will last for 15 years.

Heriot-Watt students launch Global Sustainability Week ahead of COP28

04 Apr 2024  |  thechemicalengineer.com
Heriot-Watt University is celebrating Global Sustainability Week with a series of student-led events across its campuses in Edinburgh, Orkney, Galashiels, Malaysia, and Dubai. The events include a conference on Engineering Net Zero, workshops on repairing clothes and painting reusable tote bags, outdoor activities, and sustainability-themed talks. The initiative, led by the university's student unions and societies, aims to raise awareness and engage students in sustainability efforts. The activities also precede COP28, which will be hosted in Dubai, where Heriot-Watt's Dubai campus will serve as a fringe venue for related events. Lindsay Wilson, the university's global sustainability strategic programme lead, emphasized the importance of student engagement in sustainability themes, especially in light of the upcoming climate conference.

HMV Catapult

04 Apr 2024  |  thechemicalengineer.com
Steve Bagshaw, a seasoned professional in the biotechnologies and chemical manufacturing sectors, has been appointed as the chair of the High Value Manufacturing (HVM) Catapult. The HVM Catapult, established by Innovate UK, is a network of seven research and innovation centers aimed at advancing manufacturing businesses in the UK. Bagshaw, who has previously served as a deputy chair at the Centre for Process Innovation and as an advisor to the UK government's vaccine taskforce, is committed to supporting SMEs and promoting economic growth through manufacturing innovation. His appointment aligns with the start of a new five-year funding cycle for the HVM Catapult with Innovate UK. Katherine Bennett, the CEO of HVM Catapult, praised Bagshaw's pioneering work in biotechnology and his expected contributions to the future of UK manufacturing.

Innovative Environmental Solutions Win Big at the Earthshot Prize

04 Apr 2024  |  thechemicalengineer.com
The article discusses the winners of the Prince of Wales’ £1m Earthshot prizes, focusing on innovations that address climate, environmental, and biodiversity issues. GRST won the Clean Our Air category with a recyclable battery technology. S4S won the Build A Waste-free World category by providing solar-powered dryers and food processing equipment to reduce food waste and support female farmers in India. WildAid Marine Program, Accion Andina, and Boomitra also received awards for their contributions to ocean revival, ecosystem protection, and climate solutions, respectively. The ceremony highlighted the importance of collective action against the climate crisis and the continuation of support for the winners and finalists through mentorship and technical assistance. Nominations for the next round of the Earthshot Prize are currently open.

IChemE Journals Achieve Record Impact Factors and Move Towards Open Access

04 Apr 2024  |  thechemicalengineer.com
The Institution of Chemical Engineers (IChemE)'s journal, Sustainable Production and Consumption, has achieved its highest Impact Factor (IF) to date, rising 36% to 12.1. This marks the first time an IChemE journal has reached a double-digit IF score. The IF is a measure of a journal's influence based on citations and is calculated using the Journal Citation Reports tool. The journal, which is published in partnership with Elsevier, is now highly ranked in environmental studies and green and sustainable science and technology categories. Other IChemE journals, such as Education for Chemical Engineers and Process Safety and Environmental Protection, have also seen increases in their IF. Additionally, Molecular Systems Design & Engineering, published with the Royal Society of Chemistry, has been granted transformative journal status, moving towards full open access. IChemE supports the open access trend and its members can access journals through the Knowledge Hub.

Barngarla Traditional Owners Win Court Fight Against Nuclear Waste Facility

04 Apr 2024  |  thechemicalengineer.com
The Barngarla Determination Aboriginal Corporation (BDAC) has won a legal battle against the Australian government's plan to build a nuclear waste facility at Napandee near Kimba, South Australia. The court ruled in favor of the Barngarla traditional owners, citing apprehended bias in the site selection process by the former coalition resources minister, Keith Pitt. The government, under the current minister for resources, Madeleine King, has decided not to appeal the decision. The proposed facility faced opposition from the Barngarla people, who were not properly consulted and who unanimously rejected the proposal in a separate ballot. The Australian Conservation Foundation has welcomed the court's decision. The government is now considering alternative proposals for the storage and disposal of radioactive waste.

US ammonia tanker spill kills five, injures seven

04 Apr 2024  |  thechemicalengineer.com
A traffic incident in Teutopolis, US, involving a tanker from Prairie Land Transport carrying anhydrous ammonia, resulted in the release of the chemical, causing five fatalities and seven hospitalizations. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is investigating the incident, which was caused by a car overtaking the truck, leading to the truck rolling over and the chemical's release. The chemical spill prompted evacuations and raised concerns about chemical safety, with the NTSB focusing on the tank's crashworthiness and hazardous material routing. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) acknowledges the ongoing risk of chemical incidents, despite efforts to reduce them. The article also references a recent train accident in East Palestine, Ohio, involving hazardous materials, which the NTSB chair called '100 percent preventable'.

Rio Tinto and Giampaolo Group to partner on Matalco aluminium recycling venture

04 Apr 2024  |  thechemicalengineer.com
Rio Tinto is partnering with Giampaolo Group to produce and market recycled aluminium products through a joint venture, aiming to meet the growing demand for low-carbon aluminium. Rio Tinto will purchase a 50% stake in Giampaolo's Matalco business for $700 million. Matalco, with seven facilities in the US and Canada, can produce around 900,000 tons of recycled aluminium annually. Triple M Metal will supply recyclable material, while Rio Tinto will handle sales and marketing after a transition period. The deal is expected to close in the first half of 2024. This venture is part of a broader strategy to reduce CO2 emissions from aluminium production, which is a significant contributor to global industrial CO2 emissions. The IEA highlights the need for more efforts to align with the net zero emissions by 2050 scenario, including better recycling and new technologies.

Sunak to maximise oil and gas production despite backlash, and confirms two new CCUS clusters

04 Apr 2024  |  thechemicalengineer.com
The UK government has announced plans for two new carbon capture usage and storage (CCUS) facilities and the awarding of hundreds of new oil and gas production licences. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak claims this will make the UK more energy independent and support clean technologies. However, the decision has faced criticism from political opponents, environmental groups, and some Conservative party members, who argue it contradicts climate commitments. The North Sea Transition Authority supports the move, citing lower emissions from domestic gas production compared to imports. The licensing round is expected to award over 100 production licences, with the first to be awarded in autumn. Environmental groups like Greenpeace and Oxfam UK have criticized the policy, and academics have raised concerns about funding and the need for responsible CO2 disposal. The CCUS facilities, including Acorn and Viking, are part of the UK's plan to build a CCUS industry supporting up to 50,000 jobs by 2030.

RWE appoints Technip and GE Gas Power to study combining CCGT with CCS

04 Apr 2024  |  thechemicalengineer.com
RWE, a German multinational energy company, has initiated a pre-FEED study for a new natural gas-fired combined cycle gas turbine (CCGT) plant with carbon capture (CCS) in the UK. The proposed plant near Stallingborough, with a capacity of up to 800 MW, could power 1 million homes and will be a capture partner of the Viking CCS project. Technip Energies and GE Gas Power are collaborating on the study, which will explore the integration of a power station with CCS technology, using Shell's Cansolv technology. RWE is also considering retrofitting CCS at existing CCGT stations in Pembroke and Staythorpe. These developments are part of RWE's strategy to decarbonize power supply and contribute to energy security, aligning with its goal to be carbon neutral by 2040. The projects, if advanced, could provide 4.7 GW of capacity and capture 11 million tons of CO2 annually.

Huge blast at oil terminal in Guinea's capital kills at least 18 people

04 Apr 2024  |  thechemicalengineer.com
A devastating explosion at Guinea’s main oil terminal in Conakry has resulted in at least 18 deaths and 178 injuries. The incident has caused a massive fire, visible from miles away, leading to the closure of schools and public places, and advising non-essential workers to stay home. Approximately 738 homes, primarily in the impoverished Coronthie area, have been affected. Guinea, which lacks petroleum refineries and relies on imports, is now experiencing fuel shortages and electricity outages. The Guinean Petroleum Company-operated depot was in the process of relocation to prevent such disasters. The cause of the explosion is under investigation, with reports of it occurring during offloading from a ship. Authorities have suspended tanker operations and gas stations to prevent panic buying, but black-market fuel prices have surged by 150%.

Queensland government invests A$24m in flow batteries to boost battery network

04 Apr 2024  |  thechemicalengineer.com
The Queensland government is investing A$24m into local battery manufacturing to support its renewable energy goals. The investment will be divided equally between Redflow and ESI for the development of zinc-bromine and iron flow batteries, respectively. Redflow's project in Ipswich is expected to generate A$3.5m in revenue and be completed by Q2 2024. ESI has installed grid-scale batteries in Queensland and plans to produce 200 MW/1.6 GWh of energy storage annually by the end of 2026, with potential expansion plans. Energy Queensland is leading the network battery program, favoring local flow battery technologies over imported lithium-ion systems. The strategy includes installing 40 MWh of energy storage across five locations with high solar penetration, with additional installations planned. The government's commitment is aimed at fostering local manufacturing and job creation, while facilitating a low carbon energy future and stabilizing electricity prices. A correction was issued regarding ESI's future energy storage output projections.

McGagh, Sorensen and McBride-Wright honoured by the King

04 Apr 2024  |  thechemicalengineer.com
Chemical engineers John McGagh, Eva Sorensen, and Mark McBride-Wright have been honored in the Order of Australia awards and the 2023 King’s Birthday Honours list for their significant contributions to the field. McGagh was recognized for his service to the mining sector and has held various prestigious positions, including at the Australian Academy of Technology Science and Engineering. Sorensen, a professor at University College London, was awarded an MBE for her services to education and chemical engineering. She has been instrumental in promoting the discipline and addressing global challenges. McBride-Wright received an MBE for his work on diversity, equity, and inclusivity in engineering, founding EqualEngineers to foster cultural change within the industry.

Benenden School Students Win Davidson Inventors Challenge with Sustainable Soap

04 Apr 2024  |  thechemicalengineer.com
A group of year 11 students from Benenden School, known as FABNOIDS, won the Davidson Inventors Challenge for creating sustainable flavonoid soaps that reduce infection risks without harmful chemicals. The challenge, initiated by the University of Cambridge, encourages UK students aged 14-17 to address a UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) through chemical engineering. FABNOIDS focused on SDG 3, Good Health and Well-being, in response to WHO's concerns about bacterial resistance. Flavonoids, found in various plants, have multiple beneficial properties and were used by the team to create their winning product. The competition saw 103 teams participate, with four finalists presenting in an online event attended by students, industry alumni, and IChemE president Nigel Hirst. The challenge is held annually in collaboration with IChemE and ASTI in Malaysia.

UK rejoins EU's flagship scientific research scheme Horizon Europe

04 Apr 2024  |  thechemicalengineer.com
The UK has rejoined the EU's flagship scientific research scheme, Horizon Europe, allowing UK-based scientists and institutions to apply for funding from the €95.5bn fund. This comes after years of uncertainty and negotiations, with the European Commission and the UK government hailing it as a significant moment for scientific and space collaboration. UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak emphasized the deal's alignment with the UK's innovation goals. The UK will also join the EU Space Programme but will not participate in the Galileo and EGNOS programmes or the Euratom nuclear research alliance. Instead, the UK will focus on a domestic fusion energy strategy. The UK's alternative

UK Government Boosts Funding for Sizewell C Nuclear Plant

04 Apr 2024  |  thechemicalengineer.com
The UK government has allocated an additional £170 million to expedite the development of the Sizewell C nuclear power plant in Suffolk, which will be adjacent to the existing Sizewell B plant. This funding is on top of a previous £700 million investment, making the government a 50% shareholder alongside French utility company EDF. Sizewell C aims to provide power to 6 million homes and reduce CO2 emissions by 9 million tonnes per year. The project is expected to create 10,000 jobs and award 70% of construction contracts to UK businesses. Despite environmental concerns and previous advice against the project, the government is pushing forward with its nuclear energy ambitions, aiming for 24GW from nuclear by 2050. The newly established Great British Nuclear will oversee the expansion of nuclear power, including Sizewell C and the costly Hinkley Point C.

Sumitomo Chemical's CO2-to-methanol pilot plant at its Ehime Works, in Niihama City, Japan

04 Apr 2024  |  thechemicalengineer.com
Sumitomo Chemical has announced the completion of a pilot facility at its Ehime Works in Niihama City, Japan, which produces methanol using CO2 from waste incineration and hydrogen from renewable energy. The plant incorporates an innovative internal condensation reactor (ICR) developed in collaboration with Koji Omata of Shimane University, which improves yield, energy efficiency, and prevents catalyst degradation, overcoming challenges faced by conventional CO2-to-methanol processes. Supported by NEDO's Green Innovation Fund, Sumitomo aims to demonstrate the technology by 2028 and begin commercial production and licensing in the 2030s.

Petronas Chemicals Group

04 Apr 2024  |  thechemicalengineer.com
Petronas Chemicals Group (PCG) has announced its plan to construct Asia's largest advanced chemical recycling plant in Pengerang, Johor, Malaysia, with operations expected to begin in the first half of 2026. PCG, a subsidiary of the Malaysian state-owned Petronas, will collaborate with UK-based Plastic Energy, which will supply the chemical recycling technology. The technology involves heating plastic waste without oxygen to produce TACOIL, a substitute for fossil oils in making food-grade recycled plastics. Mutiara Etnik Sdn Bhd has been awarded the engineering, procurement, and construction contract for the project, which aims to produce 33,000 tonnes per year. This initiative is part of Malaysia's efforts to transition to a circular economy and address its significant plastic waste problem, in line with the country's Plastic Sustainability Roadmap 2021-2030.

Sheffield and Rotherham to Benefit from £80m Investment in Advanced Manufacturing

04 Apr 2024  |  thechemicalengineer.com
Sheffield and Rotherham are set to benefit from a £80m investment as part of the UK's first Advanced Manufacturing Investment Zone, which aims to attract over £1.2bn in private funding and create approximately 8,000 jobs. The investment, primarily financed by Boeing and its partners, including AeroSystems, Loop Technology, and the University of Sheffield AMRC, will fund the new Compass facility to advance composite manufacturing for lighter aircraft, contributing to the aviation industry's net zero goals. The facility will also host Boeing's IHSS project for automated manufacturing methods. The investment includes government support and funding from the South Yorkshire Mayoral Combined Authority through the ATI grant program. Additionally, Glasgow City Region and North East of Scotland have been announced as Scotland’s first Investment Zones, with a funding envelope of £80m over five years.

University of Birmingham and Cooksongold to Develop Precious Metal Alloys for Additive Manufacturing

04 Apr 2024  |  thechemicalengineer.com
Researchers from the University of Birmingham are collaborating with Cooksongold Additive Manufacturing to develop precious metal alloys for additive manufacturing. This initiative is part of the Early-Stage Prosperity Partnerships project, supported by the UK's Engineering & Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), which aims to stimulate economic growth. The project has received nearly £5 million in funding from EPSRC, with additional support from business partners. The University of Birmingham, alongside Cooksongold, which is a subsidiary of the Heimerle + Meule Group, will focus on creating high-performance precious metal alloys for powder bed fusion (PBF), a 3D printing technique. The research team includes Biao Cai, Moataz Attallah, and Sophie Cox from the University of Birmingham, and Selassie Dorvlo from Cooksongold.

Coolbrook

04 Apr 2024  |  thechemicalengineer.com
Coolbrook has completed the first phase of pilot testing for its RotoDynamic Heater, demonstrating its industrial capabilities for high-temperature process heating. The technology, which includes the RotoDynamic Heater (RDH) and RotoDynamic Reactor (RDR), uses a rotating shaft and rotor blades to generate hot gas without burning fossil fuels. The RDH can reach temperatures up to 1,700°C and could potentially reduce global CO2 emissions by over 2 billion tons per year. Coolbrook's RDR is also being tested for CO2-free steam cracking in petrochemical processes, which could significantly reduce emissions and increase ethylene yields. The company is working with various partners, including universities and industry players, to commercialize the technology.

Safety Concerns at the Heart of UK Battery Storage Discussion

04 Apr 2024  |  thechemicalengineer.com
A recent IChemE-hosted roundtable in London, chaired by Mark Apsey MBE of Ameresco, focused on safety concerns of lithium-ion batteries in the UK's battery energy storage systems (BESS). The discussion highlighted the risk of thermal runaway, which can lead to fires and toxic gas release. Statistics revealed 68 grid-scale battery systems have had incidents since 2010. Strategies to mitigate risks, such as proper storage temperature and ventilation, were discussed. Different battery types, including Lithium iron phosphate (LFP) and sodium ion batteries, were considered for their safety profiles. The need for better understanding of the risks, hazards, and chemical reactions in batteries was emphasized, along with the importance of education and standards. Safety guidelines like NFPA 855 and the role of academia versus industry in safety practices were also topics of conversation. The roundtable ended with unresolved questions, suggesting the need for further discussion.

R.M. Palmer fined US$44,000 for lack of evacuation before blast killed seven

04 Apr 2024  |  thechemicalengineer.com
R.M. Palmer, a Pennsylvania-based chocolate factory, was fined over $44,000 by OSHA for not evacuating its staff before a fatal explosion in March that killed seven people. The explosion was caused by a gas leak, and workers had reported smelling gas prior to the incident. OSHA cited the company for several violations, including evacuation procedures, improper use of flexible cords, recordkeeping, and unclear emergency exit signs. Kevin T Chambers, OSHA area director, stated that the tragedy could have been prevented if the company had followed safety procedures. R.M. Palmer, which has been operating since 1948 and employs around 850 people, plans to contest the citations, claiming they are unsupported.

Hydrogen Village Trial Faces Opposition in Whitby, Shifts Focus to Redcar

04 Apr 2024  |  thechemicalengineer.com
The UK's first hydrogen village trial will not take place in Whitby, Cheshire, due to strong local opposition. Cadent, the gas distributor, acknowledged the decision and stated their commitment to the community's safety and diverse energy needs. Attention has shifted to Redcar, where Northern Gas Networks (NGN) has proposed a similar project and opened a hydrogen hub to educate the public. Despite NGN's positive outlook, there is still skepticism among residents. The HyDeploy project, a collaboration between Cadent and NGN, has successfully completed two phases of blending hydrogen with natural gas and is entering Phase 3 with partnerships including Bosch and Eastham Refinery Ltd. The trials' safety evidence will inform government policy on hydrogen use in the gas network.

BP Advances Green Hydrogen Hub in Western Australia and Invests in Electrolyser Specialist

04 Apr 2024  |  thechemicalengineer.com
BP is advancing its H2Kwinana project in Western Australia, aiming to transform a former oil refinery into a green hydrogen and renewable fuels hub. The hub will produce green hydrogen, sustainable aviation fuel (SAF), and hydrogenated vegetable oil (HVO) with the help of a proposed electrolyser and other facilities. BP, in partnership with Macquarie Group, is awaiting internal and government approvals. The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) has provided cost estimates for various production scenarios. The project has received funding from state and federal sources. BP has contracted Technip Energies for a hydrogen production unit and has invested in Advanced Ionics, a green hydrogen specialist, to further its hydrogen technology portfolio. Advanced Ionics' Symbion technology aims to reduce the cost and electricity requirements for green hydrogen production.

Lanxess to cut 870 jobs amid German chemical industry downturn

04 Apr 2024  |  thechemicalengineer.com
German chemical company Lanxess has announced plans to cut 870 jobs globally, with over half of the reductions occurring in Germany. The decision is attributed to the escalating crisis in the German chemical sector, which is facing surging energy costs due to Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Lanxess reported sales of €8.1bn and a net income of €250m in 2022. The company's CEO, Matthias Zachert, has called for political support and competitive electricity tariffs. Germany's chemical industry, the largest in Europe, is heavily impacted by the energy crisis, exacerbated by its dependence on Russian gas and the shutdown of the Nord Stream pipelines. Other chemical firms like BASF, Trinseo, and Olin are also downsizing their operations in Germany due to high energy costs and supply chain disruptions.

ExxonMobil to build CCS pilot plant using carbonate fuel cell technology

04 Apr 2024  |  thechemicalengineer.com
ESSO Nederland, part of ExxonMobil, is set to construct a pilot carbon capture facility at its Rotterdam Manufacturing Complex using carbonate fuel cell (CFC) technology developed with FuelCell Energy. This technology aims to significantly cut CO2 emissions from industries by capturing CO2 more efficiently than traditional methods. The Rotterdam site will be the first to test this technology, which also reduces nitrogen oxide emissions and generates power, hydrogen, and water as byproducts. FuelCell Energy's CEO, Jason Few, highlighted the dual benefits of carbon capture and electricity production. The project receives funding from the EU's Emissions Trading System Innovation Fund and a DEI+ grant from the Netherlands Enterprise Agency, with potential global deployment at ExxonMobil sites if the pilot is successful.

TfS white paper explores new approaches to counting carbon in chemical sector

04 Apr 2024  |  thechemicalengineer.com
The white paper by Together for Sustainability (TfS) highlights the need for improvements in greenhouse gas (GHG) accounting within the chemical industry to promote decarbonisation. The industry, valued at US$5trn, is a significant GHG emitter due to its reliance on fossil fuels. TfS suggests changes to the GHG Protocol, particularly for Scope 3 emissions, which are challenging to track but constitute a major part of a company's carbon footprint. Peter Saling, co-chair of the TfS GHG emissions programme, emphasizes the need for clear guidance and fair reporting standards. The paper recommends accounting for biogenic carbon sources, implementing mass balance (MB) accounting to trace materials through the value chain, and ensuring transparency to prevent greenwashing. These changes aim to help companies showcase their progress in reducing emissions and gain trust from investors and consumers.

Neste forms partnerships to collaborate on renewable PET production

04 Apr 2024  |  thechemicalengineer.com
Neste, an oil company, is collaborating with Suntory, ENEOS, and Mitsubishi Corporation to produce PET resin from renewable Neste RE, a feedstock made from renewable and recycled raw materials. Neste RE is produced using Neste's proprietary NEXBTL technology, which converts waste and residue oils into high-quality hydrocarbons. These hydrocarbons can be used to create renewable diesel, gasoline, jet fuel, and feedstock for polymers and chemicals. The partnership aims to reduce the polymer and chemical industry's reliance on fossil resources and lower the carbon footprint of products. ENEOS will produce bio-PX from Neste RE at its Mizushima refinery, which will be converted to PTA and then to PET resin for Suntory's PET bottles. Mitsubishi Corporation will coordinate the collaboration. The article also discusses the challenges of PET recycling and the need for improved circularity in the industry.

CNOOC commissions China’s first offshore CCS demo project

01 Oct 2023  |  www.thechemicalengineer.com
CNOOC has launched China's first offshore carbon capture and storage (CCS) demonstration project at the Enping 15-1 oilfield in the South China Sea. The project aims to store over 1.5 million tons of CO2 by injecting it into a saline water layer. CEO Zhou Xinhuai emphasized the project's role in promoting green and low-carbon development. The Enping 15-1 oilfield, part of a cluster of four oilfields, began production in December 2022 and is expected to reach peak production in 2024. The facilities include advanced unmanned platforms capable of operating in severe weather conditions.

Franco Blaser upset about lack of security in Swiss ticketing

01 Oct 2023  |  www.blick.ch
Franco Blaser, a resident of Augusta, Georgia, found his Swiss flight ticket unexpectedly canceled by an unknown person. Despite contacting Swiss's call center, he was informed that he had requested the cancellation, which he denies. Blaser suspects a possible revenge act by a call center employee due to previous disputes over a lost luggage issue. He criticizes Swiss for inadequate security measures, particularly the lack of two-factor authentication. Swiss maintains that their authentication process was standard, and an expert finds no fault with Swiss but notes the unusual absence of a cancellation confirmation. Swiss is currently investigating the case.

UKAEA / EUROfusion

19 Jul 2023  |  thechemicalengineer.com
The UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) has awarded £6.8 million in contracts to seven entities to advance fusion technology to the 'proof of concept' stage. These entities include startups, SMEs, established companies, and academic institutions. Full Matrix and the University of Manchester will tackle digital engineering challenges, while Gencoa, AqSorption, IS-Instruments, the University of Bristol, and the University of Liverpool will research hydrogen isotope production and handling to reduce fusion plant fuel requirements. The funding is part of the UK government's £484 million support package post-Brexit, replacing EU funding. This initiative is part of the broader effort to commercialize fusion energy, which is seen as a sustainable and low-carbon energy source for the future. The UK government has also selected a site in Nottinghamshire for a prototype fusion energy plant aiming to contribute electricity to the grid by the 2040s.

Big aims for a big polluter

06 Jun 2023  |  thechemicalengineer.com
COCA-COLA Europacific Partners (CCEP) is collaborating with Swansea University on a project to create sustainable packaging materials by converting atmospheric CO2 into ethylene, a raw material for plastic packaging. The three-year project aims to provide a more sustainable alternative to fossil fuel-based ethylene. CCEP Ventures is funding this and other initiatives, including a partnership with the University of California, Berkeley, and an investment in CuRe technology for recycling plastic polyester waste. Despite these efforts, Coca-Cola has been named the UK's biggest polluter for the fourth consecutive year, with Surfers Against Sewage's audit revealing that Coca-Cola is responsible for 17% of branded plastic pollution. To address sustainability more broadly, CCEP and its bottling partners have launched a $137.7m venture capital fund targeting key areas to reduce the Coca-Cola system's carbon footprint.

OSHA says worker death at factory in Massachusetts, US, could have been prevented

04 May 2023  |  www.thechemicalengineer.com
An explosion at Seqens' pharmaceutical plant in Newburyport, Massachusetts, resulted in the death of worker Jack O’Keefe. OSHA's investigation revealed significant safety management deficiencies, leading to 11 citations and proposed penalties of $298,254. Seqens has 15 business days to respond. The incident, which was preventable, has prompted local officials to ensure future safety measures. This was the third incident at the facility since 2020.

The semiconductor industry's shift away from PFAS

05 Apr 2023  |  thechemicalengineer.com
The article discusses the environmental and health concerns associated with PFAS chemicals, which are widely used in the semiconductor industry and other products due to their durable properties. European countries have proposed restrictions on PFAS due to their health costs. The semiconductor industry, including companies like Intel and Chemours, opposes these restrictions, citing the lack of alternatives. Transene, a US-based manufacturer, has partnered with the University of Massachusetts to find safer alternatives to PFAS. The collaboration has led to the development of new etching solutions for the semiconductor industry that aim to be less toxic while maintaining performance. The article highlights the challenges and efforts in transitioning away from PFAS in the industry.

Mussel-Inspired Coating Offers Eco-Friendly Way to Extract Rare Earth Elements

05 Apr 2023  |  thechemicalengineer.com
Researchers at Penn State University have developed a new method for extracting rare earth elements (REEs), specifically neodymium, from industrial wastewater using a mussel-inspired nanocellulose coating (MINC). This method is more environmentally friendly and energy-efficient compared to traditional extraction processes. MINC mimics the natural adhesive mussels use to attach to rocks, and it selectively pulls neodymium out of water without significantly extracting other elements. The process involves converting cellulose fibrils into bifunctional hairy cellulose nanocrystals, which then adhere to a substrate and filter out neodymium through electrostatic interaction. The research, led by assistant professor Amir Sheikhi, aims to increase the availability of neodymium for clean energy technologies and other applications, with plans to improve the method's selectivity and scale it up for commercial use.

Nitric Oxide Detected on Mars: Clues to Ancient Life?

05 Apr 2023  |  astronomynow.com
Researchers using NASA's Curiosity rover have detected nitric oxide on the surface of Mars for the first time, a discovery that contributes to the hypothesis that ancient Mars could have supported life. Nitrogen, a critical component for life on Earth, is found in amino acids and nucleic acids. On Mars, the nitric oxide is believed to be the result of ancient meteorite impacts rather than biological processes. The findings, based on samples from 'Rocknest' and drill sites 'John Klein' and 'Cumberland' in Yellowknife Bay, suggest that nitric oxide may be widespread on Mars. Yellowknife Bay, in particular, is thought to have been a lake bed, where the presence of nitric oxide could have created conditions suitable for microbial life. The research is led by Jennifer Stern from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.

New research reveals mysterious patterns in the temperatures of this far-flung icy planet

03 Apr 2023  |  euronews
A team of astronomers, led by Michael Roman from the University of Leicester, has observed unexpected temperature changes on Neptune over a 17-year period. Despite it being summer in Neptune's southern hemisphere since 2005, the planet's average temperature dropped by 8C from 2003 to 2018. Surprisingly, between 2018 and 2020, the south pole of Neptune warmed up by 11C. The reasons behind these changes are unclear, but hypotheses include stratospheric chemical changes, random weather patterns, or the solar cycle. The study utilized data from various telescopes, including ESO’s VLT, NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope, and the Gemini South telescope in Chile. Future observations from ESO’s ELT and the James Webb Space Telescope are expected to provide more insights into Neptune's atmospheric behavior. The findings were reported in The Planetary Science Journal.

Concept of a PV-branch of PV-leaves

01 Apr 2023  |  thechemicalengineer.com
Researchers at Imperial College London have developed a new photovoltaic leaf (PV-leaf) technology that could revolutionize the solar panel industry. This technology mimics the natural transpiration process of plant leaves to cool down solar cells, thereby increasing their efficiency. The PV-leaf uses a biomimetic transpiration layer made of bamboo fibers and hydrogel cells to draw water up from a tank, which then evaporates to cool the solar cell. This process can remove 75% of the heat and improve electricity output by approximately 14%. The technology also allows for the use of saline solutions as a coolant, which is beneficial for areas with freshwater scarcity. The materials used are affordable and environmentally friendly, suggesting that this innovation could be easily mass-produced and compete with existing solar technologies. Gan Huang, the study's author and honorary research fellow at Imperial, highlights the potential of this design to enhance solar panel performance significantly while maintaining cost-effectiveness.

Kerry Hebden speaks to researchers exploring novel routes to greener plastics

01 Apr 2023  |  thechemicalengineer.com
The article discusses the environmental problem of plastic pollution, highlighting the vast amount of plastic waste in the oceans and the low recycling rates. It focuses on Xampla, a University of Cambridge spin-off, which is developing a sustainable alternative to single-use plastics using plant-based proteins. The company's CTO, Marc Rodriguez Garcia, explains the process of creating a biodegradable material that mimics the strength of silk through self-assembly at the nanoscale. Xampla has made progress in the lab and is working towards scaling up production with a pilot plant and partnerships. Their product biodegrades in soil within 28 days and has already found a commercial application with Gousto for edible packaging. The company is also involved in a project to turn agricultural by-products into packaging materials.

It seems there might not be life on Venus after all, say two new studies

20 Apr 2022  |  Room The Space Journal of Asgardia
The article discusses the skepticism surrounding the recent claim of potential signs of life on Venus due to the detection of phosphine in its atmosphere. Initially, a team led by Jane Greaves at Cardiff University announced the detection of phosphine, which on Earth is produced by microbes. However, subsequent studies by teams led by Ignas Snellen and Geronimo Villanueva have cast doubt on these findings. Snellen's team re-examined the data from the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) and argued that the detection method used by Greaves' team was unconventional and resulted in a signal that could not be clearly distinguished from noise. Villanueva's team also questioned the findings, suggesting that sulfur dioxide (SO2) could be the source of the signal instead of phosphine. Both teams' analyses suggest that there is no clear signature of phosphine in Venus' atmosphere. The article concludes that while these studies are compelling, the debate is not yet settled, and a direct interplanetary mission, such as one proposed by Rocket Labs, may be necessary to confirm the presence of life on Venus.

TOLIMAN: New Mission to Hunt for Earth-like Exoplanets Around Nearest Stars

20 Apr 2022  |  Room The Space Journal of Asgardia
Scientists at The University of Sydney have announced the development of a new mission called TOLIMAN, which aims to search for habitable exoplanets around Earth's nearest stellar neighbours. TOLIMAN, which stands for Telescope for Orbit Locus Interferometric Monitoring of our Astronomical Neighbourhood, will utilize the radial-velocity method to detect exoplanets by observing the wobbles in stars caused by the gravitational pull of orbiting planets. The project is a collaboration between The University of Sydney, Breakthrough Initiatives, Saber Astronautics, and NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. It has received funding from the Australian Government and the Breakthrough Initiatives. The telescope will use a novel optical diffractive pupil lens to make precise measurements of stars within 10 parsecs of the sun. The mission is expected to be ready by the middle of the decade and aims to enhance our understanding of potential life-supporting planets in our cosmic vicinity.

European startup to produce oxygen from lunar soil for ESA 2025 mission

20 Apr 2022  |  Room The Space Journal of Asgardia
Space Applications Services, a Belgium-based company, has been contracted by the European Space Agency (ESA) to deliver a reactor capable of producing oxygen from lunar regolith. This is part of ESA's in-situ resource utilisation (ISRU) demonstration mission slated for 2025, which aims to process local resources into useful products. The primary method to be used is the FFC process, an electrolysis technique adapted for lunar conditions. Additionally, Space Applications Services is exploring the Hydrogen Reduction of ilmenite method to produce oxygen. The goal is to enable spacecraft to source oxygen directly from the Moon, enhancing the sustainability of space exploration. ESA had previously announced funding for proposals that could produce water or oxygen on the Moon, with awards up to EUR 500,000.

Moon's Gravitational Pull May Have Helped Early Earth Stay Warm

20 Apr 2022  |  Room The Space Journal of Asgardia
A study led by Rene Heller at the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research proposes that the Moon's gravitational influence on early Earth may have been a significant factor in maintaining warm enough temperatures for liquid water, and thus life, to exist. The study addresses the 'faint young Sun paradox,' which questions how early Earth stayed warm given the Sun's weaker output 3.8 billion years ago. The Moon, being closer to Earth at the time, exerted a stronger tidal force, which could have heated the planet. This tidal heating, along with other factors like greenhouse gases, may have prevented a global snowball state, allowing for the presence of liquid water and the habitability of the planet during its early years. The research suggests that tidal heating should be considered in the heat budget of early Earth and its role in preventing a frozen planet, contributing to the conditions necessary for life to evolve.

What an asteroid hits may matter as much how hard the impact is

20 Apr 2022  |  New Scientist
The article discusses the significance of the mineral composition of rocks in asteroid impacts on Earth. It suggests that the outcome of a meteorite collision, including the potential for mass extinctions, is influenced not only by the size of the meteorite but also by the type of rocks it strikes. The article implies that geologists have found the nature of the impacted rocks to be as crucial as the size of the impactor in determining the scale of the event's consequences.

Nature Astronomy; JWST’s quest for indications of life on planets and exoplanets

What you need to know about the glitches holding up NASA’s Artemis I mission to the Moon

14 Apr 2022  |  euronews
NASA's Artemis I mission, aimed at returning humans to the Moon by 2025, has faced a series of glitches and delays in its pre-launch testing phase. The Space Launch System (SLS) rocket, which is central to the mission, experienced issues with a valve, leading to the postponement of a countdown rehearsal and fuelling test. Despite financial problems and construction delays, NASA remains committed to the Artemis program, which also seeks to establish a sustainable presence on the Moon for future missions to Mars. The wet dress rehearsal, a crucial pre-launch test involving propellant loading and system checks, has been modified due to technical problems. NASA has not set a specific launch date for Artemis I but has mentioned potential launch windows in May and June. The recent delay was caused by a malfunction with two fans, a vent valve in the wrong position, a non-functioning helium check valve, and issues with helium purge pressure. The next test will now focus on loading propellants into the core stage only, with tanking rescheduled for April 14.

Volcanic outgassing to aid in the search for life on other planets – Astronomy Now

11 Jun 2015  |  astronomynow.com
A team of graduate students at the University of Washington has proposed using explosive volcanic activity as a marker for life on exoplanets. The research, led by Amit Misra, suggests that future telescopes should look for sulphur-based aerosols produced by volcanic eruptions, which could indicate plate tectonic activity. These aerosols can remain in a planet's atmosphere for extended periods, similar to the aftermath of Earth's Mt. Pinatubo eruption in 1991. The presence of both oxygen and signs of volcanism on an exoplanet could suggest a biological source of oxygen. The study emphasizes the need for large, ground-based telescopes to detect such eruptions and considers the potential of the James Webb Space Telescope in this research. The findings, published in the journal Astrobiology, were part of work conducted at the Virtual Planetary Laboratory and funded by the NASA Astrobiology Institute.

Gamma Rays from Dwarf Galaxy Could Illuminate Dark Matter

11 Mar 2015  |  astronomynow.com
Researchers have detected an excess of gamma rays emanating from the dwarf galaxy Reticulum 2, which could potentially indicate the presence of dark matter. Dark matter is believed to make up most of the Universe, and one of the prevailing theories suggests it consists of WIMPS (Weakly Interacting Massive Particles) that annihilate each other, releasing gamma rays. Dwarf galaxies, like Reticulum 2, are prime candidates for this research because they are 'quiet' systems with no known astrophysical sources of gamma rays and are thought to contain significant amounts of dark matter. The recent findings by physicists from Carnegie Mellon, Brown, and Cambridge universities are promising, but the team, led by Alex Geringer–Sameth, emphasizes the need for further observations to confirm that the gamma rays are indeed a result of dark matter and not other sources.
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