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Chemical Manufacturing

The Chemical Manufacturing Blog is the place for conversation and discussion about process equipment and control, biotech & environmental, specialty chemicals and nano-engineering. Here, you'll find everything from application ideas, to news and industry trends, to hot topics and cutting edge innovations.

Technologies to Promote Self-healing

Posted November 27, 2014 12:00 AM by IHS GlobalSpec eNewsletter

Comic book heroes and cartoon characters that can heal themselves are the stuff of fiction. But, wait, not so fast, says the U.S. Department of Defense. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, known as DARPA, has embarked on a program called ElectRx to develop technologies that, in effect, allow the human body to restore itself to health. This novel approach to self-healing is based on electro therapies that target the peripheral nervous system to promote self-healing, reduce dependence on traditional medications, and provide new treatment options for illnesses.


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1 comments; last comment on 11/27/2014
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Taking a Toxin's Fingerprint Reveals Potential Hazards

Posted September 18, 2014 12:00 AM by IHS GlobalSpec eNewsletter

In an age of chemical biological warfare, hazardous spills, and terrorist threats, detecting the presence of toxic chemicals is a growing concern. The problem is that current detection methods can be slow and imprecise. Now, researchers in Scotland are developing a portable laser device that can rapidly identify a hazardous substance. The technology uses lasers that pulse light lasting less than one millionth of one millionth of a second to read a chemical's 'color fingerprint' and detect whether it's toxic or not.


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5 comments; last comment on 09/22/2014
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North America Tops in Biopolymers

Posted May 19, 2014 12:00 AM by IHS GlobalSpec eNewsletter

The market for biopolymers - those containing material produced from renewable sources - is growing rapidly, driven largely by industrial demand in North America and Europe, with Asia following close behind. Currently, North America is the largest market for biopolymers, consuming more than one-third of total demand, according to a recently released market research report. Packaging is the largest application, representing more than 57% of demand. The most common biopolymer types are polyethylene, polyethylene terephthalate, and polylactic acid.


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1 comments; last comment on 05/20/2014
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Regulators Unprepared for Nanotech Risks?

Posted April 16, 2014 12:00 AM by IHS GlobalSpec eNewsletter

Are regulators prepared for the potential risks posed by nanotechnology? According to a survey by universities in the U.S. and Canada, the answer is no. Survey respondents who viewed the risks of nanotechnology as new territory - including nano-scientists and engineers, environmental health and safety scientists, and regulators - tended to have the least trust in regulatory mechanisms to manage the potential risks. In fact, representatives of regulatory agencies themselves felt most strongly that they were ill-prepared to deal with nanotechnology.


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3 comments; last comment on 04/23/2014
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Chemical Imaging Brings Faster Tissue Analysis

Posted March 18, 2014 12:00 PM by IHS GlobalSpec eNewsletter

Examination of a living tissue, or biopsy, is often the best way to determine the existence or extent of a disease such as cancer. The downside is that it can take weeks to obtain a final result - time that is critical to a patient getting proper treatment. Now, researchers have developed a new method of chemical imaging analysis that is far less time consuming and can provide more detailed information than standard histological tests. The new test will enable physicians to more quickly determine the best treatment.


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The Popularity And Place Of Ethylene Oxide In The Global Medical Industry

Posted October 19, 2013 12:00 AM by CR4 Guest Author
Pathfinder Tags: ethylene oxide

Ethylene Oxide (EtO) has become very common over the years as a portable and effective sterilising agent. It is essential to understand what it is, how it works and what its particular place is in the global medical industry.

Sterilising Agent

At one time, heat sterilisation was the only available method, but technological advancements have brought a host of new options, including EtO. Ethylene Oxide is a colourless gas that has a wide range of industrial uses from textiles to detergents and solvents. The U.S. military was first to use it as a sterilising agent in the 1940s, and it made the transition to civilian hospitals in the late 1950s. In the 1960s, a process was invented by Harold Andersen that used a gas diffusion method, requiring less EtO than previous methods. Small ampoules and plastic bags took the place of large chambers.

This process, called the Anprolene system, has proved to be an important advancement, as the need for sterilisation has increased greatly over the years. The rise in the number of surgeries being performed and an aging population are contributing factors to the growing need. Having more options and available technologies to meet that need is of tremendous importance.

Advantages of EtO

One of the advantages of EtO is that it is particularly effective in sterilising instruments and objects that are sensitive to high temperatures, such as those that use plastic packaging or that contain delicate electronics or optics. EtO can penetrate thin surfaces well, such as cloth, paper and even plastic films, enabling it to kill microbes in hard-to-reach places. EtO is lethal to all known forms of bacterial, viral and fungal life, though some require longer exposure time than others.

EtO sterilisation works by attaching to hydrogen molecules, which prevents necessary functions for sustaining life, disrupting DNA and protein reactions. With enough EtO present, these disruptions become fatal to microbial life.

Risks and Safety Measures

There is some degree of debate in the medical community about the widespread use of EtO, because direct exposure can have toxic effects on humans. Consequently, taking steps to protect personnel from coming into contact is essential. EtO is also flammable, so proper precautions must be put in place to avoid accidental ignition. However, with the right equipment and precautions, safety risks are minimal. Air scanning and EtO detection units can be used to prevent accidental overexposure. However, because of potential dangers, it has become more common for companies to contract out to specialists rather than perform the sterilisations themselves.

Continued Popularity

Nowadays, the Anprolene system uses a small EtO cartridge and a flexible chamber for sterilisation. This addresses concerns about environmental impact by using a small dose. It is a highly portable system, which makes it a popular choice among hospitals and clinics. It also has been a popular alternative for medical equipment manufacturers. Varying sizes of sterilisers mean it can handle small or large quantities. Despite the ongoing debate about safety risks as well as tightening restrictions in certain places, EtO continues to be a popular choice in North America, Europe and Asia because of its effectiveness.

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Editor's Note: Ashley Mooney is the Managing Director at Andersen Products, a company which has been providing Europe and the USA with Ethylene Oxide sterilisation solutions since the 1950s.

7 comments; last comment on 03/31/2014
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