News from Notch Consulting, Inc.

February 26, 2008

Miracle 1: A Self-Healing Rubber

Filed under: General — Notch @ 10:46 pm

From Scientific American, word of a new “self-healing” rubber that can be cut and rejoined at the same spot simply by pressing the broken parts together.

The material’s secret is its molecular structure, which resembles a plate of spaghetti, says physicist Ludwik Leibler of the National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) in Paris, who led the research team. The strands straighten out when pulled, but they relax back to their tangled shape when the tension is released. The result is a rubber that can stretch to six times its resting length, the group reports in the journal Nature.

The self-mending occurs because each strand consists of numerous small molecules of vegetable fat linked to each other and to far-flung neighbors via relatively weak hydrogen bonds, the same chemical bonds that give water molecules their cohesiveness. When the material was cut or ripped, the severed bonds remained chemically sticky for each other.

Potential applications include sealants, pavement, and medical pouches. No word yet on self-sealing tires. Arkema is working on scaling up production for more research.

Sid Rich Big Spring Back to Full Production This Week

Filed under: Carbon Black — Notch @ 9:27 am

On February 18, there was a major fire at Alon USA’s refinery in Big Spring, Texas. There were no fatalities in the fire, but four workers were injured. The entire refinery will be shut down for repairs for at least two months, and the FCC unit may be down longer than that. Here is another article detailing the fire.

Alon supplied about half of the CBO requirements for Sid Richardson’s Big Spring carbon black plant. Sid Richardson reports that its carbon black plant was not damaged by the fire, but it was operating at half capacity until new oil sourcing could be arranged. Sources at Sid Richardson now report that the Big Spring plant will return to full production levels this week. The company reports that with existing inventory and half production, no shipments were missed.

RAG-Stiftung’s Plan for Evonik: Sell 25% to Direct Investor, Offer 50% in IPO, Retain 25%

Filed under: Carbon Black, General, Silica — Notch @ 8:55 am

RAG-Stiftung has clarified its plans regarding Evonik Industries’ pending IPO, according to Forbes. Earlier this week, it was reported that RAG had scrapped plans for an IPO and was seeking a direct buyer for the entire company. However, the company’s by-laws do not allow for a complete sale. Instead, RAG-Stiftung plans to sell a 25% stake in Evonik Industries to a financial investor. Possible investors whom RAG plans to approach include Permira, BC Partners, KKR, Bain Capital, and Blackstone. In a second step, 50% of the company’s stock would be solid in an IPO no sooner than 2009. RAG-Stiftung would retain a blocking minority stake of 25%.

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