April 25, 2011

BOT Road Projects in Vietnam - an update

BOT Projects Delivers very bad Quality Results in Vietnam

With comprehensive regulations lacking for the upkeep of roads and other infrastructure built under build-operate-transfer (BOT) and other contracts, investors fail to maintain them, and stakeholders are urging the Ministry of Transport to create a legal framework to resolve this problem.

According to the ministry's Department of Planning and Investment, there are 29 BOT works with a total investment of VND138.8 trillion (US$6.6 billion) in the country, many of which are already operational.

Nguyen Ngoc Long, vice chairman of the Viet Nam Bridge and Road Association (VBRA), which consults on transport infrastructure, said many BOT investors were not willing to spend money on upgrading and maintaining them.

All they worry about was recouping their investment as soon as possible, he said.

Between 70 per cent and 80 per cent of large BOT projects, mostly roads and bridges, had switched to other business models after becoming operational.

For instance, Binh Trieu bridge connecting Binh Thanh and Thu Duc Districts is a BOT project but due to the inconvenience of collecting tolls at a city gateway, the municipal authorities had to take it over from the investor.

Tran Quoc Toan, deputy head of the Ministry of Transport's Department of Road and Bridge Infrastructure, said many developers of BOT works did not even make plans to maintain them once they were in use.

He blamed this on the fact that BOT contracts have no stipulations on upgrades or maintenance once they are in use.

They just said vaguely that investors should "upgrade or maintain roads and bridges after five or 10 years", and were silent on penalties for failure, he said.

Nguyen Duc Thang, head of the Department of Roads, said most operational BOT projects were of extremely poor quality. Worse still, many bridges and roads developed problems even while they were still under construction, but no one was penalised, he added.

VBRA's Long called on the Ministry of Transport to check the effectiveness of all BOT projects in the country to manage them better and ensure.

Source - http://vietnamnews.vnagency.com.vn/Economy/210642/Ministry-urged-to-revamp-road-contracts.html

April 23, 2011

Russian Poor Quality Bitumen- Cement an Alternative

As the Russian refineries are century old and the specification of russian bitumen vastly differs from their peers around the world, Russia is at crossroads.

There is no agreement of opinion for the origin of the popular saying: "there are two problems in Russia - fools and roads". Yet most people agree on that and add that poor-quality roads come as a consequence of the first problem.

However, Russian Transport Minister dares to break the established pattern: asphalt on the roads is to be replaced by concrete.

Russia does not produce asphalt of proper quality, admits Igor Levitin to Rossia 24, then Russia should either improve the quality of bitumen or take up cement concrete for road construction.

Concrete roads are cheaper. Stepping away from traditional bitumen will significantly curtail construction costs, says Nikita Krichevsky, Dr.of Economics and chairman of Opora Rossii expert council, to Izvestia: The most expensive part of the road is the base layer. Using reinforced concrete plates as the base material will decrease the costs by 8 times, he says.

Nonetheless, some experts doubt the success of new construction material. Asphalt solution is a funds cornucopia for construction slackers who steadily get their "pork" money from different state-owned appropriations. The road repair seems to be a non-stop process revived after each winter period. In 2011, Russia is to repair 5,500 km of federal roads.

According to the analysis of World Bank, roads repair in Russia is quite a wasteful business: $27,000-$55,000 for 1 km of the road surface. In comparison to that, Finland (the country of alike climate conditions) spends a bit over $9,000 per 1 km. Trying to find the cause of this costs discrepancy, the bank's experts suggested that "factors contributing to high costs of maintaining roads in Russia are likely to come from insufficient competition in the road industry, as well as leakage of funds and corruption".


April 20, 2011

Sell Bitumen to whoever pays the right Price....

Conservative candidate Ryan Hastman is being both offensive and untruthful when he suggests that the federal Conservatives are the only party that can be trusted with the future of the oil sands, says the Alberta Federation of Labour, which represents thousands of Alberta energy sector workers.

"The Conservatives have dropped their promise to stop raw bitumen exports to countries with lower environmental standards than Canada," says AFL president Gil McGowan. "We can only assume that they're now OK with exporting unprocessed bitumen, and the value-added jobs that go along with upgrading, to countries like India and China."

In response to media reports quoting Hastman declaring that only a Conservative government can protect Alberta jobs, McGowan sent him a letter reminding him of his party's backsliding on the issue of unprocessed bitumen exports (http://www.afl.org/index.php/Reports/2011-april-19-letter-to-ryan-hastman.html ).

In his letter to Hastman, McGowan noted that Minister of Natural Resources Christian Paradis recently travelled to the Unites States to lobby the Obama administration to approve the Keystone XL Pipeline. If approved, this pipeline would export hundreds of thousands of barrels of diluted bitumen south. Exporting that bitumen before it is upgraded will create thousands of jobs in the U.S., but only a few here at home.

"As an Alberta labour leader whose job it is to defend the interests of working people in the province, I'm frankly offended when Hastman and other Conservative hopefuls talk about jobs in the oil sands when their party's own policies are sending those jobs down the pipeline to places like the U.S. and perhaps China," says McGowan.

"I'm also offended when they suggest that anyone who questions the energy industry's "rip-it-and-ship-it" approach to development is somehow anti-oil sands," adds McGowan.

"The truth is that the vast majority of Albertans want to see development in the oil sands proceed: but they want to see that development done in a way that is as environmentally sustainable as possible and in a way that creates as many good jobs for Albertans as possible. I'm frankly tired of people like Hastman saying that everyone who doesn't parrot the line put forward by big energy companies is somehow un-Albertan. This kind of bully-boy politics just has to stop."

McGowan concluded his letter by congratulating the NDP for developing a more nuanced policy on the oil sands -- one that mirrors public concerns in Alberta about environmentally responsible development and Alberta-based job creation.

"The NDP has come a long way on their approach to the oil sands," says McGowan. "And they've done that by listening to Albertans and people who actually live and work here. Hastman should try that sometime."

Source -http://www.newswire.ca/en/releases/archive/April2011/19/c5531.html

April 16, 2011

Plastics Takes a Vital Role with Bitumen for Roads

Nine years after its introduction, plastic-tar roads — where the material used for laying roads is a mix of plastic waste, in specific percentage, along with bitumen — it seems, has become the BBMP’s nom-de-rigueur for road works.

The road adjacent to the TV tower, near Palace Grounds, was among the first roads to be repaired using this methodology. Lokesh M, executive engineer, Rajarajeshwari Nagar, BBMP, explains: “Up to 8 per cent of bitumen can be substituted with plastic. The plastic is shredded and mixed with bitumen at 150 degrees Celsius.”

He adds that the resultant mix offers good binding, necessary if the roads are to have longer life, and by extension, lesser maintenance, as the resultant mix is impervious to water. “Any item with even a hint of plastic, including toffee wrappers and Kurkure packets, and of any thickness is used [for laying roads],” says Rasool Khan, managing director, K K Plastics. Khan and his brother, Ahmed Khan, had experimented with the idea, during its conceptual stages, for repairing a few roads in Jayanagar.

Emboldened by the success, the duo sought help from research institutes to verify their claim, and subsequently approached the BBMP with the idea. On a daily basis, K K Plastics handles a total of 4-5 tonnes of waste, which after processing — segregation, cleaning and shredding — yields about 2 tonnes of useful plastic. “We purchase plastic waste from pourakarmikas at `6 per kg and also collect it from apartment blocks in the city regularly,” Khan said.

For every kilometre of roads laid, an average of 1.6 tonnes of plastic is used. K K Plastics has entered into an MoU with the BBMP for supplying the plastic content for our roads, which they term as ‘K K Polyblend’. Echoing Khan’s views, K T Nagaraj, Superintendent Engineer, Major Roads, BBMP, adds: “This results in a two-fold benefit: good roads and lesser garbage.” Although the BBMP has not conducted studies to ascertain the durability of such roads, Nagaraj asserts that they last longer, provided they are not dug up. Khan avers: “If you may have noticed, garbage on our streets has more or less vanished.”

By Rajagopalan .V

Source- http://expressbuzz.com/cities/bangalore/a-compelling-reason-to-use-more-plastic/265906.html

April 13, 2011

Oil from Bitumen - Vice Versa

All these days, the industry was busy extracting bitumen from the Oil Sands and now the other way round. Oil from Bitumen and this also happens in Canada, where the largest Oil Sands deposit are sitting ... Pls read the full story.

GreenCentre Canada, a green chemistry incubator located at Queen’s University in Kingston Ontario has spun out a new company, called Switchable Solutions. Switchable Solutions is trying to commercialize a new type of industrial solvent invented by the University’s researchers.

Switchable Solutions Logo. Click image for the largest view.

This is not your usual chemistry solvent. Ready? The new chemical mixes with oil in one phase, then when you inject carbonated water into the mix the carbon dioxide reacts with the solvent and presto, the solvent doesn’t like mixing with oil anymore. Now in the second phase, it prefers to mix with water. To separate the solvent from water for recycling the solvent, simply bubble in regular air and the two fluids separate. Way to easy.

Dominik Wechsler, chief product scientist at Switchable Solutions, says, “It’s all done at room temperature.”

Now if you’re trying to extract the oil from bitumen or other natural biomass or even from synthetic products, a lot of process heat is needed, which means lots of natural gas, coal or oil is used. Getting to room temperature from the chills of Canada is much easier than getting to process heat like dry steam past 600ยบ.

Dr. Philip Jessop GreenCentreCanada. Click image for the largest view.

Dr. Philip Jessop, the Queen’s university professor who discovered the chemicals explains calling them switchable hydrophilicity solvents. That is to say the chemicals can be easily manipulated to become soluble in water or non-soluble in water depending on how much CO2 is introduced or taken away.

Solvents, many of which are toxic, often highly volatile chemicals create considerable environmental risks. That would be why Jessop’s invention was named one of the Top 20 chemistry breakthroughs in Canada in the past 100 years.

In North America, the market for solvents is roughly $20 billion annually. Industry and people rely heavily on organic solvents in many industrial processes and applications. The short familiar list includes using acetone to remove glue or fingernail polish, hexane, also a neurotoxin, is used to remove stains, dichloromethane is used to remove paint and carbon tetrachloride isn’t even available to consumers its so dangerous.

GreenCentreCanada Tour. Click image for the largest view.

For the most part solvents are used for separating oils from non-oily substances. In the controversial Canadian Oil Sands the main separation method is to burn huge quantities of natural gas to give the oil-laden sand a steam bath. Producers are experimenting with volatile solvents such as butane as a way to remove the sticky bitumen from sand. If these new phase change chemicals can work at scale major problems involving oil extraction in Canada will be laid to rest.

An unappetizing fact is producers use hexane to extract oils from soybeans, flax seeds and even algae. Removing the hexane or many other solvents from the bio oil requires energy-intensive heating for distillation resulting in a some volume of the solvent escaping as vapor that is difficult to collect and can contribute to air pollution.

How the new chemical process works is simple. Mix it with the bitumen or your biomass and it strips the oil free. Add water to the dissolved potpourri of oil, sand or bio matter, introduce CO2 and the solvent mixes with the water instead, leaving a neat layer of oil on top to drain off.

Then to separate the solvent from the water, simply bubble in air. The water and solvent can then be used over and over again to remove oils from the other impurities. There’s less need to burn natural gas for process heat other than to get to room temperature and no need to create toxic tailing ponds, distillation facilities, or air purification systems.

Wechsler knows the Canadians are on to something big saying, “It’s pretty much a closed-loop system. At the moment we’re still doing lab experiments, but we’re looking for a partner in the oil sands community to move this product forward.” Chances are he’ll get a very welcome meeting when the lab work shows how to build and run a pilot facility.

That’s not all. The chemical also is a solvent for the Dow Chemical trademarked Styrofoam or common polystyrene. This stuff is ubiquitous, and everywhere. From food bottles and shopping bags to foam packing peanuts the whole world piles up tons of this light and still (think cubic kilometers) bulky material, mostly in landfills.

The switchable hydrophilicity solvents dissolve the polystyrene, after which a low-heat filtering process removes food residue and other solid contaminants. What’s left behind is a pure polystyrene powder that can be turned into new products again.

If your sick of collecting other folks bags and bottles and other plastic junk littering the world, it looks now like recycling can work very well indeed on one of the handiest and problematic plastics in history.

This is great, great news.

Source- http://newenergyandfuel.com/http:/newenergyandfuel/com/2011/04/12/a-new-way-to-extract-oil-from-bitumen-and-bio-matter/

April 11, 2011

Oman Receives Bulk Bitumen

SALALAH -- MT Rumela, a 69 metres bulk carrier, made its maiden call at Port of Salalah delivering 1,000 MT of bitumen (liquid bulk ) to Bitumen National Co. The bitumen will be used for road asphalt. Hatim Fadhil, Senior Operations Manager of Port of Salalah General Cargo Terminal said: "We are delighted to welcome the first bitumen vessel to Salalah.

The General Cargo Terminal is responsible for imports and exports not just for Salalah but the nation as a whole and volumes have grown by double digits every year for almost a decade which serves to demonstrate that Salalah's excellent geographical location is well suited to grow all types of industry and cargo types well into the future."

The Port of Salalah is Oman's leading and busiest port. In 2010 the port handled 3.5 million TEU (Twenty Foot Container Equivalent Units) and 6.3 million tonnes of bulk and general cargo. The General Cargo Terminal is currently under expansion with 1.8 kilometres of multi-purpose berths with depths of up to 18m to serve the growing national economy.

Source - http://www.zawya.com/story.cfm/sidZAWYA20110409053434