The Dow Chemical Company is a multinational corporation that has its headquarters in the United States. Since 2007, it has been the second largest manufacturer of chemicals around the world by revenue, and since 2009 Dow Chemical has been listed as the third largest chemical company by market capitalization around the world. Dow Chemical provides chemicals, plastics, and various agricultural goods to over 175 countries. Although Dow Chemical’s environmental record has some spots on it, it is trying to do what it can to be greener and reduce carbon footprints.
1) Dow Sustainability Innovation Student Challenge. Dow Chemical selected six universities from around the world in 2011 – Cambridge University, Northwestern University, Peking University, Tufts University, University of Michigan, and the University of Sao Paolo) to compete in the Dow Sustainability Innovation Student Challenge. This challenge recognizes university students and rewards them for innovation and research done into sustainable solutions addressing some of the top economic, social, and environmental problems. This challenge was established by Dow to promote and encourage forward thinking in areas of environmental and social responsibility. The award acknowledges the commitment, energy, and enthusiasm the students have, as well as their professors, in supporting sustainable effort innovations.
2) Dow Partnership with Solazyme for Algae Chemical. Dow recently partnered with algae startup company Solazyme to create an alagae-based insulation fuel to bathe transformers. This new product will replace the dielectric insulating fluid used as insulation for transformers from electricity and heat. Normally, this insulation is made of petroleum, however Solazyme’s new various with algae is optimized for viscosity and oxidation point. Dow plans on purchasing 20 million gallons of this new fluid by 2013 and up to 60 million gallons by 2015.
3) Dow Teams up with Algenol for Algae Fuel Plant. Dow Chemicals and Algenol Biofuels in 2009 partnered up to build a demonstration plant in Freeport, Texas that will house 3,100 bioreactors able to produce approximately 100,000 gallons of ethanol annually. Algenol Biofuels is a Florida-based business using carbon dioxide from power plants to grow algae that will be used to make ethanol. Dow Chemical is going to provide all the plastic material needed to make the bioreactors. Dow is very interested in how Algenol Biofuels’ algae technology as they want to learn how to used the produced ethanol as an ingredient in manufacturing plastic rather than natural gas.
4) University Labs Get Assistance from Dow. In 2007 Dow Chemical provided University of California at Berkeley’s Business School and College of Chemistry with an initial $2 million financing grant for the creation of a new Sustainable Products and Solutions Program. The Berkeley schools cite that this new program is aimed at looking at various sustainability issues that involve science, society, environment, engineering, and finance.
5) New Chemical Coating from Dow Increases Speed of Solar Assembly Line. Dow Chemical is known for making the silicone coating protection solar panels launched in space that prevent them from becoming disintegrated under the sun. The film is extremely transparent and helps solar panels remain in outer space for a longer period of time and work at high efficiency levels. Now, the silicone coating will be used on earth to speed up factor production.
6) Dow Puts $100 Million Aside for Energy Efficiency. In February of 2011, Dow Chemical made the announcement to dedicate $100 million towards clean technology investments. The money is going to spread over a variety of projects that make the best case for investments in to their innovation that will reduce energy consumption and/or greenhouse gas emissions. At the time of the initial announcements, over 60 projects had already contacted Dow to seek funding. All the projects selected will have the potential to save $500 million and reduce approximately 400,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions.
7) Dow Powers Brazilian Factory with Biomass Energy. In late 2010 Dow Chemical started plans to power their manufacturing facility in Brazil, known as the Aratu Complex. The power will come from biomass energy and is set to start by the end of 2012. The biomass used is going to source 75 percent of the entire plant’s energy requirements needs. The agreement was signed with Energias Renovaveis do Brasil to install and operate a biomass cogeneration plant that is going to use eucalyptus wood biomass for the production of steam for the complex’s chlor-alkali and chlyrorhydrin production. This project is expected to reduce the site’s total carbon dioxide emissions by 180,000 metric tons per year as well as conserve 200,000 cubic meters of natural gas per day.
8 ) BioPetroClean in Israel Partners with Dow for Wastewater Treatment Technology. BioPetroClean, an Israel-based clean technology startup company that specializes in biological wastewater treatment announced a new agreement with Dow Chemical. In the agreement, Dow is going to market the treatment system to refinery and produced water market in different regions. The system created by BioPetroClean is an innovative approach to the treatment of wastewater that will increase capacity and reliability, while, at the same time reduce operational costs.
9) Dow Launches New Business to Manufacture Battery Materials. Dow Chemical in 2010 started to launch a brand new business venture to manufacture different battery materials that are going to be used in the energy storage industry. The overall objective of Dow is to sell battery materials aimed at enabling rechargeable lithium ion battery manufactures in the automotive market to create batteries that will have an extended run time, increased operational life and power, and increased safety performance.
10) Dow Using Electric Vehicles. The Ford F150 pickup truck is getting an electric makeover to a plug-in hybrid version that will become part of the Dow Chemical fleet. The Dow Kokam manufacturing plant in Midland, Michigan, will not only manufacture car batteries, but those car batteries will power the new Ford hybrid trucks. According to Dow, these vehicles are going to make up five percent of the fleet. Dow Chemical is also working with Quantum Fuel Systems Technologies to supply drive trains that will also work with these batteries.
Article by Shawn Lesser, Co-founder & Managing Partner of Atlanta-based Watershed Capital Group – an investment bank assisting sustainable fund and companies raise capital, perform acquisitions, and in other strategic financial decisions. He is also a Co-founder of the GCCA Global Cleantech Cluster Association ”The Global Voice of Cleantech”. He writes for various cleantech publications and is known as the David Letterman of Cleantech for his “Top 10″ series. He can be reached at email@example.com