China News in brief



New rule to regulate toxic chemicals 

On 29 February, the Legislative Affairs Office of the State Council, China's cabinet, published a draft of the revised Regulations on the Use of Dangerous Chemicals  for public comment. Under the law, individuals will not be able to purchase any toxic chemicals except pesticides. Research institutions, hospitals or manufacturers that need to use toxic chemicals will have to apply for licenses from local governments. Companies that produce and sell toxic chemicals will be required to keep a record of chemical buyers' names, ID numbers and other information, as well as the amount and intended use of the toxic chemicals sold. The law requires records to be kept for at least one year and be registered with local police departments. The current regulations were released in 2002. Meanwhile, national standards to classify the toxicity and hazardousness of chemicals are set to be released soon. 

First non-grain fuel ethanol plant opens 

China Agri-Industries Holdings, a subsidiary of the agriculture giant COFCO, announced on 10 March that China's first non-grain fuel ethanol plant has been put into production by the company in south China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region. With an annual production capacity of 200,000 tonnes, the Guangxi plant will mainly produce fuel ethanol based on cassava. It is the fifth fuel ethanol plant to get the go-ahead from the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), China's energy watchdog. The other four, producing corn-based ethanol, are located in Henan, Jilin, Heilongjiang and Anhui provinces in north, northeast, and east China. Two of the four are controlled by COFCO. NDRC halted the approval of more corn-based ethanol plants in 2006 and banned foreign firms from investing in the area in September 2007 (Chemistry World: China,November 2007, pC2). 

Carbon capture deal 

Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) and Xi'an, Shaanxi province-based Thermal Power Research Institute (TPRI) signed a deal on 6 March to install and operate a post-combustion capture (PCC) pilot facility at the Huaneng Beijing Co-Generation Power Plant. PCC is a process that uses a liquid to capture carbon dioxide (CO2) from power station flue gases. It is expected to reduce CO2 emissions from coal-fired power stations by more than 85 per cent. The Huaneng facility is expected to capture 3000 tonnes of CO2 per year when it is completed in August 2008. The project will receive Aus$4 million (US$3.7 million) in grants from the Australian government, but how much China will invest is not known. China generates nearly 60 per cent of its power from coal, which is a major contributor to the country's rising CO2 emissions.