China News in brief
China selects fewer academicians
In their biennial elections in late December, the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) and Chinese Academy of Engineering (CAE) elected 29 and 33 new members respectively. This is the lowest number elected to the two academies since the 1990s, and follows calls to improve the rigor of academic appointments. CAS revised its rules for electing academicians in 2006, requiring approval from two thirds of the existing members in their disciplines rather than the half needed before. Meanwhile, CAE extended the period it allowed for comments on nominated candidates from 15 days to one month.
Six scientists were elected as CAS member from chemistry departments; their research areas range from organic chemistry to applied chemistry.
Dow pours US$500 million into China
Chemical giant Dow Chemical will invest US$500 million in China in the coming three years to create a global R&D centre and two factories in Shanghai, according to chief executive Andrew Liveris. With an expected 1600 employees, the R&D centre will be open in the latter half of 2008 in Zhangjiang Hi-tech Park (see Chemistry World: China, January 2008, p46). Estimated to cost US$250 million, the two factories will produce epoxy chloropropane and liquid epoxide resin from glycerol, with annual capacities of 150,000 tonnes and 100,000 tonnes respectively.
The huge investment is a result of Dow's booming business in China, which has seen an annual growth rate of more than 20 per cent and recorded US$2.7 billion sales in the country in 2006.
Chemist wins the highest S&T award
Min Enze, a renowned chemist at Sinopec, was awarded the 2007 Supreme National Science and Technology Prize on 8 January, together with the 91-year botanist Wu Zhengyi from the Chinese Academy of Sciences. Born in 1924, Min is a founder of China's modern refining technologies and he has developed a series of cracking catalysts to improve petroleum products' yields and qualities (see profile in Chemistry World: China, April 2007, p56).
In recent years, Min has researched green chemistry, developing biodiesel production and eliminating pollution in the refining process. Min and Wu were each awarded 5 million yuan (US$690,608) in the most honourable science award in the country, which has so far been given to 12 scientists since its debut in 2000.