In an interaction with Industry Outlook, Krishnamurthy Cherukuri, CMD, Vishnu Chemicals Ltd. shares his views on the current state of the Indian chemical industry, advancements in the field of speciality chemicals, and how Indian chemical companies can optimize energy consumption and reduce costs.
How has the recent energy crisis in Europe affected the Indian chemical industry?
Over the last 30 years, the European industry's share of the world chemical market has fallen from 36% to 15%. This has resulted from the huge increase in production and sales in emerging markets like India and China.
The European chemical industry is still a world leader and a highly innovative sector. With 90% of GDP growth taking place outside Europe in the coming decades, the challenge for the Indian chemical industry is to stay competitive and provide sustainable quality globally. The energy prices in Europe have gone back to their old levels.
What are some recent notable developments or advancements in the field of speciality chemicals, especially pertaining to chromium and barium compounds that have caught your attention?
The extent to which chromium chemicals and Barium Chemicals are used in the production of everyday items is astonishing. Our products are supplied to the pharmaceutical, consumer, and industrial industries.
Chromium Chemistry: From acting as a strong oxidant in pharmaceuticals to creating a shining and reflective surface in tiles and ceramics or the silver finish on faucets, towel holders, and hardware – door knobs, or handles, Chromium Chemicals add to the aesthetic appeal of any vehicle that gives a good feel. Be it the shining logo, stylish front grills, premium leather seats, or sturdy engines and pistons. Or be it colours, that don’t fade away!
The world's most complex manufacturing powerhouses use chromium chemicals to create super alloys, enabling jet engines to function in high-temperature, high-stress, and chemically oxidizing environments. In addition, it is further used in aircraft to protect seal components against galling, corrosion, and wear, which is catalyzing the growth of the industry.
Since the discovery of chrome ore in 1798, growing industrialization and urbanization have paved the way for new use cases for chromium chemicals. For instance, chromium chemicals are essential today to producing the super alloys needed for crucial applications in aerospace, defence, and land-based gas turbine industries, to name a few.
Barium Chemistry: There is an ongoing expansion plan to introduce ‘Precipitated Barium Sulphate’ with a capacity of 30,000 TPA which is expected to be commissioned by H1FY24. Globally renowned researchers have created the world’s whitest paint using this Barium chemical. This paint has entered the Guinness Book of World Records for its ability to reflect 98.1% of sunlight. Hence, it cools outdoor surfaces by more than 4.5 °C, thereby conserving energy and electricity. Climate change is a real thing today, and this innovation is path-breaking as it delivers results to your homes and offices in the most effective manner.
We are really excited about this development, as we ourselves are currently expanding to manufacture the best quality Precipitated Barium Sulphate under our Barium Chemicals portfolio. Our product is an inorganic compound and a high-purity, synthetic additive that is produced in a carefully controlled manufacturing process. And, it contains almost no impurities, and the whiteness is higher than that of natural barium sulphate. So it can be used as the filler for pure white powder coating, and the finish glossiness can reach 95 degrees.
What strategies have Indian chemical companies adopted to optimize energy consumption and reduce costs in light of the energy crisis?
By identifying energy-intensive processes and equipment, industries can implement energy optimization strategies, such as equipment upgrades, and process improvements. Not just energy, but Indian chemical companies should focus on research to convert waste into sellable materials. This would be a sustainable change in the true sense.
How does the incorporation of solar capacity projects in speciality chemical manufacturing facilities contribute to sustainability and safety?
The world has seen unprecedented growth in renewable energy in the past decade.
Electricity savings: Installing the solar power system at your factory or industrial premises will eliminate or reduce concerns related to electricity bills. How much you will save on the electricity bill will depend on the grid's electricity usage and the size of the solar power system. It also encourages the possibility of receiving payments for the surplus energy that you export back to the grid.
We are continuously adopting new techniques to minimize the environmental impact. Solar initiatives are being undertaken to use greener sources of energy wherever possible.