Friday, December 8, 2023

Have a good weekend

This has been kind of a bonkers week, but that's all right. Almost all the way through it, and Friday looks to be (kind of) relaxing for me. I hope you had a good week, have a great weekend, and I'll see you on Monday. 

C&EN: "Nick Ishmael-Perkins will be the next editor in chief of C&EN"

From C&EN's Krystal Vasquez: 

Nick Ishmael-Perkins will be the next editor in chief of C&EN. Ishmael-Perkins is currently a senior consultant for the International Science Council and will move to the magazine in February 2024.

In his current position, Ishmael-Perkins focuses mostly on improving the public’s perception of science. For example, he helped produce an award-winning multimedia series that explores how to better communicate scientific discoveries. Earlier in his career, Ishmael-Perkins served as the director of SciDev.Net, an online news outlet that covers how science and technology can aid in global development. He has also worked as a journalist, media trainer, and project manager in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.

“We are proud to have a talented individual like Nick joining” the American Chemical Society, ACS CEO Albert G. Horvath says in a statement. “We’re excited about the vision, energy, leadership and expertise he brings to C&EN.” C&EN is published by ACS but is editorially independent.

I look forward to Ishmael-Perkins' leading of C&EN, and I hope that this is the beginning of a long and peaceful time for C&EN's staff, which has been through it for the past few years. 

Thursday, December 7, 2023

Job posting: Biotech Intellectual Property Patent Agent/Technical Specialist (NY/CA)

Via C&EN Jobs: 
Duane Morris seeks a biotech patent prosecution, opinion and counseling patent agent/technical specialist (Ph.D.) with 0-5 years of experience, for its San Diego or New York office. The successful candidate will hold an advanced degree (i.e., Ph.D.), from an accredited institution, in biochemistry, immunology, molecular biology or microbiology, and have experience practicing before the USPTO that is commensurate with the candidate’s years in practice. Additional appreciation of organic chemistry, and bioinformatics is desired. Candidate must be admitted (or have the ability to become admitted) to practice before the USPTO as a registered U.S. Patent Agent.

The target annual pay range for this role in San Diego is $140,000-$160,000. Actual pay will vary depending upon various factors, including relevant experience, skill-set, current business needs and market factors. The compensation range listed is just one component of Duane Morris' total comp package for employees, which, depending on the position, may also include discretionary bonuses and incentive packages, and firm-sponsored benefit programs.

The target annual pay range for this role in New York is $150,000-$170,000. Actual pay will vary depending upon various factors, including relevant experience, skill-set, current business needs and market factors. The compensation range listed is just one component of Duane Morris' total comp package for employees, which, depending on the position, may also include discretionary bonuses and incentive packages, and firm-sponsored benefit programs.

Full ad here. Best wishes to those interested.  

Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Dan Baldassarre is lying about my friends

I’m never surprised to read complaints about the teaching and learning of organic chemistry on Twitter. It is an evergreen topic to the point that I used to be amused about the complaints, and then I was offended by them and now I am merely saddened. 

However, this post on (the former) Twitter by Dan Baldassarre was a new low, because Professor Baldassarre is a current professor, and not simply a random medical student or recently graduated physician. 

Continually flabbergasted by organic chemistry professors who don't interrogate their course design despite half the students failing. The callous, inflexible, sink-or-swim culture around this course is so gross. If half your students regularly fail, you're not doing your job.

He had the unfortunate circumstance of having his tweet become quite popular. He doubled down with this: 

O chem profs getting together to celebrate failing half their students and preserving the holy sanctity of med school 

The accompanying gif is that of some odd folks dancing wildly. On being asked about it by Debbie Gale Mitchell (a friend, and a teaching professor of chemistry), he had this reply: 

I’m not referring to any one person, merely to the preponderance of such professors across the field. As evidenced by the replies and quotes, they are quite common. I don’t doubt there are systemic issues at play as well though.

There are three factual claims here: 

  1. The failure rate for organic chemistry students is 50% 
  2. Professors have created a “callous, inflexible, sink-or-swim culture” and are celebrating the failure of their students, and are directly or indirectly attempting to preserve med student quality. 
  3. Organic chemistry professors who celebrate the failure of such students are a “preponderance”, that is, a majority of organic professors are happy to see their students fail. 

What I like about Baldassarre claim 1 is that it’s immediately falsifiable. What I learned is that there is not a lot of data out there. A brief informal survey indicates that current DFW rates among professors is well below 30%; a cursory look at the chemical education literature indicates that rates at 50% are indeed documented (as far back as 1999, and as recently as 2008.). I have a strong sense that the recent rates at Professor Baldassarre’s own institution are not nearly so high - I wonder if he has investigated? Nevertheless, the data is equivocal. 

What I am much more bothered by is Professor Baldassarre’s second claim - that organic professors are genuinely happy to fail students, and this position is held by most organic professors. I count A LOT of organic chemistry professors as my friends. Over the years, I’ve seen that they genuinely want their students to learn, and care about their students learning the material. I have heard none of the hundreds of organic professors I’ve talked to over the years celebrate the failure of their students; rather, I hear these professors doing their best (contra Baldassarre) to learn, to care, to listen and meet their students where they are. What is even more specious about his tweet is that chemistry professors care a whit about medical school admissions. Rather, I have found organic professors to view the MCAT as a burden to be shouldered, when they have talked about it at all. 

It’s true, I'm biased. I was, for something like 20 years, a professional organic chemist, and even now, I work in industrial organic chemistry. I genuinely love my field. It's the chemistry of life and I think organic chemistry is the perfect synthesis of science and craft and art. I know that professional organic chemistry educators try to communicate that same love to their students, even the pre-meds. Organic chemistry education could always be better - but that’s not Dan Baldassarre’s claim. Rather, his claim is that my organic professor friends are uncaring sadists. He’s wrong, and I wish that he would stop lying about my friends.

Tuesday, December 5, 2023

The 2024 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List: 472 research/teaching positions and 49 teaching positions

The 2024 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List (curated by Andrew Spaeth and myself) has 472 research/teaching positions and 49 teaching positions

Want to help out? Here's a Google Form to enter positions.

To see trending, go to Andrew Spaeth's visualization of previous years' list.

On December 6, 2022, the 2023 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List had 530 research/teaching positions and 35 teaching-focused position.

Want to talk anonymously? Have an update on the status of a job search? Here's the first open thread. Here's a link to the current, second, open thread. 

Don't forget to click on "load more" below the comment box for the full thread. 

Job posting: NMR facility coordinator, Department of Chemistry, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM

From the inbox: 

Under general supervision, employs a broad knowledge of principles, practices, and procedures in a particular field of specialization to plan, coordinate, and conduct research.

  • Coordinates all activities in Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) facility, includes nitrogen and helium fills, billing, and maintenance of NMR instruments.
  • Lead, guide, and train staff/student employees, interns, and/or volunteers performing related work; may participate in the recruitment of volunteers, as appropriate to the area of operation of NMR instruments
  • Maintain and expand user list of NMR facility within and outside of UNM.
  • Plans, coordinates, and conducts scientific research requiring judgment in the independent evaluation, selection, and substantial adaptation and modification of standard scientific techniques related to NMR
  • Applies an analytical approach to the solution of a wide variety of problems or applies specialized techniques or ingenuity in selecting and evaluating approaches to unforeseen or novel problems related to NMR.
  • Demonstrates and applies thorough understanding of scientific methods, research protocols, assessment instruments, and data interpretation.
MS preferred. Full ad here. Best wishes to those interested. 

The Chemical Engineering Faculty Jobs List: 123 positions

The Chemical Engineering Faculty Jobs List has 123 positions. Find an error or have a question? Find an error? Contact @Heatherlec620 or @G_sribala. 

This is the link to the open thread. 

Monday, December 4, 2023

C&EN: Whither older NMRs

Great article by Celia Henry Arnaud in this week's C&EN about Varian NMRs, including this bit of speculation: 
While researchers deal with the practical ramifications of Agilent’s exit, WUSTL’s Hayes is considering the broader implications. “I think we might see changes, because what this has shown is that it’s like a single-point-of-failure model. We are now in a situation where hardware with very high capital equipment costs is purchased, only to learn that the company may choose not to be in this business within a year or two thereafter,” she says.

NMR instruments are unique in their longevity, Hayes notes. “In many cases we have been fortunate as a department to keep them for 20 or 30 years. So what do you do in terms of robust decision-making when the landscape for vendors of such equipment is so uncertain?”

Hayes predicts that in the next decade or two there could be a shift toward benchtop instruments for routine analysis in synthesis labs—both to avoid the large purchases and to circumvent difficulties with the helium market. But until then, she adds, “every research-oriented chemistry department needs an NMR—at least one, if not two.”

Is anyone actively moving towards benchtop NMRs in synthetic chemistry? I'd love to know if this is happening... 

C&EN: "Novo Nordisk to expand GLP-1 production in France"

In this week's C&EN, this news (article by Rick Mullin): 
Novo Nordisk will invest $2.3 billion to expand manufacturing at its plant in Chartres, France. The project includes finished-drug production for products based on a glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) agonist, semaglutide, the active ingredient in two of its blockbusters. Last month, the company announced a $6 billion expansion at its plant in Kalundborg, Denmark, which makes GLP-1 products. Novo Nordisk has been straining to keep up with demand for semaglutide. Its Weygovy, a weight loss drug, and Ozempic, for type 2 diabetes, booked sales of $4.5 billion in the third quarter, a 37% increase over the same period last year.

It will be fascinating to see the ripples of Wegovy/Ozempic through the industry... 

Friday, December 1, 2023

Have a great weekend

Well, this has been a bonkers week, but I'm almost through it. I hope that you had a calmer week than I did, and that you have a wonderful weekend. I am looking forward to spending it with my family. See you on Monday!

C&EN: ACC predicts a sluggish 2024

Via C&EN's Alex Tullo, this grim news:

The US chemical industry had a tough 2023, and next year it will have to weather a tougher economic climate, possibly even a downturn.

That was the message delivered by the American Chemistry Council, a chemical industry trade group, in its industry forecast on Nov. 28. The ACC estimates that the industry’s output, excluding pharmaceuticals, will decline by 1.0% in 2023. It predicts a modest turnaround to 1.5% growth next year.

“We saw weakness really emerge last year in the third quarter, and it’s continued through much of this year,” ACC chief economist Martha Gilchrist Moore told reporters on a conference call.

...For example, Moore pointed out, student loan repayments are starting up again, credit card debt defaults are increasing, and consumers have worked through much of the savings they accumulated during the pandemic.

After posting 2.3% growth in gross domestic product in 2023, the US will experience economic growth of only 1.1% in 2024, the ACC expects.

There is this weird aspect of the economy these days, where there is a lot of negative data from standard economic indicators, and yet it does not yet seem to have shown up in the unemployment numbers (which, I imagine, are a lagging and not a leading indicator.) I do not wish it to be so (for many reasons) but I am concerned that 2024 will be a worse hiring year for industrially-oriented chemists than 2023, but I don't really have a great sense of this. 

Thursday, November 30, 2023

Job posting: process analytical chemist, Thermo Fisher, Franklin, MA

Via C&EN Jobs: 

As a Process Analytical Chemist at Thermo Fisher, you will join a team of dedicated Scientists, Engineers and Technicians working together to accelerate research, solve complex scientific challenges and drive technological innovation in the fields of process chemistry and gas analysis! The successful candidate will have a deep understanding of analytical chemistry and instrumentation and an appreciation of how new technologies can support our efforts to detect and measure trace contaminants in a process gas stream and/or process emissions. In addition to driving development of innovative technologies, the Scientist will work closely with Marketing experts to be sure that new products meet both regulatory requirements and customer expectations.

What will you do?

  • Lead R&D innovation efforts toward development of gas analyzers using diverse technologies such as tunable diode laser absorption spectroscopy (TDLAS), cavity ringdown spectroscopy (CRDS), RAMAN spectroscopy, FTIR and others!
  • Plan and implement laboratory and field evaluations of sophisticated technologies acquired from outside parties, such as national laboratories and universities.
  • Collaborate with a multi-disciplinary R&D team, including mechanical, electronic and software engineers to help commercialize select technologies developed in our laboratories or acquired from other sources.
  • Provide technical input to the Product Management teams for better positioning of our technical solutions in the market.

Full ad here. Best wishes to those interested. 

Wednesday, November 29, 2023

C&EN: Warren Wilson College discontinues its chemistry major

This latest sad news from Chemical and Engineering News (article by Krystal Vasquez): 

Warren Wilson College, a liberal arts college in North Carolina, will eliminate its chemistry major next academic year. In addition, the college will discontinue majors in math, philosophy, history and political science, and global studies.

The cuts are the result of a “strategic planning process” spearheaded by the college’s new president, Damián Fernández. After starting in June, Fernández tasked the college with streamlining its academic portfolio to “reduce expenses in areas where we felt like that was necessary,” says Jay Roberts, the college’s provost.

Starting in fall 2024, Warren Wilson will no longer admit incoming students into the five majors. Students who are currently pursuing the majors will be offered the courses they need to graduate, Roberts says.

Eventually, however, the college intends to cut some of the more advanced courses that are offered as a part of the discontinued majors. For example, Langdon Martin, chair of Warren Wilson’s chemistry department, suspects that the school’s quantum chemistry class will be on the chopping block “since it’s been a course that hasn’t had much enrollment beyond chemists.”

It seems to me that the shrinking of smaller colleges will inevitably impact smaller colleges and their ability to support tenure lines, including chemistry.  

Tuesday, November 28, 2023

The 2024 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List: 461 research/teaching positions and 49 teaching positions

The 2024 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List (curated by Andrew Spaeth and myself) has 461 research/teaching positions and 49 teaching positions

Want to help out? Here's a Google Form to enter positions.

To see trending, go to Andrew Spaeth's visualization of previous years' list.

On November 29, 2022, the 2023 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List had 530 research/teaching positions and 35 teaching-focused position.

Want to talk anonymously? Have an update on the status of a job search? Here's the first open thread. Here's a link to the current, second, open thread. 

Don't forget to click on "load more" below the comment box for the full thread. 

Job posting: assistant professor, Department of Chemical Engineering & Applied Chemistry, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON

From the inbox: 
The Department of Chemical Engineering & Applied Chemistry in the Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering at the University of Toronto invites applications for up to two full-time tenure stream positions in Frontiers in Chemical Engineering and Applied Chemistry. The appointments will be at the rank of Assistant Professor, with an expected start date of July 1, 2024. 

 Applicants are expected to have a PhD degree in chemical engineering or a related area at the time of appointment or shortly thereafter, with a demonstrated record of excellence in research and teaching. We seek candidates whose research and teaching are at the frontiers of chemical, biochemical, environmental, or materials engineering or in applied chemistry/biochemistry, who complement and enhance our existing departmental strengths, and who impact foundational principles that integrate chemistry, biology and engineering to tackle the grand challenges facing our society in sustainability. 

The successful candidate will be expected to initiate and continuously lead an outstanding, independent, innovative, externally funded research program of international calibre, and teach in the chemical engineering curriculum at the undergraduate and post-graduate level. We will prioritize candidates who demonstrate the ability to sustain and lead innovative research that will advance the global frontiers of knowledge in the field of chemical engineering and applied chemistry (refer to the vision statement of the department at Collaborative and inter-disciplinary research and collegial interaction will be important elements in success. Eligibility to register as a Professional Engineer in Ontario is an asset.

Excellence in research is evidenced primarily by publications or forthcoming publications in leading, field-relevant journals or conferences, the submitted research statement, presentations at significant conferences, awards and accolades, and strong endorsements by referees of high standing.
Full ad is here. Best wishes to those interested. 

The Chemical Engineering Faculty Jobs List: 122 positions

 The Chemical Engineering Faculty Jobs List has 122 positions. Find an error or have a question? Find an error? Contact @Heatherlec620 or @G_sribala. 

This is the link to the open thread. 

Monday, November 27, 2023

C&EN: OSHA proposed penalties for PCI/Seqens

This update on the PCI Synthesis case (article by Rick Mullin): 

The US Occupational Safety and Health Administration has proposed nearly $300,000 in penalties for PolyCarbon Industries and its parent, the French firm Seqens, after an investigation indicated that an explosion at a PolyCarbon pharmaceutical chemical plant in Newburyport, Massachusetts, last May could have been prevented. The incident killed one worker, Jack O’Keefe, 62. OSHA cited 11 violations in its findings, including failure to determine the combustibility hazards of materials used in the process involved in the explosion. The incident was the third serious accident at the plant since 2020.

Here's some additional details from The Daily News of Newburyport: 

OSHA also found that Seqens/PCI Synthesis failed to: include safe upper and lower temperature limits to prevent the decomposition of Dekon 139; evaluate the consequences of deviation in the production process; establish written procedures to maintain the ongoing integrity of process equipment and provide clear instruction on consequences of deviation from steps in the operating procedures; update the process safety information to include steps to avoid consequences of deviation in temperature, properties and chemical hazards used in the process; update standard operating procedures for producing Dekon 139 and its safety data sheet; review a November 2022 compliance audit report with all affected personnel whose job tasks are relevant to the report findings; and track contract employees’ injuries and illnesses.

Hmmm, sounds like time to understand "Dekon 139" a little better for me...  

C&EN: "Tough times for Japan’s chemical makers"

Looks like the grim times aren't just in Germany, but are also in Japan (article by Katsumori Matsuoka): 

Japan’s three biggest chemical companies are seeing their earnings suffer from a slump in basic chemicals. All three experienced a sharp drop in profits in the first half of fiscal 2023, which ended Sept. 30, and one of them, Sumitomo Chemical, is forecasting a loss of $655 million for the full fiscal year.

For all three firms, petrochemical demand has declined due to the slow recovery of the Chinese economy and other factors. Sale prices have been slumping.

Sumitomo, the only Japanese chemical company with global petrochemical operations, posted a $306 million loss in its petrochemical division in the first half of the fiscal year due to poor performance at facilities in Japan, Singapore, and Saudi Arabia. In addition, the company’s pharmaceutical segment had a $451 million loss due to patent expiration for the antipsychotic drug Latuda. Its overall loss for the period was $666 million.

My old model of the chemical industry was that "bad times for the chemical industry portends bad news for the economy in general" but I guess I'm not really sure that the model holds as of late? Or holds for the US economy, anyway? 

Thursday, November 23, 2023

Happy Thanksgiving!

Every year, I am incredibly thankful for my family, my friends, my community (physical and online) and my job. This year, I'm thankful for my coworkers and I'm really looking forward to a fun and interesting next year. 

I am still incredibly thankful for you, my readers and commenters. Thank you for your reading, your advice, your e-mails and your brilliant, insightful comments. I am genuinely grateful and touched that you folks are still reading this tiny little corner of the internet, and I hope that I will continue to earn your readership. 

[An additional note: if you would ever like to meet for a cup of coffee or a beer, please reach out to my e-mail address. I hope to find myself in many different places in 2024, and I love to meet readers of the blog.] 

My family and I wish you a very happy Thanksgiving and if you're not in the United States, a happy Thursday and Friday! 

Wednesday, November 22, 2023

Did you learn about the Bhopal disaster?

Poster of "The Railway Men" 
Credit: Wikipedia
I'm spending more time on BlueSky these days, and less time on Twitter. I was struck by this question by a reporter the other day (undoubtedly brought on by the Netflix series "The Railway Men"): 

"Do people in the US still learn about the Bhopal disaster (in a not specialized course) or has it been memory holed?"

First, I want to quibble with the premise. As someone who basically remembers quite a bit about middle school and high school, I genuinely don't understand the concept of 'the memory hole' - we don't live in a world where facts are destroyed, so what do you mean? Do people mean "people forget about stuff" or do people mean "this fact that I think is important isn't talked about enough, in my opinion" or do people mean "this bit of news has been deliberately suppressed"? 

The other question is "what do you mean, 'learn (in a not specialized course)'"? We don't really have a place for learning about industrial disasters, other than history courses, and we don't really tend to cover industrial disasters in regular history courses, which tend to be about the formation of nation-states and the history of their governments. Chernobyl, for example, is a pretty grim instance of a Soviet-era industrial disaster, and the only place I could imagine seeing it in a US history course is in the "late Cold War" section as a part of the demise of the Soviet Union. While I consumed article after article in National Geographic about Chernobyl, I imagine that the average high schooler these days gets about 10 minutes. 

Setting that aside, I noted that I felt like the Bhopal disaster gets talked about in organic chemistry. I feel like, but I don't exactly remember, that I learned about methyl isocyanate either in undergrad, but definitely in graduate school. I have become quite the enthusiast about the work product of the Chemical Safety Board, so I certainly remember watching the Bayer CropScience video, which also talked about Bhopal. I'm probably both the exact right person to make the query ('is our children learning about Bhopal?') and exactly the wrong person to answer the question. 

So, reader - some questions for you: 

  • How old are you? (You can be vague) 
  • Did you learn about the Bhopal incident? 
  • When did you learn about it? Random reading, or in a class? 
  • Did you learn about methyl isocyanate in organic chemistry? 
  • If you're a professor of chemistry, have you taught about Bhopal? If so, what do you say? 
Thanks for your help. 

Monday, November 20, 2023

C&EN: paper mill absconds with scholarly identities

In this week's Chemical and Engineering News, this fascinating story (article by Dalmeet Singh Chawla):

Earlier this year, Michael Fischer peer-reviewed a study for a journal, and the publication’s editor copied him on the decision letter and the reviewer reports. Then he came across something odd.

Fischer, a geoscientist at the University of Bremen, noticed that the referee report of another peer reviewer included a long list of suggested citations. Most of the recommended citations were for articles published by a single journal, Experimental and Theoretical Nanotechnology (ET Nano), whose website says it is published by the Arab Science and Technology Foundation.

Fischer had never heard of ET Nano and decided to check it out. “I was expecting it to basically be some kind of predatory journal” trying to unethically boost its reputation through unwarranted citations, he says.

But when Fischer began to look at ET Nano’s published papers, he was surprised to find that they were authored by prominent and well-known researchers from across the world. He found this strange, given the journal’s relative obscurity. In addition, some researchers weren’t at the universities the journal said they were....

...After seeing papers authored by some legitimate and some nonexistent researchers, Fischer decided to reach out to authors he knew to be real. Most of the academics who responded told him the papers listing them as authors were not theirs and that they had never heard of ET Nano. Many of the researchers were also listed as members of its editorial advisory board.

“The papers didn’t seem to match their research profile at all,” Fischer says. “Also, they were often not well written or contained really low-quality figures, which were of very poor resolution.”

I don't really understand what paper mills really do (other than shovel loads of low-quality papers onto the internet.) It seems to me these journals seem to exist solely to collect publication fees from scholars from developing countries whose insitutions really care about publication count? What a strange world we live in. 

Reuters: German medicines regulator considering export ban on Ozempic

Via Reuters: 

FRANKFURT, Nov 15 (Reuters) - German regulator BfArM is considering banning Ozempic exports as Europe's health systems grapple with shortage of the diabetes drug, which is in high demand for its weight-loss benefits.

Use of Novo Nordisk's (NOVOb.CO) Ozempic for weight loss has caused shortages across Europe, where Britain and Belgium have temporarily banned its use for weight loss to secure availability for diabetics.

Novo's launch of anti-obesity drug Wegovy, a high dose version of Ozempic, in Britain, Germany, Norway and Denmark, has so far done little to temper the craze for Ozempic as volumes of Wegovy have been limited due to production bottlenecks... 

...BfArM's Broich said some Ozempic was being moved out of the country because it is cheaper there than elsewhere, and demand was driven by use for weight loss.

Broich cautioned that export restrictions can only be rarely used and legal hurdles were high because of the European Union's single market.

Nothing has stopped me from being convinced that Novo Nordisk badly underestimated demand for Ozempic and failed to ramp up manufacturing sufficiently to meet both current and future demand. It will be interesting to watch the race between Novo and Lilly to see who will ultimately capture the most market share for GLP-1 drugs.  

Chemicals plant in Louisiana to receive government funds to retool for battery chemical manufacture

Via the Louisiana Illuminator (a non-profit news website) this news:
ST. GABRIEL — A chemical plant in Louisiana that faced possible downsizing or even closure is now expanding to become America’s first domestic manufacturer of critical lithium battery materials thanks to new federal infrastructure investments.

Koura Global, which has a plant that makes fluorine refrigerants at its facility just south of Baton Rouge, will retrofit its facilities to manufacture lithium hexafluorophosphate (LiPF6), a primary component in lithium-ion batteries. At full capacity, the plant will produce enough of the chemical to make more than a million electric vehicle (EV) batteries a year.  

U.S. Rep Troy Carter, D-Louisiana, who represents the 2nd Congressional District between New Orleans and Baton Rouge, told Koura’s employees Friday that their work will address a “critical gap in our domestic supply chain” for lithium-ion batteries.

The plant currently manufactures a fluorine refrigerant that is being replaced with a more environmentally friendly chemical. Koura will retrofit its current operations to produce the new refrigerant, but a $100 million U.S. Department of Energy grant will allow the company to construct new facilities at the plant to pivot into the battery industry, according to Koura executive Erick Comeaux.

The grant is one of thousands made available under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law that President Joe Biden ushered through Congress in 2021. Also known as the Infrastructure and Investment Jobs Act (IIJA), the plan is the country’s largest federal infrastructure investment in decades. It includes money for investments in domestic manufacturing, transportation, energy, drinking water systems, environmental remediation and broadband internet expansion, among other things.

It sure feels like the number of active fluorochemical manufacturers isn't growing in the US, so this is a clever shift. Here's hoping it works out for them.