Published: Sunday 15 February 1998

catalytic converter plant: UK-based Johnson Mathey has recently entered into an agreement with Calcutta's Arora Group for setting up a catalytic converter plant in Delhi. The company would investUS $1.5 million for the project. The new facility is expected to be operational by third quarter of 1998. The Delhi plant would be completed in two phases. In the first phase, the plant would produce five lakh catalytic converters for four-wheelers and 1.5 million catalytic converters for two- and three-wheelers. Production is expected to commence by the year 2000.

bio-degradable plastic: The National Research Development Corporation (NRDC) is expected to introduce bio-degradable plastic by end-1998. General manager of NRDC, D K Bhardwaj, says that the plastic could be obtained by combining starch and low-density polyethy-lene (LDPE). The plastic, of "adequate mechanical strength", will require only two months under soil burial for complete degradation. Granules comprising 10 per cent to 40 per cent of starch and LDPE and a "binding agent" are used to make these new bio-degradable plastic sheets.

'green' three-wheelers: Scooters India Limited has developed a prototype electric three-wheeler. The company has claimed that the three-wheeler would be a zero-emission vehicle, and being battery-driven, it would produce almost no noise. According to A Sahay, chairman-cum-managing director of Scooters India, the company is planning to introduce two such vehicles -- Vikram EV three-wheeler, which would run on electricity, and the other that would run on petrol as well as propane orcompressed natural gas.

card for nature: Citibank and the World Wide Fund for Nature-India (WWFI) have launched the WWF-Citibank-Visa card that would help wildlife conservation efforts. Card holders will get benefits such as 10 per cent discounts on all WWFI products and invitations to WWFI's extensive range of activities including wildlife camps in India and abroad, and seminars and talks on environmental issues. Each time the card is used, Citibank will automatically donate a share of that retail transaction to conservation efforts in India.

hunt for methane: US-based Texaco Inc and China United CoalbedMethane Corporation will jointly develop a coalbed methane gas field in eastern China. The project, valued at around US $500 million, would set up the first facility for methane production using this method in China. At present, the country relies mostly on coal reserves to meet nearly 80 per cent of its energy needs. Texaco and China United Coalbed Methane corporation have planned to focus on exploring a 2,500 sq km site in the Huaibei region, nearly 640 km north of Shanghai. Chinese premier Li Peng had indicated that China needs cleaner forms of energy, especially natural gas such as methane.

mining treaty: Chile and Argentina have entered into an agreement to ease gold and copper mining along their mineral-rich border. After this agreement, Argentina's Minera Aguilar and Canada's Cambior Inc would be able to carry out a US $800 million project. Argentinian president Carlos Menem, and Eduardo Frei, president of Chile, signed a treaty that will allow companies to mine minerals in one country and process them in the other.

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