HANGZHOU-Sinochem Group, the State-owned chemicals giant, has identified "green development" as a key strategic focus to achieve economic benefits and shoulder more social responsibility, according to Liu Deshu, the company's president.
The 60-year-old chemicals-to-energy conglomerate has formed a complete industrial chain covering the development, production, marketing and distribution of fluorite and hydrofluoric resources.
Its subsidiary, Sinochem Lantian Co Ltd, also serves as the sole national lab to support the research and development (R&D) of replacements for ozone-depleting substances (ODS).
The company has seen robust growth. Last year, sales hit 335.3 billion yuan ($53 billion), a rise of 38 percent year-on-year. Net profit reached 9.1 billion yuan, a rise of 48 percent compared with the previous year.
The company has designed and manufactured 10 ODS substitutes, with HFC-134a - a key compound in auto air-conditioning systems - netting a majority market share and profits of more than 1 billion yuan.
"The total volume of ODS replacements manufactured by Sinochem has reached 60,000 tons, around 30 percent of the national capacity. They have reduced ODS in China by at least 300,000 tons," said Ren Jiangang, chief engineer of Sinochem Lantian.
The R&D process spanned more than a decade, said Zhang Jianjun, vice-manager of the research center at Sinochem Lantian.
"The original purpose was to reduce China's reliance on overseas companies and ensure the supply of this critical material for the domestic market," Zhang said.
Sinochem's alternatives have also been gaining recognition and achieving international standards.
The company currently holds more than 40 national patents, has established two national standards and has won a number of awards, including one from the United Nations Environment Program.
Liu said the company took the initiative in technological innovation by embracing the "green" concept. "We are able to have industrial influence and good economic returns," he said.
For instance, one of the company's major chemical industrial parks in Taicang in Jiangsu province has recouped its initial capital outlay after just five years of operation.
As the largest plant producing HFC-134a, it is expected to post revenue of 1.39 billion yuan in 2011, three times that of 2008.
According to Ren, the research team developed a new catalyst that helped increase the company's annual production capacity of HFC-134a by 10 percent, making its production costs the lowest within the industry.
"Through continuous innovation and technological breakthroughs, we want to make our voices heard on the global level and expect a Chinese standard to be widely accepted," Zhang said.
(Source: China Daily 12/23/2011 page16)