Anti-gasoline jihad makes key chemical scarce

March 11, 2009

The Financial Times reported this morning that,

The crisis in the car industry has led to a global shortage of a chemical solvent used for everything from checking the mould level in a chocolate bar to making sure a tablet of aspirin is safe.

The solvent, acetonitrile, is a by-product of the process used to make acrylic carpets and plastic parts for the car industry, and as demand for cars has plunged in the global financial crisis, so have supplies of acetonitrile.

That is alarming, say some observers, because the substance is used to break down products such as food or pharmaceuticals into their component parts to check their safety or efficacy, a process known as chromatography. “This is very serious,” said the head of procurement at a large European pharmaceuticals group. “If you cannot test products you cannot sell them.” And, “in many cases, you cannot even make them”.

What’s this got to do with the greens?

The looming-demise of the Big Three automakers can easily be traced back to the green choke-hold on our gasoline supply. The ongoing financial crisis has certainly intensified the Big Three’s problems, but rising gas prices was the root problem.

Steve Milloy discusses in his new book Green Hell: How Environmentalists Plan to Control Your Life and What You Can Do to Stop Them how green policies pose a threat to your safety and standard of living.

2 Responses to “Anti-gasoline jihad makes key chemical scarce”

  1. justbeau Says:

    Splendid clarification from dublds. It seemed unlikely reduced demand for carpets could trigger reduced supply of a solvent.

    The offender here is the Financial Times, which also publishes the Economist. The Economist has become a card-carrying member of the Global Warming fear brigade, so it would not surprise if its reporting on the chemical industry is weak-minded.

  2. dublds Says:

    Gotta disagree with Steve and the WSJ because, quite frankly, both are totally wrong, though there is a tie in to their points. Acetonitrile is a petroleum byproduct, and made and refined alongside many polymer products made for the auto industry. But there is no dependent relationship between supplies of one or another. However, where their supply lines do cross, is at the petroleum refineries where acetonitrile is refined alongside the precursors of common polymers. Many of these refineries lie along the Gulf coast, and as such sustained heavy damage from Hurricane Gustav. So though the timing could not be worse for automakers and biotech companies who literally cannot source or get their products to market withoutit, the cause of he shortage is a simple act of god.

    That said, there is plenty of fodder here for blogging. Some will say Hurricane Gustav is the direct result of Global Warming, caused by the fossil fuels these same facilities produced. Others will say, “this is a direct economic detriment caused by enviromental policies that have reduced our domestic refining capacity”. An argument that can also be applied to Steve’s “price of gas” rationale.

    But whatever they say, I just want them to have the facts straight.


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