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Cryonics facility keeps tax break

Posted: February 13, 2012 at 2:46 am

Kendall County's chief appraiser has backed off of plans to yank the property tax exemption from a nonprofit that envisions one day building a massive cryonics facility in the Hill Country town of Comfort.

Keeping the exemption will allow The Stasis Foundation to save about $91,000 in property taxes on some buildings and 15 acres along Skyline Drive this year. The entire Stasis property is about 645 acres.

The Stasis Foundation's proposed cryonics fortress, called the “Timeship” by its creators, would store thousands of frozen bodies with the purpose of bringing them back to life if technology ever allows.

Stasis officials want the Timeship to be a “Fort Knox” for the cryopreservation of patients, organs, the DNA of endangered species, stem cells and tissue samples. The Timeship would protect “its precious cargo through hundreds of years of ‘travel into the future,'” project architect Stephen Valentine wrote in his 2009 book, “Timeship: The Architecture of Immortality.”

Construction of such a facility appears at least about a decade off, according to Stasis' 2009 tax return. The group is considered a public charity and, as such, is exempt from federal income tax.

Gary Eldridge, Kendall County's chief appraiser, had notified Stasis last June that he intended to remove its property tax exemption because of a lack of activity on the property at 46 Skyline Drive. Buildings on the property include an 18,000-square-foot antebellum-style mansion built in the early 1980s.

But after two tours of the property, first in August and then in October, Eldridge concluded the activity he witnessed — primarily “administrative” work — was enough to let Stasis keep its property tax exemption for now.

“Bottom line of it is, they are minimally meeting the criteria that is required” in the state's tax code, Eldridge said.

Lawyer Joseph M. Harrison IV, who represents Stasis, said in an email that organization officials were focused on its charitable projects and therefore were not giving interviews or public tours of the property.

Harrison, however, provided a four-page letter he wrote to Eldridge outlining the research and educational activities that occurred at the property from June 2010 to June 2011.

According to Harrison's letter, Stasis' scientific and biomedical research at the Skyline property has included design and development work related to something called the TCV. That is an acronym for “temperature controlled volumes.” Until the Timeship is built, Valentine wrote in his book, interim cryostorage of organs and patients will take place in TCVs. He describes them as containers with Timeship features.

Research also was on done on the mechanics and engineering related to the fabrication of the TCV containers, according to Harrison's letter.

A research project that was slated to start last September would “survey the existing physiological, biochemical, and cellular mechanisms of cryopreservation of gametes (cells that fuse during fertilization) and embryos, issues directly relevant to assisted reproduction and treatment of infertility,” the letter explained.

Stasis' educational endeavors will include hosting a series of public seminars for local residents on “the benefits of organ donation,” Harrison wrote. In fact, one was scheduled for Thursday evening.

Stasis also has been setting up a bioscience research library that would be open to the public. Work on it was delayed because of a burst water pipe in 2009 that caused extensive damage to the mansion.

The organization also had completed the first phase of a “Virtual Reality 3D-Model” that would allow the public to study via the Internet the “various types of research slated for Skyline.”

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Cryonics facility keeps tax break

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DongYan Chemistry = LEGENDARY MAGIC

Posted: February 13, 2012 at 2:46 am

During the press conference for My Beloved on Tuesday, Director Dominic Zapata shared that although he has worked with Dingdong and Marian separately in the past, it’s his first time to work with them together. He also stated in an interview that the chemistry between Dingdong and Marian, aka DongYan, is really magical. In the Manila Standard article, he shared how honored he is to witness the legendary magic that happens when Dingdong and Marian are together.

Direk Dominic has worked with Marian and Dingdong separately in different projects and related that he feels very fortunate to finally work with the two of them in one show. “I’m honored to witness the legendary magic that happens when Marian Rivera and Dingdong Dantes share the screen,” he enthused.(source)

That’s definitely one way to put it. Now make sure to witness once again the legendary magic from DongYan in My Beloved which will premiere in the Philippines on Monday after Biritera and before Legacy. Pionoy TV’s premiere is Februaty 14th. check your Channel Guide for time.


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DongYan Chemistry = LEGENDARY MAGIC

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For China and U.S., Better Living Through Better Leaders’ Chemistry: View

Posted: February 13, 2012 at 2:46 am


Photographs by Joshua Roberts/Bloomberg, Nelson Ching/Bloomberg; Illustration by Bloomberg View

By the Editors Mon Feb 13 00:00:41 GMT 2012

Don’t expect any breakthrough deals from this week’s meeting between the U.S. president and China (CNGDPYOY)’s leader-in-waiting. In an election year for Barack Obama and Xi Jinping, who is in line to replace President Hu Jintao this fall, the best outcome to hope for is good chemistry.

Given the tensions in the air, that can hardly be assured. Consider Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s stump bluster about how, on his “first day in office,” he will impose tariffs on any Chinese goods that benefit from “unfair trade practices.” Or the more than five dozen pieces of legislation introduced in Congress in 2011 that took up Chinese behavior on everything from rare earth mining to exports of American flags. President Obama himself has occasionally shown a weakness for tough talk. Vice President Xi also has made a few brusque pronouncements on “foreigners with full bellies.”

The feel-good visits planned for Xi to California and Iowa offer one way to rise above such acrimony. For Americans in particular, the latter trip can be instructive. In 1985, Xi visited Iowa when he was a provincial leader in Hebei to honor a sister-state relationship, touring farms and baseball fields and sharing views at the Rotary Club. Then, Xi was eager to learn modern farming techniques. Now, Iowa does roadshows to China to hawk its goods as U.S. growth wanes. Nor is Hebei the backwater it was back then; its economy is bigger than Hong Kong’s. Barring a serious crisis, China’s economy may be bigger than America’s in 10 years.

China’s tremendous economic growth over the 27 years since Xi’s Iowa trip has been a signal human achievement, lifting hundreds of millions of Chinese out of poverty, and enabling billions of consumers around the world to enjoy a higher standard of living. That dynamism continues, and with it the added double-edged benefit of Chinese savings still underwriting U.S. profligacy.

Today, the U.S. and China share an enormous and widening array of interests, such as maintaining peace on the Korean peninsula, reducing greenhouse-gas emissions and preventing a global financial meltdown. Just as the U.S. has sometimes seemed oblivious to the enormous internal challenges that China faces, so, too, China has resented or willfully ignored the reality of the new responsibilities that it must shoulder.

The immediate task before Obama and Xi is to build a relationship that will enable their countries to bridge that perceptions gap. In that process, we imagine that Obama can turn the harsh rhetoric of the Republican candidates to his advantage -- something that must make former China hand George H.W. Bush spin in his parachute. Moreover, the situations in Iran and Syria, not to mention recent abductions and killings of Chinese workers in Egypt, Sudan and Thailand, are forcing the Chinese to re-examine their precepts about non-intervention, the importance of upholding global norms and their own relative inability to shape the situation on the ground. All those things can contribute to a convergence of views.

The good news is that Xi, 58, seems better suited to relationship-building than China’s current president. He’s regarded as more affable and spontaneous. And his worldview is colored by his years living in coastal provinces like Zhejiang, home to some of China’s most successful entrepreneurs, such as Zong Qinghou, a soft-drink merchant, and Li Shufu, founder of automaker Geely International Corp. Many of the province’s business owners pride themselves on succeeding without government help, a dynamic China could use more of. Given Xi’s background, for example, he should know China is imperiling its future by letting Google Inc. (GOOG), the Information Age’s biggest name, walk away and blocking Facebook Inc.

That’s not to say that the U.S. and China don’t have different, competing and at times conflicting interests. We’ll spare you the inevitable Valentine’s Day references: Obama and Xi don’t have to love each other, but they do have to get along.

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For China and U.S., Better Living Through Better Leaders’ Chemistry: View

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Mailbag 2/11: What’s With UConn’s ‘Chemistry?’

Posted: February 13, 2012 at 2:46 am


Q: Your thoughts on the teams lack of chemistry?  It seems to me that so so-called leader Shabazz is very much like Jerome Dyson was.  That team was pulled apart from within and it appears it is happening with this group.

Paul Ippedio

Saco, Me. (formerly of Manchester)

A: Hi  Paul. This comes up a lot, in fact Kevin Nathan and I talked a lot about chemistry on WTIC SportsTalk on Friday. I didn’t cover the Jerome Dyson teams so I can’t speak to that comparison.

I don’t think this team is being pulled apart from within, though, at least not from what I can see. There are different types of chemistry. One is working together, getting along, etc., and I think this team still has that. The other is the meshing of skill sets, and that’s where I think the problem is. Certain guys do certain things well, others not so well, and it doesn’t quite fit together. For instance, Alex Oriakhi is good at certain things that he may not be able to do with Andre Drummond also on the court. The team likes to run, but guys don’t take and make good shots in transition. Shabazz Napier likes to throw certain types of passes that guys can’t catch. … And so on. It’s a reason, I suppose, we have seen so many different combinations. This type of chemistry is much harder to fix, but it does happen sometimes. At some point things could just click, fall into place, and the chemistry on the court and bench will look a lot different. But 23 games into the season, it’s getting late to expect that to happen. At Syracuse today, we’ll see.




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Mailbag 2/11: What’s With UConn’s ‘Chemistry?’

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Texas A&M scientist recognized for chemistry work

Posted: February 13, 2012 at 2:46 am


Published Thursday, February 09, 2012 12:04 AM By MAGGIE KIELY

A&M chemistry professor Dr. Oleg Ozerov holds the Norman Hackerman Award in Chemical Research. Ozerov received the award for his work on greenhouse gases during a ceremony held in his honor at The Clayton Williams Former Student Assosiation building on campus Wednesday.

Texas A&M chemistry professor Oleg Ozerov discovered his passion for chemistry as a 12-year-old in Russia, while experimenting with small-scale explosive material with a friend whom he remains close to today.

He became even more fascinated with the subject when he began learning about it as a freshman in high school, and later went on to earn his master's degree in chemistry at the Russian Academy of Science.

From there, he went on to the University of Kentucky, where he earned his Ph.D. in chemistry before taking a teaching position at Brandeis University.

He made his way to Aggieland in 2009 as a professor with the chemistry department and was hired as the graduate recruitment coordinator in the fall.

But even though his profession has taken him across the globe, Ozerov said he never imagined he'd be sitting in a room full of colleagues and students at the Alumni Center on campus Wednesday, being recognized for his work and honored as the 2012 recipient of the Norman Hackerman Award in Chemical Research.

The award comes with a $100,000 personal check. He'll likely use some of the money to do something nice for those who've helped him along the way -- "especially his research group, which consists of undergraduate, graduate and post-doctoral students, Ozerov said.

A chunk will go into his 3-year-old daughter's college fund, he said.

Ozerov, 35, is the second A&M professor to win the award since it was created by the Welch Foundation in 2002. Paul Cremer was honored as the 2006 recipient.

The Welch Foundation, a national organization founded in 1952 to provide private funding for chemistry researchers, presents the award annually to a Texas chemistry researcher who has made notable achievements during his early career.

Ozerov's research focuses on understanding unusual molecular structures and how to create or break chemical bonds.

During one of his most recent and notable discoveries, Ozerov created a way to break down the carbon-fluorine bond at room temperature.

Carbon-fluorine bonds are considered some of the strongest in chemistry and are often found in greenhouse gases associated with global warming.

The breakthrough could have a positive effect on combating atmospheric pollutants.

"Chemistry fascinates me," Ozerov said. "If you say something is difficult to do, it's like the red flag to the bull, and we have to figure out how to do it."

Ozerov was chosen for the award in part because of his attitude, said Beth Robertson, Welch Foundation chair.

"At only 35, Dr. Ozerov already has made significant contributions in both transition metals and main group chemistry that may ultimately improve our world," she said. "Known for his chemical ingenuity, his work is aimed at exploring exciting new facets of chemistry."

In addition to the Hackerman Award, Ozerov recently was named the 2012 Pure Chemistry Award recipient by the American Chemical Society.

"I don't think I did anything outstanding," Ozerov said after receiving his award Wednesday. "I feel like I understand chemistry. I have an affinity for it, and it was always easy for me to get."

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Texas A&M scientist recognized for chemistry work

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Minnesota companies aim for greener living through chemistry

Posted: February 13, 2012 at 2:46 am

EarthClean CEO Doug Ruth demonstrates how TetraKO is fire-resistant. He coats his hand in the gel and uses a blowtorch on the product, which resists flames up to 2,000 degrees for several minutes, he says. (Pioneer Press: John Doman)

Lots of entrepreneurs boast about "eating their own cooking," but Doug Ruth takes it to a whole new level.

The CEO and founder of EarthClean, a clean-tech startup in South St. Paul, will pop a fingerful of his company's TetraKO firefighting gel into his mouth to prove it's nontoxic.

EarthClean's product, made of 50 percent cornstarch, is a goopy example of how the green-chemistry movement is starting to grow beyond the seed stage.

Renewable, bio-based substitutes for petroleum-derived chemicals have been under development for several years in Minnesota, but now they're finally starting to sell.

Bio-based plastics are popping up in supermarket delis, consumer electronics and on the shelves at big retailers, and consumers and industry observers are beginning to pay attention.

Some see the state well-positioned as a hub for "green chemistry." At the second annual Minnesota Green Chemistry Forum at the University of Minnesota recently, Dale Wahlstrom, CEO of The BioBusiness Alliance, compared green chemistry to Minnesota's medical-device industry in its infancy decades ago.

But before the industry produces "the next Medtronic," there are challenges to overcome.

First, chemical startups are not like Facebook or Google, which were launched in college dorm rooms.

Cutting-edge chemistry requires laboratories and pilot production plants that can cost a cool million dollars up front before the first product hits the shelf.

Second, chemical-based

products must undergo extensive and expensive regulatory review before they can be sold.

Third, studies show consumers will not buy a product just because it's environmentally friendly, people at the Green Chemistry forum acknowledged. Green companies have to demonstrate that their products can save money as well.

Fourth, Minnesota is competing not just with other parts of the country where green chemistry is bubbling, like California or Massachusetts, but countries like France, Brazil and Canada.

But that has not stopped people from dreaming.

Marc Hillmyer, a chemist and professor at the U of M, said the area has a cluster of green chemistry start-ups, led by NatureWorks LLC, "the juggernaut of renewable polymers."

The Minnetonka-based company, half owned by agribusiness giant Cargill and half by a Thai chemical company, makes a corn-based plastic that goes into everything from clamshell food cases in the deli section to potato chip bags for Target to iPhone cases.

NatureWorks has had a plant in Nebraska since 2002 but is building a second one in Thailand to be closer to its Asian customers, where half of its output is now exported, NatureWorks spokesman Steve Davies said.

Established giants like St. Paul-based Ecolab and 3M, which have long pedigrees in chemistry and polymers, also can play a role, the experts say.

"They're not green-chemistry companies but companies that can practice green chemistry," Hillmyer said.

Green chemistry favors the Midwest, with its feed stocks for new materials and abundant land and water, local experts believe.

And the area is growing the brains for a green chemistry workforce at the U, which opened the Center for Sustainable Polymers three years ago. The center, headed by Hillmyer, received a three-year, $1.5 million grant from the National Science Foundation last year.


The variety of products made with bio-based plastic substitutes once was limited to a few products like flimsy food containers but now includes clothing, carpets, electronic gizmos and other products of everyday life.

Just cruise the aisles of Target or Staples and pick up a slender plastic bottle of Method laundry detergent.

In this case, the green isn't the container. It's in the detergent itself, which carries a bio-based solvent made by Segetis, a Golden Valley startup, that allows the detergent to be super-concentrated.

Segetis, which employs about 35 people, uses a contract manufacturer but has a small "semi-works" at its headquarters that produces about 250,000 pounds of material a year.

Company spokeswoman Tess Fennelly said Segetis is planning to build its own plant with a capacity of "tens of millions of pounds." .

That sounds like a lot, but it's hardly a drop in the bucket of the 13 billion pounds of plasticizers produced globally each year. And it's that room to expand that drives companies like Segetis.

Gevo, a company that is headquartered in Colorado but licenses technology from Cargill, is retrofitting an ethanol plant this year in Luverne, Minn. to produce isobutenol, a basic building-block chemical for petroleum substitution.

Isobutenol's carbon structure can be altered to produce everything from gasoline to jet fuel, for which the company has a contract to conduct a study for the U.S. Department of Defense.

"It's not 10 years from now," Pat Guber, Gevo's CEO told the green chemistry forum audience. "We're doing it now," the former Cargill scientist said. "The game is to make it happen big."

EarthClean has a similar idea. The company started in a small shop in Minneapolis three years ago and gained exposure by winning the first regional Clean Tech Open competition in 2010, and went on to take third in the nationals later that year.

EarthClean moved last year to South St. Paul for more space, taking over a 6,000 square foot office-warehouse. Liana Palaikis, the company's PhD chemist and director of product development has a "lab" in the warehouse, marked off with blue tape on the floor.

The lab is crowded with plastic Home Depot buckets filled with white TetraKO powder, makeshift workbenches with microscopes, hand mixers to mix up beakers of the gel and Kermit the Frog, the company mascot, overseeing operations from a shelf.

In startup fashion, EarthClean operates on a tight budget. Palaikis, who spent many years as a chemist at 3M and has six patents to her name, dreams one day of a separate lab. "It would be really nice," she sighed.

EarthClean has been beta-testing TetraKO with local firefighting units but is just beginning to make sales.

Last year, EarthClean signed a contract to sell TetraKO to South Korea, pending government approval, and it has signed firefighting supply dealerships on the West Coast and in Kuwait, Ruth said.

The product costs about three to five times as much as conventional foam, but it knocks down fires at least five times faster, the CEO said.

That can save fire departments money on total time on a call and save firefighters' lives by reducing the time they are exposed to toxic smoke under heavy stress, Ruth said.

Last year the company, which has nine employees, had $135,000 in sales and it's projecting $1 million this year, Ruth said. The company doesn't expect to turn a profit until the end of 2013, he said.

But as a way of thinking bigger, the company is brainstorming ideas beyond firefighting.

"Which is why we named it EarthClean Corp. and not fire suppression inc." Ruth said.


The ability to walk down the aisles of your neighborhood store and easily find green-chemistry products is a sign of progress, said Steve Kelley, director of the Center for Science, Technology and Public Policy at the Humphrey School and a former state senator.

"Three years ago, I don't think you could say that," he said.

The next steps are more research and innovation to lead to even more bio-based substitutes for petrochemicals in higher quality plastics, Kelley said.

A couple of serial entrepreneurs are working on that next step.

The Selifonovs - Sergey and Olga - are Russian-born chemists who founded Segetis in 2006 and own a minority stake in the company, even though they have no hand in its operations anymore.

Instead, they've been hard at work in Golden Valley on two new polymers to be marketed under separate companies.

One company, called XLTerra, developed a high-grade clear plastic from cellulosic biomass, using materials like corn cobs instead of corn kernels, said Sergey Selifonov, XLTerra's chief technology officer.

The plastic has twice the strength of conventional corn-based plastics called polylactides (PLA for short), he said. It has a long list of possible commercial applications, from durables like Plexiglass and auto parts to semi-durables like a toothbrush handle.

The other company is named Reluceo, which has a degradable superabsorbent polymer that can be used in diapers. Unlike conventional superabsorbent polymers, Reluceo will break down, solving a landfill problem, he said.

Sergey called the challenge to make Reluceo's polymer both superabsorbent and biodegradable "harder than Houdini escaping from that box."

Over the next few weeks, the couple are moving to a lab with more power in Plymouth so they can build a mini-plant that can produce hundreds of kilograms of each material a day. The plant will be large enough to learn how to make the product at industrial scale and to test the new materials in different applications, said CEO Olga Selifonova (the 'a' at the end of her name is the Russian way of denoting gender).

As with Segetis, the Selifonovs said they have gotten financial backing from California-based Khosla Ventures, a big-name venture capital company in renewables.

But it will be several years before either product makes its way to market. The Selifonovs are confident they can do it.

"These are promising and innovative technologies," Olga Selifonova said. "I truly believe they will be commercialized."

Leslie Brooks Suzukamo can be reached at 651-228-5475. Follow him at

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Minnesota companies aim for greener living through chemistry

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