Evonik Industries is shutting down its production plant for orthoesters in Niederkassel, Germany, owing to what it described as "overcapacity, the difficult competitive situation and high raw material prices." It said a major factor in the decision was an increase in competition from China and other countries which has made production no longer economically viable. Orthoesters are synthetic building blocks that are mainly used by the chemical and pharmaceutical industries. The employees affected by the plant closure will be transferred to other production facilities at the site, which was formerly operated by Degussa, acquired by Evonik last year. Evonik has around 620 employees in Niederkassel. BASF has developed a new class of biocatalyst enzymes that can be used for the industrial-scale production of chiral intermediates. Called enoate reductases and sold as an extension to BASF's ChiPros brand, they have the advantage of catalysing reactions at low temperatures and standard pressure, which should cut synthesis costs. The optical isomers they yield are of 'outstanding' purity, according to BASF. They are particularly suited to the production of esters and aldehydes Meanwhile, BASF has increased the prices for carbonyl chloride derivatives (CCDs), used as intermediates for the synthesis of pharmaceuticals and other chemicals, as well as the production of polymers. Prices will rise by 8 to 15 per cent, depending on the specific product. They will increase up to 20% in Asia, said the company. In a statement, BASF said: "The price adjustments for CCDs are triggered by continuously high raw materials and energy costs." A Chinese court jailed a man for life last month for passing off diethylene glycol (DEG) as propylene glycol, in yet another case of deliberate mislabelling of a pharmaceutical raw material that led to serious harm to patients. Local Chinese press reports indicate that at least 14 people were killed after receiving treatment with a product sold by Qiqihar No. 2 Pharmaceutical Co as a treatment for inflammation of the gallbladder (cholecystitis) and atrophic gastritis. The Xinhua news agency claims that Qiqihar did not test the ingredient properly before including it in the medicine, called Armillarisni A. China's Shengtai Pharmaceutical says it has almost completed construction of a new manufacturing facility for pharmaceutical-grade glucose with an annual production capacity of 120,000 metric tons. The facility will also produce glucose for food and beverage uses, and hikes Shengtai's total production capacity to 210 metric tons a year. Quality control and validation testing for food-grade glucose have already passed, and the company is in the process of carrying out equivalent testing for pharmaceutical monohydrate glucose and anhydrous glucose products. It expects those tests to be complete by the end of this month. "We expect the new glucose facility to reach its full production capacity in about one and a half years," said Qingtai Liu, Shengtai's CEO.