12th Rare Earth Summit

May 27-28, 2021
Hangzhou, Zhejiang, China

11th Aluminum Raw Materials Summit

May 20-21, 2021
Hangzhou, Zhejiang, China

9th Magnesium Summit

April 15-16, 2021
Hangzhou, Zhejiang, China

13th World InBiGeGa Forum

March 25-26, 2021
Hangzhou, Zhejiang, China

7th World Antimony Forum

June 13-14, 2019
Changsha, Hunan, China

7th Refractory & Abrasive Materials Summit 2019

May 23-24, 2019
Qingdao, Shandong, China

10th Aluminum Raw Materials Summit

May 16-17, 2019
Zhengzhou, Henan, China

11th Rare Earth Summit

May 9-10, 2019
Qingdao, Shandong, China

8th Magnesium Summit

April 11-12, 2019
Zhuhai, Guangdong, China

12th World InBiGeGa Forum

March 14-15, 2019
Zhuhai, Guangdong, China

6th World Manganese & Selenium Forum

May 21-22, 2018
Hainan Sanya, China
Dongyue Luo: Prospects for organic selenium are promising
----Interview with Dongyue Luo, deputy general manager of Wuhan SunEn-Tech Co., Ltd.
Wuhan SunEn-Tech Co., Ltd. is an enterprise incubator platform jointly created by the Wuhan Municipal People’s Government and China University of Geosciences (Wuhan), and a legal entity jointly established by the Wuhan Geological Resource Environment Industrial Technology Research Institute and Faculty of Materials Science and Chemicals at China University of Geosciences (Wuhan).

Asian Metal: Thank you for taking the time to conduct this interview, Mr. Luo. You gave a brief introduction to your business at the 3rd World Selenium & Manganese Forum held on 23-24 April. Would you mind introducing yourself briefly?

Luo: Our R&D team, including me, has been engaged in electrolytic manganese research and development for more than ten years. Phase I of our 200tpy production line for organoselenium (Mn-Ⅲ) has been completed. After a successful hot trial on 29 November 2014, the production line came into full production in April 2015. This is the first production line in China that is exclusively used to produce organic selenium compounds. The production line is mainly used to produce more environmentally friendly and efficient organic selenium additives for electrolytic manganese.

Asian Metal: At present, what is the production scale of organic selenium at home and abroad? What industries are the products mainly used in?

Luo: There is a wide variety of organic selenium products, and each has its uses. At present, biotechnology and plant extraction technology have adopted organic selenium organic selenium organic selenium organic selenium organic selenium is mainly used in biological medicine, but the total output is very small. SunEn-Tech was the first to adopt the artificial synthetic technique of producing organoselenium (Mn-Ⅲ), which was developed specifically for the production of electrolytic manganese. SunEn-Tech is the first company to have realized the mass production of organic selenium.
Organic selenium is mainly used in agriculture, forestry, animal husbandry, human health, medicine and other fields. It is estimated that the total consumption in these fields is no more than 50tpy, but the output value is high with the possibility of exceeding RMB4 trillion. IIIselenium yeast, selenium-rich bacteria and inorganic selenite sodium are widely used in fodder, agriculture and forestry, while selenoprotein, kappa-selenocarrageenan, selenium substituted amino acid and other selenium products are widely applied in the nutrition and health fields. Wuhan SunEn-Tech is the first company to have promotepromotepromoteorganic selenium in industrial areas, such as manganese electrolyzing, copper plating, nickel electroplating and silver electroplating. Our company can provide 200t of organic selenium for the manganese electrolyzing and electroplating sectors per year. A further series of products produced by our company is used in selenium feed additives, organic selenium fertilizers and pharmaceutical intermediates.

Asian Metal: We all know that organic selenium can replace selenium dioxide in the production of electrolytic manganese. Do you know how many electrolytic manganese plants in China have begun to use organic selenium, and what is the substitution rate?

Luo: The organic selenium additives project for electrolytic manganese has been in full production since April of this year, and two companies have already started to use it. On the whole, the current substitution ratio is still very low. As a new type of product, it needs time to gain market acceptance. The product will be fully launched in June, and gradually promoted to the whole industry.
In fact, the manganese industry is still eager to find alternative products to selenium dioxide which is highly toxic, and many researchers have been doing the relevant research and development. In recent years, many selenium-free additives and addiaddi have come onto the market, and lots of electrolytic manganese plants have tried these additives. However, the additives are not widely used because their cost performance is low and their universality isn’t good. Some additives even cause problems in the production process, which seriously affects manganese enterprises’ enthusiasm for trying alternatives. But this hasn’t prevented some electrolytic manganese plants trying new alternatives.
Innovation must be shouldered by enterprises because research institutes alone can’t form a powerful driving force. Take a look at the changes in the electrolytic manganese industry in recent years, and you will find that in fact many innovations have taken place in this industry — for example, the hanginghanginghanging which reduces workers’ labor intensiveness and improves efficiency; increased plate areas, which reduce power unit consumption; electrode spacing reduction, which lowers energy consumption; reduced selenium dioxide consumption with process improvements; reductions in leaching of manganese dioxide ore; and ultrasonic cleaning. A lot of effort has been made by electrolytic manganese plants. This is an innovative industry which also has a group of entrepreneurs with a spirit of adventure. Sun En-Tech focuses on technology R&D in the electrolytic manganese industry, and has accumulated some production experience and technologies. We are willing to help electrolytic manganese plants as much as we can for free, such as in personnel training, product detection analysis and production fault diagnosis.

Asian Metal:What’s the core competitiveness of organic selenium compared with selenium dioxide?

Luo: Organoselenium (Mn-Ⅲ), an organic selenium additive for electrolytic manganese, was specifically developed by our company after a full study of the function mechanism of selenium dioxide (SeO2). It has the following advantages:
1. Organoselenium (Mn-Ⅲ) is non-toxic, safe and environmentally friendly, and can reduce operational risks, enterprise management costs and environmental pressure.
2. Organoselenium (Mn-Ⅲ) with high-current efficiency can reduce power consumption and increase production. According to the current statistics, output can generally be increased by 5-10%. Using organic selenium additives can reduce the production cost by RMB300-600/t, which is helpful for electrolytic manganese plants as the market demand is weak right now.
3. Organoselenium (Mn-Ⅲ) with high-impurity interference capabilities is suitable for the production of electrolytic manganese from complex manganese ores. Currently, some enterprises use imported manganese ores or manganese oxide ores which contain a high level of impurities to produce electrolytic manganese. However, black electrolytic cells, alkali efflorescence, ammonium sulfate crystallization and other phenomenphenomenphenomen, seriously impacting the product quality and output. The above problems can be avoided by using organoselenium (Mn-Ⅲ).
In the product development process we have been adhering to the point of view that high-tech products can meet the actual needs of enterprises, so no major changes have been made to the original production process and workers’ operating habits. The research and development experts in our company have more than ten years’ experience, and are familiar with every detail of electrolytic manganese production. The organic selenium additive for electrolytic manganese developed by SunEn-Tech can replace selenium dioxide in electrolytic manganese production with no additional requirements in terms of technology and operation. Therefore, electrolytic manganese producing enterprises can choose between the two additives at will, dispelling some enterprises’ concerns.

Asian Metal: In addition to the electrolytic manganese industry, are there other fields of application for organic selenium?

Luo: In addition to the electrolytic manganese industry, organic selenium additives are also widely used in the electroplating field. Organic selenium additives, with their functions of brightening, leveling, dispersing and anode depolarizing, can be used in alkaline copper plating, pyrophosphate copper plating, nickel plating, silver plating, ternary alloy plating and other fields.
In addition, the pharmaceutical and healthcare industry is a huge market for organic selenium. As an anticancer drug, organic selenium organic selenium organic selenium organic selenium around the world. Some organic selenium drugs in Japanese and German have entered thethethe trials. Selenium enriched health care products, selenium enriched nutrient solutions and other health products will become popular with the substantial advances in selenium supplement projects, and the organic selenium fertilizer market will also see an increase in demand, resulting in greater organic selenium consumption.
At present, the majority of domestic enterprises use inorganic selenite in feed additives. Compared with inorganic selenium, organic selenium has a wider range of security, better absorption and higher bioavailability. As food safety and aquaculture safety regulations become more and more stringent, organic selenium will gradually replace inorganic selenium.

Asian Metal: The annual output of selenium for industrial utilization around the world has exceeded 3,000tpy in recent years with the increased output of copper plants, but the demand from downstream users has been disappointing. What are the main reasons for this?

Luo: The copper output is likely to go up further with the upturn in copper prices. So the supply of crude selenium will continue to increase, putting more pressure on the crude selenium market. The output of electrolytic manganese is unlikely to increase in the short term, and demand for selenium will become less and less as the production process progresses. The selenium demand from other sectors is relatively small, so selenium consumption will have to depend on the industrialized applications of selenium.
Thorough development in the variety of selenium products is urgently required, but price is a major constraint. Downstream manufacturers are discouraged from entering the market due to the high cost of selenium deep-processing products, resulting in a quiet market. This also reflects the fact that the selenium deep-processing technology still has a lot of room for improvement. SunEn-Tech is focused on the development of selenium products, currently including organic selenium additives for electrolytic manganese, selenocyanate pharmaceutical intermediates, selenium additives for copper plating, nickel electroplating and silver electroplating, inorganic nano-selenium, etc. We will launch other selenium products in the future, and try to meet the demand for selenium products from all walks of life by process innovation and cost reduction.

Asian Metal: Selenium product users are paying more attention to the changing price of raw materials due to the weak downstream market. So what are the main factors affecting the price of organic selenium, and is there is there is there cost reduction?

Luo: Although raw material prices matter at any time, the price ratio is more important. We have launched an organic selenium additive for electrolytic manganese, and the largest proportion of its cost comes not from refined selenium, but from other ingredients and production processes. Organic selenium additives can save energy, protect the environment, improve current efficiency levels and increase output by 5-10%. Customers who use our products can reduce the selenium content in electrolytic manganese products; therefore, their products can sell at a higher price. By using our products, plants can reduce their composite cost by RMB300-600/t.
The increasing output of copper will highlight the imbalance between crude selenium supply and demand, which will affect the price of selenium. The price fluctuations of refined selenium will also affect the cost of organic selenium additives. We will reduce the cost through technological updates and business model innovation. Helping customers save money is our mission.

Asian Metal: Will you have to use refined selenium 99.9%min in the production of organic selenium? What is the mode of purchase for refined selenium in your company right now?

Luo: We use selenium 99.9%min to produce organic selenium additives for electrolytic manganese. As mentioned above, our company will try to make the price more affordable by continually developing new processes and technologies. At present, we have made a crucial breakthrough. Our purchasing prices for selenium 99.9%min fluctuate in line with market conditions, and we carry out procurement when our raw material stock falls below the normal level. We also have some spot inventories to ensure timely delivery.

Asian Metal: Can you imagine what the selenium market, especially the organic selenium product market, will look like in one or two years?

Luo: The selenium output will continue to increase with the recovery of the copper market, but overall consumption, especially from the electrolytic manganese industry, will show a downward trend, which will have a great impact on the selenium raw materials market. The traditional low-end market will be upgraded to the high-end market because the demand for high-end products will increase, while the demand for low-end products will gradually diminish. HighHighHigh, selenium compounds and organic selenium will be the research hotspots in future.
As people’s understanding of selenium deepens still further, and the application areas for selenium increase, electrolytic copper plants will also consider carrying out selenium deep processing projects and developing advanced technologies to turn crude selenium into high value-added products. Highhigh value-added products. Highhigh value-added products. Highwill be the research hotspots in future. It will be a pity if we continue to sell primary products and ignore the strategic layout of the selenium industry.
Selenium, which is regarded as the “Fire of Life” is an important trace element. Human understanding of selenium applications has undergone many stages. Because inorganic selenium is toxic, Japan and the United States have stopped adding sodium selenite stopped adding sodium selenite stopped adding sodium selenite , and started to use organic selenium. As people’s demand for healthy products continues to rise, organic selenium — which belongs among the health products — will attract the attention of the capital market, and this will accelerate the R&D and marketing of organic selenium products.

Asian Metal: Thanks again for granting us this interview. We wish you and your business the best of luck!