FENCING OUT FELINES: Stray cats in Japan are in for a rude shock when they walk into private gardens unsuspectingly. Japanese biochemists have come up with environment friendly chemicals that emit odours disliked by cats. A single can of Sunstar Inc's Noraneko Shinnyu Kinshi ('Entry banned for stray cats) spray covers, an area of three sq m and is effective for about a month, come rain or shine. The product is plant-based and safe for animals and its smell is not offensive to people, according to the company. A four can set retails for US $39.60.

REPLICATING NATURE: Colours manufactured by Capsein Bio-Lab Ltd of Madras would be a shade more natural than other colours. A Rs 9.18 crore project is being set up for the production of "natural colours (pigments) with a variety of botanicals like leaves, flowem and rhizomes through extraction technology," said E G Jagannath, the company's technical director. Colours would be produced with super critical fluid extraction technology, wherein colours and other extractables would be isolated with highly pressurised liquefied carbon dioxide.

SUNNY VENTURE: Investing in solar power seems to have become a profitable venture these days. XL Telecom, which sees a bleak future in manufacturing heat-shrink cable jointing kits, recently unveiled its plans to diversify into the solar energy sector. Estimated to cost Rs, 25 crore, the project will be implemented in three phases. The company has entered into a technical collaboration with Spire Corporation of the US to supply solar cell manufacturing machines.

SEEDS OF PROFIT: Intercorp Industries Ltd will invest Rs 18.37 crore in a biotech project coming up in Alwar district of Rajasthan. State-of-the-art technology will be used to produce and export sunflower, soyabean and mustard seeds to the tune of 5,000 tonnes per annum. The company had imported parent seeds three years back which found good response am Iong Indian farmers as the seeds were treated with fungicides and coloured to repel birds. The seeds meet the export standards with high oil content, early maturity and disease repelling qualities.

CHIP'ING AHEAD: Fast, faster and fastest seems to be the motto for hardware engineers at Exponential Technology Inc, US, who are going for faster than the fastest microprocessor chips with backing from the US-based Apple Computer Inc. The chips, expected to be out in early 1997, will he two to three times faster than the other chips while running the same software used on Apple's Macintosh and IBM computers. The chips, are likely to triple the internal speed of the fastest Pentium from Intel Corp, which operates at 133 cycles per second.

SHOOTING SNOWFLAKES: Skiers around the world are in for a good skiing season thanks to a biotech product called snomax. It is an 'ice nucleating' protein made by a bacterium found abundantly in the environment) and is used in snow making equipment. Genecor, an industrial biotechnology company in the US, manufactures snomax commercially. Ski resorters add the frozen protein to water before firing it at high pressure from a snow gun. Water droplets crystallise around the snomax particles in the cold air and form artificial snowflakes. Genecor sells 15,000-20,000 kg of snomax to 400 ski resorts worldwide.