Archives :: Editor's Comments
August 1, 2011
Last year, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA;Washington, D.C.; www.epa.gov) proposed new emissions standards for hazardous air pollutants (HAP) emitted by industrial boilers and solid-waste incinerators (CISWI) based on the performance of the maximum achievable control technology (MACT). The so-called “boiler MACT” final rules were signed by the EPA Administrator on February 21...
July 1, 2011
For a little over two decades now, China’s rise in the chemical process industries (CPI) has often appeared to outsiders like a runaway reaction. Low wages, a very low-valued currency and certain government policies have provided the perfect migration spot for jobs, contracts and intellectual property that had previously been sheltered in developed nations. According to analysts, however...
June 1, 2011
The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA; Washington, D.C.) recently released the complete version of its Annual Energy Outlook 2011 (AEO2011; www.eia.gov/forecasts/aeo), which includes projections for energy production, consumption, technology and market trends, and the direction they may take in the future for the world’s second-largest energy user. “EIA’s projections indicate...
April 1, 2011
Good troubleshooting skills are invaluable in chemical engineering practice. While their value is clearly gleaned from the impact they have on plant performance, it is also a reflection of the intangible process of learning them. Last month, at the AIChE Spring meeting in Chicago, Ruth Sands, former CE author and mass transfer consultant at DuPont Engineering Research & Technology, presented attendees...
March 1, 2011
The United Nations (U.N.) has named 2011 the International Year of Chemistry (IYC). The designation has given rise to a host of programs, initiatives and events, the collection of which has afforded the chemical community a unique opportunity to pursue the IYC’s stated goals of increasing public appreciation of, interest in and enthusiasm for chemistry. Leading the yearlong effort are the U.N...
February 1, 2011
When I was growing up in western Pennsylvania, we used to have notebooks in school with a map of the state on the cover. Back then (1960s), local children quickly learned that by tracing the boundaries of certain counties, one could create a silhouette of a coal miner at the center of the state. The point is, coal was important; we heated our homes with it, we burned it to make electricity, and if we...
January 1, 2011
Many of you know of a company — perhaps your own employer — that has recently commercialized an innovative process, product, or other chemical-engineering development. If so, we would like to hear from you. Nominations are open for this magazine’s 2011 Kirkpatrick Chemical Engineering Achievement Award. We aim to honor the most-noteworthy chemical engineering technology commercialized...
November 1, 2010
Last month, I had the rare honor of sitting down with about 40 students from Booker T. Washington High School’s engineering magnet school (Houston), who are all on the path toward careers in science and engineering. While the experience itself was inspirational, it also caused me to reflect — again — on what defines inspiring chemical engineering practice. My encounter was at a student...
October 1, 2010
When it comes to a geographical concentration of chemical engineers and chemical process facilities, few cities in the world rival that of Houston, Texas. Given that, it might be surprising that this month will essentially mark the first time in more than a decade that the chemical process industries (CPI) will converge on that metropolis for an integrated conference and exhibition. The inaugural event is...
August 1, 2010
Innovation is the key to economic growth, and research and development (R&D) is key to innovation. While industry recognizes that R&D is vital to longterm success, it focuses, of course, on marketable results from research — after all, R&D is expensive, and cost without any foreseeable return is not good business. From my R&D background in the chemical process industries (CPI)...
July 1, 2010
When it first became a player in the global chemical process industries (CPI), China was framed purely as an opportunity for reducing the costs to produce goods that are consumed elsewhere. More recently, the picture has broadened to include a burgeoning demand for products to be consumed within China by its own increasingly prosperous population. For CPI stakeholders in developed nations, the positive...
June 1, 2010
Any chemical engineer can attest to the fact that safety is an ongoing pursuit in our profession, where we occasionally find our teams taking two steps forward and then one step back. Foreseeing and avoiding every type of equipment malfunction is practically impossible, and even the most diligent, conscientious and experienced professionals are bound to make mistakes. However, when the insightful warnings...
May 1, 2010
On March 24, at the American Institute of Chemical Engineers’ (AIChE; New York; http://www.aiche.org) Spring Meeting in San Antonio, Tex., the Separations Division honored the myriad contributions of Dr. Karl T. Chuang. Given the scope and impact of his contributions, we are likewise proud to recognize him here. “Very few chemical engineers have spent as much time at as many chemical...
April 1, 2010
Next month, on May 5th, the American Chemical Society (ACS; Washington, D.C.; http://www.acs.org) and more than 200 other private- and public-sector organizations representing more than 6.5 million science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) professionals will celebrate the first National Lab Day. At the most basic level, National Lab Day aims to inspire a wave of future innovators and foster U.S...
March 1, 2010
A little over one month ago, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) received national pledges from 55 countries, to cut and limit greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Included in the pledges was a commitment from the U.S. to reduce its GHG emissions in the range of 17% from 2005 levels by 2020. The non-binding target came with a disclaimer, however, that hinges on an uncertainty for...
February 1, 2010
Late last month, in an event at the White House, the U.S. National Science Board (NSB) released its Science and Engineering Indicators 2010 report. Produced every two years by NSB — the governing body for the National Science Foundation (NSF; Arlington, Va.; http://www.nsf.gov) and NSF’s div. of Science Resources Statistics — the Science and Engineering Indicators Series is an...
January 1, 2010
Number six on this magazine’s list of twelve tips for clearer technical writing is “When writing about concepts that are new, unfamiliar or abstract, try to include examples.” This principle, as articulated in an informative article by former CE Editor-in-Chief Nicholas P. Chopey (CE, July 2003, pp. 73–75), is admittedly simple but can nevertheless be pivotal. Without effective...
December 1, 2009
Like it or not, 2009 will go down as a year when massive structural change began in the chemicals business. We are far from feeling the full effects of the upheaval, but there is a sense of revolution in the air that will cause lasting change for chemical engineers everywhere. Historically, the financial crisis, and the global recession that followed it, will be seen as accelerators of changes that were...
November 1, 2009
Early next month, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences will hold its award ceremonies for the 2009 Nobel Prizes, the winners of which were announced in October. The prestigious awards are arguably the most high-profile recognitions of the two cornerstones of our profession, chemistry and physics, and underscore the prolific benefits that the chemical process industries (CPI) provide to society. Meanwhile...
October 1, 2009
Last month, the chemical engineering profession began to feel its first aftershocks from an explosion that occurred nearly two years ago at a plant that most of you would be hard-pressed to recall. The delivery came in an accident report issued by the U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB; www.csb.gov). The report determined that the massive December 2007 explosion and fire at T2 Laboratories in Jacksonville...
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