Archives :: Editor's Comments
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...
September 1, 2009
The first round of judging in Chemical Engineering's 2009 Kirkpatrick Chemical Engineering Achievement Award competition (CE, January, p. 19) has produced the following five finalists (in alphabetical order): • The Dow Chemical Co. (Midland, Mich.) and BASF SE (Ludwigshafen, Germany), for an industrial process for producing propylene oxide (PO) via hydrogen peroxide • DuPont (Wilmington, Del.)...
August 1, 2009
While the worst of the recession may very well be over for the global economy in general, the downstream effects in the chemical process industries (CPI) will take awhile to flush themselves out. Second quarter financial reports were released last month, with most of the good news loosing luster in the shadow of the same period last year. Meanwhile, credit options remain tight. Based on these factors...
July 1, 2009
In offering up strategies for the chemical process industries (CPI), many business experts turn to the virtues of a global stage. For decades now, CPI companies in developed countries have eagerly followed the urge to expand into emerging regions. Likewise, geographical expansion is becoming attractive for companies in developing areas as they look to catalyze their own growth. A new analysis, however...
June 1, 2009
Chemical engineering principles do not differ by geographical location. The same cannot be said, however, about the established criteria for certifying that an individual has mastery of those principles. Requirements for obtaining a professional license or charter in the field vary widely from country to country, and in the U.S. they even vary from state to state. Such inconsistencies...
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