Archives :: Editor's Comments
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...
May 1, 2009
The anthropogenic global warming debate experienced a reawakening last month, following the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed finding that greenhouse gases contribute to air pollution that may endanger public health or welfare. In an effort to keep the debate from heading far off course, I must comment on one particular argument that is, in my view, nonsensical and ultimately distracts...
April 1, 2009
Longtime readers of this magazine may notice that the April cover theme marks an exception to a rule that has been fairly well established for awhile now. Topics on the cover of Chemical Engineering typically reflect one of the practical, how-to articles that we are known for — or at least point readers to an especially timely and lengthy news roundup article. This time, however, instead of focusing...
March 1, 2009
It is with great pride and honor that I announce to our loyal readers and advertisers that I have been promoted to publisher of Chemical Engineering. As I write this letter a week after the historic inauguration of President Obama, our nation has just enacted a change in leadership as well. Now, I am not comparing the role of the publisher of Chemical Engineering to that of the new president by any...
February 1, 2009
Although the inauguration of the U.S.’s 44th President is now fading into memory, the changes that Barack Obama’s Administration will bring to the chemical process industries (CPI) are only beginning to reveal themselves. One thing is very clear, though: In these tough economic times, some very important policy issues are on the agenda with direct implications to our field. At the top of the...
January 1, 2009
First, you’ll need a lot of lemons. As 2009 kicks off, sour fruit happens to be in great supply. To be blunt, the chemical process industries (CPI) are in the middle of what appears to be the worst recession since World War II (WWII). There are many signs that point to such a conclusion, but a particularly clear picture can be drawn from the November 2008 CPI operating rate (see p. 60), which is the...
November 1, 2008
The world of petrochemicals is approaching a critical time in its history. A cyclical downturn, caused by a build up of new supply in the Middle East and Asia, is occurring at the same time as energy and feedstock prices — while highly volatile — appear to have moved to sustained higher levels. Add into this picture a major credit crisis, a recession in the U.S. and elsewhere, and it is clear...
October 15, 2008
This month’s cover line "Approaching Zero Liquid Discharge" (see Cover Story, pp. 60 – 68) includes part of a growing vernacular that applies to water use in the chemical process industries (CPI) and beyond. Regardless of how differently the situation can be stated, there is a common concern: world water needs are growing, while suitable water supplies are limited — at least...
September 15, 2008
Even before visitors to the 2008 Olympic games left Beijing and the athletes vacated the Olympic village last month, mainstream media and analysts were drawing parallels to an expected exodus of foreign participation in China’s manufacturing sector. In an entry on MSNBC’s World Blog (www.worldblog.msnbc.msn.com), NBC News correspondent, Ian Williams likened the nation’s next economic...
August 15, 2008
Corrosion is a cannibalistic force that usually attacks chemical process equipment from the inside out. That must be why it is often referred to as a hidden cost, because the economic impact of corrosion is becoming impossible to overlook. As Russell D. Kane, director of corrosion services for Honeywell Process Solutions (Phoenix, Ariz.; www.honeywell.com) points out, the price of corrosion reveal itself...
August 15, 2008
Receivers in Compressed Air Systems June, Cover Story Part 2, Compressed Air: Your Most Expensive Utility, pp. 39 – 43: This is a very good article. I want to add a thought about the current practice of specifying receivers. When the majority of compressors sold and used were reciprocating compressors, receivers were provided as part of the system to act as a muffler, a point for water separation...
July 15, 2008
Exactly three years ago, in the July 2005 issue, this page began with a reference to a perfect storm, whereby then-record-high oil prices of $60/bbl and a relief in capital costs were expected to get the chemical process industries (CPI) back on the building track. I doubt that anyone envisioned, however, the magnitude in the capital-project surge that would indeed ensue or that those "record" oil prices...
May 15, 2008
A lot has happened in world finance markets since Rebekkah Marshall’s relatively optimistic assessment of the economic outlook in Chemical Engineering’s December 2007 issue. A welter of bad news about poorly made housing loans that were subsequently repackaged and sold as high-value securities has turned into a full-blown, but slow-motion, global financial crisis. While, to date, this has been...
May 15, 2008
Pressure Transmitter Mounting March, Column Instrumentation Basics, p. 48 The illustration in Figure 9 purports to show a flowmeter installation for vapor or gas. In vapor or gas service, the differential pressure and pressure transmitters are always mounted above the process taps, with the impulse tubing sloped from the transmitters to the process taps, without low point or high point pockets. This is...
April 15, 2008
As spring approaches, the woods around Frankfurt are beginning to get green again. Taking in this annual transformation, it seems like a good time to reflect on how the meaning of the word "green" has changed — through misuse or at least, in my opinion, overuse of the word. Many press releases course through our offices, and more and more (it seems), companies are touting a greener process...
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