Archives :: Editor's Comments
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...
March 15, 2008
Negative opinions regarding the adequacy of contemporary process-plant safety certainly exist in the public, governmental and private sectors. Any way you look at it, a harsh truth for the chemical engineering profession is that for every thousand or so thankfully uneventful operations, a pessimistic residue lingers from a tragic incident of the past. That presence continually reminds us to heed the...
February 15, 2008
The chemical process industries (CPI) are united in many common goals. Particularly in this age of fast global growth, it is difficult, if not impossible, for a company to achieve its targets by working independently. A common theme circulating at this year’s DaratechPlant (Houston; January 28–30; www.daratechplant.com), was that with increasing project complexities, advanced technologies and...
January 15, 2008
In a ceremonious sense, the marking of a new year thankfully lets us put certain things to rest and look ahead to a fresh start. At the same time, a majority of the previous year’s challenges are still at hand — if not intensified. The latter is certainly true for the chemical process industries (CPI) in a broad sense and is especially the case this year in the context of greenhouse gas (GHG)...
January 15, 2008
Opinion on ChE Graduate Shortages Your editorial (Calling all chemical engineers, Sept., p. 5) on the subject of the lack of entrants to chemical engineering studies and careers invited readers to reply. I think that this problem will not go away until the industries desiring chemical engineers examine the source of the problem. In my opinion any high school leaver with more brains than a sausage will have...
December 15, 2007
As 2007 draws to a close, the usual year-end flurry of economic analysis is hitting consumer and trade press alike. For this magazine’s global audience, the bottom line depends on where you’re standing and whether you’re looking back or forward. Looking back, "We have just come off of four years (2003 – 2006) of very strong global economic growth," Dr. Thomas K. Swift...
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