Archives :: Editor's Comments
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...
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...
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