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September 1, 2013
Modular construction is slowly, but surely becoming a buzzword in the design/build industry because it provides many benefits to project owners. But does that mean it is the right approach for the chemical process industries (CPI), and specifically, for your application? Here, experts in the industry discuss why and, more importantly, when it makes sense to modularize. “Modular construction is...
September 1, 2013
The petroleum refining sector in India plays a vital role in the country’s industrial development and provides a major source to meet India’s energy requirements. Today, the refining sector satisfies about 30% of the total energy demand of India [ 1]. As of April 1, 2013, the total installed capacity of Indian refineries was 215 million metric tons per year (million m.t./yr), of which 80...
August 1, 2013
As an industry sector, bio-based chemicals have seen significant expansion over the past year, with several commercial developments occurring in a group of four-carbon commodity chemicals, including succinic acid, butanols, butadiene and butanediol. While a host of technology-based companies have built new facilities and scaled up production capabilities, others have formed alliances with established...
August 1, 2013
Modeling and simulation are at the heart of chemical engineering design and operations today, whether it is using traditional process flowsheeting tools, computational fluid dynamics, advanced process-modeling environments, or specific equipment design packages (Figure 1). However, much of this modeling is currently performed in isolated “silos” within organizations.  Figure 1. Advanced...
July 1, 2013
On May 9, atmospheric carbon dioxide levels surpassed 400 ppm in Mauna Loa, Hawaii for the first time since measurements began there in 1958. This concentration is well above the 280 ppm levels occurring prior to the Industrial Revolution of the 19th century, according to the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California (San Diego, Calif.; Today’s rate of increase...
July 1, 2013
Scaling, fouling and corrosion have long been the enemy of cooling-tower water. While these issues still present significant water-treatment hurdles, today’s processors are also dealing with “impaired” water streams and increasing restrictions affecting intake and discharge water, among other challenges. This one-two punch has necessitated a hybrid approach — one that includes both...
June 1, 2013
Selecting air-pollution control equipment can be tricky. It’s not only difficult to determine which pollutants must be controlled, but also which type of equipment will best control them to required levels for any given process or facility because there is no “one-size-fits-all” solution. Technologies that successfully control pollutants in one facility may not work as well in another...
June 1, 2013
Industrial uses of high-intensity ultrasound have grown tremendously over the past 25 years, says Kenneth Suslick, professor of chemistry at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and one of the pioneers in the field. Ultrasonic welding of plastics is universal, ultrasonic cleaning of equipment has replaced most solvent and vapor degreasing, and it is even routine for homes to have ultrasonic...
May 1, 2013
Increasing production of crude oil from shale deposits in the U.S. and oil sands in Canada offers North American petroleum refiners opportunities to access cost-advantaged feedstock. However, shifting product demand and hurdles in transportation logistics, along with technical issues associated with the properties of the crude from those areas, present challenges as refiners optimize their product mix...
May 1, 2013
The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Admin. (OSHA; Washington, D.C.; has flagged combustible dusts as one of its top issues since the Imperial Sugar Mill explosion in Port Wentworth, Georgia, that killed 14 employees and injured many others in February 2008. Combustible dust is, in fact, one of OSHA’s National Emphasis Programs (NEPs).   The situation today Despite the...
April 1, 2013
The continuous quest to maximize process efficiency and boost product performance, in which all sectors of the chemical process industries (CPI) are engaged, is driving demand for technologically advanced coatings. And engineering at the nanoscale level is an increasingly common avenue to reach these goals in commercial coatings. Progress in nano steps As the traditional coatings market continues to grow...
April 1, 2013
Single-use equipment has come a long way from its modest origins as a convenient storage and transportation method. As a matter of fact, recent market trends and business drivers have made disposable equipment, with its inherent benefits, so attractive to the biotechnology and biopharmaceutical industries that they’ve begun requesting and implementing entire systems for use throughout the process...
March 1, 2013
Bob Katin, chairman of the California Government Relations Committee of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) and president of the California Legislative Council of Professional Engineers (CLCPE), is a persistent man. For more than 20 years he has fought to change the California Professional Engineers Act (PE Act) so that chemical engineers would have parity with civil engineers. In the...
March 1, 2013
Because many of their products go directly to the ultimate end user, polymer and plastic processors are being asked to make their final products safer. Both consumers and governments alike are demanding that plastics, especially those that are destined for food contact, contain lower residual solvent and monomer levels. At the same time, the biopolymer industry is exploding and processors want to get in on...
February 1, 2013
Unlike fossil fuels or precious metals, phosphorus has no alternatives — we (and all other life forms on the planet) need phosphorus; it’s in our DNA, our bones and our energy-producing chemicals (ATP). We get it from our food — meat, grains and vegetables — so it’s not surprising that phosphorus is a key ingredient in fertilizer, as well as a component of sewage, manure and...
February 1, 2013
Whether for pumping, mixing, compression or ventilation, motors are used everywhere in the chemical process industries (CPI). Unfortunately, they are notoriously energy intensive, accounting for about 65% of the electrical consumption of a chemical production site. However, with the world, especially the U.S. and Europe, turning a watchful eye on energy consumption, motor and drive manufacturers are...
January 1, 2013
In the processing environment, powders often appear to exhibit variable flow behavior, which can be the cause of significant inefficiency in the form of unplanned shut downs or compromised product quality. However, the reality is that powder flow properties are influenced by a diverse array of parameters from air and moisture content to particle size, shape and surface charge.  Figure 1. The new...
January 1, 2013
Note: Deadline for nominations has been extended to March 22. 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 2013 Kirkpatrick Chemical Engineering Achievement Award. We aim to honor the...
December 1, 2012
While almost all chemical processors employ simulation software during the early design stages of new plants or new lines, simulation vendors say best-in-class facilities take the powerful tools further and use them for improving operations and profitability. And, across the board, software providers are working hard to make their most recent applications more user-friendly and accessible, so that more...
November 1, 2012
A number of factors, including plans for new plants and expansions, as well as the retirements of experienced personnel, are creating an especially competitive labor market for engineers and technical workers in the chemical process industries (CPI). The situation is placing upward pressure on salaries for chemical engineers, but continues to challenge companies in the area of knowledge management and...
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