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July 9, 2014
Although in many places in the world, freshwater is still viewed as a commodity, a paradigm shift of thinking has begun where water is increasingly considered a critical resource. This shift in mindset is accelerated when water stress rises. Available freshwater supplies can be limited in quantity or in quality for meeting the increasing demands of population growth and industry expansion . In many arid...
April 24, 2014
Most chemical processes are born in the laboratory. The challenge for engineers is to then convert the laboratory method into a large and economically sound industrial process. Unfortunately, many promising technologies never see the light of day; some because of perpetual piloting programs aimed at solving minute process issues, others due to unanticipated technical problems resulting from fast-tracking...
September 10, 2013
Bigger is better. That simple statement summarizes one of the fundamental principles of chemical engineering. It is a statement that we frequently want to ignore, but if capital efficiency is the main concern, it is always true. All engineers need an occasional reminder of this truism and can be aided by a tactile exercise that shows the inescapability of the bigger-is-better mentality. Origami, the...
April 1, 2012
Recent visits to several chemical plants and industry events around Baton Rouge, Louisiana confirmed that workforce issues are a major concern for manufacturers of chemicals in that region. In discussions in late February with plant leaders at chemical manufacturing facilities around the Baton Rouge area, the task of recruiting technically trained engineers, especially those with process experience...
January 11, 2012
In the long run (a few hundred years, perhaps) humans will exhaust the Earth’s current supply of fossil fuels. It is more accurate to say that before we exhaust the supply, humans will stop burning fossil fuels to produce electricity and power our vehicles because fossil fuels will have become too valuable. From a chemical engineering perspective, would it not be more appropriate to use fossil fuels...
September 27, 2011
In today’s economy, businesses have become more cash-conscious. The focus on expenses has become increasingly important to the bottom line. Typically, the top three business expenses are wages, raw material costs and taxes. If jobs are cut, or raw material purchases are reduced, margins may be salvaged in the short term, but over a period of time, lack of inventory and production shutdowns can prove...
May 31, 2011
There are many people working in a typical chemical process industries (CPI) facility. The individuals who work hands-on with the equipment — especially the experienced personnel — have a wealth of information that can make a huge difference in the success or failure of many projects. The key to gaining wisdom from these valuable resources lies in how you approach them. You should cultivate...
March 23, 2011
Water-supply issues are emerging as a national concern with certain sectors coming under increasing scrutiny. This is certainly the case with the ethanol industry. State discharge regulations dictate that plant designs incorporate technological solutions to minimize water use. These designs give operators increased flexibility in terms of enabling the reuse of water streams internally, with the goal to...
March 29, 2010
Biodiesel, the methyl ester of fatty acids, has been accepted as a renewable-sourced alternative to fossil-derived diesel fuel. Today in many parts of the world, biodiesel is already blended with diesel fuel up to about 5%. Presently the demand for biodiesel is only approximately 40–50% of the production capacity, but the global biodiesel market is expected to experience strong growth in the next few...
May 26, 2009
The Department of Homeland Security established the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS) to impose mandatory security regulations on high-risk chemical facilities. Interpreting and fulfilling the regulations present challenges to security directors, but finding the right guidance and working with a security integrator who has experience in the chemical industry can help achieve compliance...
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