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August 1, 2010
Considering that a large fraction of the synthesis gas (syngas) produced today is made by steam reforming of natural gas, it might seem curious that in some parts of the world, syngas is being converted into substitute natural gas (SNG). Nevertheless, such role reversal is common where coal is abundant and gas is expensive. China, for example, imports most of its gas, either via pipeline from Russia or...
August 1, 2010
In any given chemical processing facility, there may be literally hundreds of operational environments that require protection from excessive pressure. Both rupture disks and pressure relief valves, or the two used in combination, help protect against damage to equipment and injury to personnel. While the basic technology for either type of mechanism has not changed much in recent years, tweaking the...!_5886.html
July 1, 2010
As environmental awareness receives renewed focus in the government, the public and industry, it appears that higher standards will be applied to processors to achieve even higher oxides-of-nitrogen (NOx) removal than in the past. And since selective catalytic reduction (SCR) has been proven to be one of the most efficient systems for NOx removal from high output sources, such as coal-fired power plants...
June 1, 2010
Like other aspects of chemical processing, cooling operations are being closely examined for ways to reduce costs and resource usage. Whether it’s cooling towers or industrial gases, experts say embracing new technologies makes it possible to get more bang for your cooling buck. Cooling technologies Currently, the fleet of cooling towers in the chemical process industries (CPI) is fairly old and a...!_5724.html
June 1, 2010
Given the recent focus on cost control, it’s likely that chemical processors will suffer sticker shock when they learn that industry spends $276 billion annually on corrosion prevention, monitoring and repair. Even more abrasive is the fact that this figure does not include the cost of downtime or accidents resulting from corrosion damage. However, notes Michael McElroy, business development manager...
May 1, 2010
Less than two years ago, U.S. petroleum refiners were in the middle of an expansion and modernization program that was designed to add more than 1-million bbl/d to meet the growing demand for fuels, especially diesel fuel. Much of the investment was for cokers, in anticipation of increasing imports of heavy oil from Mexico, Venezuela and Canada. As it turned out, the demand for petroleum fuels has dropped...
May 1, 2010
Last year (2009) was a record year for U.S. ethanol production, with 200 biorefineries producing an estimated 10.6-billion gallons, according to the Renewable Fuels Assoc. (RFA; Washington, D.C.; in its recently published report, The 2010 Ethanol Industry Outlook. An additional 20-billion gallons of ethanol were produced elsewhere around the globe in 2009 — a 400% increase over...
April 1, 2010
Like most other businesses, engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) firms have felt the pinch of the economic downturn. While EPCs that specialize in building processing plants are optimistic that recent global interest in renewable and bioprocessing projects to create alternative fuels, power and chemicals may fill some of the void, most say they will continue to pursue work in markets where they...
April 1, 2010
A rapid and ongoing expansion of polysilicon production capacity will likely generate an oversupply for the next several years, driving polysilicon manufacturers to further innovate processes and reduce operating costs in preparation for an impending wave of new demand. Drastic price drops experienced in 2009 are expected to continue at a slower pace in 2010, yet polysilicon producers remain poised to...
March 1, 2010
As 2009 came to a close, the U.S. crossed a key milestone in the path toward regulating greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Nearly 10,000 facilities (Figures 1 and 2) — a significant portion of them in the chemical process industries (CPI) — became subject to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA;; Washington D.C.) Final Mandatory Greenhouse Gases Reporting Rule...
March 1, 2010
Not long ago, single-use bioprocessing equipment, such as disposable bags and tubing, appeared on the scene as an alternative to stainless-steel components for high-purity processing applications. Due to a fistful of benefits — including reduced costs, lower cross-contamination risk and increased flexibility — the use of disposables began to grow into a real trend among high-purity processors...
February 1, 2010
Many reactions, extractions, separations and other operations in the chemical process industries (CPI) involve the use of organic solvents. In addition to handling and disposal issues, organic solvents can pose a number of environmental concerns, such as atmospheric and land toxicity. In many cases, conventional organic solvents are regulated as volatile organic compounds (VOCs). In addition, certain...
February 1, 2010
As chemical production shifts to growth regions such as China and India, and moves closer to areas like the Middle East, where there are less expensive sources of feedstocks, North American and European chemical processors are under global pressure to run their plants more efficiently. Throw in the trials and tribulations associated with a poor economy, and it creates an environment where management in...
January 1, 2010
For the better part of a century, chemical process industries (CPI) have depended on catalysts to make their processes viable. Current efforts toward process efficiency and environmental innocuousness have placed more demands on catalysts to produce more with less. Industrial catalyst manufacturers are partners in the effort; they are pursuing several different pathways to maximize their products’...
January 1, 2010
Most members of the highly regulated chemical process industries (CPI) are aware of the growing worldwide attention focused on the issues of climate change, air and water pollution and the supply and protection of natural resources. For this reason, air-pollution-control scrubbers play an integral role in most chemical processing facilities. However, the economic downturn caused many processors to shelve...
January 1, 2010
In professional life, the influences that teach us, inspire us and drive us to succeed tend to come more from individuals than corporations. If you would like to bring recognition to someone whose excellence in chemical engineering you admire, consider nominating him or her for Chemical Engineering’s 2010 Personal Achievement Award. The nomination period is now open. The aim of this award, which...
December 1, 2009
Last month at the Chem Show, Chemical Engineering (CE) had the pleasure of honoring this year’s finalists and the winner of the 2009 Kirkpatrick Chemical Engineering Achievement Award, a biennial prize that the magazine has bestowed continuously since the early 1930s (for more, see CE, January 2009, p.19) The award recognizes the most noteworthy chemical engineering technology commercialized anywhere...
December 1, 2009
  The power of osmosis Last month, Statkraft (Oslo, Norway; opened what is claimed to be the world's first osmotic power plant. Although the prototype is very small (designed for 10 kW), the company believes data gained from the pilot study will lead to a commercial-scale unit by 2015. The plant is located along the coast at Tofte, south of Oslo. Fresh water flowing into the sea is...
December 1, 2009
Drying as a process is one of the most energy-intensive unit operations on the planet. Add to that the fact that dryers are used extensively throughout the chemical process industries (CPI) and it becomes obvious that there ought to be more attention paid to reducing the energy consumption and upping the “green” ante of drying processes. Unfortunately, the current economy is putting any such...
December 1, 2009
As bulk-solids processors look for ways to save money, manufacturers of screening equipment are concentrating on maximizing the efficiency of the equipment they offer. Screening has been prominent in solid-solid separations in the chemical process industries (CPI) for decades. It is usually performed either to remove oversize particles and foreign materials from a bulk solid (scalping), to separate...
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