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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 [1]. 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...
October 31, 2013
Just a few years ago, the natural gas industry seemed to be in its death throes, nuclear power had modest comeback aspirations, and coal was king. Since then, environmental compliance costs have tossed coal under the bus, Fukishima dinged nuclear power, and fracking took off. Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, and horizontal drilling have completely turned the natural gas industry into a runaway train...
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...
July 31, 2013
Thermal energy accounts for around 70% of industry’s final energy consumption in Europe. Solar collectors can provide the majority of this industrial process heat. Although the application of solar collectors for industrial applications will depend on the application and the location, two main arguments for using solar collectors are saving energy (and costs) and reducing environmental impact. Saving...
October 2, 2012
This article covers permitting and directly related design issues associated with thermal processes used for drying and calcining, using the production of ceramic proppants as an illustrative example. While the magnitude of permitting issues varies significantly with air-quality attainment area status, oxides of nitrogen (NOx), carbon monoxide and particulate matter are always the major issues. With proper...
August 6, 2012
Information management provides a way to develop new materials, products or formulations more rapidly, on the basis of the information that a company already possesses in-house, while providing insight that can be used to guide experimentation and predict results — even when there are no experimental data available. These approaches have been successfully adopted by numerous corporations across...
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...
April 15, 2011
All good things come to an end. And so it is with Microsoft extended support and security updates for Windows 2000,which ended in July 2010. Any manufacturer with industrial applications that are based on Windows 2000 may wisely be considering a newer operating system, in order to remain in production with the necessary security support. But migrating to a new operating system can be time-consuming...
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...
May 5, 2010
Spray drying has been applied for many years for production of fine powders of high quality for various types of batteries. Over the years, the demand to energy density and performance of batteries from new applications has led to the development of new generations of batteries, including secondary lithium-ion batteries. These batteries are foreseen to play an important role in the electric vehicle market...
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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