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Editor’s Page: The Growing Importance of Business in Engineering

By John Pearson, Divisional President |

In this era of ever-higher crude oil prices, and at a time of impending legislation to tax carbon emissions and favor "greener" technologies, the role of the chemical engineer is experiencing important changes. In a nutshell, the engineer’s role is shifting from process specialist to one that is ever more integrated in the overall business decision making of the chemical process industries (CPI). Market research and engineering research are becoming sister disciplines, as the rapidly changing landscape of rising energy and chemical-feedstock prices and new green legislation collide. You can see why this is true from the example of petrochemicals production. Record-high oil and chemical feedstock prices are causing a whole range of rapid shifts that will ripple throughout the global CPI. Most forecasters are expecting the oil price to settle above $100/bbl. Production of olefins and petrochemicals is moving to regions with the most favorable feedstock costs (Middle East) and consumption is shifting to the regions of most rapid economic growth (China, India and other Asian countries). North America is, not surprisingly, developing new interest in and enthusiasm for coal and biomass as potential future feedstocks. But…
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