Chemical Industry - Technology

Technology

From the point-of-view of chemical engineers, the chemical industry involves the use of chemical processes such as chemical reactions and refining methods to produce a wide variety of solid, liquid, and gaseous materials. Most of these products serve to manufacture other items, although a smaller number go directly to consumers. Solvents, pesticides, lye, washing soda, and portland cement provide a few examples of product used by consumers.

The industry includes manufacturers of inorganic- and organic-industrial chemicals, ceramic products, petrochemicals, agrochemicals, polymers and rubber (elastomers), oleochemicals (oils, fats, and waxes), explosives, fragrances and flavors. Examples of these products are shown in the Table below.

Product Type Examples
inorganic industrial ammonia, nitrogen, sodium hydroxide, sulfuric acid, nitric acid
organic industrial acrylonitrile, phenol, ethylene oxide, urea
ceramic products silica brick, frit
petrochemicals ethylene, propylene, benzene, styrene
agrochemicals fertilizers, insecticides, herbicides
polymers polyethylene, Bakelite, polyester
elastomers polyisoprene, neoprene, polyurethane
oleochemicals lard, soybean oil, stearic acid
explosives nitroglycerin, ammonium nitrate, nitrocellulose
fragrances and flavors benzyl benzoate, coumarin, vanillin

Although the pharmaceutical industry is often considered a chemical industry, it has many different characteristics that puts it in a separate category. Other closely related industries include petroleum, glass, paint, ink, sealant, adhesive, and food processing manufacturers.

Chemical processes such as chemical reactions operate in chemical plants to form new substances in various types of reaction vessels. In many cases the reactions take place in special corrosion-resistant equipment at elevated temperatures and pressures with the use of catalysts. The products of these reactions are separated using a variety of techniques including distillation especially fractional distillation, precipitation, crystallization, adsorption, filtration, sublimation, and drying.

The processes and product or products are usually tested during and after manufacture by dedicated instruments and on-site quality control laboratories to ensure safe operation and to assure that the product will meet required specifications. The products are packaged and delivered by many methods, including pipelines, tank-cars, and tank-trucks (for both solids and liquids), cylinders, drums, bottles, and boxes. Chemical companies often have a research-and-development laboratory for developing and testing products and processes. These facilities may include pilot plants, and such research facilities may be located at a site separate from the production plant(s).

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Famous quotes containing the word technology:

    The real accomplishment of modern science and technology consists in taking ordinary men, informing them narrowly and deeply and then, through appropriate organization, arranging to have their knowledge combined with that of other specialized but equally ordinary men. This dispenses with the need for genius. The resulting performance, though less inspiring, is far more predictable.
    John Kenneth Galbraith (b. 1908)

    The successor to politics will be propaganda. Propaganda, not in the sense of a message or ideology, but as the impact of the whole technology of the times.
    Marshall McLuhan (1911–1980)

    If we had a reliable way to label our toys good and bad, it would be easy to regulate technology wisely. But we can rarely see far enough ahead to know which road leads to damnation. Whoever concerns himself with big technology, either to push it forward or to stop it, is gambling in human lives.
    Freeman Dyson (b. 1923)