Chameleon-Like Material Changes Color On Demand; New Genes for an Old Microbe Make Statins Cheaper; A Sweet Approach to Breaking Down Cellulose; New Catalyst Pushes Lignin Up on the Value Chain; and more.
Tal Golesworthy has Marfan syndrome, a genetic disorder that weakens connective tissues throughout the body. When he learned he would need surgery to completely replace his aorta, he used engineering principles to develop a less-invasive device to strengthen the aorta — and then convinced surgeons to implant the device in his heart.
James R. Risko
Even a relatively new steam trap in seemingly good condition can fail if it is applied incorrectly. Here’s how to recognize and avoid situations that can lead to a failure.
Crude oil derived from shale plays is less expensive and more readily available than traditional crudes, but it poses unique challenges to refiners.
Della Wong, Donald Lorenzo, Mark Suyama
Improve your management of change (MOC) system by training workers to recognize hazards as indicators of change.
The term safe work practices refers to the processes we use to authorize nonroutine work activities, and to control the hazards and manage the risks associated with these activities. Safe work practices often authorize work through permits, which frequently include checklists of potential hazards associated with the work. A nonroutine activity has nothing to do with how often the activity is done. Instead, it refers to activities that are not part of the normal process for converting raw materials to finished product, and not covered by the plant’s standard operating procedures for normal operations.
Thermoelectric materials hold promise as a means to recover waste heat from automobile exhaust, power plants, and other systems. Their use, however, is limited by low efficiency. Researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute have developed a process that combines nanostructuring, compositional control, and ppm-level impurity doping. ThermoAura, Inc., a start-up company co-founded by the researchers, has scaled up this process to manufacture high-performance thermoelectrics with tunable properties.
Italy’s many small and medium-sized chemical companies are crucibles of innovation, whose exports have helped the country to establish a strong presence in the global chemicals market.
To provide guidance and disseminate reactivity data, the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), in conjunction with partnering companies and technical associations, developed the Chemical Reactivity Worksheet (CRW). The free software ( http://response.restoration.noaa.gov/reactivityworksheet ) allows CPI professionals to review the reactivity hazards of thousands of individual chemicals, as well as predict the consequence of mixing chemical substances. Since its release in March 2013, the CRW Version 3 (CRW3) has been downloaded approximately 80,000 times.
In the April AIChE Journal Perspective article, “Layer-by-Layer Approaches to Staging Medicine from Surfaces,” Paula T. Hammond of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology describes her research on a method that creates layers of thin films stacked on top of one another. Each layer contains a different therapeutic, which is incorporated into the thin film via one of several mechanisms (e.g., charge, hydrogen bonding, or other complementary interaction). This technique is useful for drug therapy in applications such as bone regeneration.
In the article “Recognize Hazards to Recognize Change” (pp. 40–44), Donald Lorenzo, Della Wong, and Mark Suyama liken managing change in the chemical process industries (CPI) to the challenge of piloting a ship on a voyage. Subtle changes in winds, waves, currents, and tides are difficult to discern, but each small change becomes the new normal, and the next change seems to be only a small difference. Only after the ship hits an obstruction does the captain realize how severely the ship has veered off course. That was the inspiration for this issue’s cover.
Have you had to deliver a difficult message to someone lately? Perhaps it was to an individual whose performance was below expectations. Or maybe it was to a group of employees about upcoming layoffs or cancelled bonuses. It wasn’t fun, was it? As a past corporate manager and now as a business owner, I have been on both sides of these difficult conversations and know it can be just as stressful to deliver bad news as it is to receive it.
Daniel Lacks, Jeremy D. Bendik-Keymer, Evelyn B. Taboada, Nwaynay Hlaing
A broader view of ethics and professional responsibility considers the engineer’s impact on humanity.
From Apple to Coca Cola to Nike, we are surrounded by corporate branding. But did you know that branding is important to you and your career as well?
Insulating materials developed for the aerospace industry may soon gain broader acceptance in the chemical process industries (CPI), thanks in part to a Materials Technology Institute (MTI) project. CPI companies are beginning to consider the use of...
Sugar could some day be used to power smartphones, tablets, and other electronic devices thanks to a recent breakthrough by Blacksburg, VA-based Cell-Free BioInnovations, Inc.
The March 2014 Beacon discussed the relationship between process safety and occupational safety, as well as the importance of both in ensuring a safe workplace. For many years, industry has used established measures of occupational safety...
Best known for his defining book on transport phenomena — in which he provided chemical engineering students with an integrated view of the transport of the three physical quantities (energy, mass, and momentum) at three different scales (molecular, microscopic, and macroscopic) — R. Byron Bird has immensely impacted the field of chemical engineering.
When I was in college, I earned some spending money as a shoe model for a local freelance photographer. Little did I know I would become a cover girl. But a few years later, shortly after I began my career as an editor (at a different magazine), I was tapped for just that role. Wearing a black cap and gown and photographed looking out into a maze of piping in a chemical plant, I represented a young graduate facing my first job in industry. The cover line — “Chemical engineering education: How good is it, really?” — referred to an article that discussed the results of a reader survey conducted by two of my colleagues. That was 31 years ago. Today, we are still pondering the same question.
Read about the new products and services on display at the 2014 Offshore Technology Conference Expo.
Al Goodman, Allegra K. da Silva
Industrial facilities are increasingly turning to water reuse for a wide range of purposes. This article reviews water-reclamation technologies and explains how to determine whether water reuse is a feasible option for your plant.
Read about the new products and services on display at the 2014 International Powder and Bulk Solids Expo.
Accurate process safety information is the cornerstone of effective process safety management. Follow this three-phase approach to create and maintain an effective PSI program.
David Saiia, co-founder of the nonprofit Reuse Everything Institute, Inc. (REII), has always been drawn to the field of sustainable development. His theory on corporate ecology, which seeks to explore the dynamic relationship between businesses and...
How Well Are We Preparing ChE Students for Industry?; Climate FAQs: Science Academies Answer 20 Questions; Electronic Shrink Wrap Conforms to a Beating Heart; Biomass and Sunlight Cooperate to Produce Electricity; and more.
Pilot-plant piping is subject to more-frequent modification than typical process plant piping, and must be able to accommodate a range of media, temperatures, and pressures during its lifetime. Use this guide to determine which piping, tubing, and fittings are optimal for your pilot plant application.
Yi Cheng, Yong Jin
The need to address ecological problems stemming from China’s burgeoning industrial growth is the impetus behind many recent developments in China’s surging chemical industry.
Keith Carpenter, Wai Kiong Ng
The chemicals industry is a pillar of Singapore’s economic success. The island city-state’s emergence as a chemical industry leader has been boosted by investment in infrastructure and the creation of an industrial island complex.
David Klanecky, Snehal Desai
Water is required to produce energy, and energy is required to make use of water — the two are, and always will be, inextricably linked. Engineers must understand the water-energy nexus in order to manage both efficiently and sustainably.
Alan English, Jack Chosnek, Victor Edwards, Sandra L. Jones, Ralph Ellis , Edward Geaslin , Myra A. Ray
Apply HSE principles during front-end engineering design to assure safe, operable, and economical facilities.
The capture of CO2 from flue- and fuel-gas streams in large-scale power generation offers a compelling means to combat climate change. Technically plausible strategies for CO2 capture include post-combustion carbon capture (PCC), oxy-combustion, and...
With so much graphene research underway, it can be hard to keep track of the progress, as well as to evaluate the commercial viability of such developments. Here’s a look at what scientists and engineers are doing and saying about graphene.
M. Henry Heines
To qualify for a patent, an invention must be both novel and nonobvious. Novelty requires that the invention differ in some way from the prior art, such as earlier patents and published materials. Nonobviousness requires that there be more than just...
Hua Wang, Hongyi Zhou
Membrane filtration is an integral part of many industrial processes, as it is often more environmentally sustainable and cost-effective than other separation technologies
Leaks in fluid-containing castings, such as pumps and valves, present major problems for chemical processing plants. To address this issue, the Materials Technology Institute (MTI) funded a casting quality prediction project aimed at developing a...
Push valves, multiple downcomers, and truncated downcomers boost tray capacities, but they also present troubleshooting challenges. Use quantitative gamma-scan analysis to measure froth heights, froth densities, and blowby in order to solve...
Chattering is the rapid opening and closing of a pressure-relief valve. The resulting vibration may cause misalignment, valve seat damage, and, if prolonged, mechanical failure of valve internals and associated piping. Some causes of chattering...
Work-life balance is a challenge for many of us, but how do we get there from here? First, it helps to adjust our thinking. “It’s not about balance, like weights on a scale,” says Mary T. Scott, a certified professional coach. “It’s more about...
News Feature: Graphene Marches Down a Long Road to Commercialization A Stretchable, Rechargeable Li-Ion Battery Makes its Debut Defects Strengthen Magnesium Alloys Gold Lights the Way to Quantum-Dot Solar Cells Japan Taps into Fire Ice A Phase-...
If you are a young professional under the age of 35 and are willing to assume a leadership role in AIChE (on a project of your choice), the AIChE Foundation, through its Young Professionals Apprentice program (CEP, Sept. 2012, p. 72), will subsidize...
Today's CFD Programs are more powerful and easier to use than ever, thanks to improved mesh-generation strategies, computational methodologies, user interfaces and enhanced graphics capabilities. Cover photo courtesy of Acusim and Intelligent Light.
Herbert W. Cooper
Can a mega-worldwide energy interruption occur? The perfect storm may be brewing with such events as natural disasters, acts of terrorism and international disputes. This article explains how your company can prepare to effectively handle an energy...
K. Eric Bengtson, Thomas G. Troxel, John W. Carson
A sound theoretical model of the process to be scaled is the best approach; if one is not available, bench-scale testing, physical scale modeling or full-scale modeling is required. Here are guidelines as to which method is appropriate for various...
Shien-Chang Chen, Yu-Chen Hu
Since World War II, Taiwan’s chemical industry and economy have escalated dramatically. Self-sufficient in many areas, today Taiwan still faces the challenges imposed by government technical initiatives, international trade policies and regulations...
The TRIZ methodology encourages you to approach problems from a different angle. Here’s a primer on the basics of the technique and the tools available to implement it.
Surveys of the energy-related papers presented at AIChE's annual meetings provide insights into the role of chemical engineers in energy science and engineering.
David Glasser, David Milne, David Glasser, Diane Hildebrandt and Brendon Hausberger
Use this graphical technique to choose a reactor configuration based on optimizing residence time.
Joseph S. Alford
This article focuses on the regulatory drivers for alarm management, summarizes key practices, and challenges automation vendors to devise new ways to help customers implement more-effective alarm systems.
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