Chemical Product Design

AIChE Webinar
Originally delivered Jun 20, 2012

The new product-oriented chemical industry has three categories of products with different key characteristics. The first and most obvious category is commodities, the same products that used to dominate the chemical enterprise. The key for producing these products is their cost.

The second and third categories of products may be less familiar. The second category involves molecules with molecular weights of 500 to 700 and with specific social benefits. The most obvious examples are pharmaceuticals. The key to their production is their time to market, i.e., the speed of their discovery and production.

The third category includes products where the value is added by a specific microstructure. The key to these products is their function. For example, I don’t care why my shoes shine after I have applied polish; I only care that they do shine. Customers pay a premium for such a function.

This webinar will discuss whether the skill set of chemists and chemical engineers is appropriate for this altered chemical industry. While the basic skill set remains strong, the applications currently emphasize commodity chemicals. This emphasis includes such classical subjects like reaction kinetics and thermodynamics. In the future, new topics, including those based on psychology, on sustainability, and on product design, may become more central for chemical professionals.

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