For a chemical engineer, John Televantos has a unique job: “We try to look into the future to see what’s most likely to happen and then invest in businesses that can help make that future a reality,” he says. He is a Partner at Arsenal Capital Partners, a private equity firm based in New York, NY. By making careful and research-driven investments, Arsenal Capital helps smaller businesses in the chemicals and materials sectors grow — something that Televantos believes has a strong positive impact on society.
Engineering processes, operating units, and equipment are designed with clear objectives and usually operated under well-controlled circumstances as designed. However, for emerging situations that are not factored into the design, data become indispensable assets in decision-making for safe and efficient operations. In the September AIChE Journal Perspective article, “Process Data Analytics in the Era of Big Data,” S. Joe Qin, who is on leave from the Dept. of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science at the Univ. of Southern California, Los Angeles to work at the Chinese Univ. of Hong Kong, Shenzhen, demonstrates how data have been effectively used in process operations and control. He also provides new perspectives on how chemical process systems might evolve to a new paradigm of data-enhanced operations and control.
The Science Behind the Breakthrough Ebola Treatment; Polymers Crystallize into Zeolite-Like Structures; Magnetic Attraction: New Material Guides Fluid Flow; MoS2 Pushes Graphene Aside for Fast DNA Sequencing; and more.
Facilities have improved their energy efficiency by implementing the ISO 50001 energy-management standard and participating in the U.S. Dept. of Energy’s SEP program. Here’s how your facility can earn SEP certification while reducing its energy use and saving money.
Hazard identification and risk analysis (HIRA) includes all activities involved in identifying hazards in your process, understanding potential incident scenarios, identifying safeguards, and evaluating risk to people, the environment, property, and business.
Many of us were taught that communicating a message is a three-step process. First, “you tell them what you’re gonna tell them.” Second, “you tell them.” Third, “you tell them what you told them.” A message relevant to chemical engineers that urgently needs delivering is this: The U.S. chemicals industry is re-emerging as a world-class dynamo with the potential to propel U.S. manufacturing to world-class status and, with it, the U.S. economy. The ultimate outcome of this is economic opportunity for our children and grandchildren.
Globalization has changed the landscape of global manufacturing and supply chains, creating huge opportunities for more efficient production of goods and services, but also significant sustainability issues. One such challenge is the waste of packaging materials throughout the supply chain. Northern Technologies International Corp. (NTIC), a small business headquartered in Circle Pines, MN, has developed bio-degradable, compostable, and, for the first time, bio-based, polylactide (PLA) for blown plastic packaging films and end products.
The best way to prevent fires and flammable vapor explosions, either inside or outside process piping and equipment, is to avoid creating a flammable mixture. However, we must also recognize that our equipment and operating procedures can fail and a...
Most computer interfaces today take very little advantage of our sense of touch,” says James Patten, founder of the Patten Studio and inventor of futuristic user interfaces and interactive experiences. His work combines the principles of engineering, computer programming, and design to give users completely unique experiences — from creating their own chemical reactions by grabbing onto virtual elements in a periodic table, to folding a protein and having the computer physically resist the folding pattern.
The potential for the integration of large amounts of renewable energy sources with the electricity grid will require large-scale storage devices. Compressed-air energy storage (CAES) is a cost-effective option for multi-hour storage applications. SustainX, a venture-capital-backed spin-out of Dartmouth College’s Thayer School of Engineering, has developed a novel isothermal CAES technology that promises to eliminate the disadvantages of traditional CAES.
The success of many emerging technologies hinges on the discovery of new materials that exhibit a combination of desired properties. Identification, synthesis, and fabrication of suitable materials for these applications remain challenging, relying on resource-intensive exploratory science. A better approach might be to begin with the target macroscopic properties in mind and then systematically narrow the list of possible material precursors and synthetic methods through an optimization technique.
New Materials Combine Ultralight Weight with Ultrahigh Strength; A Breakthrough for Redox Flow Batteries; Carbon Nanotubes Catalyze Inexpensive Hydrogen; Diabetes Microchip Is as Good as Gold; and more.
Polymer and polymer-lined equipment has become more common in the chemical process industries (CPI) due to its cost-effective corrosion resistance in severe chemical service. Fluoropolymer-lined steel, high-density polyethylene (HDPE)-lined steel, and polyvinyl chloride (PVC) are examples of materials used for tanks, vessels, and other CPI equipment. Economic considerations demand that the life of this equipment be extended as long as is safely possible.
Zeolites are widely used in the chemical process industries as catalysts and adsorbents. While the unique pore structure of zeolites is beneﬁcial, many long-standing challenges in catalysis, adsorption, and membrane separations, as well as in nontraditional applications in energy storage and electronic and optical materials, cannot be met with the currently available porous materials.
Chemical manufacturing facilities housing green plants perform all of the processes formerly handled by stainless steel equipment. Production is energy efﬁcient, fueled by photosynthesis, as living plants secrete raw materials (e.g., high-purity spider silk proteins) for downstream production and processing. Thanks to Wisconsin-based ag-biotech startup PhylloTech, this surreal vision may not be so far-fetched.
Nanoparticles Detect Sulfur Content in Crude Oil; Putting Waste Heat to Work; New Process Prints Personalized Drugs; EPA to Cut CO2 from Power Plants; Microbes Convert Biodiesel Waste into Valuable Chemicals
Some process safety incidents have occurred because operating personnel failed to recognize that a process was not responding as expected. They attempted to keep a process in operation by deviating from standard procedures, or put themselves in danger by attempting to correct an out-of-control process condition rather than evacuating.
Co-inventorship on a patent provides several advantages to an individual, but a proper listing of inventors is both critical to the patent’s validity and can be challenged at any time. A recent case involving a General Electric patent illustrates some of the requirements of a co-inventor and the hurdles that an individual can face when asserting co-inventorship status after a patent has been issued.
From rigid boards, blocks, and sheets, to flexible blankets and foams, thermal insulation comes in a variety of forms as well as different materials. Here are some of the latest developments to help you choose the right insulation.
Any safety device can create a new hazard. Any change to equipment, even one intended to improve safety, can create new hazards or make other existing hazards more severe. This is particularly true if the safety device is not properly installed.
Energy is a very important factor in process automation. Improvements in energy efficiency gained through process automation played a key role in justifying the pioneering automation projects of the early 1960s and have grown in stature over the ensuing decades. Automation-enabled improvements in energy usage have made critical contributions to worldwide prosperity over the last 35–40 years.
One of the biggest hurdles to treating disease in developing countries is the lack of portable and cheap diagnostic instruments, such as microscopes. Manu Prakash, an assistant professor in the Dept. of Bioengineering at Stanford Univ., believes that frugal science is the key to enhancing global health and science education. Prakash is creating simple, economical tools to pique interest in science exploration and even perform field-testing for specific diseases, such as malaria. One such invention, the Foldscope, is a completely functional microscope that merges the principles of origami and optical design.
Advances in energy-storage devices are a must for the widespread use of electric and hybrid vehicles, the integration of renewable energy with the electric power grid, and the development of smaller, faster, more-powerful consumer electronics. While progress has been made, several challenges remain, including limitations of nonaqueous electrolytes, which have poor transport properties and are highly flammable. The answer to this challenge: A new class of higher-performance electr-olytes being developed by Boulder Ionics Corp. (BI) for longer-lived, safer batteries and ultracapacitors.
Chemical engineers are primarily known for their tech-nical expertise. While this engineering know-how has played a key role in developing technologies essential for modern society, it will not be enough to solve the increasingly complex challenges of today’s world. Solutions to these issues, including the development of safe and sustainable food and water supplies, economical alternative energies, and more-effective pharmaceuticals, will require a multidisciplinary approach that considers political, social, and economic constraints, as well as the obvious technical challenges.
Refineries may appear complicated at first glance. Breaking them down into a series of units makes them easier to understand. This article describes the basic building blocks of a fuels refinery, from crude oil inlet to fuels distribution.
One year ago, I was putting the finishing touches on my senior design project, taking my last round of undergraduate final exams, and preparing to move to Cincinnati to start my new job in an engineering and operations rotational program at General...
Although corrosion resistance is of paramount importance, many factors must be considered when selecting materials of construction. Follow this four-step process to identify the appropriate material for your application.
We may think of process safety incidents as fires, explosions, and immediate injuries from exposure to toxic, corrosive, or otherwise hazardous materials. However, major spills of hazardous materials, especially into rivers or other bodies of water, are also process safety incidents. They have the potential to impact large numbers of people, including people far away from your plant.