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.
Good morning! Or should I say good evening? The sun is just setting as I write this in Mangalore, India, where the time leads the U.S. by half a day. By the time this article is printed, India Standard Time will join the growing list of time zones...
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.
This is an expanded version of the Editorial that appeared in the print version of Chemical Engineering Progress, September 2014. Whenever I come across an interesting article or tidbit of information in the general media that I think might make a...
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.
Forward-looking perspectives on the always-evolving chemical engineering field will be framed by examinations of the discipline’s fundamentals when AIChE takes its 2014 Annual Meeting to Atlanta, GA.
Chau-Chyun Chen, Yifan Hao, Sheik Tanveer
This article introduces the thermodynamic property models that are commonly used in process simulators to perform solid-liquid equilibrium and solid-supercritical fluid equilibrium calculations.
A condensing economizer, a blowdown heat-recovery unit, or a glycol air heater can increase a boiler system’s overall efficiency by recovering heat from the hot fluegas or blowdown water.
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.
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.
The electric-power grid is being transformed into a smarter network — one that could bring significant benefits to the chemical process industries. Learn what a smart grid is and how you can participate.
Andrew Carpenter, Russell A. Ogle
Production capacity is a vital statistic for describing the performance of a chemical plant, but there is no universally accepted definition or means to evaluate it. This article provides a comprehensive definition of capacity and details the options for deriving it.
Read about new products and services in the areas of fluids and solids handling, instrumentation, and laboratory equipment.
One of my favorite warm weather activities is kayaking. The river provides a respite away from crowds and electronic distractions. Daily stressors are erased by the warm sun, a light breeze, and the sound of water lapping at my boat. A recent weekend with great weather afforded the perfect opportunity to go out on the river with my husband. Earlier that week, severe storms blew through the area with significant rainfall and flash flooding. This increased the volume of water in the river, so conditions would be perfect for a fast and exciting ride. It also called for a more-mindful approach to safety hazards, like swift currents and debris in the water.
Nathan Mancha, David M. Heitzer
Curtailment service providers can help you assess and implement smart-grid opportunities at your plant.
Xiaoming Feng, Bond Calloway, Donald Chmielewski, Iiro Harjunkoski, Ernst Scholtz, Girish Ghatikar, Nathan Mancha, Mary Ann Piette, Sila Kiliccote, David M. Heitzer
Smart Grid: The Basics - What? Why? Who? How?; You Are Not Alone; Implementing Automated Demand Response; Industry Meets the Smart Grid
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.
If you want to expand your consulting practice, you must be ready to change how you do things. “As your company matures, you need to start working on the business, rather than in the business. Become the owner, not the doer,” says Stephen Fauer,...
According to the Edison Foundation, nearly 40% of U.S. households, about 46 million residences, are outfitted with a smart meter for monitoring and managing electricity use. Some of these meters operate under direct load control (DLC), which allows the utility to intermittently interrupt service to connected appliances — such as electric heaters, central air conditioning systems, water heaters, hot tubs, and clothes dryer heating elements — during periods of peak electricity demand. In return for their willingness to accept these short (typically no more than a few hours) power interruptions, customers receive a payment or a credit on their electric bill. Smart metering is a form of demand-side management, and is an important part of the evolving smart grid.
Girish Ghatikar, Sila Kiliccote, Mary Ann Piette
Low-cost automation and communication systems will be critical to the success of demand-response programs.
New Fellows; AIChE Addresses Climate Change; International Conferences; Election Update; Member News
Understand the two most common spray nozzle designs, as well as their basic characteristics, in order to choose the best nozzle for your application.
Stephen Hung, Anthony Y. Ku
Some materials are more vulnerable to supply disruptions than others. Identify these materials and implement strategies to address challenges related to them.
Iiro Harjunkoski, Xiaoming Feng, Ernst Scholtz
Industrial processes can enable the power grid to operate more securely and economically, and at the same time reduce energy costs to the plant.
Ahmad M. Al Othman, Leonard E. Gerlowski
Abundant and competitively priced petroleum feedstock has spurred massive growth in Saudi Arabia’s chemicals industry over the past five decades. As the Kingdom faces competition from neighboring countries, it will diversify to ensure further growth.
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.
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.
Shelby Hegy, Ron Beck, Tom Ralston
Embedding a rigorous heat exchanger model within an established simulation environment can help engineers increase process yields, while minimizing heat exchanger energy consumption and capital expenditures.
M. Henry Heines
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.
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.
Shrikant Dhodapkar, Remi Trottier
Knowledge of particle properties is essential for understanding how the particles will impact your process. Learn how to identify the relevant properties for a particular application, select the best measurement technique, and analyze the data to extract meaningful information.
R. Scott Butner, David T. Allen
Industrial ecology involves turning wastes into raw materials -- an art that chemical engineers have practiced for decades.
Spring Meeting and Global Congress on Process Safety Wrap-Up; New Fellows; Professional Licensure and the Industrial Exemption; Member News
Chris Bickham, Eric Teletzke
The removal of acid gases is a key step in natural gas treatment. Closed-loop amine systems are a popular option, but they can suffer from inefﬁciencies. Use these troubleshooting tools to pinpoint the cause of operational issues.
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.
Electricity generated by fossil fuels is a relatively stable and low-cost commodity, and fossil fuels will continue to be an important source of energy for the forseeable future. The environmental impact of electricity generation is minimized...
What if we could make the Great Pacific Garbage Patch just disappear? What if plastics didn’t accumulate in our landfills? What if we could reduce greenhouse gas emissions while replacing up to 30% of the world’s plastics with a biodegradable substitute? Researchers have tried for decades to achieve these goals. One approach being taken is the development of an efficient production process for poly-hydroxyalkanoate (PHA) — a biodegradable polymer similar to the polypropylene used to make yogurt containers.
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.
Although I recently returned from a vacation and would love to tell you about the hiking we did, that’s not the topic of this editorial. Previously, I wrote about jump-starting creativity through relaxation and trying something new (Dec. 2013) and by incorporating play into your day (Jan. 2014). Here’s another powerful creativity booster to add to your toolbox — walking. Your walk doesn’t have to be an eight-mile trek from the Colorado River at the bottom of the Grand Canyon to the rim nearly a mile higher. Walking can be as simple as doing laps around the office, or getting off the bus or train a stop or two early and walking the rest of the way to your destination.
Crunching the Numbers on Grid-Scale Storage; Microbes Convert Waste into Electricity; Solar Cells Make the Right Connection; Engineered Tissue Mingles with Blood Vessels; and more.
Elliot Wolf, Robert Wasileski
Focusing too much of our attention in a particular area can cause us to miss the obvious. Simply being aware of the phenomenon of inattentional blindness is an important ﬁrst step toward reducing its effects.
Read about new products and services in the areas of bioprocessing; instrumentation; environmental, health, and safety; laboratory equipment; and materials and chemicals.
Gregory M. Bohlmann
With oil and natural gas prices surging, bio-based feedstocks are becoming increasingly competitive. This article examines, in depth, the technical and economic aspects of the biorefinery concept.
This essential cybersecurity text for executives in all sectors and at all levels provides practical advice that equips executives with the knowledge they need to make the right cybersecurity decisions. In plain language, you’ll learn how to recognize and act on threats to you and your business, along with how to act decisively to mitigate and recover from cyber incidents.
Edelmira D. Gálvez, Luis A. Cisternas
With abundant mineral resources, Chile’s chemicals industries are dominated by mining, with many of its operations among the world’s most productive and important.
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.