Since in chemical processing industries, production and processing of chemicals and allied products are two business areas that get the least attention despite being tagged as a “high tech” sector.
A business is considered as such when it infuses substantial capital in research and development of a product. Chemical and allied products require advance research and development especially when it is used for scientific research. It must be noted though that research is just one phase of the entire process. More private funds may be needed as it undergoes the other stages of development.
The United States has had considerable commercial successes in the research and development of chemicals. Maybe, it is because the country is blessed with an abundant natural resource. Moreover, it has benefited from what is called the “path-dependent phenomena”.
Path dependency pertains to the continued use of a practice or product as a result of historical preference or use. It basically revolves around the idea that it is more practical and beneficial to continue along a set path rather than creating a new one.
The United States has long since established its domestic petroleum industry and has decided to heavily use petrochemicals very early on. This pivotal decision has put United States in its position of being a great economic leader in the world. They made use of its natural resources, made investments in concept and skills acquisition. Now, it has switched to the use of petrochemicals, and has continued to do so from then on.
In recent years, however, there’s been an on-going search for cheaper alternatives in chemical engineering to produce both old and new products. The production of an old product known as ammonia through the Haber/Bosch process is quite a milestone. It was done by shifting from the by-products of steel and iron industry (limited resource) to atmospheric nitrogen (abundant base).
The Haber/Bosch process has shown a way of overcoming the problem in shortage of critical industrial components. However, the use of new technology entails huge financial expenditure. This new technology might not even right away yield commercial success. Also, it brings in profits because learning curve improvements may still be needed along the way.
Over the years, the chemical industry has evolved and has given rise to a new discipline called chemical engineering. It must be noted that chemical engineering is not the same as chemistry. It can be better described as the integration of mechanical engineering and chemical processing.
Gearing towards a conquering commercial market, the role of a chemical engineer has been a vital one as determines during the research and development stage the product’s competencies.
From small scale to large scale production, a product must attain this kind of commercial success on its transition phase. While yes, it is still true that having bigger chemical processing plants means having a larger market. But, it is also worth mentioning that these plants are products of a number of technological innovations.
To sum up, in the initial phase of product development, scientists may take the forefront. However, engineering, design, and technology define the likelihood of commercial fortune.
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