Key Trends in the Digital Transformation of the Chemical Industry

Abhinav Anand | July 14, 2022 | 521 views | Read Time : 1 min

Key Trends
The chemical business is intricate, with numerous sub-sectors dealing with various challenges. Thus, there are some differences in the sector's main areas of digitalization. For instance, while specialty chemicals with smaller batches but larger profit margins are concerned with improving quality, large factories are concentrated on accelerating throughput speed.

To be able to react to quick and repeated changes in demand, supply, and working circumstances, however, every plant must optimize output, reduce waste, improve safety and sustainability, and become more nimble. Therefore, the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), artificial intelligence (AI), and cloud computing are expected to be the three most popular applications for digital transformation during the coming two years.

Key Trends


Production Optimization

The first and most valuable use cases of digitalization in chemical plants center on production optimization through improved equipment performance, process automation, remote and predictive monitoring, and simplified maintenance.

Chemical factories, which often provide basic chemicals for use as end products in other sectors, have a special responsibility to maintain consistently high product quality. However, doing so can be challenging given the significant variations in raw material supply and quality. In addition, as process engineers can change the mix on the fly in reaction to fluctuations in quality, feedstock, or ambient temperatures, better data and analytics enable finer and more frequent adjustments.


Lowering Waste

The main advantage of digitally transformed plants so far has been cost reduction. The price volatility of raw materials is a problem for the chemical production sector because customers naturally want constant low prices. Minimizing waste is critical since facilities must contend with rising energy costs.

Analytics tools that monitor fluctuating raw material prices aid factories in negotiating the best deals with suppliers and preparing in advance for price spikes. The risk of oversupply is reduced since plants can prepare the proper quantities of various products thanks to more precise demand predictions.

Sustainability, Compliance, and Safety

The chemical industry is heavily regulated as a result of the quantity of hazardous chemicals and the number of end-use industries that rely on it. Businesses are adopting digital transformation to boost safety awareness, reduce emissions and dangerous flare incidents, and guarantee a transparent and accurate audit trail.

Plants that quickly adopt digital solutions for remote monitoring, supply chain visibility, waste reduction, production optimization, raising their safety profile, and opening up new opportunities will profit from higher profits and increased revenue, whereas those that hesitate for too long risk failing in the long run.

Spotlight

Triton Water AG

TRITON WATER® AG, founded in Hamburg in 1851, offers customized solutions especially for industrial water and waste water treatment for the Food & Beverage, Oil & Gas and Energy as well as Process Industry. Our specific know-how and far-ranging industrial knowledge qualify us to find solutions for our customers’ challenges in water management worldwide.

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CHEMICAL MANAGEMENT

How Leading Chemical Companies Protect Customer Data Online

Article | June 15, 2021

Cybersecurity concerns must be considered in order for the chemical sector to succeed with digital commerce; simply listing your products on an online store and crossing your fingers won't cut it. It is crucial to pick a spouse who is aware of these hazards and has a strong defense in place. It is evident that the sector has massive potential for online sales, but selling chemicals online is different from selling common consumer goods online. Who your consumers are and how you gather and maintain data about them raise severe security and privacy problems. Chemical company leaders have every right to be concerned about the privacy of their data, given that one cyber attack occurs every 11 seconds. However, they should still go online because there is too much business risk in not taking advantage of the digital opportunity. Deloitte estimates that the chemical sector alone sold over $27 billion worth of goods online in 2020. More than half (58%) of chemical purchasers reportedly stated that they would transfer providers if their demands, which include demands for a fantastic digital experience, were not delivered. The objective is to limit risk and create a secure digital sales environment rather than dismissing e-commerce due to cybersecurity issues. Setting up the appropriate IT infrastructure: Building for convenience and security is possible thanks to new IT technologies. Emphasis on confirming identification: Always be aware of who you are dealing with, regardless of whether they came through a digital or physical means. Offering simple (and safe) reorder alternatives to clients that have been verified. It's ideal for business owners in the chemical sector who want to test selling online but are concerned about data collecting, security, and privacy for my company and customers.

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Article | June 13, 2021

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The Future of Supply Chain Management for Chemical Companies

Article | July 22, 2021

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Organic Catalyst Boasts Big Benefits

Article | June 6, 2022

An enzyme-mimicking catalyst opens a new route to important organic molecules such as glycolic acid and amino acids from pyruvate, report researchers in Japan. Moreover, the new catalyst is cheaper, more stable, safer and more environmentally friendly than conventional metal catalysts used in industry, they note, adding that it also displays the high enantioselectivity required by the pharmaceutical industry. “On top of these advantages, our newly developed organic catalyst system also promotes reactions using pyruvate that aren’t easily achievable using metal catalysts,” says Santanu Mondal, a PhD candidate in the chemistry and chemical bioengineering unit at Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology (OIST) Graduate University, Okinawa, Japan, and lead author of a study recently published in Organic Letters. “Organic catalysts, in particular, are set to revolutionize the industry and make chemistry more sustainable,” he stresses. The researchers use an acid and an amine mixture to force the pyruvate to act as an electron donor rather than its usual role as an electron receiver (Figure 1). Effectively mimicking how enzymes work, the amine binds to the pyruvate to make an intermediate molecule. The organic acid then covers up part of the intermediate molecule while leaving another part that can donate electrons free to react to form a new product. Currently, the organic catalyst system only works when reacting pyruvate with a specific class of organic molecule called cyclic imines. So, the researchers now are looking to develop a more-universal catalyst, i.e., one that can speed up reactions between pyruvate and a broad range of organic molecules. The challenge here is to try to make the electron-donating intermediate stage of pyruvate react with other functional groups such as aldehydes and ketones. However, different catalysts create different intermediates, all with different properties. For example, the enamine intermediate created by the researchers’ new reaction only reacts with cyclic imines. Their hypothesis, currently being investigated, is that creation of other intermediates such as an enolate, if possible, would achieve a broader pyruvate reactivity. In terms of cost, the researchers note that a palladium catalyst used in similar reactions is 25 times more expensive than their organic acid — which also is made from eco-friendly quinine. In addition, they believe scale-up of the process for industrial use definitely is possible. However, the researchers caution that the current amine-to-acid-catalyst loading ratio of 1:2 probably would need to be optimized for better results at a larger scale.

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Triton Water AG

TRITON WATER® AG, founded in Hamburg in 1851, offers customized solutions especially for industrial water and waste water treatment for the Food & Beverage, Oil & Gas and Energy as well as Process Industry. Our specific know-how and far-ranging industrial knowledge qualify us to find solutions for our customers’ challenges in water management worldwide.

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Association of Plastic Recyclers | August 12, 2022

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Dow, X-energy to drive carbon emissions reductions through deployment of advanced small modular nuclear power

The Dow Chemical Company | August 10, 2022

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Kinder Morgan Acquires North American Natural Resources

Kinder Morgan, Inc. | August 12, 2022

Kinder Morgan, Inc. announced it has closed on the acquisition of North American Natural Resources, Inc. (NANR) and its sister companies, North American Biofuels, LLC and North American-Central, LLC. The $135 million acquisition in combined purchase price and related transaction costs includes seven landfill gas-to-power facilities in Michigan and Kentucky. Shortly following close, KMI will make a final investment decision (FID) on the conversion of up to four of the seven gas-to-power facilities to renewable natural gas (RNG) facilities with a capital spend of approximately $175 million. Pending FID, these facilities are expected to be in service by early 2024. Once complete, the facilities are expected to generate approximately 2 billion cubic feet (Bcf) per year of RNG. This acquisition and the additional investments discussed above, combined with the recent Kinetrex Energy and Mas CanAm acquisitions, will enhance the company’s vertically integrated platform that delivers differentiated solutions across the RNG value chain. The combined RNG operations will provide KMI with annual RNG generation capacity of approximately 7.7 Bcf per year once all of the RNG facilities are in service. The remaining three NANR assets, projected to produce 4.8 megawatt-hours in 2023, will further diversify KMI’s renewable portfolio by adding electricity generation to its landfill gas-to-power operations. “We are excited to continue KMI’s commitment to growing our RNG business through the acquisition of NANR’s facilities and expertise. We believe this further positions us as a leader in the RNG marketplace and look forward to expanding our RNG footprint to benefit the customers, businesses and communities we serve.” Energy Transition Ventures President Anthony Ashley “We are proud of the business NANR’s employees have built over the past 43 years,” said NANR President Bob Evans. “With the evolution of energy markets, we are excited to join the KMI family as the world transitions to a cleaner energy future.” KMI expects the investment to be accretive to its shareholders as the four converted RNG facilities become operational over the next 18 months, with the purchase price and additional development capital expenditures representing less than six times the expected 2024 EBITDA. KMI’s August investor presentation as revised to include the NANR acquisition has been posted to the Investor Relations page of KMI’s website. About Kinder Morgan, Inc. Kinder Morgan, Inc. is one of the largest energy infrastructure companies in North America. Access to reliable, affordable energy is a critical component for improving lives around the world. We are committed to providing energy transportation and storage services in a safe, efficient and environmentally responsible manner for the benefit of the people, communities and businesses we serve. We own an interest in or operate approximately 83,000 miles of pipelines, 141 terminals, and 700 billion cubic feet of working natural gas storage capacity. Our pipelines transport natural gas, refined petroleum products, renewable fuels, crude oil, condensate, CO2 and other products, and our terminals store and handle various commodities including gasoline, diesel fuel, renewable fuel feedstocks, chemicals, ethanol, metals and petroleum coke.

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New Association of Plastic Recyclers State-of-the-Industry Report Shows Strength of US Plastic Recycling

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Dow, X-energy to drive carbon emissions reductions through deployment of advanced small modular nuclear power

The Dow Chemical Company | August 10, 2022

Dow the world's leading materials science company, and X-energy, a nuclear energy innovation company, today announced that they have signed a letter of intent which will help Dow advance its carbon emissions reduction goals through the development and deployment of X-energy's advanced small modular nuclear technology in the U.S. Dow and X-energy will collaborate with the intent to deploy X-energy's Xe-100 high-temperature gas reactor technology at one of Dow's U.S. Gulf Coast sites – which is expected to be operational by approximately 2030. The Xe-100 reactor plant would provide cost-competitive, carbon free process heat and power to the Dow facility. Dow also intends to take a minority equity stake in X-energy, working with the company to deploy small modular nuclear technology. "Advanced small modular nuclear technology is going to be a critical tool for Dow's path to zero-carbon emissions and our ability to drive growth by delivering low-carbon products to our customers. X-energy's technology is among the most advanced, and when deployed will deliver safe, reliable, low-carbon power and steam. This is a great opportunity for Dow to lead our industry in carbon neutral manufacturing by deploying next-generation nuclear energy." Jim Fitterling, Dow chairman and chief executive officer X-energy's Xe-100 is a Generation IV, high-temperature gas reactor built on decades of research, development and operating experience. Each reactor is engineered to operate as a single 80 megawatts (MW) electric unit and is optimized as a four-unit plant delivering 320 MW electric. The reactor can provide clean, reliable and safe baseload power to an electricity system or support industrial applications with 200 MW thermal output per unit of high pressure, high temperature steam. Click here to see how the Xe-100 reactor works. "Nuclear energy has always offered the promise of broad economy-wide decarbonization. Today's announcement marks an important step in turning that aspiration into reality," said Clay Sell, X-energy chief executive officer. "Dow has a remarkable 125-year history of bringing innovative solutions to the market, and their leadership is a critical driver in meeting decarbonization goals in the energy intensive industrial sector. X-energy is proud to combine our leading nuclear technology with Dow's production capabilities to deliver a global materials supply chain that is safer, cleaner, and greener than ever before." The United States Department of Energy has recognized that advanced small modular nuclear reactor technology is a key part of the Department's goal to develop safe, clean and affordable nuclear power options. In 2020, X-energy was selected by the U.S. Department of Energy's Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program to deliver a four-unit Xe-100 plant in Washington state, which will make it among the first operational grid-scale advanced reactor plants in North America. Small modular nuclear represents a key technology to enable energy-intensive industries to decarbonize. And this announcement marks an additional step in Dow's efforts to deliver 30% reduction in scope 1 and 2 carbon emissions since 2005 by 2030, on its path to achieving carbon neutrality by 2050. In 2021, Dow announced plans to build the world's first net-zero carbon emissions integrated ethylene cracker and derivatives site in Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta. It also builds on Dow's efforts to continue transitioning its sites and operations globally to cleaner power. Last year, the Company expanded its access to renewable power to more than 900 MW and obtained more than 25% of its purchased electricity from renewable sources. Today, Dow is among the top 20 users of clean energy among global corporations. Dow's comprehensive "INtersections" ESG report provides more detail on the Company's continued efforts to reduce carbon emissions around the world. About Dow Dow ombines global breadth; asset integration and scale; focused innovation and materials science expertise; leading business positions; and environmental, social and governance (ESG) leadership to achieve profitable growth and deliver a sustainable future. The Company's ambition is to become the most innovative, customer centric, inclusive and sustainable materials science company in the world. Dow's portfolio of plastics, industrial intermediates, coatings and silicones businesses delivers a broad range of differentiated, science-based products and solutions for its customers in high-growth market segments, such as packaging, infrastructure, mobility and consumer applications. Dow operates 104 manufacturing sites in 31 countries and employs approximately 35,700 people. Dow delivered sales of approximately $55 billion in 2021. References to Dow or the Company mean Dow Inc. and its subsidiaries. About X-energy X-energy is a nuclear energy innovation company focused on the development of next-generation, zero-carbon nuclear energy. Based in Rockville, Maryland, X-energy designs and deploys advanced nuclear reactors and manufactures its proprietary TRISO-X fuel to improve the delivery of safe, affordable energy to people around the world.

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Kinder Morgan Acquires North American Natural Resources

Kinder Morgan, Inc. | August 12, 2022

Kinder Morgan, Inc. announced it has closed on the acquisition of North American Natural Resources, Inc. (NANR) and its sister companies, North American Biofuels, LLC and North American-Central, LLC. The $135 million acquisition in combined purchase price and related transaction costs includes seven landfill gas-to-power facilities in Michigan and Kentucky. Shortly following close, KMI will make a final investment decision (FID) on the conversion of up to four of the seven gas-to-power facilities to renewable natural gas (RNG) facilities with a capital spend of approximately $175 million. Pending FID, these facilities are expected to be in service by early 2024. Once complete, the facilities are expected to generate approximately 2 billion cubic feet (Bcf) per year of RNG. This acquisition and the additional investments discussed above, combined with the recent Kinetrex Energy and Mas CanAm acquisitions, will enhance the company’s vertically integrated platform that delivers differentiated solutions across the RNG value chain. The combined RNG operations will provide KMI with annual RNG generation capacity of approximately 7.7 Bcf per year once all of the RNG facilities are in service. The remaining three NANR assets, projected to produce 4.8 megawatt-hours in 2023, will further diversify KMI’s renewable portfolio by adding electricity generation to its landfill gas-to-power operations. “We are excited to continue KMI’s commitment to growing our RNG business through the acquisition of NANR’s facilities and expertise. We believe this further positions us as a leader in the RNG marketplace and look forward to expanding our RNG footprint to benefit the customers, businesses and communities we serve.” Energy Transition Ventures President Anthony Ashley “We are proud of the business NANR’s employees have built over the past 43 years,” said NANR President Bob Evans. “With the evolution of energy markets, we are excited to join the KMI family as the world transitions to a cleaner energy future.” KMI expects the investment to be accretive to its shareholders as the four converted RNG facilities become operational over the next 18 months, with the purchase price and additional development capital expenditures representing less than six times the expected 2024 EBITDA. KMI’s August investor presentation as revised to include the NANR acquisition has been posted to the Investor Relations page of KMI’s website. About Kinder Morgan, Inc. Kinder Morgan, Inc. is one of the largest energy infrastructure companies in North America. Access to reliable, affordable energy is a critical component for improving lives around the world. We are committed to providing energy transportation and storage services in a safe, efficient and environmentally responsible manner for the benefit of the people, communities and businesses we serve. We own an interest in or operate approximately 83,000 miles of pipelines, 141 terminals, and 700 billion cubic feet of working natural gas storage capacity. Our pipelines transport natural gas, refined petroleum products, renewable fuels, crude oil, condensate, CO2 and other products, and our terminals store and handle various commodities including gasoline, diesel fuel, renewable fuel feedstocks, chemicals, ethanol, metals and petroleum coke.

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