Chemical compounds and materials are found in many of the products used in everyday life, from electronic devices to construction materials to personal care products. We're experts at the industrial production processes that square this circle, adding value to our customers and benefiting consumers and the environment.
We start by putting together multi-disciplinary teams of catalyst scientists, computational modellers, process chemists, and process and design engineers. By conducting experiments and using the resultant data to build detailed computer models, our teams study the chemical reactions making up these production processes in as much detail as possible. Because, to design a process that is technologically and economically efficient, we first need to understand it.
Where possible, we conduct experiments at small scales in the laboratory, allowing them to be performed quickly and inexpensively. Our expertise in designing suitable equipment and experimental programmes at small scales has been honed over many decades of successful development and commercialisation of process technology. These small-scale experiments ensure that properties which are independent of scale, such as reaction kinetics, are well understood, but additional experiments are required to understand aspects such as hydrodynamics that are not independent of scale. We combine the information derived from all these experiments into the final design.
As well as having teams to conduct the necessary experimental and design work, we also have a facility to create integrated mini plants to test the design, with these mini plants able to replicate all the steps in the process. This allows us to assist our customers in scaling up and optimising their processes.
The end result is always an industrial-scale process that helps save our customers time and money, but sometimes it’s an award-winning technology as well. In 2016, we were recognised at the IChemE Global Awards for a novel gas heated reforming (GHR) technology that recycles heat in methanol plants, allowing methanol to be produced from low-cost shale gas, while also reducing water use and carbon dioxide emissions. This reduces the cost of producing methanol for our customers and can lead to associated reductions in the cost of all the products made from methanol, which include many plastics and paints.