Smart Petrochemical Processes — Sustainable Solutions Enabling a Better World.
The development of the petrochemical industry in the 21st century is improving quality of human life and advancing our civilization to a new height. The petrochemical industry has a profound impact in all aspects of our lives. Petrochemical products are critical to various industries, such as food & beverage, clothing, housing, and transportation. These products were mass produced and consumed, thanks to their ease of production and durability. However, when the manufacturing processes became unsafe, or the wastes generated from them failed to be reclaimed or reused, people began to feel threatened by them and began to regard petrochemical industry as the public enemy. How to ensure a sustained development has become the most critical mission for the petrochemical industry. Chemists and chemical engineers are most qualified to address the chemical-related issues, and only chemical technologies can offer solutions to these problems.
There were seventeen Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) set by the United Nations in 2015, and it is important that these Goals need to be achieved by 2030. Twelve of the seventeen SDGs are directly linked to chemistry or chemicals. Evidently, chemical science shall play a critical role in the sustained development of human society. Using improving reaction processes, enhancing resource conservation, totalizing waste recovery as starting points., we can creatively solve many of these problems relating human survival. Many new or innovative petrochemical technologies have already been widely applied in our daily life, such as water purifying membrane technology, autonomous driving, specialty materials for sports equipment and fabrics, and various energy-saving and carbon-reducing equipment and parts.
The future, incidentally, is full of uncertainties. Petrochemical industry will face many more challenges in the future. Fortunately, information and analytics technologies available today will enable us to leverage the abundance of the petrochemical plant data and build accurate models to describe, predict, and optimize our plants to the level of “smart” petrochemical plants that would secure petrochemical industry's profitability, safety, and sustained development.
In summary, high technology incorporation, high value-added manufacturing, and environmental friendliness are the keys to the sustained development for the petrochemical industry. Information technology such as big data and artificial intelligence should be deeply integrated within the petrochemical industry. We must continue to develop and provide great products to enabling a better world.