“Chemical industry professionals are hungry for a venue where they can learn about best practices in material science for corrosive chemical service. The 2013 Chemical Processing Symposium will fulfill that need,” says Thom Johnson, industry manager for Ashland Performance Materials’ Corrosion Resistant Composites Business.

Thom Johnson, industry manager for Ashland Performance Materials’ Corrosion Resistant Composites Business.

Thom Johnson, industry manager for Ashland Performance Materials’ Corrosion Resistant Composites Business.

The 2013 Chemical Processing Symposium (CPS) – Managing Corrosion with Non-Metallics – will be held at the Galveston Island Convention Center on November 6-7 in Galveston, Texas. Johnson serves as chair of the 2013 CPS committee. After beginning his career with Dow Chemical as a research chemist about 35 years ago, Johnson has spent the last eight years with Ashland.

“We will get a very good turnout of suppliers and fabricators at this symposium because of its title and content,” says Johnson. The Symposium will be the perfect opportunity for this group to network with process engineers and material specifiers in the chemical processing industry.

How is the price of energy/gas affecting the chemical market and offering opportunities for composites?

There is a major upheaval in the North American energy market. The arrival of shale gas is significantly reducing energy costs across the continent. This is particularly significant in the chemical process sector where energy costs directly affect the competitiveness of the North American chemical industry relative to foreign suppliers. Shale gas also provides chemical companies easy access to low cost ethylene, a basic building block for a large number of downstream chemical derivatives. As a result, the chemical process industry, which – only a few years ago – was in decline, is now a growth market. Growth means more capital for maintenance budgets and capacity expansion. This affords a great many opportunities for composite products that have faithfully served this industry for more than half a century.

What are some of the major opportunities for composites in the chemical processing industry?

The chemical process industry (CPI) is a very demanding market for corrosion resistant materials. Processes conducted in this industry frequently incorporate strong acids, alkalies and halogenated materials (e.g., HCl, NaOH, bleach and brine) that are highly corrosive to metals but readily handled by fiber reinforced plastics (FRP) or dual laminates. Many of our best resin chemistries and FRP designs were invented to meet the demands of this industry. Often, properly designed FRP based piping, storage tanks, process vessels and scrubbers will significantly outlast more expensive metal alloy alternatives at a fraction of the cost.

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