TLDR: Chemical plants are big factories that make chemicals on a large scale. They use specialized equipment and technology to transform raw materials into new products. Chemical plants can be found in various industries like polymer, pharmaceutical, and food production, as well as power plants and oil refineries. They play a crucial role in creating the materials we use in our everyday lives.
A chemical plant is an industrial process plant that manufactures chemicals or processes them in some way. The main goal of a chemical plant is to create new material wealth by transforming or separating materials through chemical or biological processes. These plants use specialized equipment, units, and technology to carry out the manufacturing process.
Chemical plants can be found in various industries such as polymer, pharmaceutical, food, power plants, oil refineries, natural gas processing, and biochemical plants. They also include water and wastewater treatment facilities, as well as pollution control equipment. Some people even consider oil refineries and pharmaceutical or polymer manufacturers to be chemical plants because they use similar technologies.
Petrochemical plants, which use chemicals derived from petroleum as raw materials, are usually located near oil refineries to minimize transportation costs. Specialty chemical and fine chemical plants, on the other hand, are usually smaller and not as sensitive to location.
Chemical plants use chemical processes to transform feedstock chemicals into products. These processes can be used in multiple chemical plants, with different capacities at each plant. A chemical plant consists of units or lines that are interconnected by piping or other material-moving equipment. These units carry streams of material, which can be fluids, gases, liquids, or solids. The overall process is made up of steps called unit operations, which occur in the individual units.
Chemical plants can operate in batch or continuous mode. In batch operation, production occurs in discrete batches, where a batch of feedstock is fed into a process or unit, the chemical process takes place, and then the product and other outputs are removed. Continuous operation, on the other hand, involves ongoing streams of material and continuous operation of all steps. Chemical plants can operate at different capacities, which refer to the amount of feedstock or product they can process per unit of time.
Chemical plants consist of various units and fluid systems, including vessels, piping, tubing, valves, pumps, compressors, and heat exchangers. These units and systems are designed to handle different temperatures, pressures, and conditions. Separation processes, such as filtration, distillation, and drying, are also important in chemical plants.
The design of a chemical plant is typically done by chemical engineers, who consider factors such as cost, safety, environmental constraints, and controllability. Computer simulations and calculations are often used to help with the design and optimization process. Once a plant is designed and built, it requires ongoing operation and maintenance. This involves process control, where information from sensors and other devices is used to control equipment and ensure the plant operates smoothly. Workers in a chemical plant include engineers, plant operators, maintenance technicians, and other personnel.
Chemical plants must comply with statutory and regulatory requirements related to safety, hazardous waste, and pollution control. Safety is a major concern in chemical plants, and various measures are taken to prevent accidents and ensure worker safety. Chemical plants may also have transportation and maintenance facilities, as well as laboratories for sample analysis and research.
Chemical plants are often clustered together in specific locations to take advantage of shared utilities and infrastructure. These clusters can promote industrial symbiosis and efficiency. Corrosion is a major issue in chemical plants, and materials like FRP (Fibre-reinforced plastic) are used to mitigate this problem.
In summary, chemical plants are large factories that manufacture chemicals or process them on a large scale. They use specialized equipment and technology to transform raw materials into new products. Chemical plants are found in various industries and play a crucial role in our everyday lives.