Understanding The Chemical Industry

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The chemical industry is and has been a foundational element of the global economy for the entirety of the modern era. More than 96% of all manufactured goods directly rely on the chemical industry in one way or another. In the United States alone, it was a mind boggling $801 billion dollar industry in 2015- which adds up to 25% of the nation’s overall GDP (Gross domestic product). Recent estimates place the number of manufactured chemical goods at more than 70,000 products. Not only does the this industry play a vital role as a vendor to those outside chemical manufacturing, but it also feeds itself with many sectors of the industry supplying one another with different ingredients. The economic influence of the chemical industry is truly astounding.

The Three Sub-Categories Of The Chemical Industry

The chemical industry can be broken down into a set of three sub-categories.

Basic Chemicals 

First, there are basic chemicals; which include petrochemicals, polymers, and basic inorganics. Basic chemicals are mass-manufactured, often outputting several several million tons of material each year. While much of the merchandise itself is relatively inexpensive and plentiful, the basic chemicals sector as a whole is an extremely valuable asset. Petrochemicals are products traditionally derived from oil, but there has been a recent increase in goods made from coal, natural gas, and biomass as well. This can be exemplified by the fact that some countries manufacture ethanol using a combination of oil and natural gas, while others have started to produce it from coal. Another example is polyethene; which can be derived from oil and gas, but from biomass as well. Many basic chemicals aren’t sold directly to the consumer. They’re often vended in large quantities to clients in other sectors of the chemistry industry, where they’re used as ingredients in manufactured goods sold to the general public. For example, ammonia is natural gas. Some companies purchase it to make nitric acid. Then ammonia is combined with nitric acid to create ammonium nitrate, which is used in fertilizer. Ammonia is also used by other manufacturers to make hydrogen cyanide, and hydrogen cyanide is a key component in methyl 2-methylpropenoate, which in turn is used to make acrylic polymers. Plastic resins -another basic chemical- have experiencing an upward trend due to their recently discovered use as a replacement for older materials in the automobile industry, the construction industry, and the packaging industry.

Specialty Chemicals

The second primary sector in the chemical industry are specialty chemicals, which are designed on the basis of their performance and function. Speciality chemicals include a diverse range of products, and are used in everything from agricultural applications to dyes for textiles. Biofuels, biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, colorants {dyes and pigments}, composites, crop protection products, edibles fats/oils, nanomaterials, paints, coatings, adhesives, and surfactants are some of the most common specialty chemicals. Emerging sciences such as biotechnology and alternative energy are two examples of sectors that rely on speciality chemicals due to the unique requirements of their fields. While there are countless different types of speciality chemicals used in a wide variety of different applications, they all have live up to their name by being specifically designed to serve a particular purpose. Speciality chemicals include some of the most innovative products in the chemical industry as a whole. Clients can have a specialty chemical manufacturer engineer a one-of-a-kind product that provides a solution to their problem.

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Consumer Chemicals

The third and final group in the chemical industry are consumer chemicals. These are the ones that lines the shelves of stores and can be found in millions of homes around the world. Personal hygiene products form the bulk of consumer chemical manufacturing. Consumer chemicals include soaps like hand soap, bar soap, body wash, shampoo, and other hair care products. Dental hygiene products- toothpaste, mouthwash, and others are also a category of consumer chemical products. The cosmetics and fragrances market is one of the most profitable and successful sectors, as they’re often considered a necessity by many people around the world. Vitamins and daily health supplements are belong here, too. One of the other mainstays of consumer chemical manufacturing is household cleaning products like cleaning sprays, carpet cleaner, wood polish, dish soap, dishwasher detergents, laundry detergents, and many more items fall under this category.

A Catalyst For Economic Growth Worldwide

The chemical industry is a catalyst for economic growth worldwide. It is a mainstay in global manufacturing superpowers like the United States, the European Union, India, China, and other emerging economies. Chemical manufacturing is one of the most consistent and steadfast industries that are spurring on the progress of developing nations. The entire world depends on the multitude of products manufactured by the chemical industry, so the demand is constant. Humanity depends on these things to survive- achievements medicine, food, water, and technology are fueled by innovation in chemistry. The combined impact of the chemical manufacturing, the incredible economic boost, and the products that are created from the industry is truly making the world a better place.

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Sources

http://www.essentialchemicalindustry.org/the-chemical-industry/the-chemical-industry.html#section_2

https://www.americanchemistry.com/Jobs/EconomicStatistics/Industry-Profile

http://www.essentialchemicalindustry.org/materials-and-applications.html

http://selectusa.commerce.gov/industry-snapshots/chemical-industry-united-states

http://www.sgs.com/en/chemical/finished-product-services/consumer-chemicals 

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