The process in which specialty chemicals are created is called batch processing:
Specialty chemical manufacturers produce organic chemicals that are used in thousands of products vital to consumers and U.S. industry. Specialty chemical manufacturing is sometimes referred to as custom or fine chemical manufacturing. The term specialty chemical is based on use and fine chemical is based on purity, yet they are both considered a part of specialty chemical manufacturing.
This unique niche in the chemical industry is innovative, entrepreneurial and consumer-driven. Specialty manufacturers make smaller quantities of chemicals that have specific performance applications.
In contrast to the production of commodity chemicals, specialty manufacturing requires that the raw materials, processes, operating conditions and equipment change on a regular basis to respond to the needs of customers.
How Specialty Chemicals Differ from Commodity Chemicals
Specialty chemicals differ from commodity chemicals in that each one may have only one or two uses, while commodities may have dozens of different applications for each chemical. While commodity chemicals make up most of the production volume (by weight) in the global marketplace, specialty chemicals make up most of the diversity (number of different chemicals) in commerce at any given time.
Commodity chemicals are typically produced in continuous processes, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Specialty chemicals, because of their complex chemistries and narrowly focused applications, are frequently produced batch-by-batch in a reaction vessel. Since continuous processes employ continuous feeds and yields, the production volume is usually far greater, per chemical, than for batch processes. The main difference, however, is that a batch process is not necessarily automated, and the chemical reaction (which yields the desired product) has a distinct beginning and ending for each batch.
Chemical Manufacturing Methods: Batch vs. Continuous Processing
Chemicals are manufactured using one of two distinct methods: batch or continuous. A continuous operation requires a constant raw material feed to the process vessel and continual product withdrawal. A batch process, which is used by specialty chemical manufacturers, requires intermittent introduction of frequently changing raw materials, varying process conditions within the vessel, and different removal methods. In batch processing, vessels are often idle while waiting for raw materials or undergoing quality control checks and cleaning. Thus, emissions from batch processing are substantially different from those of continuously operating processes.
The major concern of specialty chemical manufacturers in 1921 was the need for barriers to foreign manufacturers importing into the United States. Members of this specialized sector of the infant chemical industry felt that American companies had the knowledge and capacity to compete against these more well-established companies in countries like Germany that were dominating the U.S. market. Thus, they created a trade association – then the Synthetic Organic Chemicals Manufacturers Association – to advocate for their needs.
Kate Donahue, President, Hampford Research, Inc. (HRI)
Q: How or why did you become involved in the specialty chemical industry and how long have you been a part of the industry?
A: HRI was originally started 30 years ago by my father, Jack Hampford, who identified a need in the industry for chemical suppliers to partner with their customers and work jointly with...
There are many legislative and regulatory issues that face the specialty chemical industry. The Toxic Substances Control Act is heating up as the industry awaits introduction of dueling pieces of legislation on the issue.
Toxic Substances Control Act
With dueling Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) reform bills expected to be introduced in the U.S. Senate, SOCMA is looking forward to sharing the perspectives of specialty chemical manufacturers on this priority issue...
Nation Ford Chemical owners fight foreign competition
FORT MILL — It’s an all too familiar story. You know the ending before it even starts. Small, locally owned company makes a good product. As the company grows, foreign competitors enter the market, selling the same product at a cheaper price because their labor costs are minimal and they don’t have to comply with the same environmental rules governing U.S. companies...
The following numbers represent the impact of SOCMA member companies on the specialty chemical sector.
Specialty chemicals go into many different sectors, including:
Specialty chemicals can be material additives that enhance performance, ingredients in a formulation or mixture or intermediates, which are compounds used to make other chemicals.
What’s Special about Specialty Chemicals?
Specialty Manufacturing Businesses
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