ABS: Acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene terpolymer. An engineering plastic known for its ductility, impact resistance, thermal and chemical resistance, and glossy surface.
Active ingredient: A finished but unformulated pharmaceutical or agrichemical compound that “endows” its properties.
Adhesives: A material used to bond two solids together.
Alkylate: Gasoline blend stock component manufactured by chemically joining several short chain molecules such as propylene and butylene.
Alkylation: The conversion of lighter petroleum hydrocarbons into heavier hydrocarbons. This process is primarily used to produce components of gasoline that increase octane.
Alloy: A macroscopically homogeneous mixture or solid solution, usually of two or more metals.
Ambient atmospheric conditions: Generally refers to room temperature or pressure.
Amorphous: Having no clear shape.
Annealing: The process of heating a material just below its heat distortion point to relieve stresses.
Aromatics: An organic compound that has a hexagonal ring of carbon atoms; for example, benzene.
Atom: The smallest part of an element that can take part in a chemical reaction. The atom consists of three fundamental particles: the proton, the neutron, and the electron. There are 92 different kinds of naturally occurring atoms (elements).
Base chemical: Chemical building blocks from which many downstream products are made; for example, ethylene and benzene.
Benzene: Used as a feedstock in the production of many petrochemicals, plastics, and familiar consumer products.
Biocides: Chemicals used to kill bacteria.
Biotechnology: The application of scientific and engineering principles to the processing of materials by biological agents to provide goods and services. In terms of chemical engineering, biotechnology refers to the use of a biological catalyst to bring about a desired chemical transformation.
Bitumen: Mixture of hydrocarbons found in asphalt or tar used for surfacing roads or waterproofing.
Blending: Forming a uniform mixture so that constituents are indistinguishable from each other.
Blow molding: A type of processing for plastic resin that uses air to conform hot plastic to the shape of the mold. Product examples include milk bottles, shampoo bottles, and children’s toys.
Bottlenecks: A limiting factor. Term used in industry to refer to any factor that limits production.
Brownfield plant: Refers to redevelopment or a site that has an existing industrial development located on it.
Builder: A chemical used in the manufacture of detergents.
Capacity utilization: Percentage of available capacity used for production. Capacity utilization = (production/capacity)*100%.
Captive market: A market that over the short term has a limited choice of suppliers.
Catalyst: A substance that accelerates the rate of chemical reactions.
Chemical: A substance with a distinct molecular composition that is used by or produced in a chemical process.
Chiral: An asymmetric object or molecule.
Chlor-alkali: Chemistry of chlorine and caustic soda. Chlorine is mainly used in the production of vinyls, and caustic soda is used for a variety of applications, with bleaching pulp and paper being the largest one.
Colloid: A particle between several nm and several mm in size, such as polymer latex. Colloids play an important role in numerous products, including polishing slurries, glasses, paints, emulsions, and foods, for example.
Commodity chemicals: Chemicals that are sold in bulk with little differentiation between suppliers and generally lower margins than specialty chemicals (tend to be dominated by large producers with economies of scale). Competitive advantage is gained through market share, economies of scale, feedstock cost reductions, or logistics advantages.
Co-monomer: A monomer added to the starting material to alter the final product.
Complex intermediates: Intermediates that have undergone further processing and refining.
Compound: A substance that is made of two or more elements chemically bonded together.
Crackers: Production facilities for the manufacture of large volumes of petrochemicals from either oil or gas feedstocks.
Cracking: The process of splitting long chains of organic molecules (ie, naphtha) into smaller molecules (ie, ethylene).
Cryogenic separation: Separation of materials based on differences in freezing points.
Crystals: Solids that have a regular polyhedral shape. All crystals of the same substance grow so that they have the same angles between their faces.
Cumene: Derivative of benzene used in the manufacture of phenol and acetone.
Curing: Process of converting a resin from a flowable mass to a tack-free solid by addition of a curing agent.
De-bottlenecking: Process of removing factors limiting production.
Dehydration: Removal of water from a substance by a chemical reaction.
Dehydrogenation: A chemical reaction in which hydrogen is removed from a compound. Dehydrogenation of organic compounds converts single carbon-carbon bonds into double bonds. Used to produce propylene from propane.
Derivative: Chemical compound derived or made from other chemicals. Polyethylene is an ethylene derivative.
De-stocking: Bringing down inventory levels.
Diluent: A modifier added to a resin to lower the viscosity (thin it down).
Disproportionation: A method used in the production of benzene whereby a compound is simultaneously oxidized and reduced.
Distillation: A method used to separate two or more substances in a mixture by vaporizing followed by condensation.
Dopant: The impurities added to silicon during the manufacturing of a semiconductor to increase or decrease various properties such as electrical conductivity. Dopants may include arsenic, antimony, bismuth, and/or phosphorus.
Downstream activities: Refers to processing of hydrocarbons such as crude oil and natural gas into compounds that form petrochemical feedstocks or other usable products.
Drying: Removal of small quantities of water/solvents from a sample by physical or chemical means.
Effective capacity: Actual capacity taking into account planned and unplanned shutdowns.
Effluent: The waste product produced during a chemical process.
Elastomer: A material that can be stretched to at least twice its original length.
Electro chemical unit (ECU): Also called electrochlor unit. The chlor-alkali process produces chlorine and caustic soda in set ratios of 1 unit of chlorine per 1.1 unit of caustic. The combination of 1 unit of chlorine and 1.1 unit of caustic soda is referred to as an ECU.
Electrolysis: The passing of an electric current through a solution, which then attracts negative ions to the positive terminal (anode) and positive ions to the negative terminal (cathode).
Electron: Negatively charged particle found in the nucleus of an atom.
Electronegativity: Having a negative electric charge.
Element: A pure substance that cannot be broken down chemically into anything simpler.
Endothermic: A chemical reaction that requires heat, drawing it from the surroundings.
Epitaxy: The chemical vapor deposition of a substance. Silicon epitaxy is deposited onto silicon wafers used to manufacture semiconductors devices, such as discrete transistors or integrated circuits.
Ethylbenzene (EB): A colorless organic liquid with a sweet, gasoline-like odor. The greatest use – over 99% – of ethylbenzene is to make styrene, another organic liquid used as a building block for many plastics. It is also used as a solvent for coatings and in making rubber and plastic wrap.
Ethylene: A two carbon molecule with a reactive double bond, that is, C=C (C2H4).
Ethylene dichloride (EDC): Clear colorless liquid with a sweet odor and taste. Principally used as a raw material for PVC production.
Ethylene glycol (EG): Key derivative of ethylene with a variety of end-use applications.
Ethylene oxide (EO): An industrial chemical used in sterilizing medical items, fumigating spices, and manufacturing other chemicals. Pure ethylene oxide is a colorless gas at room temperature and a mobile, colorless liquid below 54 degrees Fahrenheit.
Exothermic: A chemical reaction that liberates heat, transferring it to the surroundings.
Expandable polystyrene (EPS): Plastic used in a range of products from bicycle helmets to point of purchase displays, from construction applications to speciality packaging, toys, electronics, and appliances.
Extenders: Inert fillers added to resins for the purpose of increasing the volume of the resin mix.
Extrusion: A type of processing for plastic in which melted plastic is continuously pushed through holes in a metal plate, or die. Extrusion applications vary from water and gas pipe to thin films like grocery bags.
Feedstock: Basic raw material that is converted or altered into another product in a chemical process.
Fermentation: The production of alcohol from sugar or similar substance, usually using yeast.
Filament fiber: Polyester fiber made in long lengths and used in woven applications such as garments and carpets.
Fine chemicals: Chemicals produced in small volumes to exacting specifications.
Floor price: Generally the lowest price for which a product will trade. The floor price is often equal to the cost of production.
Fluid catalytic cracking (FCC): Refinery process in which crude oil fractions are converted into gasoline. The process requires high temperature and the presence of a catalyst. Propylene is a petrochemical byproduct of FCC.
Fraction: A substance separated in fractional distillation.
Fractional distillation: A process by which components in a chemical mixture are separated according to their different boiling points. Fractional distillation is used to produce gasoline from crude.
Fractionation columns: Columns in which fractionation or chemical separation by boiling point takes place.
Fungible: Something that is exchangeable or substitutable. Used in reference to certain commodity chemicals.
Genomics: The scientific discipline of mapping, sequencing, and analyzing an organism’s complete set of genes based on the knowledge of its entire DNA sequence.
GMO: Genetically modified organisms
GPPS, general purpose polystyrene: General-purpose polystyrene is well-suited for a variety of end uses in the consumer electronics, health care, construction, and packaging industries.
Greenfield plant: Capacity added to a site where none existed. Generally includes items such as roads, sewers, and communication equipment that do not have to be added at existing plants.
Halides: A binary chemical compound of a halogen with a more electropositive element or group.
Halogenation: The addition to a molecule of a halogen atom, that is, fluorine, chlorine, bromine, iodine, or astatine.
HDPE, high-density polyethylene: A thermoplastic resin made from ethylene. Commonly used for grocery bags, Tupperware, and milk jugs.
Herbicide: Chemicals used to control weed/foliage growth.
Heterogeneous: Consisting of dissimilar elements or parts; not homogeneous.
HIPS: High-impact polystyrene known for its ease of processing, dimensional stability, impact strength, and rigidity.
Homogeneous: Consisting of similar elements or parts; not heterogeneous.
Homopolymer: A polymer resulting from the polymerization of a single monomer; a polymer consisting substantially of a single type of repeating unit.
Hydrocarbons: Compounds containing only hydrogen and carbon atoms. Hydrocarbons are the basic materials in the oil, gas, and chemical industries.
Hygroscopic: A material that absorbs moisture.
Industrial gases: Gases used in industrial and manufacturing processes such as steel production, semiconductor manufacture, or oil drilling.
Inhibitor: A compound that slows the rate of a chemical reaction.
Injection molding: Injection molding is a process by which we take raw plastic material in the form of small pellets (also referred to as resin), heat it gently to the point where it will flow under moderate pressure, and inject it (push it with a plunger) into a mold.
Inorganic chemistry: Noncarbon-based chemistry.
Input traits: Alteration of plant genetics to create a stronger or more resistant plant, thereby increasing overall crop yield.
Insecticides: Chemicals used to control pests or infestations.
Ion: An atom or group of atoms that has gained or lost one or more electrons, causing it to become negatively or positively charged. Oppositely charged ions attract to form ionic bonds. The ionic method is used to form polymers from monomers during a process called condensation polymerization, which produces water as a byproduct.
Isomer: A compound having the same molecular weight but differing in physical or chemical properties. Isobutane is an isomer of butane.
Isotopes: Different forms of the same element. The different forms behave identically in a chemical manner but have different mass.
Latex: A stable aqueous dispersion used to synthesize rubbers, as well as paper coatings and carpet backing.
LDPE, low-density polyethylene: A thermoplastic resin made from ethylene. Commonly used for food packaging and plastic coatings for paper products.
LLDPE, linear low-density polyethylene: A thermoplastic resin made from ethylene. Commonly used for shrink wrap, trashcan liners, and packaging.
LPG, liquefied petroleum gas: One of the main feedstocks for a petrochemical cracker. It is obtained by the fractional distillation of crude oil.
MDI: A form of polyurethane.
MEG: Mono ethylene glycol (see ethylene glycol).
Merchant market: The external (that is, free) market in which products may be sold.
Metathesis: A chemical reaction between two compounds in which parts of each are interchanged to form two new compounds. Also known as double decomposition.
Methanol: Simplest form of alcohol used in diverse applications, including formaldehyde, MTBE, and acetic acid production.
Mixed xylene: Mixture containing ortho-, para-, and meta-xylene. Used in the production of solvents and gasoline.
Molecule: A molecule is the smallest particle of a chemical compound that can maintain its individual properties and independent existence. A molecule is expressed as a chemical formula, such as H2O.
Monomer: Base or repeated unit in a polymer. Ethylene is a monomer, which, among other polymers, goes into polyethylene.
MTBE, methyl tertiary butyl ether: Oxygenates, including MTBE, are used in fuels to reduce vehicle exhaust emissions while maintaining high performance.
Nameplate: As stated, usually referring to amount of capacity as stated by the company.
Nanotechnology: The development and use of devices that have a size of only a few nanometres. Frequently used to refer to the building of electronic circuits from single atoms and molecules.
Naphtha: One of the main feedstocks for a petrochemical cracker. It is obtained by the fractional distillation of crude oil.
Natural gas: One of the main feedstocks for a petrochemical cracker. It is obtained directly from natural gas fields.
Neutralization: The process by which an acid and alkali mix to form a neutral substance.
Neutron: Chargeless particle found in the nucleus of an atom.
Nitration: A chemical process that adds nitrogen atoms to a molecule.
Nitrous oxide (Nox): A pollutant produced during crude cracking.
OEM, original equipment manufacturers: Initial production market, rather than a repair or secondary market.
Off-take agreement: Refers to a contractual agreement for one party to supply another with a product within certain conditions such as purity, timing, and volume. It obligates the off-taker to accept the product regardless of market conditions.
Olefin: A product with straight chain hydrocarbons that may have one or more double bonds conferring reactivity.
Organic chemistry: Chemistry based on carbon atoms.
Organometallics: Compounds in which carbon or organic groups are attached to metal or metalloid atoms.
Output traits: This activity uses genetic engineering to change the chemical or nutritional quality of the final crop or product.
Oxidation: A type of reaction where electrons are removed from a molecule or where oxygen atoms are added to a molecule.
Pasteurize: To eliminate disease causing micro-organisms and limit fermentation in liquids by heating.
PET, polyethylene terephthlate: Member of the polyester family commonly used in bottle resin, film, and fibers.
Petrochemical: Any chemical derived from crude oil, crude products, or natural gas. Petrochemicals are used in the manufacture of numerous products such as synthetic rubber, synthetic fibers (eg, nylon and polyester), plastics, fertilizers, paints, detergents, and pesticides.
Phenol: Intermediate chemical whose major derivatives include phenol A, cyclohexanes, and phenolic resin.
Photochemistry: Chemical reactions brought about by the action of light.
Physical properties: Properties not concerned with the chemistry of a product, such as melting point, boiling point, and hardness.
Pigment: Colored, insoluble substance (either organic or inorganic) used to impart color.
Plastics: Synthetic materials with the ability to flow, take shape, and solidify.
Plasticizer: A chemical added to vinyls to make them softer or more pliable.
PO/SM: Propylene oxide/styrene monomer. Usually refers to a production process that results in producing both products.
Polyvinyl chloride (PVC): Part of the vinyls chain. In flexible form, used for film, flooring, auto upholstery, eg; in rigid form, used in siding for houses, and pipes, eg.
Polyethylene: Translucent to clear, tough, waxy solid that is unaffected by water and a wide range of chemicals.
Polymer: Hydrocarbon chain made by the repetition of units called monomers. Polyethylene is an example of a polymer made with ethylene as the repetitive unit or monomer.
Polymerization: Process by which monomers are joined in long chains to form polymers; generally requires high heat or pressure or the presence of a catalyst.
Polypropylene: A polymer with properties making it extremely versatile and able to be used in substitution for wood, metal, glass, and plastics.
Polystyrene: Low-cost plastic made from styrene.
Polyurethane: Any of various resins, widely varying in flexibility, used in tough chemical-resistant coatings, adhesives, and foams.
Preform: Compressed molding compound.
Primer: A coating applied to a bonding surface prior to the application of an adhesive to improve the quality of the bond.
Propane dehydrogenation: The process of forming propylene from propane.
Propylene: A three carbon molecule with a reactive double bond, that is C=C=C (C3H6) used to make gasoline components or as a feedstock for petrochemicals.
Propylene oxide (PO): An alkyl epoxide used principally as a chemical intermediate.
Proton: Positively charged particle found in the nucleus of an atom.
Pyrolysis: The thermal decomposition of organic material through the application of heat in the absence of oxygen. All polymers are subject to thermal degradation at some level of temperature, producing small molecular fragments that appear as an organic vapor.
Reduction: A type of reaction where electrons are added to a molecule.
Resin: Intermediate products used to impart a particular characteristic to the final product, eg, heat resistance and adhesive properties.
Salt domes: Naturally occurring underground salt deposits, which are solution mined for salt. The holes left in underground salt domes form caverns that are used for petrochemical storage.
Sealants: Material that is initially fluid or semifluid, placed between two opposing solid materials, becomes solid itself (by solvent evaporation or chemical reaction), bonds to the surfaces to which it is applied, and accommodates joint movement. Prevents excessive absorption of adhesives or penetration of liquid or gaseous substances.
Slurry: A liquid containing abrasive solids that is typically used in the chemical mechanical polishing (CMP) process. CMP is a method of removing layers of solid for the purpose of surface planarization in the production of semiconductors.
Solid polystyrene (SPS): Low cost, versatile plastic made from styrene.
Soluble: A substance that is capable of being dissolved in some solvent (usually water).
Solvent: A liquid that dissolves another substance to form a solution.
SPA: Solid phoshoric acid.
Speciality chemicals: Chemicals produced in small tonnage, having higher unit values and used for critical applications requiring stringent performance criteria.
Staple fiber: Polyester fiber made in short lengths (1-1.5 inches) and used in nonwoven applications such as filling for pillows, diapers, and jackets.
Styrene: Clear liquid used in polystyrene production and in products that are processed into packaging, coatings, molded products, and adhesives, eg.
Styrene acrylonitrile (SAN): This material is used for making transparent barrels of expensive pens due to its greater strength and clarity.
Styrene-butadiene latex (SBL): A water-based polymer produced by emulsion polymerisation from styrene and butadiene. Major uses of SBL include carpet backing and paper coating.
Styrene-butadiene rubber (SBR): A high molecular weight polymer. Because of its excellent abrasion resistance, SBR is widely used in automobile and lorry (truck) tyres (tires), belting, flooring, wire and cable insulation, and footwear, and as a paper coating.
Substrate: The body or base layer of an integrated circuit, onto which other layers are deposited to form the circuit. The substrate is usually silicon, though sapphire is used for certain applications, particularly military, where radiation resistance is important.
Sulfonation: A chemical process that adds sulfur atoms to a molecule.
Surfactant: Short for surface active agent, a molecule that has both water-loving and water-hating properties.
Synthesis gas: A mixture of carbon monoxide, hydrogen, carbon dioxide, and other gases.
Systemics: The branch of science that addresses holistic systems. Wholes need to be conceptualized and studied as systems because they are not merely the sum of their parts.
TDI: A form of polyurethane.
Tertiary butyl alcohol (TBA): Widely used in the manufacturing of perfumes and a variety of cosmetics. Also used as a raw material in MTBE production.
Thermoplastic: Resin produced via polymerization of monomers. A thermoplastic material softens on heating and hardens upon cooling.
Thermoset: Resin produced via polycondensation of monomers. It is insoluble and commonly used in nonmolded applications such as industrial paints and varnishes.
Transgenic crops: A crop that has been modified by genetic engineering to contain DNA from an external source.
UHMW-PE: Ultra high molecular weight polyethylene with molecular weight in the 1,500,000-3,000,000 range.
ULDPE: Ultra low-density polyethylene. Relatively new class of polyethylene with densities between 0.89 and 0.915. Provides flexibility and toughness at a wide range of temperatures and is mainly used in film and sheet applications.
Upstream activities: Refers to exploration and production of hydrocarbons such as crude oil and natural gas.
Vinyl chloride monomer (VCM): Part of the vinyls chain used in PVC production.
World-scale plant size: Plant size necessary to achieve economies of scale and be competitive in the global markets. Plant size varies by product.
Xylene: Aromatic compound used in production of solvents and gasoline