In the April, 2017, edition of Hydrocarbon Processing magazine that highlighted developments in the petrochemical industry, two articles were featured – one by The Dow Chemical Company, Freeport, Texas, entitled “Shaping the future of on-purpose propylene production”, and the other by the National Research Center (NRC), Cairo, Egypt, entitled “An investigative study for technological innovation for ethylene plants”. While the two articles by definition covered different aspects of the petrochemical chain, the underlying message was nonetheless consistent. Innovation is the key to the development of sustainable, cost advantaged methods of petrochemical production through lower overall energy consumption, optimization of product mix, and an accompanying reduction in environmental emissions.
According to a recent report “Membrane Separation Technology Market by Application (Water & Wastewater Treatment, Food & Beverage, Medical & Pharmaceutical, Industrial Processing), Technology (RO, UF, MF, NF), and Region - Global Forecast to 2022", the membrane separation technology market is projected to grow from USD 18.55 Billion in 2016 to USD 28.10 Billion by 2022, at a CAGR of 7.2%. While much of this growth is expected to focus on the rising demand from water treatment applications, there are a number of other areas of interest in the industrial, pharmaceutical, and petrochemical sectors where membrane technology will make significant strides in the coming years.
Innovation is critical to the long term growth and prosperity of the petrochemical industry. Innovation can come in a variety of areas including new product development, improvements in raw material and feedstock identification and utilization, the use of techniques such as pinch technology to identify ways to improve process efficiencies, increase production yields, and improve energy utilization, and supply chain optimization, among others.