A chemical plant (also chemical plant , chemical plant ) is a technical system, be prepared industrially in the raw materials and reaction products of chemical reactions. The aim is to produce more expensive recyclable materials from inexpensive raw materials and intermediate products.
Chemical factories were established with the industrial revolution , as the understanding of chemical processes in the 19th century made controlled chemical reactions manageable on a larger scale. Previously, chemical processes were used, for example in the tanning of hides or color production, mostly on a manufacturing scale, without knowing the underlying chemical processes.
In 1778 the first chemical factory in Switzerland was built in Winterthur with the laboratory . The Marktredwitz chemical factory, founded in 1788, was the first chemical factory in Germany. The chemical factory Gebrüder Gravenhorst , founded in Braunschweig in 1759 , is often referred to as the first chemical factory in the German-speaking area in publications in the field of chemical and pharmaceutical history. The first large-scale manufactured products were soaps, additives for bleaching textiles and for making glass - this is how the history of BASF began around 1865.
Chemical factories require a range of special equipment:
- Reactors for carrying out the chemical reactions
- Pumps and pipeline systems for transporting substances within a plant
- Apparatus for distillation , adsorption , absorption , desorption , extraction , drying , heating , cooling , evaporation , condensing , filtering , crystallizing , separating , grinding , sieving , mixing , stirring , settling, etc. These processes are called basic operations and are the building blocks a chemical process.
- Laboratories for checking the quality of the chemicals used and produced
A chemical factory needs connections to transport routes . For numerous chemicals ( dangerous goods ) there are transport restrictions and regulations, often a rail connection and sometimes a landing stage. E.g. Chlorine may not be transported by truck. On a larger scale, pipelines are also used to transport gases (such as natural gas or ethene ) and liquids (such as crude oil) to and from.
Waste water / exhaust air
Chemical factories usually have their own wastewater treatment and treatment, as the impurities are often very complex and cannot be controlled by normal sewage treatment plants . Specific filter systems are provided for the contaminated exhaust air from chemical plants .
Plant fire brigade
The storage of raw materials and products is necessary to ensure continuous production. Unstable or flammable substances, for example, require special safety measures.
Chemical factories have strict access restrictions, are only accessible through guarded gates and are otherwise completely fenced. Employees have company ID cards, while suppliers and visitors have to log in and out at the entrances.
The main energy required in a chemical factory is heat and, to a lesser extent, electricity. Heat is often at least partially generated internally, as individual ( exothermic ) processes generate heat that can be used in other systems. The heat is mostly transported as superheated water vapor. Larger factories often have their own power plants for generating heat and electricity.
The employees in a chemical factory are specially trained chemical technician, today chemical technicians called chemical engineers and (often technical ) chemist and electricians, fitters and other professionals that are necessary for the operation of a technical installation.
Chemical factories pose many dangers:
- Immission in air, soil and water. This is essentially ruled out in the industrialized countries, but by no means in developing and emerging countries.
- Risk of fire and explosion . Chemical reactions can be highly exothermic and require reliable cooling. In the event of a failure, a reaction can “run away ” and lead to a fire or explosion. Some materials are sensitive to air, impact or heat and can catch fire if improperly handled and stored.
- Accidents at work due to complex technology, technical defects or negligence. Industrial accidents in chemical plants are particularly dangerous due to the toxicity and other harmful properties of the chemicals produced.
Chemical factories are subject to extensive government supervision and requirements designed to ensure safe operation. On the one hand, this concerns the chemicals used, their use and their properties (see also REACH ) must be documented. Employers ' liability insurance associations are responsible for the safety regulations for the protection of workers and employees, and the trade supervisory authority is responsible for compliance with work and environmental regulations .
Typical large-scale processes
- In refineries , crude oil is distilled and processed and gasoline , kerosene , diesel and other by-products are produced.
- In bulk chemical manufacturing, the most common process is petroleum cracking . Methanol , ethanol , ethene , propene , butene and benzene are some of the more important basic chemicals , other non-petroleum based basic chemicals are chlorine , ammonia , phosphoric acid , sodium hydroxide
- Desulfurization of natural gas
- Chlor- alkali electrolysis for the production of chlorine
- Polymerizations for the production of plastics
- Haber-Bosch process for ammonia production
- Rolf Walter (Ed.): History of innovation: Income from the 21st working conference of the Society for Social and Economic History, March 30 to April 2, 2005 in Regensburg . F. Steiner, Stuttgart 2007, p. 189, ISBN 978-3-515-08928-9