The chemical industry (including chemical industry , chemical industry , chemical industry ) is an industry (industry), which deals with the production of chemical employed products. This branch of industry produces the substances required for many other branches of the economy. Important branches of industry that require these substances are the plastics industry , the food industry , the automotive industry , mechanical engineering , the glass industry and the building materials industry .
According to the assignment of the German Federal Statistical Office , the commercial manufacturers of the following products ( chemical products according to product classification ) fall into the chemical industry:
- Inorganic raw materials and chemicals
- Organic raw materials and chemicals
- Fertilizers , plant treatment products and pesticides
- Plastics and synthetic rubber
- pharmaceutical products
- Other chemical products (adhesives, gelatine , auxiliaries for leather, textiles, dyes and pigments, paper, sealing materials, building protection agents , photo-chemical products , soaps, detergents, cleaning agents , personal care products (cosmetics), preservatives, pyrotechnic products, explosives) .
The Brockhaus has the following definition:
- “[The chemical industry] in the broader sense includes those industries that deal exclusively or primarily with the conversion of natural and the production of synthetic raw materials . Delimitations are difficult and not uniform. "
Soaps, for example, are made by chemically converting fats and oils (natural raw materials), while plastics are made from substances such as ethylene , styrene and vinyl chloride (synthetic raw materials). These areas belong to the chemical industry. When baking cakes, a chemical transformation also takes place, but such a trade is part of the food industry . The industry that processes plastics (with the addition of pigments and other substances) (e.g. tires, carrier bags) does not belong to the chemical industry, but to the plastics industry - although chemical conversions take place here too.
The chemical industry does not include: The production of lignite coke , tar products , the production of heating oil , mineral oils for cars, aircraft, the production of refinery gases (propane, butane, ethylene, propylene, butadiene), uranium enrichment (coking and Mineral oil industry or fission and breeding material industry). The metal production ( Metal Industry ), the glass - and ceramics ( glass - or ceramics industry ), the leather industry , the recycling of scrap metal, waste textiles, waste oil wastes, broken glass, electronic scrap ( recycling industries ) and the production of coke oven -, blast furnace gas , mine gas , biogas , Gas supply services ( energy supply ) and the processing of water with drinking water quality ( water supply ), although chemical knowledge is required in these areas and chemical processes are carried out.
However, the extraction of metals from ores was carried out very early on. Alchemists engaged in scientific research in this sector. Gold and silver have been important coinage metals and were very important for exchanging goods and services. Silver and gold could not be increased at will, the number of coins depended on the ore mines and the state mints in which the coins were produced. At that time, coins were often very scarce, so that money, the coins, was very important. Even meaningful work remained fairly constant in its type and form over many centuries, so that the money in circulation remained constant. It was only with the onset of industrialization and population growth that new goods and products - especially through chemistry - came into the economic cycle, so that the money supply could hardly be secured by coins, paper money was increasingly printed (e.g. during the French Revolution) . Money should justly sanction the distribution of scarce goods among citizens. Metal extraction and the chemical industry set the pace for the economic upswing: Metals were required for steam engines, combustion engines, iron girders (e.g. housing, bridges, rails), the chemical industry provided soda (for the glass industry and for detergents and cleaning agents), Man-made fibers and dyes (e.g. for textiles).
Inorganic chemical industry
The starting point for the development of the chemical industry was the lead chamber process (1740 Richmond near London) for the production of sulfuric acid . In 1778, the first chemical factory in Switzerland, the laboratory in Winterthur , started producing concentrated sulfuric acid. A second key product in the chemical industry was soda (developed by Nicolas Leblanc in 1791). James Muspratt built the first soda factory in England (Liverpool) in 1823, Hermann in Schönebeck (near Magdeburg) built the first soda factory in Germany, Friedrich Engelhorn founded the Badische Anilin- und Sodafabrik in Mannheim in 1865. From 1852 sulfuric acid was produced using the contact method according to developments by Friedrich Wöhler , Clemens Winkler and Rudolf Knietsch , and from 1863 the Solvay process for the production of soda was introduced. Soda was and is used in the glass industry, new special glasses (Bohemian hard glass, crystal glass, crown glass) could be produced. Chlorinated lime (Tennant (1799), Walter Weldon (1867), Henry Deacon (1872)) could be produced from hydrochloric acid as a by-product of the Leblanc process. Since 1890, chlorine, hydrogen and caustic soda have been produced from sodium chloride by electrolysis .
Organic chemical industry
Friedlieb Ferdinand Runge paved the way for the development of the organic chemical industry near Oranienburg around 1833 when he investigated a by-product of hard coal conversion into coke, coal tar. From the knowledge about its constituents and their reactions, technically usable organic-chemical processes and the branches of industry to synthetic dyes , drugs and plastics developed .
The flourishing of the chemical industry went hand in hand with the increase in knowledge and the number of graduates in chemistry. Between 1860 and 1900, both the number of companies in the chemical industry and their size grew rapidly. The Badische Anilin- und Sodafabrik ( BASF , founded in 1865) employed 2,330 workers in 1885, 3,596 in 1890, 4,600 in 1895 and 6,711 in 1900, of which just over 100 were chemists. At Bayer / Elberfeld (founded in 1863) there were initially 24 chemists and 300 workers in 1885, and in 1896 there were 104 chemists and 2,644 workers.
In this phase, chemistry and the chemical industry were considered to maintain peace and thus maintain the state. Fertilizers , pesticides and herbicides increased the yields in agriculture . Dyes and pigments brought colors to clothing, printed matter, house facades, and photography . Synthetic fibers increased the range of inexpensive textiles. Plastics brought new goods for households and businesses. Medicines improved health and reduced the risk of infection in dangerous and contagious diseases such as tuberculosis , syphilis and diphtheria .
Bismarck once remarked that "it is less the peaceful disposition of all governments that has kept peace so far than the scientific efficiency of chemists".
Environmental and health hazards from the chemical industry
At the beginning of industrialization, the chemical industry manufactured and put into circulation many products that had harmful consequences for the health of humans, animals or the environment. To the best of their knowledge, many of the later consequences remained initially completely unknown to the researchers, there was no environmental or occupational safety concept, possible dangers were subordinated to the profit striving of the company founders and employee interests were hardly considered.
For example, Schweinfurt green was an important pigment for coloring wallpaper. The arsenic-containing pigment was harmless under normal, dry room conditions. In damp, musty rooms, however, the poisonous and volatile arsine developed after a while , which was released into the room air and could be inhaled.
Start of environmental protection
As a result of the unification of the empire, institutes were created to control the environmental properties of chemical substances such as the "Prussian State Institute for Water, Soil and Air Hygiene" (today: Federal Environment Agency ), in 1905 the "Biological Institute for Agriculture and Forestry" (today: Federal Biological Institute ), 1876 the Imperial Health Office (today: Federal Health Office ) and the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute (today Max Planck Institute) for research into more complex scientific contexts .
Despite the establishment of these safeguards to protect the population, there were also unforeseen consequences in later times when handling chemical substances. Plant protection products in the 1950s and 1960s still consisted of poorly biodegradable organochlorine compounds (e.g. lindane ), which led to environmental pollution.
Branched alkyl sulfonates, which served as surfactants , were also poorly biodegradable. From 1961 there was also the "Law on detergents in washing and cleaning agents". The medicinal substance thalidomide (Contergan) was used by some women as a sleep aid during pregnancy in the 1960s. Many women who took this drug later gave birth to malformed children. The control failed, although very extensive investigations had been carried out.
In the case of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), manufacturers believed that they had found safe products as coolants for refrigerators and propellants for spray cans. However, the release of these substances caused unknown gas reactions in the atmosphere, as a result of which the ozone balance over the Antarctic was disturbed, leading to the so-called ozone hole .
Until the 1970s, mineral oil manufacturers added tetraethyl lead to gasoline as an anti-knock agent. The exhaust gases still contained a lot of carbon monoxide or benzene, substances that are poisonous or carcinogenic.
The American Blacksmith Institute has determined the top 10 most heavily contaminated places on earth since 2006 . Companies in the chemical industry also play a role again and again, such as B. Dzerzhinsk in Russia (chemical weapons production); or Vapi in India, Buenos Aires in Argentina and Jakarta in Java.
In Dubai, 120 countries agreed to make the handling of chemicals more uniform and safer for people and the environment worldwide. Chemicals are to be classified worldwide according to their danger and labeled for transport and handling. Regulations are to be standardized internationally. The REACH regulation of July 1, 2007 in Europe also serves this purpose . Manufacturers or companies that market chemical substances and preparations with more than one tonne / year in the EU must submit extensive documentation on toxicological effects, ecotoxicity and physico-chemical data of these substances to the Chemical Agency in Helsinki. Furthermore, the companies have to comply with information obligations for the entire supply chain. Approx. 80,000 registration dossiers were submitted, and the cost of creating it was € 2 billion.
Automation and efficiency
The chemical industry is characterized by
- a high degree of automation,
- a high increase in the value of the processed raw materials ,
- a very expensive research ,
- a complex process engineering as well
- a large number of manufactured products.
Basic chemicals , specialty chemicals, intermediate and finished products are manufactured. Customers are the consumer goods sector as well as all areas of manufacturing and industry ( automotive , construction , agriculture ).
The global total turnover of the chemical industry in 2010 was 3,140 billion euros. In Germany 180.3 billion (share of the world market: 5.7%), in the USA 584 billion (18.6%), in the People's Republic of China 693.6 billion (22.1%) and in Switzerland 55 billion (1.8%). 462,000 people were employed in Germany and 64,000 people in Switzerland. Goods worth 80.2 billion euros were exported from Germany and goods worth 57.9 billion euros were imported.
Chemical industry since 1990
The petrochemical industry in Europe was predominantly national; in many countries this industrial sector was state-owned. Many national providers had old and insufficient system capacity. There was a lack of capital. In 1993 the state-owned groups Neste Oil (Finland) and Statoil (Norway) merged to form Borealis . Also in 1993 the polypropylene business merged; the Italian Montedison merged with Shell, Montell was created. The companies BASF and Shell merged their PE business, Basell was created . In 2004 Basell was sold for 4.4 billion euros. The buyers were Access Industries and the Chatterjee Group . Basell in turn merged with Lyondell to Lyondellbasell .
Under the pressure to achieve the highest possible profits for shareholders and under the influence of developments in China, the previously broadly based large companies concentrated their activities on individual chemical sectors. The chemical companies Bayer AG and Hoechst AG were still very broadly positioned in 1993. The two sole proprietorships had practically all the important chemical sectors such as plastics, specialties , coatings , agrochemicals, pharmaceuticals and fine chemicals .
Life science companies have emerged from Bayer AG and Hoechst AG. Aventis, or later Sanofi-Aventis, was created through the merger of Hoechst with the French Rhône-Poulenc . All areas not belonging to the pharmaceutical sector were sold.
In August 2008, Dow Chemical bought the chemicals manufacturer Rohm & Haas for US $ 15.3 billion. Rohm & Haas produces specialty chemicals for the electronics, construction and coating industries. The company employs 16,500 people worldwide, 500 of them in Germany.
Chemical industry in crisis
The chemical industry is a particularly cyclical branch of industry. Therefore, between January 2008 and January 2009, sales of chemical production in Europe fell dramatically. The decline in sales of plastics and polymers was 31%, man-made fibers 33.6%, fertilizers 44.2%, dyes, pigments 26.7%, and inorganic basic chemicals 33%.
Since November 2008, BASF has had to shut down large-scale plants. Only 75% of the capacity was still being used. The supplier industries for the automotive industry are particularly affected. Short-time work occurred in the paint and varnish industry; 2/3 of the employees (1500 people) at the Münster plant were given short-time work. The BASF-Coating plant in New Jersey was closed due to overcapacity, as was a plant in Korea for plastic precursors. The group only increased its revenues in the crop protection and pharmaceutical products sectors.
At Lanxess there was a 50 percent decrease in rubber for car tires. The Swiss company Clariant saved around 2200 (of a total of 20,000) employees worldwide by the end of 2008, and 1000 more employees are to follow in the near future. The company employs around 2500 people in the Frankfurt area.
Industry leaves the 2010 crisis behind
Industrial production rose sharply in 2010 in all regions and in almost all countries of the world. German chemical companies benefited from this development primarily through the export of their products. In the course of 2009, there were already signs that the industry would overcome the crisis more quickly than most economic experts assumed. After the demand from abroad picked up, domestic demand also contributed to the recovery of the economic situation. Capacity utilization reached its normal level again in the summer of 2010. Germany's fourth-largest industry experienced a remarkable year in 2010 that can hardly be repeated in this way. With a production increase of 11%, it recorded the largest increase since 1976. Chemical production only just missed the pre-crisis level. Higher prices and larger quantities led to a significant increase in sales: The chemicals business in Germany increased by 17.5% to 170.6 billion euros. In 2010, foreign sales were already at a higher level than in 2007. The production facilities, which had been shut down severely in the course of the crisis and in some cases shut down completely, are now running at full speed again. The companies were therefore able to end short-time working.
The turnover (according to the VCI) was 184.2 billion euros in 2011. In 2012 the German chemical industry expects a decline in sales. There were declines in sales due to the euro crisis with other European countries, sales increases with Asia and North America.
Employment situation in the chemical industry
While the turnover per chemical employee rose from € 148,700 per year to € 372,000 per year between 1991 and 2006, the number of employees fell from 716,700 to 436,000 during this period. The average gross wage in the chemical industry rose from € 36,100 / year (1994) to € 46,800 / year (2006). The reduction (1995–2006) in the area of organic chemicals (–17,000 employees), polymers (–30,000 employees), fine and specialty chemicals (–21,000 employees), detergents and personal care products (–13,000 employees) was particularly drastic.
The following table provides an overview of the stratification of employees in companies:
|Employed people||Number of companies||Total number of employees||Total sales € million|
Chemical industry by country
In recent years the chemical industry has grown particularly strongly in Asia and Latin America.
|country||Turnover billion € 2009||Turnover billion € 2012||Share of sales world (%)|
|People's Republic of China||526.9||1165.8||28.7|
The production volume of the chemical industry in the USA is five times larger than the German chemical industry. The largest pure chemical companies in the US are Dow Chemical , DuPont , Lyondellbasell, and PPG Industries . Many of these companies operate internationally.
The Brazilian chemical industry sold goods worth US $ 101 billion in 2007. Germany is a very important chemical trading partner for Brazil.
The largest company in the chemical industry is Petrobras (petrochemicals). There are also Braskem (petrochemicals) and Copesul (petrochemicals). Petrobras plans substantial investments in the construction of oil and gas production and the construction of bioethanol plants.
So far, China is the third most important production location for chemicals in the world. China is expected to become the world's largest chemical production location by 2015. The annual growth of the chemical industry is between 10 and 20%. The three largest chemical companies are the state-owned oil companies PetroChina , Sinopec and China National Offshore Oil . This is followed by Sinochem , the coal miner China Shenhua Energy and ChemChina , which also includes the largest Israeli chemical company Adama .
In China there are a large number of cooperation projects with companies from the USA, Great Britain, Germany and other countries (e.g. a joint venture between Shenhua and Dow Chemical to build a coal liquefaction plant, as well as with BASF , Bayer , DuPont, BP, etc. ). Investments in refinery construction are particularly high. China is also planning several large projects in coal chemistry .
"Prussia-Germany became the leading country in chemistry because it had a higher level of education than all other countries."
The chemical industry in Germany is strongly growth-oriented. After the economic slump in 2009, the chemical industry recovered again in 2010 and 2011; sales in 2011 returned to the very high level of 2006. Some sectors of the chemical industry, e.g. Sales, such as man-made fibers, paints and printing inks, have stagnated since the crisis at 76% and 90% of the 2005 level, respectively. The pharmaceutical industry, crop protection products and other chemical products are strong growth sectors, each with a sales increase of over 20% since 2005.
The total turnover of the German chemical industry in 2011 was € 144.3 billion. Countries with very high sales (2011, conversion into €) in the chemical-pharmaceutical industry are China (893 billion €), USA (584 billion €), Japan (241 billion €), Germany (197 billion €) , Republic of Korea (€ 128 billion), France (€ 119 billion), Brazil (€ 105 billion), Italy (€ 80 billion), India (€ 74 billion), Taiwan (€ 64 billion), Great Britain (€ 63 billion), the Netherlands (€ 63 billion), Russian Federation (€ 60 billion), Switzerland (€ 59 billion), Spain (€ 54 billion).
Germany is the third largest importer (€ 110 billion) and largest exporter (€ 153 billion) of chemical-pharmaceutical products worldwide.
The German chemical industry produces around 30,000 chemical products. For this it needs 19 million tons of fossil raw materials (crude oil, natural gas, coal), 2.7 million tons of renewable raw materials, 20 million tons of mineral raw materials, which it receives mainly through trade with other countries.
The following table shows the distribution of sales by chemical division (selection):
|Chemical division||Turnover billion € 2011|
|Basic inorganic chemicals||15.6|
|Petrochemicals and derivatives||46.1|
|Fine and specialty chemicals||39.5|
|Detergents and body care products||13.2|
The chemical industry in Germany currently uses 8.2% of total German final energy consumption (excluding material use of energy sources). The proportions of the energy sources natural gas (15.0%) and electricity (10.4%) are higher. Since the prices in Germany for electricity and gas are at a very high level in an international comparison but also within Europe, the Association of the Chemical Industry calls for more competition in energy prices, as otherwise the chemical production for chemical raw materials in Germany would be unilaterally burdened compared to other countries. Between 1990 and 2006, the chemical industry was able to reduce its energy requirements by 40%, but further efficiency measures are only possible with considerable costs or a significant deterioration in competition. The Renewable Energy Sources Act (EEG) is viewed very critically by the Association of the Chemical Industry (VCI) , according to which around 20% of the total energy demand in Europe should be covered by renewable energy by 2020. The VCI considers national solo efforts in EU emissions trading with greenhouse gas certificates, in particular the reduction in the allocation amount from 495 million to 453 million certificates, to be harmful. For every additional tonne of carbon dioxide emitted, companies with higher carbon dioxide emissions have to buy CO 2 certificates from plant operators with CO 2 savings. Between 2013 and 2020, the European Commission wants to gradually reduce the free allocation of certificates to zero. Chemical companies will then have to pay around € 30 per ton of carbon dioxide; the total costs for certificate trading will amount to € 1 billion from 2013 and will double by 2020. These regulations lead to considerable costs for German and European chemical companies. Instead, the Association of the Chemical Industry demands free certificates from politicians for chemical plants that work efficiently according to technical standards (benchmark).
The danger is seen in a migration of energy-intensive companies to regions of the world with lower cost burdens. Large countries such as the USA, China and India have so far refused to participate in emissions trading or in the minimization of greenhouse gas emissions, which is why emissions trading would unilaterally burden the economy in Europe.
The association of the chemical industry proposes a bonus system instead of a certificate trading with emission rights. In addition to the market price for energy, manufacturers of renewable energies receive a Europe-wide bonus for this electricity. The VCI emphasizes the willingness of the chemical industry to actively help with climate protection. If 24 million households were equipped with thermal insulation materials for external facades from the chemical industry, 120 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions could be avoided in the future. The chemical industry also makes a contribution to the production of photovoltaic modules, which currently saves 0.5 million tons of carbon dioxide in Germany.
There are three major chemical companies in the UK: Unilever (household products, cosmetics), BOC ( industrial gases ) Shell . Germany, France, the Netherlands and the USA are major chemical importers for Great Britain.
The Japanese chemical companies were left behind in terms of sales, but they are among the most research-intensive in the world. Japan's chemical company with the highest turnover (as of 2015) is Mitsubishi Chemical Holdings , followed by Fujifilm , Shōwa Denkō , Ube Industries and Kuraray .
A third of chemical sales are generated by foreign companies in Italy. Important chemical companies in Italy are Versalis (formerly Eni Polimeri), Gruppo Mossi & Ghisolfi (plastics manufacturer) and Mapei (construction chemicals).
The chemical industry is the second most important industrial area in Austria. The chemical industry in Austria has around 41,000 employees. The largest chemical industry area is near Linz. Important companies are Borealis Agrolinz Melamine and Donau Chemie , Kwizda and the mineral oil company OMV . The Association of the Austrian Chemical Industry operates as a legal interest group .
Foreign investment in Russia has increased sharply. In 2007 foreign investments already amounted to US $ 6.4 billion. Germany is Russia's most important trading partner in the chemical industry.
The largest chemical company in Saudi Arabia is Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (SABIC). SABIC is 70% owned by the state and employs around 40,000 people. SABIC had very strong sales growth between 2009 and 2011 of 29% and 35% per year, respectively. SABIC produces polyethylene (3rd place), polypropylene (4th place), ethylene (1st place), ethylene glycol, methanol, MTBE. In the last few years there have been several joint ventures with Chinese, Japanese and also European companies.
In Switzerland there are around 65,000 employees in the chemical industry, around half of whom work in research and development. Around 95% of all products manufactured in the country are exported.
The Spanish chemical industry generated € 48 billion in sales in 2007. Many international companies have set up branches in Spain.
Chemical industry raw materials
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