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Getting out of petroleum on many fronts

By Nicholas P. Chopey  |

This latest rise in petroleum prices is in the news because of its impact on the consumer, particularly the automobile-driving (or SUV-driving) consumer. Geopolitical tensions triggered by some oil-producer nations have been helping to fuel that price rise, and these tensions bring more urgency to the need — so often stated! — for nations, companies and individual consumers alike to cut back their dependency on petroleum. Chemical engineering technology and process companies are deeply involved in working toward that goal, and it is gratifying to see progress across many fronts. On the energy-demand side, many process industries, among them pulp and paper, aluminum, cement, and petroleum refining, have inherently been among the biggest industrial consumers of fuels and electricity per unit of product produced. Energy conservation is scarcely a new idea for companies in these fields; and if petroleum prices keep rising and concurrently pull up other energy prices, it’ll simply be a matter of these firms’ engineers reaching yet “higher” for conservation options, having already plucked the low-hanging fruit years ago. Meanwhile, the rising petroleum prices obviously have been giving fresh, and diverse,…
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