At the centre of a chemical plant there is a reactor, this is where the reactants are turned into chemicals during synthesis. The reactor often contains a catalyst which is a chemical that speeds up the reaction without itself undergoing any chemical change. The feedstock
(raw material to supply/fuel machine) may need to be heated before it is fed to the reactor. !
Once the chemical reaction has taken place, generally a mixture of chemicals will have formed not just the desired product. These include by-products and unchanged starting materials. This means that the chemical plant has to have equipment to separate the main and by-products and have the ability to recycle unchanged reactants. !
Once the separation has taken place samples of the product will be tested for purity.
By-products will either be fed back into the production process, sold on for other uses, or disposed of carefully.!
Groups of products synthesised!
There are ﬁve main groups of products that are synthesised in the chemical industry.
Some are made in huge quantities whereas other have high value and are made in much smaller amounts. !
Basic inorganics: These are all made in large amounts. Chlorine, Sodium, Hydroxide,
Sulfuric acid and fertilisers are all bulk chemicals. !
Petrochemical: These plants use hydrocarbons from crude oil to make a great variety of products, including polymers. !
Dyes, paints and pigments: Modern dyes made from petrochemicals are now used for chemicals such as dyes. !
Pharmaceuticals: This industry produces drugs and medicines and has grew from the dyestuffs industry. !
Speciality chemicals: These chemicals are used to make other products. These include food ﬂavourings and the liquid-crystal chemicals used in modern LED ﬂat-screen displays.!
People working in the chemical industry !
The chemical industry is a growing market and employees a range of people. Research chemists carry