As previously mentioned in this column, 100 years ago, Thomas Edison and a few hundred others attended the very first Chem Show.

Thomas Edison is acknowledged as one of the greatest inventors of his time, creating the phonograph, incandescent light bulb and earliest motion picture camera. What fewer people may be aware of are his contributions to the chemical process industry (CPI). Whether he applied his active, creative intelligence to discrete or process manufacture, machines or materials  made no difference to Edison.

When World War I threatened to cut off access to goods vital to American industry, Edison and other chemists looked ahead, planning to avoid the possibility of production slowdowns in dependent industries. By doing so, Edison helped spark the domestic manufacture of essential chemicals, leading to the first synthetic forms of carbolic acid, synthetic dyes and compounds needed in 1915 to manufacture rubber. Employing sustained efforts based on educated predictions, Edison contributed to the CPI’s future.

It’s here now

As the industry advances, equipment used in chemical processes leaps ahead in response to emerging technologies and is incrementally advanced by customizations in response to industry demand. In like manner, the Chem Show adapts to CPI needs and expectations. The 2015 Chem Show is expected to host hundreds of exhibitors displaying their latest and greatest products. Among thousands of attendees will be plant managers, engineers, chemists and other industry professionals responsible for optimized plant operations.

As these experts face the challenges of doing more in less time and with fewer resources, companies’ development and release of new equipment, systems and products are important. These products allow the professionals using them to create new, more efficient methods of chemical processing in response to industry trends.

Despite the unknowns regarding the industry’s future, paying attention to trends allows us good guesses. Areas of potential growth emerge as the CPI makes small advances. The Chem Show helps shape the industry’s potential for the future, particularly at the moment, in three areas:

  • Concern for the environment and plant safety
  • Wastewater management
  • Smarter instrumentation, controls and automation

Increasing environmental and plant safety concern already has led to campaigns for better practices across all industry facets. Growing awareness has professionals hard at work to produce cost-efficient, environmentally friendly production solutions.

Results projected

One seminar at this year’s Chem Show will discuss combustion and air pollution control, teaching methods to reduce fuel use, particulates and acid gases, among other things. Another seminar covers environmental health, safety and security management. Attendees will learn to optimize facility performance, saving money and being good corporate citizens.

Collaboration for better industrial wastewater management is crucial to the CPI. Current problems stem from less than acceptable practices. Water reuse must grow. A seminar open to attendees at the Chem Show will introduce new membrane industrial filtration applications for dealing with liquid streams, which formerly could not be treated by conventional membrane technology, resulting in wasted resources and energy.

Nothing provides a better sense of an industry than walking the floor at a major event such as the Chem Show. Visitors discover exhibits and educational seminars that present solutions. The Chem Show is proactive, exhibiting products and technology that address current issues. Much like Edison in his day, the Chem Show is paving the way toward a bright future for the CPI.

The 2015 Chem Show will be held Nov. 17 – 19 at the Javits Convention Center in New York.