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By: , Posted on: July 13, 2018

One of the desires of industrial research as well as academic research is to convert a discovery into a viable useful product. Essentially all research and/or development work is done with the goal to eventually commercialize the product or process so that the discovery may:

  • Create increased profits or turn a money losing venture into one that makes a profit by a new process, process modification or new catalyst.
  • Create a new chemical or modification of an existing chemical that can increase company profitability.
  • Create a pharmaceutical drug which can either extend life, cure diseases or make life more comfortable.

The steps involved in getting from a laboratory discovery to a commercial project involve laboratory experiments, possibly pilot plant design and operation, scaleup to larger size equipment, development of new equipment if necessary and raw material sourcing. In addition, the economics of the new venture must be evaluated.

The process to do this is fraught with many questions, roadblocks and hurdles. There may be technical scaleup issues such as reactor heat removal and reaction kinetics. If a pilot plant is planned it will be necessary to decide on both the size of the pilot plant and how complete the pilot facilities should be. There will likely be safety issues that are not apparent in the laboratory or pilot plant. Perhaps, the area that has received the least amount of attention is determining if the new development is economically viable. This can be done by developing a speculative design based on early laboratory information and determining the project economics from this design and subsequent cost estimate. It may be difficult to estimate the investment that is based on a speculative design.

This will require the inclusion of a “Emerging Technology Contingency”. In addition to these technical issues there will likely be organization issues. The problems associated with the commercialization of new developments are compounded by the lack of experience in both developed and developing areas of the world. In addition, to the lack of existing capability, this subject is often only minimally covered in the academic world. This current mis match of needs and capabilities in the industrial and academic world led me to write a book describing how to commercialize a development. In addition, I was encouraged to write this book by a client who told me that they were using my approach to development for all of their new projects.

Click here to access the chapter discussing Emerging Technology Contingency in my recent publication for free.

My book (Chemical Projects Scale-up: How to go from Laboratory to Commercial) covers the chemical engineering steps for taking a laboratory development into the commercial world. It covers such areas as: problems associated with scale up, equipment sizing considerations, thermal characteristics associated with scale up, safety areas to consider, recycle considerations, operability reviews and economic viability.

In addition to process design aspects of commercializing the laboratory development, consideration is given to utilization of a development in an existing plant. These subjects are covered in an easy to understand fashion and examples are provided making Chemical Projects Scale-Up: How to go from Laboratory to Commercial a thorough guide for chemists, engineers and project managers.

If you find this story stimulating, you may be interested in browsing more content within my book on ScienceDirect. We are pleased to offer you a free chapter – access this content by clicking here – Emerging Technology Contingency (ETC)

Need a copy? Visit and use discount code STC317 at checkout to save up to 30% on your very own copy!

About the Author

Mr. Bonem’s highly productive five-decade career has included over three decades in Polymers manufacturing and process development with Exxon Chemical. He has also spent 20 years in consulting in areas such as: all phases of chemical engineering including Technology Transfer and Assimilation, Process Development and Scaleup, Project Basis Development and Process Design, Plant Performance Improvements and Safety Assessment of New and Existing Technology.


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Chemical Engineering

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