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  Cover Story  
  October 11,  2004
Volume 82, Number 41
p. 21
 

  TWEAKS, NOT BOUNDS
Following an age of big breakthroughs, old-line industries advance today through incremental innovations in chemistry
8238cover_SARS
CIBA PHOTO
 

  RICK MULLIN, C&EN NORTHEAST NEWS BUREAU  
   
 
 

The latter half of the 20th century witnessed fundamental changes in chemistry for manufacturing processes. The development of synthetic fibers, for instance, led to new dyeing chemistries. Revolutionary changes in production practices and the advent of environmental regulations caused the demise of some basic chemistry. These changes also fostered fundamentally new chemicals and materials with better environmental and performance characteristics.

But the 20th century is over. At this point, with few exceptions, the chemicals used to color, condition, adhere, and coat the products we use every day are pretty much set in stone. And if they have not already crossed the line from

high-performance specialty to low-priced commodity, Asian producers will likely accelerate that transition. Environmental regulation and registration efforts will take more chemicals out of the toolbox, no doubt, even as they increase the challenge of introducing entirely new materials.

As such, chemical suppliers are turning to innovative service strategies. This, in turn, is putting them back to work in the lab--frequently in collaboration with customers--to fine-tune existing processes.

Price premiums for high-end performance are beginning to stick. Here and there, something new is being added, even for the most mature industries. Specialty chemical strategies for the 21st century are clearly emerging in these basic industries, as illustrated by the following articles on chemicals for concrete, textiles, paper, and leather.

 

COVER STORY

Tweaks, Not Bounds
Following an age of big breakthroughs, old-line industries advance today through incremental innovations in chemistry

Synthetic Chemistry Moves Into Concrete
Polycarboxylate admixtures usher in a slew of performance improvements

High-End Innovation Leads Textile Dyes
Faced with Asian overcapacity, major suppliers boost product performance

No Paper Tigers
Suppliers to papermaking industry bundle offerings together into systems

An 'Eco-Friendly' Feel For Leather
Suppliers aim to give more environmentally benign products and processes to leather industry

     
  Chemical & Engineering News
ISSN 0009-2347
Copyright © 2004
 


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