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What are Fine Chemical Products? Why do we need them?

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Storing Chemicals Safely

Knowing the correct practices in storing chemicals safely will help to avoid potentially dangerous or even fatal incidents in the laboratory or workplace. Chemicals, especially those that are hazardous when in contact with skin or eyes, or when paired with another chemical, should be labelled clearly, kept in small quantities and only stored with compatible chemicals that offer low risk of any reaction.

Labelling

Labelling is an crucial aspect of storing chemicals safely – all chemicals must be labelled clearly with both the name and chemical symbol, and any hazard warnings that apply (for example – corrosive, flammable, toxic, etc).

Compatibility

It is essential when storing chemicals safely that their compatibility with one another is considered. A chemical may be completely stable alone, or when paired with a compatible chemical – however, it may react with a different chemical and cause a danger to those around it.

Quantity

Keeping chemicals in large quantities is unadvisable. Should an accident occur, there should be limited amounts of hazardous material that could harm workers or lab occupants – if there is a large quantity, there is a higher risk of injury.

Stock control

Keeping a close eye on your stock is essential. Storing chemicals safely involves disposing of time sensitive chemicals that expire, and disposing of surplus or unwanted stock that is simply taking up too much space. Keeping an up to date record of the stock will ensure that, should an accident occur, you have adequate knowledge on how to handle it.

Containers

Storing chemicals safely can come down to the container in which they are kept. Breakable containers should be avoided where possible – if their use is unavoidable, then they should be stored on a low shelf, below shoulder height. Storing plastic containers above shoulder height is fine, as long as there is sufficient access without threatening the integrity of the rest of the chemicals nearby.

Shelving

Shelving should be kept as low down as possible, so that workers do not need to use benches or lab chairs in order to reach chemicals. Doing so can increase the risk of falling, and potential damage to containers. Chemicals which are used less frequently should be kept on higher/more inconvenient to reach shelves.

Clutter

In order to store chemicals as safely as possible, clutter should be kept to a minimum. Not only does this allow for easier retrieval or locating of chemicals, it avoids any confusion in the workplace. Keeping mess to a minimum will also decrease the risk of trips.

production of fine chemicals

Technologies involved in the production of fine chemicals

Fine chemicals are rapidly becoming one of the front runners of the chemical industry in the UK – however, production can be difficult, as they can only be produced in limited quantities by multiple different steps, in batches. The production of fine chemicals involves a number of different technologies – the global production value of fine chemicals is close to $85 billion. Fine chemicals are single, pure chemicals substances which are produced in multi-purpose plants. They are produced in low quantities but have a relatively high cost. They are sold on specifications and have very specific applications.

 

Chemical synthesis

Chemical synthesis can either take place from petrochemical starting chemicals or natural product extracts. Petrochemicals are chemicals products derived from petroleum or obtained from fossil fuels such as coal. Some well-known examples of petrochemicals include ethylene, benzene and propylene. Natural product extracts can include a wide range of different products, usually found in plants.

 

Biotechnology

Biotechnology is a prominent technology in the production of fine chemicals. Fine chemical production involves three different areas of biotechnology – biocatalysis, biosynthesis and cell culture technology. Biocatalysis involves natural catalysts performing a chemical transformation on specifically organic compounds. Biosynthesis is a complex process in which substrates are converted into more complex products.

 

Extraction

During the production of fine chemicals, extraction of different products from animals or plants may be required. Isolation and purification will take place during this, usually for extraction of alkaloids, antibacterials and steroids. Natural products from organisms provide many fine chemical extracts needed for applications in the pharmaceutical, food and cosmetic industries. Animal and plant by-products are a rich source of such materials, such as proteins, hormones and polysaccharides.

 

Hydrolysis

Hydrolysis of proteins takes place during the production of fine chemicals, in which proteins are broken down into their constituent amino acids. This is a fairly simple process, involving heat being applied to the protein with the presence of a catalyst for a long period of time. The reaction isolates the amino acids for use in the production of fine chemicals.

Despite these technologies being very important, mastering them does not give any specific competitive advantage. The production of fine chemicals can be carried out in multipurpose plants. Reaction-specific equipment, however, is readily available on the market, so utilising these technologies is not difficult, and could possibly save you some time overall. The installation of such equipment is relatively simple too.