“If you want to talk about an industry that has always been quick to adopt the latest trends, chemical engineering research would undoubtedly be it,” said Nicholas C Nelson. “They’ve always been at the forefront of this type of movement by their nature and the last five or so years, in particular, have proven exactly how true that is.”
In fact, he indicated that there were not one but five fascinating trends in chemical engineering research that are certainly worth taking a closer look at.
Embracing Innovation in Materials
One of the biggest trends in terms of chemical engineering research has to do with more and more innovative materials and processes being used on a regular basis. Case in point: green chemistry. Recently, there has been an increased emphasis on finding alternatives to hazardous materials commonly used in these environments. Not only does it increase safety for workers, but it also often leads to performance gains as well when those alternative materials are simply better than what had been historically used.
The Era of the Internet of Things
Also commonly called the IoT for short, the Internet of Things is a term used to describe a series of countless sensors that are all creating and sharing data with one another at all times.
In terms of chemical engineering research, the IoT is regularly being used to help proactively monitor the performance and maintenance of the types of invaluable equipment that people depend on daily. That way, if a small problem occurs, workers can address it today before it has a chance to become a much more expensive one later on. This increases not only the value of this equipment but also prolongs its lifespan.
The types of data collected by Internet of Things devices in a chemical engineering research setting can also be used to prevent production issues, make sure that worker safety is where it should be, help control the quality of materials that people are working with, and more.
Putting Big Data to Good Use
Many industries are using the power of big data analytics to drive efficiency across the board and chemical engineering researchers are certainly no exception to that. Consider the sheer amount of information that your average chemical engineering plant creates on a daily basis. By diving deep into that data through analytics, you can uncover trends and patterns in terms of performance, energy consumption, and even the way one location in particular interacts with the supply chain.
The more information you know about all of those things, the more practice you can take steps to generate improvements. This helps reduce costs, allowing that critical money to be funneled into other areas of a business where it can do its best.
Artificial Intelligence is Finally Ready for Prime Time
In recent memory, artificial intelligence (AI) has also been employed in chemical engineering research for a wide range of different purposes. Many startups are doing exciting work using AI to troubleshoot steps in terms of synthesis planning before that work actually begins, saving a lot of time and money, not to mention energy.
AI can also help with preventative safety measures in chemical engineering research, like instantly and accurately spotting when conditions in a process deviate from normal so that people can take appropriate steps before something dangerous happens.
The Power of Cloud Computing
Finally, one of the biggest trends to emerge in chemical engineering research over the last decade has to do with an increased reliance on cloud computing. Right now, there are businesses that are designing new chemicals quickly and reliably using cloud-based resources. Because cloud assets are available anywhere via any Internet connection, any device can be used as an invaluable research tool – not just the type of equipment that only the biggest firms can afford.
“One of the major themes with a lot of these trends is that they aren’t just possible through an emphasis on innovation, but on capitalizing on new tech-based opportunities,” said Nicholas Nelson. “The cloud, big data, and even artificial intelligence are not new concepts. But every day, we’re figuring out new ways to take advantage of them and to create a wide range of different benefits. Thankfully, that looks to continue over the next decade and beyond.”
About Nicholas C. Nelson
After moving to Palm Beach County, Florida with his family when he was just three years old, Nicholas C. Nelson would go on to establish Guaranteed Pest Control & Fertilization. In 2010, he was both nominated to become a member of the UF/IFAS Advisory Council and also became known as the first professional to identify the Rugose Spiraling Whitefly in Broward County. He also identified a mosaic virus in St. Augustine throughout 2017 and 2018. For nearly 20 years, he and the rest of his team have proudly served the community.