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Chemical Monitoring and Management

Section 9.4.1 Much of the work of chemists involves

monitoring the reactants and products of reactions and
managing reaction conditions.

Outline the role of a chemist employed in a named

industry or enterprise, identifying the branch of
chemistry undertaken by the chemist and explaining a
chemical principle that the chemist uses.

Burhan Gemikonakli is a plant chemist at Qenos, a major

Australian manufacturing company that makes ethylene from
ethane and then polymerises it to polyethylene.
Burhans role at Qenos has several components:
- Monitoring the quality of the ethylene/propylene
products from the plant to ensure that they meet the
requirements for the next stage of manufacture (in
particular determining the nature and amount of
impurities present).
- Monitoring waste water from the Qenos complex to
ensure that it meets environmental requirements (such
hydrocarbons) before it is discharged; and
- Collaborating with process engineers at the cracking
furnace (ethane to ethylene) to adjust operating
conditions in order to optimise product yields.
As a chemist in the central laboratory, Burhan is not so much
concerned with the hour-by-hour monitoring of products and wastes;
rather his job is to check that the equipment works properly, to
calibrate instruments from time to time, train shift workers in the
use of the instruments, carry out occasional analyses to ensure
the reliability of the results and solve problems that may arise.
The efficient operation of plants as complex as those at the Qenos
site requires regular routine monitoring. In addition there needs to
be skilled chemists available to oversee this, and solve problems
that occur Burhan is one of those chemists.
The branch of chemistry that Burhan mainly works in is
analytical chemistry the part of chemistry concerned with
determining what substances (and how much of each) are
present in materials.
Many of Burhans analyses use gas chromatography. This is a
technique in which a mixture is vaporised into a stream of
helium that flows over a stationary phase which can be

solid, or a liquid coated on the surface of the solid. The

stationary phase can be a finely divided solid packed in a
long thin tube or columned called gas-solid chromatography,
or it can be a liquid coated on the walls of a long thin glass
capillary tube, called gas-liquid chromatography.
The chemical principles involved are adsorption (for gassolid chromatography) and solubility (for gas-liquid


If the stationary phase is solid, then the components of the mixture

adsorb on to it (stick to the surface) to differing extents, pass
through the column at different rates and so are separated. A
device at the end of the column detects each substance as it
passes out of the column and measures it quantitatively.
If the stationary phase is a liquid, then the components of the
mixture dissolve in it to differing extents. The more soluble a
substance is in the stationary liquid, then the slower that substance
moves through the column (tube). Hence a separation is effected
and the detector measures the amount of each component
as it emerges from the column. Polarity of the molecules is often

a key factor in GLC separations: if the stationary phase is a polar

liquid, then the more polar a component of the mixture to be
analysed, the greater is its solubility and so the more slowly it
moves through the column. The rate and the volume of the
quantitatively measured and hence used to detect the
presence of anomalies in the gas.

Gather, process and present information from secondary

sources about the work of practising scientists identifying:
o A variety of chemical occupations
o A specific chemical occupation for a more detailed
Variety of Chemical Occupations:
1) Environmental chemists: These chemists are employed
by a wide variety of organisations, including mining
companies, the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) and
the local government. Environmental chemists have
developed expertise in analytical chemistry during
their training. They collect, analyse and assess
environmental data from the air, water and soil.
Water resource authorities and air quality management
authorities employ environmental chemists who monitor
water and air samples for pollutants. Environmental
chemists have strengths in analytical procedures and
environmental chemists write concise reports about their
2) Metallurgical Chemists: have a high-level knowledge of
metals, alloys and ores and their reactions. Metallurgical
chemists specialise in all aspects of the use and
development of metals and alloys in our technological
society. In mining companies they design and monitor methods
of extracting metals from ores. They investigate ways that
metals could be combined with other materials such as
polymers of ceramics. Metallurgical chemists are also
employed in industries such as metal manufacturing and
chemical engineering. In production-based industries, the
metallurgical chemist will be involved in optimising plant
performance and developing new procedures.
Industrial Chemist in a Crude Oil Refinery

An industrial chemist studies and applies the physical and

chemical property of substances (e.g.
The industrial chemist improves the quality of the product (i.e.
maximise the purity of each fraction (e.g. petrol in a car C 8H18).
Monitor the unsatisfactory process of a chemical.

Role of chemists: The role of chemists is to monitor/manage the

production process.
1) Safety ignition of the fuel/air mixture
2) Time efficient max yield in the shortest amount of time
3) Cost and Yield
The specific tasks of the chemist: The industrial chemist ensures that the
crude oil is heated to the correct temperature so that it fully vaporises and
then rises through the fractionating tower appropriately. This ensures that
vapour reaches correct height in the tower so that it is at a temperature
that causes it to condense back into a liquid. Contamination of the fraction
with other compounds needs to be avoided.
Chemical principles used: A chemical principle is a statement that
connects a large number of facts and concepts. The properties of elements
are periodic in nature. Solids have sharp melting and boiling points. The
greater the molar mass of the molecule the stronger the dispersion forces
between the molecules. The weaker the dispersion forces between
covalent molecules, the more easily the molecules are separated from one
another - furthermore, the lower the mp and BP The further away from the
source of heat, the cooler the object becomes.
Explanation: The Bp principle: The smaller in mass a gaseous molecule is
(for a fraction of crude oil), the lower the temperature at which the
molecules change state from gas to liquid (condense). Molecules with a
smaller mass have dispersion forces between the molecules due to the
random movement of electrons, which will form temporary dipoles which
will bring about the potential for uneven distribution of electrons.
Therefore, with less mass will form weaker dispersion forces due to the
lower probability regarding the number of dispersion forces that can occur
at any one time.
Hence at higher temperature, there is sufficient heat energy to overcome
these forces of attraction and keep the molecules separated as a gas. The
particles move faster with more K e at higher temperature therefore,
dispersion forces are less likely to occur (they are moving too fast). As the
gaseous molecules move up the tower, they lose energy sufficiently such
that dispersion forces can form between them. This results in the vapour
condensing as a liquid.

Identify the need for collaboration between chemists as they

collect/analyse data.
Collaboration is an essential aspect of all data collection and
analysis. In any given situation, a wide range of chemists, each with
varying degrees of knowledge and expertise can aid in data
collection. This is because certain chemists will be aware of
efficient collection methods in their respective fields and this
can make the overall data collection process efficient.
responsibilities for those in the group, reduces the pressure and
workload of each individual. This allows for all group members
to meet target dates for data collection, hence increasing the
overall efficiency of the process. In terms of analysis, varying

knowledge and degrees of expertise allows for deeper analysis

to occur. Furthermore, with discussions and collaborations,
ideas and theories can be discussed and debated this leads to
new understanding and hence greater knowledge for all
involved. Furthermore, by allocating analysis to those chemists
specialised in the respective fields involved, it reduces the
pressure on others who are unable to analyse due to their lack of
knowledge. These individuals could be used for other areas where
they are skilled. This creates an overall efficient system where
regular collaboration ensures efficacy in both data collection
and data analysis.

Describe an example of a chemical reaction such as

combustion where the reactants form different products
under different conditions and thus would need monitoring.
Combustion is a reaction in which hydrocarbons are combusted in
the presence of oxygen. The products from this reaction vary
quite considerably, and hence monitoring is required. When
there is excess oxygen relative to the amount of hydrocarbon
being combusted, the end products formed are carbon dioxide and
water. This is desirable as neither of these two substances are
regarded as pollutants. Note: CO2 is not a pollutant despite its effect
in global warming.
However, when oxygen is restricted moderately or severely, carbon
in the form of soot (C(s)) and CO(g) can be produced.

Carbon Monoxide is a toxic compound that binds with the

haemoglobin in the body with 200 times greater affinity than
oxygen. This makes it difficult to breathe and can lead to anoxia
(oxygen deprivation of the brain).
Carbon in the form of soot is carcinogenic which means it causes
cancer due to its highly pollutant and toxic nature. Furthermore, it
builds up within the engine which increases wear and tear
during the combustion process this is costly as engine
parts need to be replaced more frequently.
Not only this, but other substances such as nitrogen are also
present in the combustion chamber. Due to the highly
exothermic nature of the combustion process, the temperatures
within the combustion chamber will easily exceed 1000 degrees.

This will facilitate the reaction between nitrogen and oxygen to form
nitrogen monoxide and then nitrogen dioxide.

Nitrogen dioxide is a brown gas that forms a layer of

photochemical smog which leads to the production of ozone. It
also irritates the eyes, nose and throat (mainly the respiratory tract)
and can make it difficult for asthmatics and sufferers of emphysema
to breathe.
Sulfur is also a major impurity within the fuel and will readily be
converted into SO2 within the reaction chamber. This needs to be
monitored as SO2 leads to acid rain, as well as being an odourless
gas that increases breathing difficulties (more so than NO2).
Furthermore, Lead, from engines is also released into the
atmosphere during the combustion process. Lead is associated with
brain damage and hence its monitoring is essential for overall well
being of society.
The EPA (Environmental Protection Authority) monitors these
substances and heavily fines companies that exceed the legal limit.
As a result, companies employ environmental chemists to monitor
the release of these substances from their products.
It has been found that:
1) To lower CO production: the engine needs to operate at
high speed with a maximum oxygen intake.
2) To lower NO2 production: the engine needs to operate at
low speeds, with lower temperatures and a high oxygen
3) In order to lower C production: the engine speed must be
high and the oxygen intake must be at a maximum.
Besides pollution, a further consideration for monitoring combustion
is to ensure energy efficiency of the process. Although it is not
possible to obtain 100% of the chemical energy from an exothermic
reaction such as combustion of petrol, incomplete combustion
produces considerably less useable energy than complete
Therefore automotive engineers work collaboratively with chemists
from the petroleum industry to continue to develop engines that
produce more power and less harmful pollutants.