• Increasingly higher cost of energy which is reflected in the increasing production cost of chemical products;

  • Uncertainties in the reliability of supply;

  • Impacts on global climate change from emissions of greenhouse gases (CO2, etc.) as well as ones causing acid rain and ground-level ozone pollution (NOx, etc.)

  • Competition with other industries (transportation, domestic, etc) for fossil fuel resources.

Global events in the last three decades, however, have brought the realization that fundamental changes in energy use are necessary for continued sustainability of the chemical and allied industries. Recently, the price of a barrel of oil reached more than $60, and is likely to continue to fluctuate, with the mean value staying substantially above the price over the last 20 years. The price of natural gas is at an all time high in the United States, which is the highest price in the world. This places the U.S. chemical industry at an economic competitive disadvantage. The fourfold increase in oil prices since the mid-1990s has driven the CPI to discover energy efficient technologies that have contributed to more useful products, reduced emissions, and improved productivity. Indeed, there are numerous examples of real gains made by the chemical industry in addressing the high energy intensity. One company has publicly reported5 achievements of more than 20 percent improvement in energy efficiency in a ten year period from 1994 to 2004. However the exploration, discovery and implementation of innovative and more energy efficient technology are, and must remain, ongoing pursuits.6

The goal of these pursuits is for the chemical industry to continue to deliver products essential to improved living conditions of the current generation and still be able to meet the needs of future generations. As pointed out by Jeff Siirola during the workshop, it is expected that in the near term the chemical industries will continue to rely on fossils fuels, eventually converting from oil and natural gas to coal, as dictated by price. However, it is anticipated that carbon (i.e., CO2) management—closing the carbon cycle—will become vital prior to the depletion of fossil fuel reserves (Table 4.1).7 Eventually, the use of renewable energy sources will be required. The following innovative strategies and technologies are necessary for success:




Hoffert, M. I., et al. 2002. Advanced Technology Paths to Global Climate Stability: Energy for a Greenhouse Planet. Science 298:981–987.


See comments by Jeff Siirola and Klaus Lackner, Workshop Summary, Appendix D, p. 139 and p. 151, respectively.

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