INTRODUCTION

Technology as a national priority. As the decade of the 1990s unfolds, increasing attention is being given to technology as a cornerstone of the nation's economic competitiveness, human welfare, and security. Assessing, maintaining, and enhancing our technological base have become high priorities for the federal government. Several recently published reports have identified specific technologies essential to the well-being of the United States, 1 and other studies have aimed at developing strategies for effecting federal policy changes in support of those technologies. 2 These reports indicate that a variety of existing and emerging technologies will play essential roles as we approach the twenty-first century.

Chemical research and the critical technologies. What are the technologies that have been identified as critical to the nation? The National Critical Technologies Panel (NCTP) grouped these into materials, manufacturing, information and communications, biotechnology and life sciences, aeronautics and surface transportation, and energy and the environment. An examination of the specific technologies within these categories suggests that chemical and chemical engineering research is essential to most of them. The Board on Chemical Sciences and Technology convened the Committee on Critical Technologies to examine the impact of chemical and chemical engineering research on the critical technologies and to illustrate the dependencies with specific examples. The technology categories discussed in this report strongly overlap those of the NCTP. In both cases, military technologies were deemed cross-cutting, and thus no separate category was established for them. However, because chemical and chemical engineering research has a strong impact on military technologies, several examples have been incorporated into this report.

Purpose and audience of this report. A strong sentiment in support of American technology has been building at the federal level. There is also an increasing desire to link national goals and the goals of scientific research. This study was undertaken to demonstrate this linkage for chemistry and chemical engineering to the national critical technologies.

1  

National Critical Technologies Panel (appointed by the director, Office of Science and Technology Policy), Report of the National Critical Technologies Panel, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C., 1991; Council on Competitiveness, Gaining New Ground: Technology Priorities for America's Future, 1991; The Department of Defense Critical Technologies Plan, a report for the Committees on Armed Services of the United States Congress, 1990; and U.S. Department of Commerce, Emerging Technologies: A Survey of Technical and Economic Opportunities , 1990. These reports have been directed at both the executive and legislative branches of the federal government; two of them (Report of the National Critical Technologies Panel and The Department of Defense Critical Technologies Plan) resulted from direct action by the U.S. Congress.

2  

Carnegie Commission on Science, Technology, and Government, Technology and Economic Performance: Organizing the Executive Branch for a Stronger National Technology Base, 1991; Mogee, M. E., Technology Policy and Critical Technologies: A Summary of Recent Reports, Discussion Paper Number Three, the Manufacturing Forum, National Academy of Engineering and National Academy of Sciences, National Academy Press, Washington, D.C., 1991; and Committee on Science, Engineering, and Public Policy, National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, Institute of Medicine, The Government Role in Civilian Technology: Building a New Alliance , National Academy Press, Washington, D.C., 1992.



The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement



Below are the first 10 and last 10 pages of uncorrected machine-read text (when available) of this chapter, followed by the top 30 algorithmically extracted key phrases from the chapter as a whole.
Intended to provide our own search engines and external engines with highly rich, chapter-representative searchable text on the opening pages of each chapter. Because it is UNCORRECTED material, please consider the following text as a useful but insufficient proxy for the authoritative book pages.

Do not use for reproduction, copying, pasting, or reading; exclusively for search engines.

OCR for page 3
CRITICAL TECHNOLOGIES:: THE ROLE OF CHEMISTRY AND CHEMICAL ENGINEERING INTRODUCTION Technology as a national priority. As the decade of the 1990s unfolds, increasing attention is being given to technology as a cornerstone of the nation's economic competitiveness, human welfare, and security. Assessing, maintaining, and enhancing our technological base have become high priorities for the federal government. Several recently published reports have identified specific technologies essential to the well-being of the United States, 1 and other studies have aimed at developing strategies for effecting federal policy changes in support of those technologies. 2 These reports indicate that a variety of existing and emerging technologies will play essential roles as we approach the twenty-first century. Chemical research and the critical technologies. What are the technologies that have been identified as critical to the nation? The National Critical Technologies Panel (NCTP) grouped these into materials, manufacturing, information and communications, biotechnology and life sciences, aeronautics and surface transportation, and energy and the environment. An examination of the specific technologies within these categories suggests that chemical and chemical engineering research is essential to most of them. The Board on Chemical Sciences and Technology convened the Committee on Critical Technologies to examine the impact of chemical and chemical engineering research on the critical technologies and to illustrate the dependencies with specific examples. The technology categories discussed in this report strongly overlap those of the NCTP. In both cases, military technologies were deemed cross-cutting, and thus no separate category was established for them. However, because chemical and chemical engineering research has a strong impact on military technologies, several examples have been incorporated into this report. Purpose and audience of this report. A strong sentiment in support of American technology has been building at the federal level. There is also an increasing desire to link national goals and the goals of scientific research. This study was undertaken to demonstrate this linkage for chemistry and chemical engineering to the national critical technologies. 1   National Critical Technologies Panel (appointed by the director, Office of Science and Technology Policy), Report of the National Critical Technologies Panel, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C., 1991; Council on Competitiveness, Gaining New Ground: Technology Priorities for America's Future, 1991; The Department of Defense Critical Technologies Plan, a report for the Committees on Armed Services of the United States Congress, 1990; and U.S. Department of Commerce, Emerging Technologies: A Survey of Technical and Economic Opportunities , 1990. These reports have been directed at both the executive and legislative branches of the federal government; two of them (Report of the National Critical Technologies Panel and The Department of Defense Critical Technologies Plan) resulted from direct action by the U.S. Congress. 2   Carnegie Commission on Science, Technology, and Government, Technology and Economic Performance: Organizing the Executive Branch for a Stronger National Technology Base, 1991; Mogee, M. E., Technology Policy and Critical Technologies: A Summary of Recent Reports, Discussion Paper Number Three, the Manufacturing Forum, National Academy of Engineering and National Academy of Sciences, National Academy Press, Washington, D.C., 1991; and Committee on Science, Engineering, and Public Policy, National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, Institute of Medicine, The Government Role in Civilian Technology: Building a New Alliance , National Academy Press, Washington, D.C., 1992.

OCR for page 3
CRITICAL TECHNOLOGIES:: THE ROLE OF CHEMISTRY AND CHEMICAL ENGINEERING The committee agreed that its primary audience should be the legislative and executive branches of the U.S. government. However, the committee recognized that this report would also be of interest to the academic chemistry and chemical engineering communities, the research community at large, and leaders in business and industry: each of these groups has an important stake in the health of the chemical research infrastructure. Another very important audience may be high school and college teachers, who may find the report useful in stimulating their students to choose careers in chemistry and chemical engineering. The chemical research infrastructure. Chemical and chemical engineering research is being conducted at universities, in federal and private research laboratories, and in industrial enterprises. A large percentage of academic research is funded by the federal government, with significant additional funds coming to academia from industry and from state and local sources. Federal research laboratories have been strong contributors of chemically related energy, space, and defense technologies, and the U.S. chemical industry has long been a world leader in applied chemical and chemical engineering research. There is a complex interrelationship among basic research (typically aimed at discovering phenomena and understanding the principles of nature), applied research (typically aimed at establishing applications for scientific principles or phenomena), and the development of practical products or processes for commercial use. It is often thought that basic research leads to applied research, which in turn leads to the development of commercial technologies. But the road to technology development is rarely so linear, and progress is seldom continuous. Nevertheless, it is generally accepted that basic research stimulates applied research and development, although examples exist for stimulus in the opposite direction as well. The increasingly strong interactions among our universities, government laboratories, and industrial research organizations are encouraging from the standpoint of efficiently converting research into technology. Recent developments in the assignment of intellectual property rights have contributed favorably to this trend. Science and technology in a global economy. In our fast-changing world, the flow of scientific and technical information is analogous to the flow of funds in international commerce. Published scientific information is readily accessible around the globe, and the results of industrial research are readily shared among the international divisions of globalized corporations. Yet support of American research is fully compatible with globalization because it enhances the proprietary position of American companies and the preeminent position of American research universities.