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Chemical Substitutions Are The Future

Posted on September 29th, 2017 by in Chemical R&D

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In situations where hazardous chemicals can be replaced by potentially less dangerous compounds, it’s only logical to avoid hazardous chemicals as much as possible. However, increasingly stringent regulations make chemical substitution not only practical but inevitable. Even so, many facilities struggle to implement these concepts, despite how essential they are.

To reduce the challenges of chemical substitution, the chemical feedstocks should be assessed to decide whether substitution is a worthwhile process for that specific facility. Laboratories can then proceed by reviewing the hazard and risk inherent in substitution. It’s important to remember throughout the project that collaboration between R&D teams and plant managers is necessary to ensure that implementation is conducted safely and effectively.

The mere act of substituting another chemical for a hazardous one does not necessarily eliminate the hazard. Some substitute chemicals may actually be more dangerous than the originals. Others may appear to reduce risk in one stage of the process while heightening it in another stage. Still, other chemicals may seem safe, but they reduce the effectiveness of the final product. For all of these reasons, it’s crucial to examine the material safety data sheet (SDS) and other documentation on any chemical under consideration for substitution.

Additionally, companies or manufacturing branch sites may have to make decisions about re-engineering a chemical manufacturing process as a result of the chemical substitution. Such a decision involves an intensive examination, risk analysis, process analysis, and consideration of even more possible substitutes. The most obvious way to eliminate a hazardous chemical might be simply to remove it from a given production process. However, chemical-related risks can creep into facilities in a wide range of ways. But all of them can still be addressed effectively through different forms of substitution. To guide these decision procedures, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) of the United Kingdom has outlined a seven-step process for chemical substitution.

In all of these ways, R&D teams can team up with plant managers to eliminate hazardous chemicals from processes and facilities. As regulatory compliance makes chemical substitution a higher priority than ever, this level of collaboration will become increasingly necessary to any chemical project’s long-term success.

Read the white paper to learn more: The Inevitability of Chemical Substitution.

All opinions shared in this post are the author’s own.

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