The world depends on chemical engineering to make the products we rely on now such as computers and medicines, even clothes, and to innovate for the future. It is concerned with the processes to convert raw materials or chemicals into more useful products from antibiotics to DNA sequencing.
The industry had exports of nearly £25 bn in 2014 and employs over 105,000 people directly. Research and development expenditure for the chemical business is £612m with 7,000 employed in R&D. The UK’s position will be detrimentally affected by the decline in STEM skills among young people and the UK tax system, indicating the need to develop a more science-focused education system and improve tax incentives.
Current developments in this sector include the Ethane Tank at Grangemouth to import the US shale gas via eight huge Dragon class ships; SABIC are also converting a plant in Teesside (NEPIC) to import shale gas from the UK to supply feedstock for its facilities in the area.
The North East of England Process Industry Cluster (NEPIC) is an economic cluster created by the chemistry-using industries in the North East of England, where there are more than 1,400 process companies and suppliers. These companies manufacture 50% of the UK’s petrochemicals, contributing to this region being the UK’s only net exporting region.
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