16 Jan THE FUTURE OF CHEMISTRY AND SCIENCE: WHAT 2024 CHEMICAL TRENDS HAVE TO TELL US
The chemical business is constantly mixing things up to meet the demands of a changing world. A number of the major chemical trends we are seeing today include a shift towards more sustainable and green chemistry, increased digitalization and use of artificial intelligence, a growth in biochemicals and bio-based chemicals, and advancements in polymer science.
Sustainable and green chemistry involves designing chemical products and processes that reduce or eliminate the use and generation of hazardous substances. The change is being driven by both regulators and consumer demand. More companies are using renewable feedstocks, incorporating catalysis, and running reactions that have benign byproducts. The plan is to move towards cleaner chemistries with a lower environmental impact at all stages of a chemical’s lifecycle.
Digital transformation is also revolutionizing the chemical industry through process automation, predictive analytics, and artificial intelligence. Sensors and Internet-connected equipment generate big data that allows for remote monitoring and management. Machine learning models can analyze laboratory experiments, control reactions in real-time to improve yields, and even predict failures before they happen. These technologies are making chemical manufacturing and R&D more efficient.
Also a major development is the growth of biochemicals for use in applications traditionally served by petrochemicals. Bio-based chemicals use renewable biomass from plants and waste instead of fossil fuels as a raw material. Common examples are biofuels, bioplastics and biosolvents. Biotechnology and synthetic biology are enabling bio-based production routes for an increasing number of chemicals. The bioeconomy looks to meet sustainability goals while offering diversity and security of chemical supply.
Advances in polymer science and engineering are also opening up new possibilities across industries. High performance polymers boast exceptional mechanical properties for aerospace and automotive applications. Biodegradable and bio-inspired polymers provide environmentally friendly options for packaging, drug delivery, textiles and beyond. Researchers are also expanding the functionality of polymers through cross-linking, nanotechnology and composites to achieve multi-responsive and smart materials.
For all intents and purposes, the chemical industry remains at the forefront of innovation. It is moving towards more environmentally benign processes, harnessing the power of data and biology, and designing novel polymers and materials to address 21st century challenges in sustainability, health care, transportation, electronics, and more. Exciting chemistry lies ahead that will shape our economy and daily lives.