Role of a Named Chemist

Outline the role of a chemist employed in a named industry or enterprise, identifying the branch of chemistry undertaken by the chemist and explaining a chemical principle that the chemist uses

Gather, process and present information from secondary sources about the work of practising scientists identifying:

The role of a plant chemist working in the polymer industry, concerned with the conversion of ethane to ethylene and the polymerisation of ethylene to polyethylene, would involve:
  • Tasks such as:
    • Monitoring the quality of the ethylene and polyethylene products, particularly checking for impurities.
    • Monitoring waste-water from the production process to ensure that environmental standards are being met.
    • Adjusting operating conditions in order to optimise product yields (involves collaborating with process engineers at the cracking furnace).
  • Analytical chemistry: The branch of chemistry concerned with determining the species present and the quantities of each species in a sample.
  • Using the technique of gas chromatography, including gas-solid chromatography and gas-liquid chromatography.
    • Gas chromatography: A form of chromatography in which the mobile phase is gaseous, being a mixture vaporised into a stream of helium.
    • In gas chromatography, once the mobile phase has flowed over the stationary phase in a tube or column, a detector quantitatively analyses each substance that passes out.
    • Gas-solid chromatography: A form of gas chromatography in which the stationary phase is a solid.
    • Gas-liquid chromatography: A form of gas chromatography in which the stationary phase is liquid.
  • Using the principles of adsorption (for gas-solid chromatography) and dissolution (for gas-liquid chromatography):
    • Adsorption: The attachment of an adsorbate to the surface of an absorbent, which can occur due to the formation of a chemical bond or due to much weaker intermolecular forces (van der Waals forces).
    • In gas-solid chromatography, the components of the mobile phase adsorb on to the solid stationary phase to differing extents.
    • Dissolution: The process in which a solute dissolves in a solvent to form a solution.
    • In gas-liquid chromatography, the components of the mobile phase dissolve in the stationary phase to different extents.
Burhan Gemikonakli has the role of Plant Chemist, as outlined above, at Qenos, a major Australian chemical manufacturing company located at Botany, New South Wales (Source: 'Conquering Chemistry' by Roland Smith).

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