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Overview of Chemical Processing Industry

Chemicals are forms of matter with a constant composition and properties. Virtually everything that physically exists is made up of chemicals, or a mixture of multiple chemicals. For this reason, chemicals are incredibly important in the process industries. Along with virtually every other industry in the world.

Chemical processing describes the process by which one chemical composition is transformed into another. The multi-billion dollar Chemical Processing Industry manufactures, processes, and produces various types of chemicals, chemical substances, and products. These include petrochemical and inorganic chemicals, pharmaceuticals, industrial gases, plastics, rubbers, detergents, paints, coatings, pigments, and many others. The chemical processing industry is essential to the modern global economy and plays a vital role in almost every other industry in existence.

In 1992, OSHA issued the Process Safety Management of Highly Hazardous Chemicals standard (29 CFR 1910.119). This regulation contains requirements for the management of hazards associated with processes using highly hazardous chemicals. Among other things, it requires operators to keep written safety procedures when dealing with dangerous chemicals. It also requires they create and implement an action plan in case of emergencies.


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Articles about Chemical Processing Industry
  • May/June 2018 Inspectioneering Journal
    By Chad Patschke, CPSA at Ethos Mechanical Integrity Solutions

    According to API 570, facilities must have a mechanical integrity program in place for critical check valves. But what criteria determines whether or not a check valve is critical in your process? How should check valves be inspected and by whom?

  • March/April 2018 Inspectioneering Journal
    By Simon Yuen, P.E. at Suncor Energy Inc., and Ken Gottselig at BP America Production Company

    Hot spots – localized areas of overheating in pressure equipment – can lead to deformation or even loss of process containment. It is important to understand the effects of elevated temperature caused by hot spots on the mechanical integrity of equipment.

  • March/April 2018 Inspectioneering Journal
    By John Reynolds at Intertek

    This article is designed to help the reader better communicate their FEMI Mission, Vision, Core Values and Responsibilities to all stakeholders at their site.

  • January/February 2018 Inspectioneering Journal
    By Kyle Dunn at Dunn Heat Exchangers, Inc.

    Cleaning of heat exchangers and other process equipment is typically done with the use of pressurized water (e.g., hydro-blasting). However, in some situations thermal decomposition, a technique that utilizes heat rather than water to break down foulants, might more effective.

  • January/February 2018 Inspectioneering Journal
    By Phillip E. Prueter at The Equity Engineering Group, Inc.

    Given the concern throughout industry regarding the potential for brittle fracture failures, PWHT guidance to address potential issues arising from the recent changes in PWHT code requirements for carbon steel is examined in this article, and commentary on the potential reduction in fracture toughness due to PWHT is provided based on a review of published literature.

  • Partner Content

    Auto-refrigeration can impose low temperatures onto process vessels and piping causing them to be at risk of brittle fracture, the sudden break-before leak phenomena that can result in catastrophic rupture of the equipment.

  • Blog
    February 19, 2018

    Infrared (IR) thermometry has been used for over forty years to monitor tube metal temperatures in refining and chemical furnaces. Recently, IR thermometry has been criticized in the industry for delivering inaccurate readings; however, this is often due to poorly applied and interpreted results. Several of the most common IR measurement errors include...

  • Blog
    December 19, 2017 By John Reynolds at Intertek

    Industry SME John Reynolds provides his bi-annual updates from the API Standards Meeting and discusses developments related to the 2019 API Inspection Summit, SCIMI codes, standards, and recommended practices, and the API Individual Certification Program (ICP).

  • May/June 2017 Inspectioneering Journal
    By Ryan Myers at PinnacleART, and Brian Marino at PinnacleART

    Effective condition monitoring location selection is a key component of a best-in-class mechanical integrity program. Learn how moving beyond traditional qualitative approaches to optimized CML selection can reduce risk and maximize the value of each inspection.

  • May/June 2017 Inspectioneering Journal
    By David E. Moore at Becht Engineering, PONO Division

    Read a firsthand account of how organizing Process, People, Plant, and Performance can reveal breakdowns in your corrosion management practices and drive down corrosion related leaks.

  • Blog
    June 1, 2017 By Nickole C. Winnett at Jackson Lewis P.C.

    The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued two reports on the safe management of hazards by small businesses and storage facilities that use highly hazardous chemicals in business processes.

  • Partner Content

    Auto-refrigeration can impose low temperatures onto process vessels and piping causing them to be at risk of brittle fracture, the sudden break-before leak phenomena that can result in catastrophic rupture of the equipment.

  • March/April 2017 Inspectioneering Journal
    By Fernando Vicente at ABB, and Laza Krstin at ABB

    Myths, challenges, and good practices related to process piping integrity management activities that help inspection and maintenance managers make the right decisions to develop cost-effective piping inspection plans without compromising the asset’s reliability or performance.

  • January/February 2017 Inspectioneering Journal
    By Edwin A. Merrick, PE at The Augustus Group

    This article presents a perspective on the human factor and emphasizes the value of using risk tools at all levels in the organization to help provide management focus during times of severe economic pressure.

  • Blog
    January 3, 2017 By Jeremiah Wooten at Inspectioneering, LLC.

    At the end of every year, the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) releases a list of the 10 most frequently cited safety and health violations for the fiscal year, comprised from approximately 32,000 workplace inspections by federal OSHA staff.

  • January/February 2016 Inspectioneering Journal
    By Greg Alvarado at Inspectioneering Journal

    The enormous decline in oil prices over the past 14 months has definitely slowed projects and changed the energy and production landscape. Despite this, refineries, petrochemical plants, and chemical facilities must continue to run safely, responsibly, and reliably.

  • Blog
    January 4, 2016 By Jeremiah Wooten at Inspectioneering, LLC.

    We at Inspectioneering would like to take this opportunity to thank all of our subscribers, followers, clients, and industry partners for a great 2015, and wish every member of the Inspectioneering community a happy and healthy 2016!

  • Partner Content

    Let Pro-Surve identify corrosion on your flange raised faces while your unit remains in operation. Using phased array TFM, custom transducers and proven procedures Pro-Surve technicians identify corrosion on flange raised faces from the flange outside diameter. Identify scope for pipe spools for turnaround pre-fabrication using this technique. Identify flanges needing replacement or re-machining.

  • July/August 2015 Inspectioneering Journal
    By John Reynolds at Intertek

    Rarely is there a new and unknown cause of a major Fixed Equipment Mechanical Integrity (FEMI) failure in the petrochemical and refining industry. This article briefly summarizes five major fixed equipment mechanical integrity (FEMI) failures from the petrochemical and refining industry.

  • May/June 2015 Inspectioneering Journal
    By Amanda Nurse at BP, and Josh Havekost at BP

    Assessing risk is an integral part of working at a refinery. Infrastructure supporting the miles of piping, process vessels, and the platforms and ladders used in daily unit operations are often taken for granted. The Civil Structures Management Program (CSMP) at the BP Whiting Refinery was developed in 2004. Since the program’s inception, millions of dollars have been spent in the yearly execution of refinery structural repairs.

  • Online Article

    Now more than ever, processing plants are in need to ensure their facilities are equipped with the tools and methodologies necessary to ensure safe and efficient operations. The development of regulations and industry standards are prompting plants to implement new means of protection for both personnel and the environment. Florine Vincik, BS, MBA, CSP, Senior EHS Specialist, Process Safety Center of Expertise at BASF recently spoke with marcus evans about key topics to be discussed at their upcoming Facility Siting and Risk Mitigation for Processing Plants Conference taking place August 4-6, 2015 in San Antonio, TX. Here is their exchange.

  • Online Article

    “Safety, environmental issues, efficiency, cost reduction and sustainability are at the top of the list of concerns for industrial plant managers,” says Robert Jarrard, Vice President, Plattco Corporation. “When manufacturing conditions are demanding, when processes have to operate in extreme temperatures or pressure ranges, when the material is sticky or difficult to convey, or when corrosive or abrasive materials must pass easily, Plattco airlock valves are better able to address plant managers’ concerns than typical rotary valves can,” he explains. Below is an interview conducted by marcus evans in the month leading up to the Industrial Plant Management Summit 2015.

  • Online Article

    Michael Heard, Risk Engineering Advisor, Process Safety / Technical Safety / Environmental at Hess Corporation recently spoke with marcus evans about key topics to be discussed at their upcoming Facility Siting and Risk Mitigation for Processing Plants, August 4-6, 2015 in San Antonio, TX. Here is their exchange.

  • Partner Content

    InVista is a lightweight, hand-held ultrasonic in-line inspection tool (intelligent pig) capable of detecting pipeline wall loss and corrosion in unpiggable or difficult-to-inspect pipelines. The pipeline geometry inspection data captured by the InVista tool is exceptionally powerful when combined with the LifeQuest™ Pipeline fitness-for-service capabilities, providing an integrated solution set for the pipeline industry.

  • March/April 2015 Inspectioneering Journal
    By Walt Sanford at PinnacleART

    Today, many managers are finding that they can address the reliability of all types of assets by combining RBI and Reliability Centered Maintenance (RCM) processes together into one comprehensive reliability management process.

  • March/April 2015 Inspectioneering Journal
    By Andy Kates at Versa Integrity Group

    Rope access allows for a wide variety of work to be performed at high elevations or other hard to reach areas without the use of scaffolding or heavy equipment. It has evolved from techniques used in rock climbing and caving to become an extremely safe and cost effective industrial tool.

  • March/April 2015 Inspectioneering Journal
    By Jeremy Wimberly at Sentinel Integrity Solutions

    Refractory materials have significantly evolved during the past 15 years, testing technology is much more sophisticated, and the need for test technicians to be properly trained and experienced to use that technology is much more important than it has been in the past. Today, operators know that to ensure at least five to six year run times on processing units, production baffle testing and material prequalification and inspection processes and results are absolutely critical.

  • March/April 2015 Inspectioneering Journal
    By A.C. Gysbers at The Equity Engineering Group, Inc.

    The tubes of heat exchangers (HX), whether for a shell and tube bundle or an airfin, are typically subject to some form of nondestructive examination (NDE) to try and quantify the remaining wall thicknesses and corrosion rates to help a plant to determine remaining life or the need for intervention via re-tubing or replacement of these thin wall components.

  • March/April 2015 Inspectioneering Journal
    By Matt Midas at GenesisSolutions

    With the advancements in today’s technology and improvements to Enterprise Asset Management (EAM) systems and Computerized Maintenance Management Systems (CMMS), if we deploy them properly and in line with best practices, it is possible to reach previously unreachable levels of efficiency, data quality, and meaningful reports.

  • Partner Content

    LOTIS utilizes laser profilometry to conduct internal steam reformer tube inspections. The data captured by LOTIS is exceptionally powerful when combined with our LifeQuest™ remaining life assessment capabilities, providing an integrated solution set for the process and syngas industries.

  • March/April 2015 Inspectioneering Journal
    By Nick Harwood at Aetos Group, and Aaron Cook at Aetos Group

    The ability to gain this unique perspective has recently become easier and safer with today’s technological advancements. This new technology comes in the form of a miniature flying machine, better known as a drone or small Unmanned Aerial System (sUAS). These systems can be a modified hobby aircraft or highly reliable, military grade aerial robots.

  • January/February 2015 Inspectioneering Journal
    By Pamela Hamblin at Thielsch Engineering, Inc.

    Avoiding cracking under pressure when managing high-energy piping systems is common subject matter in the power industry. Just as high-energy piping can give way to pressure, stress and fatigue, so can the people in charge of operating them when trying to determine what to inspect, where to inspect, and what to do with those inspection results once they have them.

  • January/February 2015 Inspectioneering Journal
    By Harold Marburger at Dunn Heat Exchangers

    Whether onsite or offsite, the methods for cleaning shell and tube heat exchangers can vary. Refining and petrochemical operators will agree that high standards must be employed with each method. Choosing the right method can make the difference between smooth operations and unforeseen equipment shutdowns.

  • January/February 2015 Inspectioneering Journal
    By Fred Schenkelberg at FMS Reliability

    Reliability engineering tools and concepts can be used to avoid or delay failures, thus increasing product service life. Design or maintenance teams use reliability engineering techniques to identify failures and their causes.

  • January/February 2015 Inspectioneering Journal
    By Clint Rupert at Engineered Resin Solutions (ERS)

    Epoxy products have gone through extensive research and development over the years, and have reached the point that when specified for the correct environment, they should perform exactly as intended.

  • Partner Content

    How long does it take for you to receive reports after an inspection has been completed? A week? A month? Does the data come from multiple sources with no way of knowing if it has been manipulated? Traditional inspection contractors do not have the ability to provide reliable and real-time data once an inspection is complete. The only way to ensure accurate, reliable data is with technology.

  • January/February 2015 Inspectioneering Journal
    By Greg Alvarado at Inspectioneering Journal

    Challenges abounded in 2014 for the process industries, and it does not look like they will let up soon. But then again, that’s life, as they say. After 40 years in the industry the old adages still ring true, “there is nothing new under the sun” and “the only constant is change.”

  • November/December 2014 Inspectioneering Journal
    By Scott Corey at Sentinel Integrity Solutions Inc.

    One of the major challenges inspectors and plant operators face after each turnaround is to ensure that all repair and scope work is and was completed in accordance with the client’s requirements. Sometimes that verification will be to ensure work was completed in conjunction with the applicable codes, and sometimes that it was completed in conjunction with the client’s own in-house specifications.

  • November/December 2014 Inspectioneering Journal
    By Rajesh Bose at BP, and Terry M. Webb at BP

    The introduction of PAUT is a challenging effort initially, but can have a very positive impact on your first TAR and become a routine inspection for future TARs. When fully implemented, radiation safety boundaries can be reduced significantly or eliminated altogether.

  • November/December 2014 Inspectioneering Journal
    By Kelsey Hevner at Quest Integrity Group

    Steam reformers are critical assets for the successful operation of hydrogen, ammonia, and methanol plants. The steam reformer is also one of the most expensive assets in these facilities. Catalyst tubes inside the reformer are one of the most important and costly components.

  • July/August 2014 Inspectioneering Journal
    By A.C. Gysbers at The Equity Engineering Group, Inc.

    One of the more common inspection monitoring programs for pressure vessels is to perform thickness measurement at Corrosion Monitoring Locations (CMLs) to allow monitoring of minimum thicknesses and provide estimates for corrosion rates. These minimum thicknesses and corrosion rates are critical in supporting risk based inspection techniques or in setting half-life prescriptive re-inspection intervals.

  • Partner Content

    Facilities are facing increasing challenges, including justifying inflated budgets, managing contractor hours, ensuring regulatory compliance and qualifying the work being completed. To help facilities manage evolving inspection requirements, PinnacleART offers Fixed-Price Inspection (FPI), meaning we will develop and execute a comprehensive Risk-Based Inspection plan for one fixed-price. Yes, you read that right – one fixed-price.

  • Blog
    March 3, 2014 By Greg Alvarado at Inspectioneering Journal

    In many ways, fertilizer plants are no different than most process industry plants including refineries and petrochemical facilities. Information in documents like API 510, 570, 653 and RPs 580, 581, 571, 577, 579, etc. is essential.

  • March/April 2013 Inspectioneering Journal
    By Thomas Fortinberry at Quest Integrity Group, and James R. Widrig at Quest Integrity

    Steam reformers are critical assets to many refining and chemical manufacturing plants and facilities, and it is well known that the reformer is one of the most challenging assets to maintain and operate. Common problems in reformer operations include burner firing, flue gas distribution, and catalyst damage.

  • July/August 2010 Inspectioneering Journal
    By Craig Emslie BSc at Sonomatic Ltd., and Karen Gibson at Sonomatic Ltd.

    Inspection intervals for equipment have in the past been defined in a prescriptive manner. However, industry is now embracing the Risk Based Inspection (RBI) approach which in contrast prioritises inspections based on an assessment of the risk to each individual item.

  • July/August 2007 Inspectioneering Journal
    By Sanjoy Das at Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, P.R. Vaidya at BARC, and B.K. Shah at BARC

    Degradation of materials with time during service is a common phenomenon for all engineering components. Hence periodic inspection is required to ensure structural integrity and availability for service. During in-service inspection (ISI), wall thickness measurement of insulated and non-insulated pipe is a typical non-destructive evaluation technique in the oil & gas, chemical, petrochemical and nuclear industries. Ultrasonic testing is available for wall thickness measurement, but in some cases, it may not be the preferred technique. For ultrasonic testing, accuracy is dependent on the temperature of pipe, which may carry fluid at high temperature. Hence shutdown of the installation is required. Moreover for insulated pipe, insulation has to be removed before ultrasonic testing. The radiation technique is a complementary testing method which can be carried out without disturbing the installation. In this technique electromagnetic radiation passes through the object of inspection and is finally recorded in a recording medium. The recording medium is either an industrial X-ray film or a radiation detector. This paper is devoted to detection of pipe wall thinning by the radiation technique. Two different methods i.e. radiography and radiometry, are discussed with their relative merits and demerits.

  • September/October 2000 Inspectioneering Journal

    In part 1 of this article we covered the importance of quality assurance of UT data, that is, understanding for each particular application, the accuracy required of the UT data, and new ways/graphical program to analyze and show the interrelationships of data by location for trending. Part 1 article areas then included: -UT Data Reporting and Evaluation -Imaging UT Data Evaluating the Quality of Static UT Data -Visual Trending of UT data -Mathematical Trending of UT Data Now, in Part 2, we will cover data quality issue statistics and possible sources of poor quality UT data.

  • January/February 1999 Inspectioneering Journal
    By Joseph E. Pascente at Lixi, Inc.

    One of the greatest challenges facing many of refining, fossil power, and pulp and paper industries is: How to effectively examine their insulated piping?

  • September/October 1998 Inspectioneering Journal
    By Bernie Weber at Det Norske Veritas

    Quality failure rate data have long been needed by the Chemical Process Industry. Unfortunately, the emphasis too often has been on the collection of data rather than on its uses . One must answer the question of what to do with the data once it has been collected. The type of information that would allow more effective continuous improvement is often collected without any real thought other than, "sounds like we should have it," or "we might need it someday." Data collection is typically driven by perceived data requirements, regulatory requirements, and data that make day-to-day work assignments more efficient or provide proof of work performed.

  • September/October 1997 Inspectioneering Journal
    By John Reynolds at Intertek

    This is the fourth in a series of articles on piping inspection that I'm writing for the Journal. One of the previous ones dealt with improving thickness data taking accuracy with digital ultrasonic methods. This article is a "sister article" that deals with improving the accuracy of profile radiographic inspection techniques, also called isotope radiography, wall shots, or tangential radiographic inspection.

  • March/April 1997 Inspectioneering Journal
    By John Reynolds at Intertek

    This is the second in a series of articles on piping inspection. In the last article, I enumerated four inspection issues that I believe contribute to inadequate piping mechanical integrity in the hydrocarbon process industry.

    Videos related to Chemical Processing Industry
    • Published on May 24, 2018

      This CSB video details the events leading up to the August 31, 2017 fire at the Arkema chemical plant in Crosby, Texas. The incident led to all employees and more than 200 nearby residents being evacuated for a week.

    • Published on January 3, 2018

      The U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) has released a new 11-minute safety video describing the events leading up to the October 21, 2016 toxic chemical release at the MGPI Processing plant in Atchison, Kansas. The video, titled "Mixed Connection, Toxic Result" details key lessons from the CSB's investigation into the 2016 incident.

    • Published on November 15, 2017

      The U.S. Chemical Safety Board released a preliminary animation detailing the events of the chemical fires at the Arkema chemical plant in Crosby, Texas after it suffered power loss due to Hurricane Harvey's historic rainfall.

    • Sponsored Video Published on June 14, 2017

      Effective pipeline integrity management has been problematic for a large number of pipelines that were not designed for in-line inspection. Quest Integrity understands the complexities involved with this challenging segment and offers a comprehensive pipeline integrity management solution.

    • Published on March 20, 2017

      The U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) has released a video demonstrating the agency's positive safety impact in 2016. The video was posted just days after President Trump proposed his "America First" budget plan, which calls for the elimination of the CSB all together.

    • Published on January 29, 2016

      The U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) has released a safety video into the fatal April 17, 2013, fire and explosion at the West Fertilizer Company in West, Texas, which resulted in 15 fatalities, more than 260 injuries, and widespread community damage. The deadly fire and explosion occurred when about thirty tons of fertilizer grade ammonium nitrate (FGAN) exploded after being heated by a fire at the storage and distribution facility.

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