Volume2 Issue 11/12                                                                                                                            Feb 2004 / Mar 2004


Every year at CHEMCON, the annual congress of our Institute, we hold three memorial lectures. The most prestigious of them is the Dr.H.L.Roy Memorial Lecture, as it serves to perpetuate the memory of a pioneer and the founder of our Institute, Dr.Hira Lal Roy. It is important that this lecture be held in a form and style that befits the memory of this visionary. Unfortunately this has not been the case sometimes due to a combination of several circumstances.

It is important not to leave this lecture to the vagaries of the individual CHEMCON organisers and for this it is necessary to create a decent corpus out of which the expenses for the lecture can be defrayed. Unlike other memorial lectures, which have been adopted by corporates or individuals through handsome donations, the H.L.Roy Memorial lecture belongs to us all, and it is our obligation to contribute our might for this noble task.

Sometime back the former President of our Institute, Dr.P.G.Rao had made an appeal to individual members to contribute at least a sum of Rs.100 for creating a corpus towards this lecture. At the recent council meeting the council members have set the ball rolling by deciding to contribute a sum of Rs. 1000 each for this fund. I sincerely hope that this example is emulated by other members.


Chairman's Message

Last two decades have seen all round growth of Information Technology and knowledge based systems. These developments have brought evolutionary benefits for economies and created new opportunities of growth and prosperity in businesses worldwide.

Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) is one of the key Information Technology, which has helped businesses to integrate and automate processes and opened up new kind of business culture. To optimise manufacturing value chain, ERP can also be integrated with Supply Chain Management for minimising inventory of inputs and enhancing outputs in line with market demands.

Internet and web based systems have networked not only people worldwide but also offered distinctive advantages of networking various economies. A recent survey indicated that about 6 billion population is using internet and it is further growing.E-Procurement, another tool, can also help in reducing the cost of procurement and obtaining competitive pricing. Portal technology is another Information Technology, which can be effectively used for training the workforce online and for sharing knowledge.

Since India is a hub with large trained IT workforce, Chemical Industry should use Information Technology to its best advantage so as to remain competitive.

Mukesh Rohatgi

Utilisation of Natural Gas

Based on a lecture delivered by Bipin Vora, Senior Corporate Fellow, Process technology Development, UOP, USA at UICT on 14th Feb 2004.

Nearly 70% of the world’s Natural Gas reserves are found in three countries – Russia, Iran and Qatar. There are three main possibilities of gainfully utilising this gas

  1. Transport gas by pipeline
  2. Liquefy, transport by ships, store and revapourise.(LNG Terminal)
  3. Convert the gas to liquid (GTL)

Long distance transportation of gas through cross-country pipelines is often infeasible because of politically hostile environment. LNG terminals are very expensive. A 5 million tpa LNG terminal requires an investment of US $ 2.5 billion. As a result the gas which costs US $ 0.5 per million BTU at the supply head becomes nearly 7 times more costly at US $ 3.5 per million BTU at the terminal facility.

Against this background, GTL is emerging as an attractive option. Three plants – SASOL, Mossgas and Shell Bintulu are already in operation. SASOL’s facility in South Africa is the biggest of the three with a capacity of 180,000 bpsd. The current investment for a GTL facility is in the order of US $ 30,000 – 40,000 per bpsd. A 70,000 bpsd GTL complex which would require 630 million SCFD gas would cost approx. US $ 2.1 billion. To become competitive with crude oil at current levels, this has to drop to US $ 20,000 per bpsd. Exxon, SASOL, Statoil and BP are the leaders working on GTL process development.

Another exciting possibility is to convert the gas into petrochemicals through the synthesis gas and methanol route. UOP and Norsk Hydro have developed the Methanol to Olefin (MTO) process. A silica- alumina phosphate molecular sieve is used as the catalyst. Pressures are in the range of 1-3 bar and temperatures in the 400 – 500 degrees C range. A fluidised bed reactor similar to that in FCC is used. For every tonne of ethylene, 1.7 tonnes of propylene is produced. After successful demonstration of the technology in a 1 tpd pilot plant at Norway, one million tpa plant is currently under construction in Nigeria.

K.Sahasranaman (With inputs from Vijay Sane)

R. B. Roy Chowdhury Memorial Lecture

White Collar, Blue Collar : India and China in the contemporary world

By Jairam Ramesh

Some impressions…..

The Indian and Chinese economies are surging ahead along parallel paths, fuelled respectively by service and manufacturing industries. The difference between India and China goes back to the dawn of civilisation. The evolution of Indian civilisation has been more philosophical, while that of China has been driven by creation. Thus while India is renowned for the invention of zero, the Chinese invented gunpowder, paper, printing etc. Today Chinese excel in assembly-line mass production of toys, garments etc, whereas Indians are good in iterative processes that require application of previous learning.

The socio-political situation in the two countries is also vastly different. While Indian society is centrifugal, the Chinese are a centripetal society. Language, religion and politics are great unifiers in China, while they work as divisive forces in India. Even dictatorial China could accept mistakes of a national icon like Mao while ushering in changes, in contrast to democratic India taking longer to accept global changes. The strict discipline in the Chinese society helped them develop China into a strong manufacturing-based economy with low skilled, low cost labour force. On the contrary India with the freedom to question and think, has developed in to services based economy using its knowledge based work force. Ask a Chinese worker to do a task and it will be done. Ask the same of an Indian and he will demand of you the reason for it.

The Chinese population has stabilised, while that of India continues to grow and soon would overtake the Chinese in numbers. The economic growth in both China and India has been confined to certain regions. But unlike India, China’s economic development has been maximum in those pockets where the concentration of population is the highest. The rich-poor divide is thus less sharp in Chinese society, which is also more egalitarian than India’s. In the sixties, the Chinese systematically destroyed higher education, while establishing an excellent primary education system. The ripples of that are still being felt in China today. The Chinese are trying to correct that aberration by rejuvenating the higher education though a hundred ‘Indian style IIT’s’. India, on the other hand ought to emulate China and give more importance to its primary education.

As both India and China race to become the global superpowers, the paths of their economies are soon likely to converge and cross. India is already becoming the manufacturing hub of the world for some components. Similarly China is likely to make inroads into India’s global share in the service sector. Thus very soon India and China will be competing with each other for the global pie in both manufacturing and service economies.

K.Sahasranaman (with inputs from Dr.Shrihari.H)

Did you know?

The first chemical engineering curriculum was offered by Lewis M. Norton as a new Course of study within the Department of Chemistry at MIT in 1888. Norton's Course combined mechanical engineering with industrial chemistry. As the course catalogue of 1888 described it, this curriculum was being forged "to meet the needs of students who desire a general training in mechanical engineering, and at the same time to devote a portion of their time to the study of the applications of chemistry to the arts, especially to those engineering problems which relate to the use and manufacture of chemical products."

CHEMCON 2004 Update

The venue has been finalised as Grand Hyatt, Off Western Express Highway, Santacruz (East), near Kalina Campus of Bombay University.

Dr.Ashok Misra has agreed to be the Chairman of the LOC.


The previous edition of Newsletter carried wrong news about the Best Students Chapter Award at CHEMCON 2003. The Best Students Chapter award was actually presented to the UICT Students Chapter. The Gujarat Ambuja Cements award for Students Chapter was presented to Thadomal Shahani Engineering College. The error is deeply regretted

The Editor


Four-day Short Term Course on Conceptual Design and Simulation of Complex Distillation Systems : April 09 – 12, 2004 at Department of Chemical Engineering, IIT Bombay

Please address all communication to :Prof. Sanjay Mahajani

(Course Coordinator)Dept. of Chemical Engineering,Indian Institute of Technology, BombayPowai, Mumbai - 400 076.Tel. : 2576 7246 (O), 2576 8246 (R)Fax : 22 – 2572 6895Gram : Technology, Mumbai - 76

Email :

Website of the Month

This month’s website is centred on the Indian Chemical Industry. The site carries an industry review under the major sectors. There is exhaustive information on the EXIM policy relating to the Chemical Industry. The key feature of the site is a Business Directory listing manufacturers, suppliers, exporters, importers and buyers of chemicals.

Send your feedback on this and the Newsletter in general to Of course do keep visiting for the MRC news and for the news from the IIChE Headquarters.

Forthcoming Programmes
Mar 10th 2004 Ayurveda for 21st century – synergy of modern and traditional science by Dr.S.G.Kane
6.00 pm at UICT Old Auditorium, Matunga
Apr 2004 Lecture on ‘Heavy Water Technology’ by Mr.V.K.Tangri, BARC.
Date and Venue to be finalised

Keep watching our website for further announcements