Make Your Job Easier

By Alan Hodel, Internet columnist

Information and resources accessible on the Internet can help you perform your job better. But for what information should you look ," and where?

Job information needs are diverse. Researchers and problem-solvers think technical. Plant managers lean toward output, quality improvement and cost management. Supervisors want to upgrade skills and training and build stronger teams.

Whatever hat or hats you wear, continued learning is essential to better job performance. In addition, planning and scheduling, coaching and mentoring, and physical fitness all are an important part of the job-performance improvement picture.

TTS Performance Systems Inc.,, is a company that provides training and establishes performance standards for a broad range of personnel within the chemical industry. The company's home page links to workshops, training tools and performance support systems. The company's "eLearning" Web page, located at, provides performance-improvement training 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Some of the programs listed have free demos available for browsing.

Quick-and-dirty order-of-magnitude cost estimates can be helpful, although they must be applied with great caution. The "Matches" Web site,, provides conceptual capital costs estimates for a wide range of process equipment. After you make your equipment choice, you can select pull-down menus to refine applicable specifications such as size, type and pressure. This site also has an organized set of links ( that include chemical information, design, patents and more.

Thermodynamics encompasses a broad range of complex topics important to chemical industry job performance. The "Thermodynamics Research Library" at is a good place to look for resources related to classical thermodynamics and quantum, nanoscale and statistical mechanics. Applications, mathematical techniques and topic references also are included. One of the references is a complete, well-illustrated physical chemistry textbook, located at, from the Bishop's University Department of Chemistry (

Another portal to a wide range of thermodynamics resources is an advanced chemical engineering thermodynamics links page at Brief descriptions are included for some of the links.

If you are looking for a refresher on physical and chemical properties, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) offers information in "The NIST Chemistry WebBook" at The site currently provides free access to data related to specific compounds. You can search based on chemical formula, name, CAS registry number, molecular weight, chemical structure, ion energetics properties, vibrational and electronic energies or molecular weight at Models and tools include thermophysical properties of fluid systems and group-additivity-based estimates of gas-phase thermodynamic properties. Note that CAS is a division of the American Chemical Society and that the CAS Registry ( is a database that contains more than 21 million substances ( and 27 million sequence records (

Basic Web searching techniques that might lead you to tools to make your job easier are provided at The techniques described focus on topics, targets and sources. Specific hints and tips on how to search are included. Links and tools also are provided for basic searching. You might want to begin with the "Introduction" page at

Time-savers are always welcome performance improvers for busy chemical industry professionals. ( offers a convenient way to locate a published article or topic in issues of more than 300 magazines dating back to1998.

A help section with search tips is provided. You can view publications alphabetically by name.

The heat of summer ," at least in the northern hemisphere ," prompts me to close with a heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) Web site at The page includes links and software of general interest, as well as links specific to HVAC resources. Examples include the "HumidCalc" humidity load calculations (, which can help you with humidity calculations, and "The Copper Tube Handbook"(, which features tables of data for different types of copper tubing.