Emerson Technologist Receives Honor From AIChE

May 1, 2009
Advanced control and optimization expert spent 40 years helping refining and petrochemical industries advance.

The American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) recently announced that Dr. Douglas White, a principal consultant for Emerson Process Management’s PlantWeb Solutions Group, received the AIChE Fuels and Petrochemicals Division (FPD) award, one of two FPD annual awards, for his outstanding technological contributions to the advancement of these industries.

“Computing and communications technologies, such as digital control systems and wireless networks, are all changing how today’s plants operate,” said White. “These changes are impacting four fundamental areas – safety, environmental performance, equipment reliability and efficiency – which are critical to the long-term profitability and viability of the refining and petrochemical industries.”

White’s involvement began in developing early advanced control and online optimization for the chemical and refining industries. As these industries have grown, he’s helped prove early applications in these technologies would work and be economically beneficial. His work at Emerson has included advanced control and optimization for refinery crude, naphtha reforming and fluid catalytic cracking units and olefin plants.

White predicts wireless technologies will soon enable on-site plant operators to transmit pictures and sounds from their facility to off-site engineers so they can diagnose problems remotely.

“Communication links are faster and more complete than ever before,” explains White. “Employees in the manufacturing facility can carry with them a small computer (a little larger than an iPhone) and can see the process readings in the plant while they’re walking around. If they suspect a piece of machinery isn’t operating correctly, they can call up the specifications. If they have questions about the equipment, they can take a picture and send sound back to engineers hundreds or thousands of miles away. They no longer need to go back to a central facility to retrieve data, specifications or speak to the engineering team. They have everything at their fingertips to make the necessary adjustments or changes.”

A prolific author, White has written for Chemical Processing. You can view his article, Improve Your Project's Prospects, here >> http://www.chemicalprocessing.com/articles/2004/144.html.

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