June 1914: Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria and his wife Sophie are shot to death by a Bosnian Serb nationalist during a visit to the Bosnian capital of Sarajevo. The killings sparked a chain of events that led to the outbreak of World War 1.
Weekly Drug Markets, the predecessor to IHS Chemical Week, is founded in September 1914.
"The European war has created unprecedented conditions in drug and chemical markets."
To meet the needs for markets intelligence in these conditions publisher D.O. Haynes launches a weekly publication.
An early reactor for ammonia synthesis.
The Haber-Bosch process for ammonia synthesis, which was first successfully operated by BASF in 1913, was the decisive step into the age of mineral fertilizers. This innovation became a key driver in the development of the industrialized society and is still securing the nutrition of billions of people today.
Fritz Haber would win the Nobel Prize for the invention in 1919.
One of the first-ever home chemistry sets from Porter Chemical in 1928.
Dupont changes product name
First Nylon Sales.
Julian Hill discovers first super-polymer fiber polyester-3,16 – forerunner of nylon
Wallace Carothers team produces rubber-like substance. DuPont markets it as Duprene.
1938 Experimenting with refrigerants gases Roy Plunkett discovers polytetrafluoroethylene. In the 1950s it was marketed as Teflon.
1942: In the fall of 1942, as part of the Manhattan Project, DuPont begins design work on the first full-scale Plutionium production reactor in the world.
The Army and DuPont chose Hanford, WA located along the Columbia River in central Washington, not only for its proximity to hydroelectric power, but also for its sparsely populated, remote location. The scope of the project called for unprecedented innovation in materials, design and management all done by DuPont’s specially formed “TNX” division. Photo: US Energy Department
1943: Dow Corning, a 50/50 joint venture between Dow Chemical and Corning, is founded in Midland, MI to explore and develop the potential of silicones. It remains one of the longest-running joint ventures ever.
1947: In the late 1940s, Dr. Siegfried Nitzsche, one of the pioneers of silicone chemistry, begins research work on silanes and silicones at Wacker Burghausen. The photograph shows the first silicone cartridges containing sealants.
1944: Ludwigshafen, the headquarters and largest production site of BASF, was heavily damaged by Allied bombardment in WWII. Photo: BASF
1950: Dow introduces Saran Wrap. Originally comprised of polyvinylidene chloride, it was later switched to polyethylene.
1951:Paul Hogan and Robert Banks of Phillips Petroleum discovery high-density polyethylene (HDPE) and isotactic polypropylene using chromium catalysts.
1952: DuPont introduces Mylar polyester film. This photo demonstrates the strength of the film.
1953: Karl Ziegler produces HDPE using a titanium-based organo- metallic catalyst.
1953: BASF, in collaboration with Deutsche Shell, founds the first German petrochemical production plant, Rheinische Olefinwerke GmbH (ROW), in Wesseling. The company mainly produces polyethylene under the BASF trademark Lupolen.
1956: UOP is the first to commercialize catalytic reforming through its Platforming technology, forever changing the aromatics market. This is a UOP Platformer at Gulf Oil's Port Arthur, TX, refinery in 1956.
1955: Guilo Natta of Montecatini uses Ziegler type catalysts to produce isotactic polypropylene.
1962: Publication of Rachel Carson’s ‘Silent Spring.’ The book raises public awareness of the potentially harmful effects of the indiscriminate use of pesticides. It becomes a rallying point for the new environmental movement.
1963: Chemists Karl Ziegler and Giulio Natta jointly win the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for their earlier work to develop catalyst systems that polymerize ethylene and propylene in low-pressure, liquid-phase processes.
1965: ICI announces plans to build the world’s largest steam cracker, with capacity for 450,000 m.t./year of ethylene, at Wilton, UK. The project reflects ever-increasing plant sizes during the ‘60s, enabled by the development of single-train production facilities.
1970 – Nixon creates the EPA William D. Ruckelshaus is sworn in as administrator of the new Environmental Protection Agency with President Richard Nixon at the White House ceremony in Washington. Source: AP (New York)
1976: Glyphosate is commercialized by Monsanto in Canada in 1976 with the introduction of Roundup.
1973: Oil Crisis - Started in October 1973 when the members of Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries (OAPEC) proclaimed an oil embargo. By the end of the embargo in March 1974, the price of oil had risen from $3/barrel to nearly $12. Source: National Archives
1978: Love Canal - A neighborhood in NY is discovered to sit upon 21,000 tons of toxic industrial waste that had been buried underground in the 1940s and '50s by Hooker Chemical. The town is soon after evacuated. Source: EPA
1981: DuPont/Conoco - The largest corporation merger to date, DuPont acquires Conoco Inc.
1984: Bhopal Disaster
The world’s worst industrial disaster occurs in Bhopal, India. A methyl isocyanate (MIC) gas leak occurred at Union Carbide’s India Limited pesticide plant at Bhopal, causing chemical exposure to over 500,000 people, and the official immediate death toll was 2,259.
Victims walk with an image of Warren Anderson and asking for his extradition during the rally to mark the 26th year of Bhopal Gas Disaster, in Bhopal - India on December 2,2010.
A detailed look at how Union Carbide actually placed the waste on ground, separating them with layers of only plastic instead of concrete, in Bhopal
December 1985: Samuel Heyman tried to acquire Union Carbide soon after the Bhopal disaster.
1989: Phillips explosion -
The Phillips disaster explosion in Texas killed over 20 employees after flammable process gases leaked.
1990s: Rise of the chemical industry in new emerging regions. Mideast consolidates its role as important producer and exporter of petrochemicals. 1993-97 the Asian tigers become major consumers. Continued economic reform in China leads to rapid market growth and industry development.
1996: Major restructuring, especially in Europe. Pharma-chemical conglomerates split, creating large multi-specialty groups and new agrochemical players. Several flagship names disappear (Hoechst and Rhone-Poulenc in 1999) or enter the final end-game (ICI). Privatization of the former state-owned portions of the chemical industry is completed.
1998: James Ratcliffe founded Ineos.
1998-99: New chemical majors are formed in western developed countries
Consolidation in the oil industry (ExxonMobil, BP/Amoco/Arco) creates major new petrochemical players. But several oil companies pull back from chemicals (Texaco, Shell). Private equity begins to make its mark, and leads to the creation of Ineos.
Creation of the present structure of the agrochemicals industry. Syngenta antecedents are formed and Monsanto in 1997 sheds most of its chemicals business to become an agchems-only player in 2000. GMO seeds and plants are launched and become an important constituent of the former chemically-dominated agchems industry.
Early 2000s: Energy prices: The industry faced volatile energy prices in the 2000s, especially in North America. As natural gas prices skyrocketed in the early 2000s, petrochemical production shifted increasingly to China and the Middle East, while many Western producers looked to move downstream into specialties. Towards the end of the decade, prices tumbled along with the demand during the worst global recession since the 1930s.
Economic shock: The most recent economic recession, which began in September 2008, hit the chemical industry hard. The recession brought new construction to a near-standstill in the US and most of Europe, meaning demand dried up in a key chemical end market. Although some other regions weathered the storm better, other end markets, such as automotive and electronics, also experienced steep demand declines. Some markets have yet to fully recover.
China rising: BASF’s 50-50 joint venture with Sinopec – called BASF-YPC – was among the first in a series of projects in China undertaken as joint ventures between Chinese and Western producers. BASF-YPC, which came onstream in 2005, is a $2.9-billion Verbund petrochemicals complex and includes an ethylene cracker and downstream units. By 2009, China was the world’s second-largest petrochemicals producer, after the United States.
The start of the decade saw China’s chemical industry overtaking the US chemical industry to become the largest in the world in terms of total output value. The value of chemical industry output in China increased 32.6% in 2010 compared with the previous year, to about $818 billion, surpassing the $734 billion of chemicals output generated by the US industry in 2010.
Massive petrochemical investments are announced in the United States as a result of the development of shale gas.
Economic growth slows down in emerging countries, which reduces chemical industry growth in those nations.
Japanese companies are in the process of restructuring and consolidating their petrochemical operations in Japan, mainly as a result of competition from additional production capacity coming online in China.
Site where Mitsubishi Chemical and Asahi Kasei plan to combine their ethylene operations at Mizushima by April 2016