A series of activities are required to foster innovation in the chemical industry. One of the most critical first steps is to determine if a technology is commercially viable.

This discipline is known as “techno-economics,” in which an expert team analyzes the variables required to introduce a new innovation into the marketplace, which include costs and conditions of research, development, process scale-up, raw materials, engineering, etc. These assessments help derive target goals and informed economic modeling.

Many companies conduct little or no techno-economic evaluation, but the procedure is standard at Mid-Atlantic Technology, Research & Innovation Center. “This mindset is commonsense, but not always common within industry, it’s a commitment to doggedly estimating what it takes to win in the chemical marketplace,” said MATRIC Chief Technology Officer Parvez Wadia.

While effective techno-economic modeling is continuous throughout a project’s life cycle, early identification of potential hurdles and rigorous performance targets is most important. “Sometimes failures are good, but you want them to occur quickly, so that modifications can be made to put the effort back on course,” according to Wadia.

“Just because something is technically possible doesn’t mean it will be commercially successful. However, by assessing all economic variables throughout the development process, we can significantly increase the likelihood that a project will generate value in the marketplace,” he concluded.