||Technology in Australia 1788-1988
Table of Contents
II The Australian Chemical Industry
IV Chemists In Other Industries
V The Dawn Of Modern Chemical Industry - High Pressure Synthesis
VI The Growth Of Synthetic Chemicals - Concentration, Rationalisation And International Links
i Phenothiazine for Australia's sheep and cattle
ii Some innovative organic syntheses
iii Factory R&D
VII Australian Industrial Chemical Research Laboratories
VIII The Plastics Industry
IX The Paint Industry
Some innovative organic synthesesIndustrial organic synthesis originated from dyestuffs. This industry was -and is -essentially an export industry, allied to the world's textile centres. There were few openings for a belated entry into this field by Australia. There were, however, special opportunities to use some dyestuffs intermediates in the manufacture of explosives and pesticides. The discovery of these opportunities was made possible by close links between Australian and English chemists, which gave Australians working in the UK insight into the new processes, valuable experience and the chance to ferret out these special niches for applications in Australia.
The Australians decided to manufacture aniline employing the new process, although it had not yet been in production in the UK. The nitrobenzene required was made in a small plant at Deer Park, using benzene from Port Kembla (AIS) and mixed sulphuric/nitric acid from the nearby ICI Australia explosives plant. Nitrobenzene was distilled and desulphurised (sulphur poisons the catalyst), by boiling with aqueous caustic soda. This was an economic simplification of the UK process involving methanolic caustic. The process was further simplified in Australia because pure hydrogen was available from the Yarraville electrolytic caustic/chlorine cells. The UK plant arrived in Australia in 1942, and was in production in Australia early in 1944. It operated for 20 years, without problems, but eventually, once again, the scale of manufacture and demand for the product were too small for the plant to survive.
Organisations in Australian Science at Work - I.C.I. Australia Ltd; Timbrol Ltd
People in Bright Sparcs - Hamer, A. W.; Lamont, F.; Robinson, I. J.
© 1988 Print Edition pages 675 - 676, Online Edition 2000
Published by Australian Science and Technology Heritage Centre, using the Web Academic Resource Publisher