How Specialty Chemicals Differ from Commodity Chemicals
Specialty chemicals differ from commodity chemicals in that each one may
have only one or two uses, while commodities may have dozens of
different applications for each chemical. While commodity chemicals make
up most of the production volume (by weight) in the global marketplace,
specialty chemicals make up most of the diversity (number of different
chemicals) in commerce at any given time.
Commodity chemicals are typically produced in continuous processes,
24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Specialty chemicals, because of their
complex chemistries and narrowly focused applications, are frequently
produced batch-by-batch in a reaction vessel. Since continuous processes
employ continuous feeds and yields, the production volume is usually
far greater, per chemical, than for batch processes. The main
difference, however, is that a batch process is not necessarily
automated, and the chemical reaction (which yields the desired product)
has a distinct beginning and ending for each batch.