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Fine chemicals are chemicals produced in small-to-medium quantities but their definition is imprecise and wide ranging, including pharmaceuticals. Here we concentrate on agrichemicals, specialist chemicals and high purity chemicals typically synthesised in small batches for producing products such as dyes, pigments, coatings, flavors, fragrances, lubricants and microelectronic grade chemicals.

In an issue of Filtration+Separation, published in July/August 2008, Ken Sutherland outlined the range of products produced in the chemicals industry. He focused on bulk chemicals but gave a useful summary of the chemicals industry as a whole, including pharmaceuticals and biotechnical products. This represented the largest sector of the membrane market in 2007, with 30.6% of the global total. The fine chemicals sector represents around a quarter of the whole membranes chemical market. This smaller sector is characterised by a range of diverse applications for membrane technology, covering three main aspects:

• production of process water, subsequently utilised in the manufacturing process or in the dilution of fine chemicals;

• filtration and separation of the fine chemicals themselves; and

• treatment of effluent from fine chemicals production processes.

Fine chemicals are pure, single substances that are typically produced by chemical reactions for highly specialised applications. The fine chemicals produced can be categorised into active pharmaceutical ingredients and their intermediates, agrichemicals, speciality chemicals and high-purity chemicals for technical applications.

In contrast to bulk chemicals, which are produced in massive quantities by standardised reactions for subsequent direct use, fine chemicals are custom-produced in smaller quantities for special uses. The methods of production need to be flexible, and owing to the relatively small volumes required and the diversity of types, the definition of fine chemicals is wide ranging. Production is more expensive than for bulk chemicals, generates more effluent that can be difficult to treat, and requires a higher research investment per unit weight produced. Fine chemicals are, however, produced in industrial quantities unlike research chemicals, but batch production tends to be common as opposed to continuous production for bulk chemicals.

Safety and Application of Food Additives

Introduction

With the advent of food processing, food additives play an important role in providing a safe food supply as well as meeting the consumers' need.

Food additive means any substance, either natural or synthetic, intentionally added to food for a technological purpose in the processing, packaging, transport or storage of such food. The technological functions of food additive include but not limited to the following