Last week's announcement by Odebrecht and Governor Tomblin was an exciting moment for the state of West Virginia. But there is a long journey ahead.
The train has only left the station, and we need to work together to keep it both on track and moving ahead. Both education and innovation are critical to maintaining this positive momentum.
An ethane cracker is not a stand-alone operation: the proposed construction includes three polyethylene production units. And there is a very long value chain associated with the ethylene molecule.
Simplified, the process moves from the natural gas liquid extraction, to separating the ethane from other constituents, to cracking the ethane in order to create ethylene and then further on to many other chemical
These chemical intermediates are then processed further, through multiple steps, into consumer products that we use every day.
Look around your home. Nearly everything man-made that you see was likely derived from ethylene. That includes the eyeglasses you look through, the clothes you wear, the car you drive and the smart phone you use.
So, the announcement is not just about the extraction of a raw material from West Virginia. This is about contributing to the manufacturing of products that enhance the lives of many people, every day, across our great country.
Many of these products, and the impact they have to improve lives, were derived from innovative minds. Innovation, in its various forms, offers the opportunity to make these existing products even better, to make the manufacturing plants from which they were produced more efficient, and to make the safe chemical processes upstream even safer.
Innovation brought us the opportunity from shale gas, and it will continue to deliver success for decades to come. These innovative minds don't just appear out of thin air. The talent will come from a well-educated workforce.