The essential chemical industry
5th edition Allan Clements, Mike Dunn, Valmai Firth, Lizzie Hubbard, John Lazonby, David Waddington
CIEC Promoting Science, University of York, 2010
250 pp. £25 (discounts for bulk) ISBN 978 1 85342 595 0
It is not very often that I burst out smiling on opening a package containing a book - even before I have opened the book! I must admit that I have been a fan of The essential chemical industry for many years - and this edition will ensure that I remain so for many years to come. It remains a book for dipping in to - whether you are a teacher or a pupil. The facts are endless, all well presented with an easy authority and expertly indexed to lead you effortlessly from one piece of information to the next. In this latest edition there are new sections on nanotechnology, green chemistry, recycling, degradable plastics and biotechnology, as well as all the old favourites brought up to date. Sections have been expanded so as to show the emergence and the growing influence of new centres of industry (Brazil, India, China, the Middle East, etc.) as well as the effects of changing feedstocks. The section on Materials and their applications would be particularly useful for those being taught the Salter's A-level chemistry course, with fertilisers, crop-protection chemicals, biofuels and colourants,and so on, all easily slotting into place, along with sections on iron and steel and an overview of polymers.
Colour is is used wisely throughout the book, both for dividing up the sections (Processes, Materials and applications, Chemicals, Polymers and Metals), and also within the sections for highlighting and in diagrams and full-colour photographs.
With six major sponsors (from the Chemical Industries Association to the Royal Society of Chemistry) and with over 80 major companies and institutions taking part in the preparation of the book, all the material is first class and authoritative, but inherently readable without being too difficult or too patronising.
This is a book that every school library ought to have - and possibly every chemistry classroom. Don't let the £25 (plus postage) price tag put you off: this will be well-thumbed within days. Speaking of which, could the next edition have a slightly more substantial cover: mine is already showing the strain after only a few days!
School Science Review, 92(341), 129, 2011