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Efficacy of Using Producer Price Indexes for Bulk Chemical Prices in Student Design Projects

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ASEE 2021 Gulf-Southwest Annual Conference


Waco, Texas

Publication Date

March 24, 2021

Start Date

March 24, 2021

End Date

March 26, 2021

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David E Hubbard Texas A&M University Orcid 16x16

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David E. Hubbard is an Associate Professor and Science & Engineering Librarian at Texas A&M University Libraries. He received his master’s in library science from the University of Missouri-Columbia (2003) and bachelor's in chemistry from the University of Missouri-St. Louis (1988). More recently, he completed a master’s in geographic information science from Northwest Missouri State University (2012). Prior to joining Texas A&M University in 2009, he served as the subject liaison to several science and engineering departments at both Texas Tech University and Missouri University of Science & Technology.

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Engineering students are being asked to work on real-world projects and need to access accurate cost information for their design projects. In the case of chemical engineering and related disciplines, capstone courses often require designing industrial processes or a chemical plant involving bulk chemical prices for both feedstocks and products. A lot of chemical pricing information was available in trade magazines; however, bulk chemical prices are increasingly difficult to locate as producers of that information have reduced the availability and further monetized the information over the last 15 years. The resulting information sources containing chemical prices often cannot be acquired by academic libraries due to cost or licensing terms. In cases where current chemical prices are not available, one could use a Producer Price Index (PPI) to adjust an older price to current levels. Using older prices and adjusting to current levels allows students access to a much larger source of chemical prices (i.e., older issues of trade magazines). Using the PPI to adjust chemical prices will be reviewed. In theory, adjustments using a PPI should provide reasonable estimates of chemical prices. To determine the efficacy of this approach, this study examined price adjustments from two chemical pricing sources for 2, 5, 10, and 15-year intervals for a group of industrial chemicals to determine the efficacy of this approach. This study then discusses the relative merits and limits of using PPIs to adjust chemical prices to assist students with their design projects.

Hubbard, D. E. (2021, March), Efficacy of Using Producer Price Indexes for Bulk Chemical Prices in Student Design Projects Paper presented at ASEE 2021 Gulf-Southwest Annual Conference, Waco, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--36374

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