Fine chemicals are pure, single chemical substances that are commercially produced with chemical reactions into highly specialized applications. Fine chemicals produced can be categorized into active pharmaceutical ingredients and their intermediates, biocides, and specialty chemicals for technical applications.In chemical technology, a distinction is made between bulk chemicals, which are produced in massive quantities by standardized reactions, and fine chemicals, which are custom-produced in smaller quantities for special uses.
There is a very large number of fine chemicals that are produced. However, fine chemicals are produced in industrial quantities unlike research chemicals, which are produced only in the laboratory.
With the introduction of new drugs to the market, the chemical identities of pharmaceuticals and their intermediates change often, and they are also produced in small quantities, thus being fine chemicals. Active pharmaceutical ingredients are formulated in a separate factory, where they are compounded with inert pigments, solvents and excipients, and made into dosage forms. Fine chemicals manufacture of pharmaceuticals and intermediates needs to conform to the strict Good Manufacturing Practice standards, and is monitored by the food and drug authorities, particularly the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Biocides include pesticides, herbicides and other specialized chemicals that are used in agriculture to inhibit or kill pests and weeds and thus improve crop yields. New biocides are developed somewhat slower than new pharmaceuticals.Speciality chemicals are produced for technical applications. Inks, performance-enhancing additives, special coatings, and photographic chemicals are common examples. They are generally sold based on differentiated performance-in-use characteristics instead of price per mass, the basis upon which fine chemicals are generally sold.
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