Industry: Test-Tube Cornucopia

The new plant at Beaumont, Texas, had all the brilliance—and some of the unreality—of a Dali painting, with its soaring silver towers and bright blue and brown pipes, all threaded together by garish yellow catwalks. Built by Socony's Mobil Chemical Co. at a cost of $25 million, the plant is typical of the complex and colorful plants in one of the world's fastest-growing industries: petrochemicals.* Last week, in the air-conditioned control rooms of Mobil's plant, engineers began the first tests of the complex maze of pipes. By summer, when the plant will...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now

Subscribe
Subscribe

Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on TIME.com

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!