IChemE Global Awards success stories that make you proud to be a chemical engineer

Awards Global logo_webRecently we announced the finalists for the IChemE Global Awards 2016. The ceremony takes place on 3 November in Manchester, UK – and we can’t quite believe how quickly Awards season has come round again!

Each year our Awards judges have the tough task of narrowing down the hundreds of excellent entries to a select group of exceptional finalists for each category. We have seen some fantastic projects over the years, and 2015 was really special. 16 well-deserved winners were handed trophies at the Global Awards evening, which took place on 5 November 2015 in Birmingham, UK.

Read on to find out what some of our 2015 finalists have been up to since the ceremony, and re-cap some of the best moments of the night.

1. Ohio State University congratulated by President Obama 

Photo credit: Ohio State University (mae.osu.edu/news)
Photo credit: Ohio State University (mae.osu.edu/news)

Bharat Bhushan and Philip Brown from Ohio State University, US were awarded the Water Management and Supply Award in 2015. To win the award they developed a special mesh which uses a unique coating and tiny holes to separate oil from water. The ground-breaking work, designed to help clean up oil spills, was even noticed by the President of US, Barack Obama, who sent the researchers a congratulatory note.

The research appeared on Inside Science TV and was ranked 42nd in the top 100 science stories in 2015 by Discover magazine. It was also recognised as one of the Top Ten Science Stories of 2015 by 52 Insights.


2. Novvi LLC wins investment to accelerate commercialization

We were really impressed with Novvi and their innovative thinking in the biochemical engineering space. Novvi’s dedication to the development of their product – hydrocarbon molecules from plant sugar – earned them the title of IChemE’s Best Business Start-Up 2015.

And since then things are only looking up for the renewable lubricant company. Just last month they announced that the American Refining Group (ARG) had committed a 33.3% equity investment and plans to lead the base oil market with a renewable product.

Renewable products in this market are big business in the US, with the industry expected to reach $42 billion and $70 billion in size by 2020.


3. University of Liverpool look to further solar cell research

Jon Major and his team scooped the Energy Award last year for their innovative thinking and application of research to real-world problems. They blew our judges away with their solar panel development, in which they replaced the highly toxic, expensive cadmium chloride element with the cheaper, safer magnesium chloride extracted from seawater.

The research had already earned them some impressive media coverage, and the team was featured in the BBC, The Independent and uSwitch, with an IChemE Award to top it all off.

But the research continues, and Jon has turned his attention to mass market cadmium telluride (CdTe) solar cells. The cells are more environmentally-friendly, however their continued development is hindered by a failure to generate voltage. Jon has put the word out about an EPSRC Fellowship in order to help him with this new research, scheduled for completion in 2021.


4. Johnson Matthey roll-out winning catalyst to Chinese markets

A university team partnering with a global company is often a match made in heaven, and this project between Cardiff University and Johnson Matthey was no exception.

Led by Professor Graham Hutchings (CU) and Dr Peter Johnston (JM), the team discovered a gold catalyst could be used to replace the harmful mercury catalysts, used to make Vinyl Chloride Monomer (VCM), used in the production of PVC.

Since winning IChemE’s Innovative Product of the Year, the catalyst also went on to win the International Impact Award at Cardiff University and is now being commercialised by Johnson Matthey in China. A brand-new manufacturing plant at the JM site in Shanghai has been built for the dedicated manufacture of the gold catalyst, and will be rolled-out to markets soon.

China is one of the largest producers of PVC in the world, and currently uses mercury catalysts that generate significant emissions and impact on the environment. Johnson Matthey is keen to work with the VCM plants in China at using alternative methods – particularly after a treaty was signed in 2013 agreeing to all VCM plants in China going mercury-free by 2022. 


5. Lehigh Technologies collaborates with Spain

Lehigh Technologies won the Sustainable Technology Award last year for its simple yet effective business involving tyres. The company converts end-of-life tyres in to micronized rubber powder which can be used to make plastic products, coatings, construction materials, and high-performance rubber.

The specialty company caught the eye of HERA Holding and a joint venture has been set-up to build a production facility in Spain. The joint venture has been branded as Lehigh Spain, already selling into 6 European countries. The plant expansion is well underway with first commerical shipments expected by the end of 2017. Lehigh Spain will service Europe, Middle East, and Africa.

Congratulations guys, sounds like you’re on your way to micronized rubber world domination.


And that’s not all.

Our Oil & Gas and Overall Winner Pacific Northwest National Laboratory went on to secure a number of grants with the Department of Energy in the USA, including a $15 million project to advance algae-based biofuels. Research Project of the Year winners Laurentian University and Sudbury Integrated Nickel Operations have done more great work in the mining sector and are up for our new Team of the Year Award for 2016. Highly commended Young Chemical Engineer Dr Patrizia Marchetti won Imperial College’s coveted Sir William Wakeham award for outstanding research achievements and promotion of the chemical engineering department. Finally, Dr Lorenzo, 2015 Water and Resource-Poor Technology finalist for her ‘3D printed microbial water sensor‘ has gone on to develop a microbial fuel cell powered by urine!

Will you be attending the IChemE Global Awards 2016? With a wide range of chemical engineering projects, from cancer diagnosis technology to distilling gin, it promises to be a night to remember.

Hosted by British TV and radio broadcaster, Adrian Chiles and held at the beautiful Palace Hotel in Manchester, UK, don’t miss out on the leading event for recognising chemical engineering excellence – register here. 

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