Every month throughout our centenary year, we will be asking an IChemE member to write a blog about each of the centenary themes. The themes have been selected to highlight and celebrate the enormous contribution that chemical engineering has made to society over the last century.
IChemE Fellow and Past President Dr Desmond King, who was part of the editorial panel looking at energy, picks out his choices of elements to celebrate, communicate and inspire.
What is a just transition and how does it affect chemical engineers?
There are many definitions of a “just transition” online, all with a similar theme in equally supporting workers in high carbon intensive industries to move into new lines of work, and the communities and economies they serve.
The Chemical Engineer looks at this in depth in two recent feature articles. In the first, reporter Amanda Doyle explains what the energy transition is and why it must be fair for workers in high carbon industries, while the second article analyses a survey of oil and gas workers, revealing how the energy transition affects them and what they feel could be done to support them.
Following the identification of the Learned Society’s priority topics earlier in the year, IChemE has launched a new website area to focus on Responsible Production, Major Hazards Management and Digitalisation.
We caught up with Alexandra Meldrum to find out more.
Chemical engineers create innovative technologies and solutions, adapt to disruption, and make processes more efficient and sustainable to benefit society.
But when the world is faced by unexpected challenges such as COVID-19, how do we create, maintain and improve upon safe, sustainable and cost effective solutions?
Despite the disruption of the pandemic, the organising committee for our Chemeca conference – made up of volunteer members and hosted by IChemE, Engineers Australia, The Royal Australian Chemical Institute and Engineering New Zealand – were keen to ensure sharing knowledge on these challenges still took place.
So our physical conference has been reshaped into a series of one-hour to 90 minute webinar sessions across four weeks and renamed Bite-Sized Chemeca. Under the theme ‘renew, sustain, disrupt and advance’, our expert engineer plenary speakers and panellists will discuss and present upon the hot topics affecting both industry and academia, including on COVID-19, industry 4.0, circular economy and energy efficiency.
Ahead of the event in two weeks’ time (29 September), we caught up with Dr Bronwyn Evans, Chief Executive of Engineers Australia, and our Deputy President, Jane Cutler who will be delivering plenary sessions in week one and two, respectively. Read their thoughts on how engineers might need to adapt to address these challenges and gain an insight into their plenaries below.
“This technology is about storing energy in the form of heat, which is important because over 50% of global energy is used as heat, which emits carbon dioxide. So, this [process] helps to turn a renewable into heat.”
Congratulations to the Birmingham Centre for Energy Storage, University of Birmingham and Jinhe Energy. They took home the Energy, Research Project and Outstanding Achievement Awards at the IChemE Global Awards 2019 for their project, ‘The NexGen-TEST Project’.
In our latest ‘Influencing policy’ blog, IChemE Energy Centre member Tekena Fubara explains the complexities behind transitioning to robust, sustainable energy systems in order to meet international carbon reduction targets.
Also, we explore the role of advanced oxidation processes for sustainable water management, which could be used as evidence to inform policy-makers working on a new Environment Bill.
Today we are faced with many challenges in society. For example, how to provide sustainable and affordable sources of energy; develop the latest advances in mining minerals and resources; enable access to clean water and food for all; provide efficient waste systems; and advance healthcare to help sustain an ageing population?
Chemical engineers across Australasia and the world are at the forefront of programmes to help solve these challenges and emerging megatrends in engineering to make processes efficient, sustainable and economical.
As the fourth industrial revolution progresses, we must question what will be the next chemical engineering paradigm? And, how will the significant challenges, megatrends and our roots as a discipline in manipulating and combining the fundamental chemical elements drive the development of the next chemical engineering paradigm?
These are key questions that chemical engineers will be discussing at this year’s Chemeca conference in Sydney in September. To mark 150 years of the periodic table, Chemeca 2019 will explore the emerging opportunities and challenges for the chemical engineering profession throughout Australia and New Zealand under the theme ‘Engineering Megatrends and the Periodic Table’.
Ahead of their plenary sessions at Chemeca, we caught up with Dr Alan Finkel, Australia’s Chief Scientist, and Belinda Grealy, Area Business Manager, Europe at Orica, both leaders in their respective fields of energy and mining. They gave an insight into their presentations, and how they feel Australian professional chemical engineers and leaders in the profession are key to positively effecting change for our current and future challenges.
Teamwork is essential when it comes to delivering a project of any scale. The collaborative efforts of Sellafield Ltd, Progressive Alliance and AXIOM led them to win the Team Award at IChemE Global Awards 2018.
Their task was to deliver a new facility on the Sellafield site to store consolidated nuclear material safely. The partnership meant that there were no barriers between the different companies. Their collective expertise meant the project was delivered successfully, and within a tight timescale.
Find out more on their project in this video:
Do you have a project demonstrating excellent teamwork? Why not enter the IChemE Global Awards 2019, which is open for nominations until 12 July 2019.
Perseverance paid off for the Clean Energy Processes Lab at Imperial College. After 10 years of challenging research to find a renewable energy solution through solar power, using a combination of both heat and electricity, they did it.
And for this successful project, the team won the Research Project Award at the IChemE Global Awards 2018.
They developed a novel integrated PV and solar-thermal (PVT) hybrid panel technology, that harnesses both heat and electricity to provide a form of renewable energy.
Christos Markides explains more on the project and how he feels to be an IChemE Global Award winner, in this video:
If you have a research project that you’d like to enter for the IChemE Global Awards 2019 visit: www.icheme.org/awards
Enerkem, Canada walked away with the IChemE Global Awards 2018 in the Biotechnology category for their project From Waste to Biofuels: Enerkem’s Disruptive Biotechnology.
Being at the forefront of waste management, Enerkem’s state-of-the-art technology enables them to take non-recyclable and non-compostable municipal solid waste converting this into renewable energy. This offers environmental benefits such as preventing methane release from landfills, but also reducing CO2 emissions by displacing sources of ethanol and methanol.
In this video, Alex Miles, Enerkem’s Director, Commercial Development (Europe), explains more about the company’s work on this technology over the past 18 years and how it is being rolled out globally:
This week we showcased six videos as part of our latest #ChemEngProfiles series, which were recorded last year with ExxonMobil UK. ExxonMobil are one of the top employers of chemical engineers, and one of the biggest oil and gas corporations in the world. The company has 19 refineries worldwide, one of which is based in Fawley, Hampshire, UK. They are also one of our Gold Corporate Partners.
In this brand new series, five of ExxonMobil’s chemical engineers,tell us what they love about their job, why working towards or achieving chartered status is important to them, and how the company is investing in the next generation of chemical engineers.
How can chemical engineers help in the global fight to combat climate change?
In today’s blog Mark Apsey, who is leading an energy and resource efficiency (ERE) task group for the IChemE Energy Centre, explores the important contribution of ERE by chemical engineers in the worldwide efforts to reduce the impact of global warming.
Climate change is high on the agenda of world leaders this week, as they come together in Poland at the Conference of Parties 24 (COP24) to discuss how they are working to reduce emissions and achieve the global 1.5 degree target.
In today’s blog post, Jacob Brown of IChemE’s Future Energy Leaders discusses and reflects on the group’s latest event on energy forecasting, and what it means for chemical engineers.
On the 17th of May 2018, the Future Energy Leaders of the IChemE Energy Centre hosted a panel discussion on the future of energy, and more specifically, on the topic of energy forecasting; i.e. our ability to predict and plan for the imminent changes in our energy demand and supply. More than 20 delegates attended the live event in London, UK – with more than 40 watching online.
In the past, efforts at forecasting our energy system have been very inaccurate. This event brought together experts from a variety of backgrounds to examine why this is, and how we should be using these forecasts. In short, it seems the answer is “don’t just look at the numbers, look at the premises”.
Reaching a consensus on how to reduce the environmental impact of human activity is challenging, but the desire to bring about change is gathering momentum across the world, and especially in the chemical engineering community.
Today, along with many others across the globe, we’re celebrating Earth Day. The Earth Day Network leads this campaign on 22 April each year with their mission to diversify, educate and activate a worldwide environmental movement.
The world is becoming more focused on sustainability. For chemical engineers working in the water industry, sewage sludge is rapidly becoming a valuable resource that can be reused for a variety of purposes.
In the North West of England, the Davyhulme Treatment Works is one of the biggest wastewater treatment plants in the UK. It operates 24 hours a day, treating more than 30,000 litres of water a second. It also operates an integrated energy generation centre.
In 2015 the energy generation centre was turning 91,000 tonnes of sludge into 36 million Nm3 of biogas. The biogas generated 73,000 MWh of electricity per year – enough to run the entire works.
However, an opportunity arose to make the process more efficient. There was also a need to integrate a ‘biogas to grid’ solution – which would export excess energy to National Grid. This is where a collaborative team of chemical engineers were needed.
Cue United Utilities, Jacobs and Laing O’Rourke – a collaborative team that had twelve months to take energy generation at Davyhulme to the next level. Working together, they delivered a solution that uses water scrubbing at medium to high pressures to process biogas and deliver a high grade biomethane product for supply to National Grid.
The design has delivered a carbon emissions reduction of 7,400 tonnes of CO2 per year, as well as financial benefits that will keep energy costs low for customers. It also has a strong focus on operational flexibility – to manage demand of electricity, heat and green gas – with an option to produce green fuel in the future for transport.
A great deal has been achieved by the team, particularly in the timescale. According to United Utilities Pat Horne: “On 11 March we had to commission this plant within two weeks. From a chemical engineering point of view, we turned it on, it worked – from start to finish within 24 hours. To see something come from paper to reality in one day was fantastic.”
There was a triumphant whoop from the floor when we announced this project had won the Energy Award at the IChemE Global Awards in November 2017. We just managed to get them all on stage, as they were presented with the trophy by Lee Greenlees, Design Manager at Rolls-Royce, who sponsored the Energy Award.
Watch our interview with some of the team, and find out more about the works:
Join us tomorrow when the spotlight is on that favourite British bedtime drink – Horlicks!
Are you feeling inspired to apply for the IChemE Global Awards 2018? Whether you would like to enter your own project, sponsor a category, or just attend to support your fellow professionals –register your interest here.
The IChemE Global Awards 2017 were held in Birmingham, UK on Thursday 2 November, held in partnership with Johnson Matthey and Wood.
A brilliant piece of news hit our desks this morning, and chemical engineering is at it’s heart. London-based start-up Bio-Bean have teamed up with Costa and Shell, to power London buses with bio-fuel derived from coffee waste.
Bio-Bean has a number of products in it’s growing portfolio, but it is it’s B20 biodiesel that has been hitting headlines, and powering London buses from today.
Our energy system is ever-evolving. Over the past 200 years, we’ve seen a huge shift in our energy consumption and production. From the start of the industrial revolution, where coal was the central cog keeping the world ticking, to now where renewable and alternative energy is taking the world by storm.
Matthias Schnellmann chairs a group of other early-career professionals from across the energy sector, known as IChemE’s Future Energy Leaders. Together, they help to support the IChemE Energy Centre, engaging with policy debates, responding to consultations and producing original research and position papers. The group also lead on public engagement activities that support the centre’s priorities.
In October, Matthias and his colleagues represented the IChemE Energy Centre at New Scientist Live – one of the UK’s largest scientific festivals. With interactive presentations and posters, they gave other engineers, scientists and students visiting the four-day event at ExCeL London just a glimpse into the complexity of our energy systems.
Not all chemical engineers end up on an oil rig. It’s a profession that can pull you in various directions, to various places and companies, tackling various problems. No chemical engineer is the same – that’s the beauty of it.
In a relatively short time Amrit Chandan has established himself as a serious entrepreneur. His company, Aceleron, uses fundamental chemical engineering principles to tackle very real challenges in our society. In today’s blog post Amrit tells us, in his own words, about his chemical engineering journey and why Aceleron, a business under 18 months old, has been turning heads.
Name: Dr. Amrit Chandan
PhD in Chemical Engineering (Hydrogen, Fuel Cells and their Applications)
BSc (Hons) Chemistry Class I
Co-Founder and Business Development, Aceleron
Amrit is an experienced engineer specialising in electrochemical technologies, specifically fuel cell technology. He co-founded battery reuse company, Aceleron in 2015. Aceleron seeks to provide low cost energy storage to developing regions.
Previously, he worked as a Technical Specialist in low carbon vehicles at Cenex, providing expertise and specialist knowledge for Cenex’ programmes and demonstrator trials.
Last week (Thursday 12 January), the IChemE Energy Centre welcomed participants both online and in person to discuss the outcomes of ‘COP22 – what next?’.
Hosted by Chair of the IChemE Energy Centre, Professor Stefaan Simons, at the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET), UK, participants first heard from Board members Dr Rachael Hall, Model Site Lead – Severn Trent Innovation Team, and Mark Apsey, Technical Services Director – Ameresco Limited, about their experience at COP22 in Marrakech.
It’s Friday, and the final stage of our IChemE Global Awards winners round-up. We hope you’ve enjoyed the posts this week, and learnt a little more about each of our winners.
Today we are shining a light on the research superstars of the Awards. IChemE has always maintained strong ties with the academic community, supporting the host of ChemEngDayUK each year and accrediting courses. We also do proactive work with our UK Research Committee, who last night launched ten chemical engineering research case studies that have had a significant impact on the UK economy. Read all about the research event, held in Parliament, here.
So, on to the winners and the final three IChemE Global Awards videos, produced in association with Morgan Sindall. All these winners have demonstrated fantastic research capability, but most importantly their studies have a real-world application that can really make a difference.
Enjoy these final three videos, and season’s greetings to all our members worldwide.
But these winners have put sustainability at the heart of what they do. Pushing the limits to find the most environmentally-friendly way of doing things, some of them are also very young companies – and ones to watch in the future.
So please take a look at the following three winners videos, and as always thanks to Morgan Sindall for helping us to produce them.
Today we go to the big projects in chemical engineering that require strategy, innovation and teamwork. These winners are demonstrating great chemical engineering in its purest form. All of the projects below have demonstrated a key chemical engineering skill, systems thinking, and a drive for achieving the best results.
Take a look at their work below and don’t forget to leave a comment.
Last month the IChemE Global Awards 2016 were held in Manchester, UK, in one of the biggest celebrations of chemical engineering achievement worldwide. Our judges had a difficult task narrowing down 16 winners from 120 amazing finalists.
The ceremony was held at the Principal Hotel and welcomed over 400 guests from around the world to recognise and celebrate chemical engineering success stories.
For many, success doesn’t end after collecting a trophy, but marks the starting point on a journey to excellence. An IChemE Award can take you to some unexpected places, make commercialisation easier, help to develop your team or grow your portfolio. You could even get a letter from the US President.
So every day this week we’ll be dedicating special blog posts to the 2016 Award winners and their innovative, fascinating, problem-solving projects. With the fantastic support of Morgan Sindall we have produced a video for every one – enjoy!
COP22, or the 22nd Conferences of Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), has come to an end. Billed as the ‘COP of action’ by UNFCCC Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa, an estimated 25,000 people descended on Marrakech, Morocco to start the process of implementing the Paris Agreement.
However, COP22 had a lot to live up to, following the historic result of the Paris Agreement at the conclusion of COP21. All the countries of the world were invited to attend COP22, but only the countries who had ratified the Paris Agreement had decision- making authority.
The Marrakech 22nd Conference of Parties ran from 7-18 November 2016. It was also the 12th Conference of the Parties serving as the Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP 12), and the 1st Conference of the Parties serving as the Meeting of the Parties to the Paris Agreement (CMA 1).
The event looked at practical solutions to implementing the Paris Agreement, with the help of chemical engineers and financial institutions. Dr Rachael Hall, from the Energy Centre Board, gave the first presentation, an overview of deployment technologies available to mitigate climate change. Rachael outlined pathways to a zero-carbon economy, as demonstrated in IChemE’s technical policy document Chemical Engineering Matters.
Mark Apsey, also a Board member of the Energy Centre, gave his presentation on the pathways for organisations to deliver energy efficiency projects. Outlining various ‘road blocks’ to implementing greener energy solutions, Mark made it clear that he felt that more needed to be done to incentivise delivery.
COP22’s interesting side-event programme was jam-packed, and this year saw an increased focus on technology solutions for and the investment required to mitigate climate change.
Mark said: “From IChemE’s perspective Chemical Engineering Matters has been created to not just cover energy, but water, food, and wellbeing – which are really trying to look at the whole system, as well as specific solutions to energy problems”.
The UNFCCC needs more chemical engineers at the table proposing feasible solutions for mitigating climate change and applying a systems thinking approach to the implementation of the Paris Agreement.
COP22 was also Ban Ki-moon’s last COP conference. The Secretary-General of the United Nations until the end of the year, he spoke about the success in ratifying the Paris Agreement, which was announced just last month: “Countries have strongly supported the Agreement because they realize their own national interest is best secured by pursuing the common good. Now we have to translate words into effective policies and actions. This is critical to protect our planet, safeguard the most vulnerable and drive shared prosperity. Low-emission development and climate resilience will advance all the Sustainable Development Goals”.
An inspirational figure in the fight against climate change, Ban Ki-moon’s presence will be missed.
The aim of COP22 was to spend the conference working out a clear work plan for achieving the targets set in the Paris Agreement, however the UN has set a target of 2018 to have these plans finalised. This meant that a large proportion of COP22 was spent ‘fleshing out’ the Agreement’s fine print. This included financial support, which will have a massive impact on developing nations. Much of this year’s discussions surrounded the funding gap to research, and scale-up and implementation of the technology solutions to reduce carbon emissions.
During the CMA plenary, parties adopted the agenda and the organisation of work. UNFCCC Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa reported that, as of 16 November 2016, 110 parties to the Convention had deposited their instruments of ratification, acceptance, approval or accession to the Paris Agreement, representing more than half of Convention parties (at time of writing this figure is now at 111).
Ibrahim Thiaw, Deputy Executive Director, UN Environment, said that the current pledges are insufficient to reach the Paris Agreement’s goals, but cited opportunities to “bend the emissions curve.” This means that we have to act now to ensure we implement climate mitigation strategies. Chemical engineers have a key role to play in solution implementation and applying systems-thinking.
During the conclusion of COP22 there was some exciting news, 47 countries from the Climate Vulnerable Forum committed to going 100% renewable as they adopted the ‘Marrakech Vision’.
Almost 200 countries gathered in Marrakech to work out the details of implementing the Paris Agreement. This deal established the overarching global goals for tackling climate change, but didn’t include the detail of how we get there. This left COP22 with a lot of complicated work to do.
Despite being billed as the COP of action, COP22 was instead the COP of discussing the next steps required to implement the Paris Agreement. However, this was a very necessary step if we are to successfully halt catastrophic climate change.
You can read the latest version of the COP22 proceedings by following this link.
If you were at COP22 please get in touch and tell us how your work is saving the planet.
Yesterday the UN’s 22nd session of the Conference of Parties (COP22) commenced in Marrakesh, Morocco. 20,000 delegates from 196 countries are expected to attend and discuss how to turn the COP21 Paris Agreement into action.
What happened at COP21?
COP21 was arguably one of the most historic meetings in terms of mitigating climate change. On 12 December 2015 the world united in an agreement to take action, and 197 countries signed the Paris Agreement which made each country take responsibility for recognising and combating climate change.
The central aim was to limit global temperature rise this century to well below 2°C over pre-industrial levels, and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5°C. Additionally, the agreement aims to strengthen the ability of countries to deal with the impacts of climate change.
And we were there too! The IChemE Energy Centre published its Climate Communique and Supporting Statement in October 2015, identfying five priority areas where technology should be deployed to help mitigate climate change:
The Paris talks concluded that 197 countries had adopted the Agreement, but the real commitment would be shown through ratification. The Agreement was opened for ratification on 22 April 2016 at the UN Headquarters in New York. Parties representing 55% of the global greenhouse gas emissions needed to be accounted for in order to make the Agreement ‘entered into force’.
The biggest emitters of CO2, including China and USA ratified at the beginning of September, causing a number of other countries to follow.
Last month the threshold was achieved, and on Friday 4 November, it was confirmed that the Paris Agreement had officially been entered into force. This means that it is now down to each country to start planning and implementing actions to reach the agreed targets.
The UK is still yet to ratify, despite the European Union making an official admission on 5 October. Currently 100 out of the 197 parties who adopted the Agreement have ratified.
What is happening at COP22?
Positioned as the ‘bridge’ between decision and action, COP22 will define the mechanism for the implementation of the Paris Agreement. This covers funding, climate change policy, and technology deployment.
The ratification of the Agreement is incredibly timely, and encourages this Conference to concentrate on the emissions targets and goal of achieving a zero carbon economy by 2050.
The idea is to spend the conference working out a clear work plan for achieving the targets, and the UN has set a target of 2018 to have this finalised. This will involve some ‘fleshing out’ of the Agreement’s fine print, including financial support which will have a massive impact on developing nations.
Not going to be there in person? The event will be live-streamed on YouTube, so head over at 11:30 – 14:00 (WET) on Monday 14 November.
We’ll also have a stand at the exhibition, to help raise the profile of chemical engineers and advocate their role in mitigating climate change. Working with the IChemE Energy Centre, we will be spreading the word about how chemical engineers will help to deploy the technologies needed to meet the global targets.
Come and visit us at our stand.
You can also follow all the action on Twitter, just search #InvestPlanet.
IChemE member and Energy Centre Future Energy Leaders Vice-Chair Matthias Schnellmann was there to participate in the discussions. Here are his thoughts:
Name: Matthias Schnellmann Education: Chemical Engineering (MEng), University of Cambridge Job Title: PhD Student, University of Cambridge Special Interest Group:Clean Energy Research interests: Low carbon energy
The IChemE Energy Centre, along with the Knowledge Transfer Network (KTN) organised a Low Carbon Summit at the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy in London on Friday 9 September 2016. It was an opportunity to consider what the COP21 and 5th Carbon Budget targets mean for the UK and how existing and future low carbon technologies will help us to meet them.
To help you stay up-to-date with the latest achievements from the chemical engineering research community here is our monthly instalment with some of the latest stories.
September’s five stories of amazing chemical engineering research and innovation are:
The Popeye effect – powered by spinach
Popeye was right; we can be powered by spinach! Researchers from the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology have developed a bio-photo-electro-chemical (BPEC) cell that produces electricity and hydrogen from water using sunlight, using a simple membrane extract from spinach leaves. The article, publish in the journal Nature Communications, demonstrates the unique combination of a man-made BPEC cell and plant membranes, which absorb sunlight and convert it into a flow of electrons highly efficiently. The team hope that this paves the way for the development of new technologies for the creation of clean fuels from renewable sources. The raw material of the device is water, and its products are electric current, hydrogen and oxygen.
To help you stay up-to-date with the latest achievements from the chemical engineering research community here is our monthly installment with some of the latest stories.
Here are five stories of amazing chemical engineering research and innovation:
Making dirty water drinkable
Engineers from Washington University in St. Louis have found a way to use graphene oxide sheets to transform dirty water into drinking water. “We hope that for countries where there is ample sunlight, such as India, you’ll be able to take some dirty water, evaporate it using our material, and collect fresh water,” said Srikanth Singamaneni, associate professor of mechanical engineering and materials science.
The new approach combines bacteria-produced cellulose and graphene oxide to form a bi-layered biofoam. “The properties of this foam material that we synthesized has characteristics that enhances solar energy harvesting. Thus, it is more effective in cleaning up water,” said Pratim Biswas, the Lucy and Stanley Lopata Professor and chair of the Department of Energy, Environmental and Chemical Engineering.
On 24 May 2016 at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre, Professor Jonathan Seville was inaugurated as IChemE President for 2016-17. The Executive Dean of Engineering at University of Surrey delivered his Presidential Address on the subject of relevance. Jonathan challenged us all to think: how will the Institution and the profession stay relevant in a world that is rapidly changing?