Chemical engineering is everywhere. Research plays an integral part in the development of solutions to help society.
IChemE’s recently formed Research and Innovation Community of Practice (R&I CoP) aims to identify and promote key areas of research and innovation in chemical engineering, as well as champion chemical engineering research through input into policy work and via materials that demonstrate the importance of chemical engineering research to everyday life.
But are there preconceived ideas about chemical engineering research? And how do the researchers themselves define their work, activities and contributions to society?
These are ideas that Owen Jones-Salkey from the R&I CoP’s Challenging Perceptions of Chemical Engineering Research Working Group wanted to dig deeper into. In this blog, he explains more on a survey conducted on this, the key findings and what’s next.
Part of our job as a professional body is ensuring members are equipped with an abundance of technical knowledge so they can continue creating impactful and safe solutions to help society and the environment.
That’s why we created our Knowledge Hub – a central hub from which members can search, browse and access IChemE’s technical resources.
Advancing heterogeneous catalysis and boosting collaboration between academics and industry to create solutions that benefit society was something the late Professor Syd Andrew was enthusiastic about.
In his passing, the IChemE Fellow and distinguished expert in the field of catalysis left a fund to support future generations of chemical engineers in the field. In commemoration, IChemE set up the Andrew Legacy.
It comprises of the Andrew Medal to recognise major contribution in the field, and the Andrew Fellowship to support researchers in heterogeneous catalysis – read about the latest recipients recently announced by IChemE. Additionally, in 2019, IChemE’s Board of Trustees agreed to a proposal to fund a promising PhD student at the University of Bath through a Andrew Student Fellowship.
Claire-Louise Woodward was the lucky winner of the Andrew Student Fellowship and will receive IChemE funding throughout her four-year research project. So, we decided to catch up with her after almost one year into her fellowship.
Winner of the IChemE Global Awards 2019 in the Business Start-up category was University College London (UCL), for their project, Continuous Graphene Manufacturing by Microwave.
In what was a five-year long project, the team at UCL were successful in their mission to develop a new material for the industry using microwave technology to effectively and efficiently transfer data quickly without using too much energy.
Graphene, which is a high-grade single sheet of 2D carbon material, is made up of lots of chemical and physical properties and can enhance the energy storage intensity. The challenge now for the team is to find a way to create larger quantities in an economical way.
Find out more about this project in the Winners video:
Have you been working on a Business Start-up project that demonstrates contribution to advancing the chemical, biochemical or process industries? If yes, then enter the Global Awards 2020 this year and be in for the chance to take home the award in 2020.
Chemical engineers gathered at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh this week for the annual ChemEngDay conference. ChemEngDay was initiated to facilitate networking between chemical engineers in the academic community, and this year was the first time it has been held in Scotland.
116 chemical engineering academics, researchers, PhD students and industry experts came together to share insight and knowledge under the following themes:
• bioprocessing and biotechnology;
• catalysis and novel materials;
• particulate technology;
• process modelling and simulation; and
• sustainable industry.
IChemE joined Aramco, Armfield, GUNT Technology and PA Hilton to exhibit at the conference and to speak to the academic community to learn more about their work and how these chemical engineers are helping provide solutions to global challenges.
During Erin’s time at POST she researched and spoke to experts from academia, industry, government and the third sector, about the fire safety of building materials. Her research culminated in a briefing note (known as a POSTnote) to support MPs and peers in making evidence-based policy decisions on the subject.
Three researchers at the University of Birmingham are battling it out to be crowned the winner of the university’s Philanthropic Research Project 2018.
The university has announced the finalists of its research project competition – selecting three that have the potential to change lives. Birmingham has committed to fundraising for the chosen winner over the next year, helping to drive their research forward to potential commercialisation opportunities – ultimately providing benefit to more people.
One of the finalists is Dr Sophie Cox from the Department of Chemical Engineering. Her project, Engineering new medical systems to fight antimicrobial resistance, is focused on combating antibiotic resistance, which is predicted to kill more people than cancer in a few years’ time.
Read on to find out more about her project, and how you can help her chances of winning the competition.
Science and engineering research is key to innovation as society evolves. Breakthroughs are happening every day, all over the world, in laboratories and in field research.
Assessing the quality of research in UK higher education institutions, evaluating its impact to ensure world-class, dynamic and responsive studies are maintained, and providing accountability for public investment is a big job – and one carried out by the Research Excellence Framework (REF).
Every year millions of people around the world die from vaccine preventable diseases. Why?
Well, researchers at the University of Bath, led by Dr Asel Sartbaeva found that keeping vaccines cold was the one of the biggest challenges in transporting these vital medicines around the world.
If the proteins in vaccines reach a temperature above 8ºC they can become ineffective and unusable – and in some cases, even toxic.
As a result, vaccination levels are 16% lower in low-income countries compared to the developed world, in part, because they do not have the electricity, infrastructure or equipment to store and transport these vital medicines.
To help tackle this challenge, Asel and her team have developed a method called ‘ensilication’ which involves encasing vaccines in silica to protect the proteins, and eliminate the need for refrigeration.
The technology has been several years in development, and as well as helping millions of people around the world, it is also highly sustainable. The material is non-toxic and biocompatible, and the elimination of refrigeration ultimately reduces the environmental burden of generating power to run medical fridges.
As Asel says: “It’s very important because today we don’t deliver vaccines to millions of people. In fact, statistically more than 7 million people die around the world from vaccine-preventable diseases.”
This amazing project won an IChemE Global Award in November 2017, under the category ‘Biotechnology’. Asel collected the Award from Peter Farrelly, Managing Director of PM Group – category sponsor.
Watch her reaction and find out more about the project in our short video:
Come back tomorrow when we’ll be shining the spotlight on another 2017 IChemE Global Award winner.
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.
For many years, IChemE was a stand-alone publisher of chemical engineering books and had a small but dedicated team of staff administering the process. More recently, we have conducted our publishing activities in partnership with Elsevier. This has seen the introduction of many new titles, while other successful titles with Elsevier have been adopted by the joint programme.
However, there is still a lengthy back catalogue of titles which were published by IChemE prior to our Elsevier partnership. They are unfortunately at the stage where they are getting a little out of date. But just like a dog isn’t just for Christmas, neither is chemical engineering knowledge! That is why we would like to work with our members to develop new and updated editions for some of these titles.
Initial feedback is that some of the books below are still incredibly useful to our members, and new editions would be a good initiative. But which titles do you think need updating first? Which are the best of the bunch?
Please see below all the books currently on the IChemE back catalogue. We would value your feedback on which titles you would most like to see a new edition of, and why.
In January 2017, Erin Johnson, a postgraduate chemical engineering student at Imperial College London, UK, was awarded the Ashok Kumar Fellowship 2017.
The annual Fellowship, supported by IChemE and the North-East England process Industry Cluster (NEPIC), grants funding for a graduate chemical engineer to spend three months working at the UK Parliamentary Office for Science and Technology (POST). During this time, they get to experience life inside the Houses of Parliament and produce a POSTnote (briefing paper), or assist a government select committee with a current inquiry.
MPs rely on scientists, engineers, and academics to help inform the decisions they make. Erin’s Fellowship began in September, so we thought we’d find out how she’s been getting on.
Name: Erin Johnson Education: Postgraduate chemical engineering student at Imperial College London, UK Job Title: PhD candidate Research interests: Optimisation of biomethane and bio-synthetic natural gas supply chains in the UK. I recently co-authored a white paper on options for a greener gas grid.
Environmental impact is something that has become increasingly important for organisations and consumers in recent years. It is a topic discussed on a global scale by world leaders, and an issue of contention for many.
For some chemical engineers it has provided an opportunity for them to use their knowledge of chemical processes to create environmentally-friendly alternatives to the products we rely on daily.
In today’s blog Dr Dan Derr gives an insight into biosurfactants – which he hopes will spark a ‘renewable revolution’ in the fast-moving consumer goods industry.
Dr Daniel Derr
Project Leader, Internal Research & Development, Logos Technologies
Dan gained his PhD from Colorado State University, and went on to study bio-based jet fuels and photocatalysis at General Electric’s Global Research.
Following this, he led an integrated BioRefinery effort called the Corn to Cellulosic Migration (CCM), focusing on the migration of billions of dollars of capital deployed in today’s corn ethanol industry toward cost-effective production of greener ethanol from corn stover, switchgrass and woodchips.
Now working for Logos Technologies, Derr is currently focused on NatSurFact® – a rhamnolipid-based line of biosurfactants.
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.
Thanks for joining us for round two of our blog series, celebrating the very worthy winners of the IChemE Global Awards 2016. With help from our friends at Morgan Sindall we have produced a video for every category, and each one includes a special interview with the winners.
Yesterday we looked at some life-changing products, and the theme remains the same in today’s post. However today’s products have a little something extra – they have been specially designed to help tackle a problem in low-middle income countries.
This goes to show that chemical engineering really does matter, and that the work of chemical engineers doesn’t just make our lives easier – it is solving some of the world’s biggest poverty issues.
Enjoy the three videos below, and stay tuned the rest of the week when we reveal even more winning projects.
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!
Ashok Kumar, a Fellow of IChemE and Labour Member of Parliament (MP) for Middlesbrough South and Cleveland East, UK, died suddenly in 2010. He was the only Chartered Chemical Engineer in the UK House of Commons at the time.
Name: Akshay Deshmukh Education: Chemical Engineering (MEng), University of Cambridge, UK Job Title: PhD Student, Yale University, US Research interests: Energy efficient ways of processing contaminated water into clean drinking water
Fellowship winner Akshay is a chemical engineering graduate. He is currently undertaking a PhD in Chemical and Environmental Engineering. For his Ashok Kumar Fellowship he worked on a POSTnote on Nuclear Security. Here are his experiences from undertaking the Fellowship:
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.
The test, published in the Lab on a Chip Journal, is an inexpensive microfluidic strip – comprising of tiny test tubes about the size of a human hair – capable of identifying bacteria found in urine samples and checking if they are resistant to common antibiotics. The team say that ‘Lab-on-a-Stick’ is easy to use and cheap to make, and the transparent microcapillary film is suitable for naked eye detection or measurement with portable, inexpensive equipment such as a smartphone camera.
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.
This week’s heatwave has reminded us all in the UK that summer is finally here, and for many students this means one thing – final projects have been handed in, last exams have been sat, and the ceremonial end to University is in sight – graduation.
If you are a final year chemical engineering student you may have already had your graduation, if not it’s just around the corner. This is a time to celebrate all your hard work and thank those who have helped you make it this far.
It may be the end of an era, but don’t panic about what comes next. You are about to begin your journey to become a professional chemical engineer.
But where to start? Here’s our ten top things to do after graduation:
This week our IChemE journals have much to celebrate. The latest figures from Thomson Reuters have revealed two journals, which we published in partnership with Elsevier, have increased Impact Factors.
So how does he plan to make the role his own? We caught up with him to find out.
Name: Ian Wilson (DI Wilson on papers – I’m called by my second name) Education:
Undergraduate, Chemical Engineering, University of Cambridge, UK
PhD, Chemical Engineering, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada Job Title:
Professor of Soft Solids and Surfaces, University of Cambridge, UK
Joint Editor-in-Chief, Food and Bioproducts Processing Membership Grade: Fellow Special Interest Group: Food & Drink Research interests: How processing microstructured materials such as foodstuffs determines their structure and properties. This has led me to work in rheology, fouling and cleaning, and heat transfer.
This article was published as part of the Process Safety and Environmental Protection special issue on Air Pollution Control and Waste Management. The researchers identified sorption as the most effective and environmentally acceptable but the most expensive method for oil spill clean-up. However, using plant-based sorbents can improve cost-effectiveness and the plant waste can later be recycled for asphalt production and fuel.
Since the end of ChemEng365 our ChemEngBlog has become a little quiet. To make sure you stay up-to-date with the latest achievements from the chemical engineering research community we will be providing you with monthly updates on some of the latest stories.
So here are five stories of amazing chemical engineering research and innovation:
Seven chemical separations to change the world
David Sholl and Ryan Lively, chemical and biomolecular engineers, from the Georgia Institute of Technology, US, highlighted seven chemical separation processes that, if improved, would reap great global benefits. The list they have drawn up is not exhaustive (we are sure there are more we could add!) but includes; hydrocarbons from crude oil, uranium from seawater, alkenes from alkanes, greenhouse gases from dilute emissions, rare-earth metals from ores, benzene derivatives from each other, and trace contaminants from water.
“You edit a magazine about chemical engineering?” repeated the man fixing my washing machine, “Blimey, that sounds really boring!”
It’s refreshing to meet someone so willing to wear their heart on their sleeve, and of course all the more pleasing to have spent the next half hour proving him completely wrong. The truth is that chemical engineering touches almost every aspect of our lives, it’s just that so few of us realise it.
ChemEngDay UK, the UK’s annual chemical engineering conference for the research community, came to a successful close last week. Hosted this year by the University of Bath, it welcomed over 250 delegates to Bath from across the UK and beyond.
ChemEngDay UK was begun to facilitate networking between chemical engineers across UK universities. Attended predominantly by PhD students, post-doctoral researchers and academics, together with delegates from industry, it is the only chemical engineering conference in the UK for the academic community.
The COP21 talks in Paris came to a turning-point on Saturday, as an update to the draft agreement was released. Finance appears to be the over-riding issue as we settle in to the second week of the conference – but what about the solutions?
Did you know that more than half of the world’s annual carbon emissions could be prevented over the next 50 years by using sustainable bioenergy?
According to research by Pacala and Socolow, outlined by the IChemE Energy Centre, 25 billion tonnes of carbon emissions can be prevented from entering the atmosphere – simply by switching from fossil-based petroleum to bioethanol as our primary transportation fuel.
So why aren’t we using it already?
The raw materials used in bioenergy production – food crops like maize and sugarcane – come with a lot of associated challenges. Food crops are by no means guaranteed; a bad season could have a detrimental effect, particularly in developing countries who rely on their crops as a means of livelihood. Concerns about the economical implications for developing countries have already been raised in Paris – and could be a deal-breaker for alternative fuels like bioenergy.
Over the last few years, cycling has seen a meteoric rise in both popularity and participation. Its most gruelling and testing competition, the Tour De France, drew to a close last month with another British victory.
So it seems quite apt to share how chemical engineering plays a part in this sport.
The phrase ‘chemical engineering in cycling’ may raise a few eyebrows. Indeed, some of the ways in which competitors have broken the rules can be – if you’re able to discount the morality of the outcome – seen as impressive feats of human engineering.
I’m sure you’ve heard of blood doping, where athletes improve their aerobic capacity and endurance through either one of the two following ways:
The ChemEng365 campaign concluded at the end of May when Geoff’s term as president ended. But of course, all the amazing chemical engineering research and innovation still goes on. So, it seems only fitting to give you a research round-up on all things chemical and process engineering for the month of June – just in case you missed anything!
Injectable hydrogel could help wounds heal more quickly
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