COP22: What next? – Q&A from the IChemE Energy Centre’s latest discussion on climate change

Last week (Thursday 12 January), the IChemE Energy Centre welcomed participants both online and in person to discuss the outcomes of ‘COP22 – what next?’.

COP22

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.

This was followed by Dr Alison Cooke, Founder and Consultant – Cooke Associates, who gave a brief overview of what it’s like to work with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) as a mechanical engineer.

The audience was then invited for a discussion on on the outcomes of COP22 and the next steps we must take to implement the Paris Agreement.

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Recognising excellence in chemical engineering research #ichemeawards

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.

jr3c3118

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.

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Putting the Paris Agreement into action at #COP22 #InvestPlanet

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?

Stef Simons, Energy Centre Chair, speaking at COP21 earlier today

Professor Stefaan Simons, Energy Centre Chair, speaking at COP21 in 2015

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:

  • energy efficiency
  • energy storage and grid management
  • carbon capture, storage and utilisation
  • nuclear
  • sustainable bioenergy

Energy Board Centre Chair Professor Stefaan Simons hosted an official side event at COP21: Technology solutions for a 2oC world: Investing in renewables, storage, energy efficiency and CCS. If you missed it you can watch it all on our YouTube channel and read a write-up of the event and our follow-up talks in London.

Ratification

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?

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.

Join IChemE at the talks

While the conference has already started, our presence at the talks kicks off on Monday 14 November. We will be holding a side event in collaboration with The Grantham Institute at Imperial College London, and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).

The event – Investing in the planet: Green banks and other financial tools to scale-up mitigation technologies – will focus on the financing and policy mechanisms required for deploying low carbon technologies. The event will make sure to highlight that financing is essential for both mitigation and adaptation, and in the broader context of the sustainable development goals.

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 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.

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Relevance in a Changing World

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?

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Guest blog: #WorldWaterDay

IChemE’s Special Interest Groups (SIGs) are an essential way for our members to share knowledge and collaborate on initiatives, which are of significance to their sector.

drop on water

Today is World Water Day, and our Water SIG is a hugely important part of providing expert advice and consultation to the innovations that could change our world. Water is essential to life, it must be sustainable or we cannot survive. Chemical engineers are an important part of making sure water provision is sufficient, clean, economical, and environmentally-friendly.

Chris Short, Chair of the IChemE Water SIG, explores in more detail the current challenges for the water sector in today’s blog post. Read on to hear his thoughts, and feel free to join the conversation on Twitter using #WorldWaterDay or by leaving a comment below:


chris-short

Name: Chris Short
Job: Consultant and Chartered Chemical Engineer
Company: Chris Short Water Quality (previously Yorkshire Water)
Special Interest Group: Water, Chairman

Quote start
Today is World Water Day, and I’ll be attending a conference in Leeds, UK, on Innovations in Wastewater Treatment. The focus will be on the recovery of value from wastewater and I expect to hear how leading-edge technologies are performing and what new processes are being evaluated by researchers.

This is exciting stuff.

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From Paris to London – IChemE Energy Centre speaks out at #COP21

COP21 logoWe hope you have been following our series of #COP21 blog posts, focusing on the IChemE Energy Centre’s five priority topics for the COP21 climate talks.

As an agreement looks set to be on the horizon (fingers crossed!) the Energy Centre was involved in two events.

Both events asked the same question – Do you believe that the technical solutions to reducing greenhouse gas emissions already exist?

Find out what happened below.


Paris

Our official COP21 side event in Paris saw several leading thinkers – including our own Chair of the Energy Centre Stefaan Simons – deliver their thoughts on ‘Technology solutions for a two degree world’.

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Making renewables work through energy storage and grid management #COP21

solar power plantIn order to deliver a low carbon economy, we must move away from our current low efficiency, high carbon energy system. Our new energy system must be much more efficient, and low carbon.

This will mean abandoning the linear system of large scale, centralised energy production from fossil fuels.

The replacement should be a non-linear system where electricity is produced at widely distributed sites, at various scales, using renewable sources of energy.

To meet base load power demand, this system will need to combine fossil fuels with carbon capture and storage (CCS), and other sources of energy – such as nuclear.

This future low carbon energy system can only work if the way we generate and consume energy becomes much more flexible, and is able to respond rapidly to external weather and price fluctuations.

Matching supply with demand, particularly when a significant proportion of electricity is being generated by intermittent renewable sources, such as wind and solar, will require energy storage.

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Sustainable bioenergy can dramatically reduce global carbon emissions #COP21

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?

shutterstock_112362932

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.

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Carbon capture and storage is part of the climate solution #COP21

Bulbs and energyThe world’s population is expected to exceed nine billion by 2050. With this growth there will be an increasing demand for energy.

As it stands, fossil fuels provide more than 85 per cent of the world’s energy. And despite significant global efforts to shift to renewable energy generation, renewable sources only accounted for 2 per cent of the global energy supply in 2014.

It is therefore logical and reasonable to believe that fossil fuels will remain an indispensable part of the world’s energy landscape until at least the end of this century.

Climate Change - sliderAt COP21, representatives from over 190 countries will try to reach an agreement to limit global warming to the two degrees target, and this will involve stabilising atmospheric COconcentrations at a level of 450 parts per million (ppm).

So what does this mean? For fossil fuels, it means we need to decarbonise electricity production; and carbon capture and storage (CCS) is a readily deployable technology solution to do this.

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Five powerful reasons to be a chemical engineer at Shell

Over the past few weeks we have been sharing real-life experiences of IChemE members, working at some of the world’s most innovative organisations. So far, our ChemEngProfiles video blogs have covered: ‘Five great reasons to be a chemical engineer at Syngenta‘, ‘Five great reasons to be a chemical engineer at BP‘, and most recently, ‘Five sweet reasons to be a chemical engineer at Mondelez’.Royal_Dutch_Shell

Today we turn our attention to Shell – one of the six oil and gas ‘supermajors’ and an IChemE Gold Corporate Partner. Through oil and gas exploration, production, refinement and distribution, Shell makes it possible for us to heat our homes, fuel our cars and cook our food.

But what is it like to be a chemical engineer at one of the world’s most valuable companies?

Exciting, diverse, challenging – maybe all of the above? Check out our latest ChemEngProfiles videos to find out.

(1) You work on meaningful projects that affect various stakeholders, right from the start.

Carlyn Greenhalgh, a process improvement practitioner at Shell, loves the complexity of chemical engineering. She explains how she went from University, to working on a production site with her own unit. Her pilot plant is now being manufactured and sold worldwide.

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Four horsemen of the apocalypse – four challenges for chemical engineers (Day 362)

Day 362, four blogs to go. Four more opportunities to highlight chemical engineering in action.

In the Christian tradition, the four horsemen of the apocalypse are the harbingers of the end of the world.

Other faiths offer different views, but for the purposes of this blog post I’m taking a look at four big challenges that present a serious threat to life on earth: water scarcity; increasing energy demand; food security; and climate change. What are chemical  engineers doing to tackle these issues and avert the apocalypse?

perfect stormI have previously observed that we run the risk of sleep-walking towards climate catastrophe. But it’s more complicated than that. The water, energy, food and climate change challenges are interrelated. The former Chief Scientific Adviser to the UK Government, Sir John Beddington, used the term Perfect Storm to describe this phenomenon arguing that climate change will intensify pressure on resources further, adding to the vulnerability of both ecosystems and people.

Chemical engineering can provide shelter from John’s ‘Perfect storm’.  Here are some examples.

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Best blogs of 2014: A day in the life of a chemical engineering graduate (Day 219)

Graduation hatsHello and happy New Year everyone (if you are a follower of the Gregorian calendar).

This is the last of my seasonal review of the most popular blogs from 2014, and we’ll start again from tomorrow with some new stories showcasing our great profession.

At the start of 2015, I’m sure some of you are thinking about the future. Today’s ‘guest blog’ may help some of our younger readers who are still thinking about which career to pursue.

It’s a unique insight into a typical day of a chemical engineer just starting out in their working life. Thanks again for reading.

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Stepping into the world of work from university can be scary because it’s unknown, unfamiliar and it comes with responsibility. But it’s the start of an exciting chapter, full of opportunities and meeting new people.

So it would be great for students to know a little more about what it’s like to start a chemical engineering graduate job and what the journey was like to get there.

As IChemE president, I get to interact and talk to chemical engineers, all at different stages of their careers. With applications to study chemical engineering increasing year by year, I thought it would be great to blog about what it’s like to be a graduate just starting out.

The individual in question is a graduate safety engineer working for an engineering consultancy and has been in post for about two months – so I will pass the reigns over to them and let them explain, via this mystery guest blog, what it’s like to be a chemical engineering graduate.

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A journey from process engineer to IChemE’s technical vice president (Day 206)

For over 200 days now, I have been slowly fulfilling my presidential mission of sharing chemical engineering good news every day. And over time, I have noticed a pattern amongst my readership; chemical engineers are interested in the journey of where chemical engineering can take you.

By now, you must all know my personal journey inside out; starting in academia, then twenty years in the oilfield services industry working for Schlumberger until I came full circle back into academia in 2005 as professor of energy engineering at Imperial College London, UK.

For today’s blog post, I will let a previous IChemE technical vice president, Ed Daniels, walk you through his journey; a chemical engineer who rose through the ranks to a senior leadership role within a major oil company. Perhaps shining the spotlight on an individual will help shine a light on the profession in some small way…

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Ed Daniels (2)Name: Ed Daniels
Job: Executive Vice President, Commercial and New Business Development
Course: Chemical engineering, Imperial College London
Graduated: 1988
Employer: Royal Dutch Shell

Quote startBack when I started my degree at university, I knew, even back then that chemical engineering was, and would remain to be, a sound foundation of engineering education. Not only is it practical and logical, but it would also prove to serve me well in a career context. Continue reading

Ten common misconceptions about chemical engineers debunked (Day 199)

PerceptionWhen I started this blog my main aim was to showcase how chemical engineering is making a real difference across the world.

And I have been amazed at all the incredible tales of chemical engineering I have heard from so many different countries.

Building a detailed picture of chemical engineering is great, but one thing that concerns me are the common misconceptions about chemical engineers and chemical engineering I still hear.

To help dispel some of these I have put together a list of common misconceptions about chemical engineers that just aren’t true:

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A day in the life of a chemical engineering graduate (Day 155)

Graduation hatsWith the autumn semester of the academic year well under way in the UK, final year chemical engineering students will be starting to think about their next step – applying for a graduate job.

Stepping into the world of work from university can be scary because it’s unknown, unfamiliar and it comes with responsibility. But it’s the start of an exciting chapter, full of opportunities and meeting new people.

So it would be great for students to know a little more about what it’s like to start a chemical engineering graduate job and what the journey was like to get there.

As IChemE president, I get to interact and talk to chemical engineers, all at different stages of their careers. With applications to study chemical engineering increasing year by year, I thought it would be great to blog about what it’s like to be a graduate just starting out.

The individual in question is a graduate safety engineer working for an engineering consultancy and has been in post for about two months – so I will pass the reigns over to them and let them explain, via this mystery guest blog, what it’s like to be a chemical engineering graduate.

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The original natural gas – poo power (Day 131)

Pig

Pig waste is powering 700 homes and helping to reduce landfill waste by 18,000 tonnes each year in Leicestershire, UK.

It was around this time last year that one of the big winners at the IChemE Global Awards 2013 – PROjEN – were collecting the Bioprocessing Award for their technology used to convert pig waste into energy.

The pig waste, combined with other food waste, was being used to produce biogas capable of generating the equivalent of around 1.2MW of electricity.

The electricity was exported into the local energy grid in Leicestershire, UK, to power an estimated 700 homes and reduce landfill waste by 18,000 tonnes each year.

In the UK, people outnumber pigs by more than ten to one, so one has to ask the question – ‘Can human poo be used in a similar way to provide a sustainable source of energy?’.

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The threat of energy paralysis (Day 128)

LightbulbThere has been a great deal of reflection over the past few weeks about the Scottish Independence Referendum.

With 97 per cent of the electorate in Scotland registering to vote, and an eventual turnout of 85 per cent, it was a triumph for democracy and public engagement.

At the same time, it was a major wake-up call to many politicians who have rarely experienced the huge level of interest in their ‘day jobs’. In fact, arguably, many politicians were shown how to do their jobs better.

Some ‘leaders’ even tried to side-track the politicians, by building websites using independent assessments from leading experts around the world. Continue reading

Financing the quest for endless energy (Day 127)

Hello and welcome to today’s Chemeng365 blog. I’m currently enjoying meeting many chemical engineers in some of IChemE’s membership hot-spots in the Asia Pacific and Australasia regions.

Having just enjoyed a successful Chemeca 14 conference in Perth, Australia, I thought I’d keep the Australia theme going with an interesting hydrogen energy story from New South Wales.

Merlin - benefits of hydrogen

Graphic courtesy of MERLin

You may have spotted a blog recently about the Hy-cycle – a bicycle powered by a hydrogen fuel cell.

It’s just one of the interesting projects coming out of Australia at the moment attempting to develop hydrogen as a source of clean energy.

Some of the work is being driven by a research group called MERLin, which is based at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) in Australia.

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What a waste (Day 124)

Green recycling binA few years ago the ‘waste’ business was estimated to be worth around GBP 272 billion (EUR 300 billion Euros or USD 410 billion).

The study also estimated that the world was producing at least four billion metric tons of waste a year – equivalent to world production of grain and steel combined.

These figures didn’t include construction, mining, agricultural and forestry wastes – suggesting that the real figure is much larger.

They are huge numbers and will grow as our population increases and we get better at recycling and managing our waste.

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Just horsing around (Day 120)

Horse race

Horse fungus may help produce biofuel. Photo credit – Dziurek | Shutterstock.com

You may have noticed that the IChemE Global Award finals are just around the corner.

It’s an anxious wait for the 70 or so shortlisted finalists until 6 November 2014. However, I hope to share with you some of their work and achievements in the coming weeks on this blog.

Some of you may have noticed that this year’s venue is Cheltenham Racecourse, Gloucestershire, UK.

They’ve been racing at Cheltenham since 1815 and today attracts huge crowds from all over the world for events like the Cheltenham Festival. It also has some fantastic facilities, which is why we’ll be there on 6 November with 500 guests.

But today’s blog illustrates that the ubiquitous chemical engineer operates even in the equine world – a chemical engineer has found fungi in the intestinal tracts and faeces of horses which could help produce biofuels from non-food plants.

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Spray-on solar cells (Day 81)

Blue and yellow sprayAs we advance our knowledge of renewable energies is it important that we are able to reduce the cost of producing them, to make them affordable and widely available.

In an earlier blog I discussed charities working to alleviate energy poverty by building a new economy around solar power.

Researchers from the University of Sheffield’s Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering and Department of Physics and Astronomy have developed a method to produce spray-on perovskite solar cells.

This is very exciting as it offers a way of developing a low-cost method of producing solar energy cells.

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It’s a sell out (Day 72)

C0145_13-slider-CEMThe first edition of IChemE’s technical strategy, Chemical Engineering Matters, was a sell out. There are no more copies left.

So I’m pleased to announce that a second edition has been published and you can find the new version of Chemical Engineering Matters here.

The simple statement that is ‘chemical engineering matters’ is not a cliché. It is the truth.

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No ordinary oasis (Day 65)

Lake in desertWhat’s the furthest you’ve ever walked for clean water?

If you’re lucky, not very far.

If you’re unlucky, in some arid parts of the developing world, you could be spending hours walking several kilometres each day just to collect water to survive.

And forget about those romantic images of verdant oases. The water is often in polluted, dirty and in unsafe pools, especially for children.

However, putting the economics to one side for the moment, there are solutions. Cue the anaerobic digester and a new bit of technology attached to it called the McLanahan Nutrient Separation System.

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Making cities sustainable (Day 61)

Bridge reflection across the River Clyde at nightWith the Commonwealth Games in full swing, and an estimated one million tickets sold for 250 medal events, Glasgow in the UK is the place to be this summer!

But with tens of thousands of expected visitors as well as the 4,500 athletes taking part, it is fair to assume that a lot of waste is going to be produced.

And then there’s the carbon emissions associated with spectator and participant travel to and from the games.

So, naturally, making these Commonwealth Games sustainable and environmentally friendly is an important part of the agenda.

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Strange biofuelled tea (Day 58)

Every now again we like to bring you the quirky and unusual on Chemeng365. So today’s blog features the story of the The Strange Brew Tea Company in Scotland.

Using their own words, ‘The Strange Brew Tea Company are an eco-friendly tea business with a huge passion for tea, the environment and all things quirky!’

Teak Trike

The Strange Brew Tea Company’s “Tea Trike” on the grounds of Thirlestane Castle in Scotland.

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The carbon dioxide sniffing satellite (Day 57)

Space travel may not be the natural territory of chemical engineers, but earlier this month NASA launched a satellite which will be of great interest to many in the energy sector and those interested in climate change.

On 2 July 2014, NASA launched the Orbiting Carbon Observatory 2 (OCO-2) satellite from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. Its mission is to study the sources and sinks of carbon dioxide globally and provide scientists with a better idea of how carbon is contributing to climate change.

The Orbiting Carbon Observatory - NASA JPL - Caltech

The Orbiting Carbon Observatory (OCO-2) (Image courtesy of NASA/JPL – Caltech)

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Will energy always be so unpopular? (Day 45)

CoalIt helps to have thick skin if you’re involved in the energy sector. Although demonised may be too strong a word, large chunks of the energy sector does seem to be dogged by negativity, fear and distrust.

Shale gas extraction by hydraulic fracturing or ‘fracking’ invokes worries about earth tremors and contaminated water supplies. Nuclear energy attracts concerns over cost and safety. Renewable energy infrastructure like tall wind turbines are on the receiving end of vociferous community lobby groups. Energy production is inextricably linked to climate change. All these issues are regular frequenters in the media’s column inches.

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