In this blog series, which is part of our Sustainability Hub, we’re speaking to chemical engineers across the world making a difference to make sustainable practices and products a reality and more accessible to all for the wider benefit of our society and globe.
Here, Sam Haig explains his role in the recycling and recreation of lithium-ion batteries, and why it’s important to improve the process of utilising the materials within them to ensure once a battery reaches the end of its life there is not significant waste harming the environment. He talks about the challenges of these hazardous materials within batteries and handling production in a sustainable way, while demand is ever-increasing.
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.
In this blog series, which is part of our recently launched Sustainability Hub, we’re speaking to chemical engineers across the world making a difference to make sustainable practices and products a reality and more accessible to all for the wider benefit of our society and globe.
To mark Earth Day today (22 April 2022) in this blog, Dr Mauro Luberti explains the two different gas separation processes he’s using and explains the specialised laboratory equipment he’s developed to predict separation performance of adsorption processes. He’s also looking at ways to capture carbon dioxide more efficiently from power and hydrogen plants, and the importance of decarbonising these industrial sectors.
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.
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.
“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.
Activities to share knowledge and support the professional development of chemical engineers are happening in a whole host of communities across the world every day.
At IChemE, we have various communities that focus on helping individuals enhance their technical knowledge, competence and skills, as well as assist them in becoming professionally qualified engineers.
We have many enthusiastic members who volunteer in our communities, so will be sharing their stories in specialist areas and regions in regular blogs.
In this blog, Jim O’Donnell, Chair of the Aberdeen Members Group, explains more about what the group does to support all levels of chemical engineers in their region and why he feels younger members in particular can play a positive role in shaping a sustainable future for our Institution and the profession.
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.
The big winners at the IChemE Global Awards 2018 were a UK consortium consisting of Advanced Plasma Power, University College London, Cadent Gas and Progressive Energy.
The team took home three awards in the Sustainability, Energy and Outstanding Achievement categories, for their project, Converting Waste to BioSNG.
Together, they developed an innovative and unique gasification and catalytic process to turn household waste into a clean, green and renewable energy called Bio Synthetic Natural Gas (BioSNG). It’s a low-carbon gas that the team feel is a great contribution to decarbonise the energy sector and heat homes across the UK for years to come.
Find out more about the project, and the team’s reaction to winning three awards, in this video:
If you have a cutting-edge project that you think is worthy of an IChemE Global Award in any of these categories, make sure to enter by the end of today (12 July 2019) for this year’s award ceremony.
Today is the last chance to enter for the IChemE Global Awards 2019. Submit your entry online at: www.icheme.org/awards
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Recently 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
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.
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?
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.
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:
Name: Chris Short Job: Consultant and Chartered Chemical Engineer Company: Chris Short Water Quality (previously Yorkshire Water) Special Interest Group: Water, Chairman
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.
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.
The 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.
At 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 CO2 concentrations 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.
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.
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?
I 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.
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.