Spotlight on: Chemical Engineers and Horlicks #ichemeawards

111 GSK - imageTea, coffee, ice cream, chocolate, pizza – just some of our favourite foods and drinks that have been around for hundreds of years. Nearly all of them involve a process, and that process was probably refined and scaled-up by chemical engineers.

Horlicks is no different. It’s associated with bedtime in the UK, but in South Asia it’s the country’s number one health food drink.

GSK Consumer Healthcare are responsible for producing more than 150,000 tonnes of Horlicks every year, and up until recently were continuing to use the original 135-year-old process.

CKEVnTcUYAEql3W (002)GSK’s small technical team were tasked to fundamentally re-think the process, considering energy, water usage, and cost.

Previously only incremental changes had been made, due to concerns about negative consumer feedback. As a result, the team of chemical engineering put the consumer first – and through reverse-engineering took the product back to the fundamental flavour, protein and carbohydrate chemistry.

From there, the process could be re-assembled to optimise every step – from converting starch to sugar, to drying the product in to a powder. The results are astounding – with the team eliminating any water usage and reducing the amount of energy used by 80%. Both factors are extremely advantageous to Horlicks’ main market of India, and the energy saved in the process alone could power 400,000 homes in the region. What’s more, the cycle time has been reduced from 18 hours to just 10 minutes.JR3C8371

And that’s what our profession is all about isn’t it? Or, as GSK’s Ben Jones puts it: “Chemical engineering matters because it is the bedrock of how we’re going to improve physical and chemical processes for the next generation.”

Ben was joined by Paul Heath at the IChemE Global Awards in November 2017 where they collected the Food and Drink Award for this project. The Award was presented by Nigel Hirst, on behalf of category sponsor – IChemE’s Food and Drink Special Interest Group.

Check out their reaction below:

The original team took five years to take this project from concept to pilot plant. Now the very same team is leading the construction of a full-scale commercial plant. What a fantastic achievement for all involved.

We’re delving into the pharmaceutical industry in our next ‘Spotlight’ piece, so don’t forget to swing by the IChemE blog tomorrow.


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.

Read the IChemE Global Awards 2017 Review

 

Spotlight on: Going Beyond Energy Neutrality in the North West #ichemeawards

179 United Utilities - imageThe 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.

JR3C8355Cue 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.

5J5A5851A 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:

It’s also been great to see United Utilities engaging with the local community around this project. They have invested £48,000 in community parks, centres, and education, and visited several schools around the Davyhulme plant to get them excited about engineering.

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.

Read the IChemE Global Awards 2017 Review

Spotlight on: Vaccination Research at University of Bath #ichemeawards

Ensilicated proteins in powder form Credit University of BathEvery 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.

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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:

What’s more, just one week after getting her IChemE gong, Dr Asel Sartbaeva was awarded the Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) World Award for her vaccinations project. Congratulations Asel!

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.

Read the IChemE Global Awards 2017 Review

Chemical engineering matters for the developing world #ichemeawards

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.

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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.

Continue reading Chemical engineering matters for the developing world #ichemeawards

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.

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

The sweet smell of success (Day 321)

We all want to make a good first impression, but when we feel anxious our body responds by sweating and this can result in an unappealing body odour.

When we want to make the right impact at an interview or on a date, we need a little help to make sure we are smelling fresh.

So fear not. There’s now a perfume that improves its performance the more we sweat.

Release of fragrances triggered by water
Photo credit | QUILL
Release of fragrances triggered by water

Researchers at the Queen’s University Ionic Liquid Laboratories (QUILL) Research Centre in Belfast have developed a unique perfume. It releases its aroma the more it comes into contact with moisture. So the more you sweat, the better you smell!

Continue reading The sweet smell of success (Day 321)

The sweet stuff in the white stuff (Day 319)

milkLactose is a sugar found in milk. Typically, it makes up between 2 to 8 per cent of milk and is a significant byproduct of the dairy industry.

Lactose is a major export good. In 2012 the US exported 170,000 tonnes, the EU 142,000 tonnes and New Zealand 20,000 tonnes of lactose – making the lactose a billion dollar industry.

The world’s largest dairy product exporter, Fonterra, has worked in partnership with Aurecon to develop an innovative evaporation system – CrystalLac for which a patent is pending.

Continue reading The sweet stuff in the white stuff (Day 319)

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?’.

Continue reading The original natural gas – poo power (Day 131)

The power of the award (Day 53)

skyscraper currencyIs it possible to attach a value to winning an award? Are they worth the effort to galvanise an internal team to pull together an outstanding entry? Do they result in more investment? And how do you manage the implications of not winning (and in many cases, not even being shortlisted)?

These are difficult questions to answer, but I did want to give a few examples of where winning an IChemE Award can be the beginning of commercial and reputational success.

Continue reading The power of the award (Day 53)

Let’s get competitive (Day 41)

snails racingWhether we like it or not, all of us are living in a competitive world. Even professions need to compete to show their continuing relevance and value, especially when you consider that their relationships with members can and does endure throughout entire working lives of 40 years and more.

Of course, some professions compete better than others. By design or luck they have a desirable image, higher status and better profile with important stakeholders such as young people, parents, business, decision-makers like governments, and many others.

Continue reading Let’s get competitive (Day 41)

The most important liquids on the planet (Podblog) (Day 37)

ChemEng365Ionic liquids have been voted the British scientific innovation most likely to influence the course of the 21st century. They are set to change the rules of chemistry forever.

Leading the way are Queen’s University Ionic Liquid Laboratories (QUILL) Research Centre in Belfast, UK.

QUILL won four IChemE Awards last year for their gas clean-up technology.

This week, QUILL have been exhibiting at the Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition and you can listen to QUILL explain more about ionic liquids in this podcast.

IChemE Award winners… win again (Day 2)

IChemE Global AwardsAfter winning three trophies, including the top prize, at last year’s IChemE Global Awards in Bolton, Queen’s University Belfast has been named among the winners of the prestigious Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) Awards for its ground-breaking work in removing harmful mercury from natural gas.

The technology developed by Queen’s University Ionic Liquid Laboratories (QUILL), in partnership with PETRONAS, is being used to produce mercury-free natural gas at two PETRONAS plants in Malaysia.

Continue reading IChemE Award winners… win again (Day 2)