The annual Hazards conference is also a key date in the calendar. It brings together hundreds of process safety practitioners from around the world, so that together, they can learn from one another’s experiences to help maintain a clear focus on safer operations and support good practice.
For the first time, at this year’s Hazards29 conference in May, a new panel discussion has been added to the technical programme to encourage a two-way discussion around some of the challenges facing process safety. The theme of the panel discussion will be: ‘How do we achieve, maintain and demonstrate competencies for process safety?’
To mark World Day for Safety and Health at Work today (28 April), panel members IChemE Safety Centre Director Trish Kerin and Dr Chris Tighe, Chemical Engineering Lecturer at Imperial College London, have shared their insights into how they think we can continue to improve safety processes around the world.
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.
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.
Two weeks ago, on 22 February 2016, IChemE invited chemical engineers to Stand Up and Speak Out for Chemical Engineering. Over 60 chemical engineers crowded in the basement room of The Albany pub on Great Portland Street, London, to discuss advocacy for the profession, how to get chemical engineering stories in the media, and discuss the challenges and opportunities that face us when doing so.
The event welcomed a plethora of talent to its expert panel – and saw Jonathan Webb, BBC, Jason Palmer, The Economist, Colin Smith, Imperial College London, Ellie Chambers, British Science Association and Yasmin Ali, E-ON. As well as giving a traditional panel discussion, answering questions from the floor, the experts also got on their soapboxes (literally) and were given four minutes to give their own experiences of engineering and the media.
The evening ended with attendees pledging to ‘Stand Up and Speak Out’. All who pledged will become involved with the IChemE Media Envoy programme, which helps members to tell their stories through the media and give expert comment on current issues.
Today, Yasmin Ali – one of the evening’s expert panelists – gives her feedback on the event, and looks forward to the next steps for chemical engineering and public engagement.
It took me four years of studying chemical engineering, then a few years of work, to realise the magnitude of our reliance on engineers. They beaver away quietly, meeting our daily living expectations and demands. Despite this, we moan and groan on the odd occasion that our train is late, if the internet connection slows down, or when the water from the washing machine in the apartment above decides to pour through the ceiling into the kitchen.
During my year as novice blogger, I’ve been made aware of many excellent projects involving outreach that raise the profile of our profession to the public, and in particular, to school children.
This blog post highlights five initiatives that will inspire a new generation of chemical engineers, as well as promoting the value of engineering to a wider audience:
1. Pint of Science
The Pint of Science festival is an annual event, held over three days, that takes place in pubs across the world. During the festival, researchers and experts in their field discuss their latest scientific work over a drink. Pint of Science has grown year on year since its inception in 2012 by two research scientists, Michael Motskin and Praveen Paul, at Imperial College London, UK.
This year I was invited to take part – and in return I was promised a free pint! Well how could I refuse? I’m a big fan of science communication and public engagement – the free pint had nothing to do with it!
The carbon capture pilot plant is so big that it stretches over four floors of our building, right at its centre – which is pretty impressive for a university pilot plant and helps provide a sense of scale for the real thing.
The pilot plant provides our students with an opportunity to grapple with some of the practical challenges that they will encounter in industry. It certainly presents the opportunity to hone a few of the skills that might prove useful in the future.
Lithium ion batteries are used in a wide range of applications and technologies. As it happens; if you are reading my blog on a smartphone, laptop or tablet, you are probably holding one right now. From mobile phones to electric cars, Li-ion batteries are all around us, but how do we make sure they are safe?
As I have remarked previously in my blog ‘Bulletproof batteries‘, there are significant safety issues associated with Li-ion batteries. In 2013, a problem with overheating batteries forced airlines to ground their Boeing 787 ‘Dreamliner’ aircraft, after reports of batteries bursting into flames.
The use of Li-ion batteries is becoming more wide-spread. So we need to gain a better understanding of the hazards and risks associated with their use.
Many people in the chemical engineering community have taken their inspiration from Professor Roger Sargent who served IChemE as its President in 1973. Roger is described by many as the “Father of process systems engineering”.
It was entirely fitting that IChemE should create a medal in his honour in 2014 to recognise research in computer-aided product and process engineering (CAPE).
The first recipient of the Sargent Medal is himself an undisputed leader in the field.
Roger Sargent’s influence in the field of process systems engineering is massive – not just because of his ground-breaking research, but also because of the extraordinary scale of his academic ‘family tree’ of research students. By the beginning of the 21st century, the tree included seven ‘generations’, numbering over six hundred people in all.
By now, regular readers of this blog will have realised that I’m pretty passionate about chemical engineering, its application and why it matters the world over. The students I teach share my view, but they can be a bit more creative at expressing it.
Sandy Nimmo, a final year undergraduate at Imperial College, penned a song to describe his experience whilst studying our beloved subject. Rest assured, this is not part of the curriculum, but it just goes to show how inspirational chemical engineering can be.
Have a listen to his song ‘Music for Engineers’ here:
The years spent at university can be some of the best of your life, and as they draw to an end, its only natural to reflect on the time you’ve had. And this is exactly what Sandy did with his song.
When a young chemical engineer achieves worldwide acclaim for his work less than five years after gaining his PhD, it certainly brings about a sense of excitement.
So it gives me great pleasure to congratulate my colleague and friend, Niall Mac Dowell, on receiving IChemE’s Nicklin Medal for 2014. Already, in his short career he has come to be recognised as one of the UK’s top researchers in the area of low carbon energy.
Niall is the only researcher in the world to have published work at the molecular, unit, integrated process and network scales in the context of carbon capture and storage (CCS).
IChemE has traditionally awarded a range of medals and prizes to acknowledge the achievements of chemical engineers around the world.
It’s one of the ways in which we recognise that chemical engineering matters at an individual (or team) level, and I always look forward to the announcement of the winners.
The medals and prizes will be presented at a range of events and locations in the months ahead, but given that the list has been publicised in the March issue of The Chemical Engineer (tce) magazine, I thought I’d take the opportunity to blog about some of the winners and their achievements.
First up is the Ambassador Prize, this year awarded to my friend and colleague, Dr Paul Fennell, for his outstanding work to bring greater understanding of chemical engineering to non-chemical engineers – from government ministers to university students and school children, to people in the pub!
I’ve been blogging continuously for 270 days now and I’m beginning to notice a few trends amongst my followers. Many readers are extremely interested in what chemical engineers do and where our profession can take us.
I’ve shared other people’s chemical engineering good news stories and talked about their work and their careers. But I’ve not talked about myself all that much. Unless your were present at the 2014 annual general meeting that is, where I highlighted some aspects of my career to date in my presidential address, a recording of which is available to watch here.
But it’s my birthday today – and given that birthdays are all about the birthday boy or girl – I trust you’ll allow me to offer a brief insight into my own career. So this posting describes a typical day in the life of yours truly and one that happened last week. The exploits of a professor of energy engineering at Imperial College London and IChemE president.
As an academic, I know that chemical engineering matters in the research space. And IChemE recognises the importance of forums and meetings where chemical engineering researchers can share their work with their peers.
One such important UK research meeting for chemical engineers is the annual ChemEngDayUK conference.
This event brings together researchers, engineers and scientists from chemical engineering departments across the UK to showcase their latest technological advances and research to leading experts within the field.
There is also specific emphasis placed on collaboration between academia and industry.
If you had to sit down in front of the three biggest emitters of greenhouse gases in the world – China (29 per cent), USA (15 per cent), and the European Union (10 per cent) – and persuade them to scale back their use of fossil fuels what would you say?
Would you take the emotive approach and appeal to their sense of humanity by highlighting the risks they are storing up for our children and grandchildren in the future?
Or would you lead with the science articulated so determinedly by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) published in its Synthesis Report at the start of this month?
Either way, it does seem that nations – and even within nations – the world’s biggest game of poker is underway.
Our leaders are literally gambling with our planet, and the odds are getting worse if you agree with the IPCC.
This game of cards moved on recently when China and the US unveiled new pledges on greenhouse gas emissions.
US President Barack Obama said the move was “historic”, as he set a new goal of reducing US levels between 26 per cent-28 per cent by 2025, compared with 2005 levels.
China did not set a specific target, but said emissions would peak by 2030.
‘Advancing chemical engineering worldwide’ is a phrase you may be aware of. It’s the reason why IChemE exists and it has pride of place next to our logo.
The way we advance chemical engineering is largely due to the energy, expertise and enthusiasm of our 40,000 plus members. They are the ‘brains’ behind our success, and the same could be said of any professional body.
And how IChemE recognises the achievements of individuals who have really pushed the ‘envelope’ and boundaries of the profession is very important to us.
It’s the reason why we manage and grant over 25 medals and prizes in any given year (not including the many other awards ceremonies and accolades we co-ordinate).
IChemE’s medals and prizes offer a celebratory win-win. They are named after some incredible chemical engineers and it means we don’t forget their contribution. They also celebrate the achievements of the present – to advance chemical engineering worldwide.
If I’ve said it once, I’ve repeated it many times – communication is key. At this time of year, there are hundreds of young, enthusiastic students leaving home, going to university to study chemical engineering. They’ve made a big step in a direction that has many opportunities.
In the first few weeks of university they will meet many new people, many of them studying different subjects. One of the first questions asked in these new meetings is “what are you studying?” – and in response to the answer “chemical engineering”, there will be a lot of people asking – “what’s that?”.
As I head to Australia for the Chemeca 2014 conference it reminded me again, that a big challenge is explaining what we do and how it makes a difference.
While having a drink, I thought about Café Scientifique – where anyone with an interest in science and technology can meet to listen, discuss and debate issues.
All it costs you is the price of a drink (tea, coffee or a glass of wine).
There are now local café’s across six continents, offering opportunities to talk about relevant issues.
If you’re in the middle of your chemical engineering course, you may still be thinking about what to do when you graduate. Thankfully, there’s lots of choice, but how about taking on some of the world’s biggest consumer brands and using your chemical engineering skills to make…well…frozen lollies or popsicles? Continue reading Creative juices…with alcohol and frozen (Day 40)
What do these purification processes have in common: distillation, extraction, chromatography, adsorption, and crystallization?
All can be energy or materials intensive. In other words – expensive.
Some professionals in the purification business will often quote phrases like: “It is generally accepted that separation processes account for between 40-70 per cent of both the capital and operating costs in industry.”