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.
All over the world today people will be celebrating World Water Day and reflecting on the current issues facing the world with regards to water scarcity, pollution, flooding and droughts. 2018 is also the Year of Engineering, and it’s clear that engineers will be integral to helping tackle these issues to ensure access to water is safe and sustainable in the years to come.
Chemical engineers working in the water sector are making a huge difference already. In today’s blog, our new Water Special Interest Group Chair, Dr Martin Currie talks about his vibrant water career – working all over the world, and using his engineering prowess to help make a difference in the developing world.
This month’s Year of Engineering theme is ‘Routes into Engineering’ – we hope Martin’s account inspires you to consider a career as a chemical engineer in the water industry.
By day, Chartered Chemical Engineer Madeleine Jones works as Deputy Operations Manager, Legacy Ponds & Silos at Sellafield, and is responsible for three nuclear facilities.
In her spare time, she is a passionate advocate of chemical engineering – promoting engineering to primary and secondary school children, and mentoring new engineering graduates at the nuclear reprocessing and decommissioning company, to inspire the next generation of chemical engineers.
She also actively volunteers for her professional engineering institution, IChemE, with roles including Student Representative on the Midlands Member Group Committee, and Webmaster for IChemE’s North West Member Group Committee.
For all of this – and more – she was recently awarded the Karen Burt Award, after being nominated by IChemE. The annual award is presented by the Women’s Engineering Society (WES) to a top Chartered Engineer or Chartered Physicist in memory of Dr Karen Burt.
In January 2017, Erin Johnson, a postgraduate chemical engineering student at Imperial College London, UK, was awarded the Ashok Kumar Fellowship 2017.
The annual Fellowship, supported by IChemE and the North-East England process Industry Cluster (NEPIC), grants funding for a graduate chemical engineer to spend three months working at the UK Parliamentary Office for Science and Technology (POST). During this time, they get to experience life inside the Houses of Parliament and produce a POSTnote (briefing paper), or assist a government select committee with a current inquiry.
MPs rely on scientists, engineers, and academics to help inform the decisions they make. Erin’s Fellowship began in September, so we thought we’d find out how she’s been getting on.
Name: Erin Johnson Education: Postgraduate chemical engineering student at Imperial College London, UK Job Title: PhD candidate Research interests: Optimisation of biomethane and bio-synthetic natural gas supply chains in the UK. I recently co-authored a white paper on options for a greener gas grid.
The first semester of university is underway. For some chemical, bio-chemical and process engineering students, it’s their final year; for others it’s their first September for sometime not spent in a lecture theatre or lab.
Those who have recently graduated and haven’t yet found a placement or role at a company, you’re probably thinking hard about your career. For those in their final year, it’s never too early to start getting some ideas of what job you’d like.
Either way, it can be a daunting prospect. Where do you begin? How do you prepare for job hunting and those all important interviews to come?
Here are our top 10 tips to help in your job hunting journey.
Each year hundreds of professionals gather to be a part of our flagship process safety conference Hazards.
Process safety is fundamental to chemical, biochemical and process engineers. IChemE’s three-day event encourages them to come together and discuss: the current best practice, the latest developments, lessons learned in the process industry, and how to make operations even safer.
The conference was first held in 1960, and is now is an annual event. Hazards brings together around 100 presenters from leading industry practitioners, researchers and regulators, as well as keynote speakers invited from industry.
Tomorrow is International Women In Engineering Day (INWED), and it’s been great to see an overwhelmingly positive response from our community in the form of events and activities.
The INWED website has some fantastic ideas for organisations to improve their diversity agenda, from organising networking events to completing an equal pay audit. It isn’t too late for your company to get involved, visit the website for more ideas.
Global engineering services provider KBR, a Gold Corporate Partner with the IChemE, is already ahead of the curve. Aspire, an employee-driven resources group committed to female engineers and promoting gender parity, was launched in Houston, US in 2016. In January it was rolled-out across the pond, and Aspire UK was born.
To celebrate #INWED2017 the Aspire UK team joined with KBR’s graduate network, Impact, to host students from a local school. They attended the KBR Campus in Leatherhead today (Thursday 22 June) and inspired to take a career path in engineering.
The students were immersed in a working engineering environment and given several interactive workshop presentations about engineering, the opportunities the profession presents, and the pathways into an engineering career. They attended a networking lunch where they were able to meet with more engineers from KBR, including the business leaders.
The final activity was a team building game, where the students had to use their problem solving skills to build an Oil Rig Jacket Structure (oil platform) out of paper.
We caught up with the engineers who spoke at the event.
Environmental impact is something that has become increasingly important for organisations and consumers in recent years. It is a topic discussed on a global scale by world leaders, and an issue of contention for many.
For some chemical engineers it has provided an opportunity for them to use their knowledge of chemical processes to create environmentally-friendly alternatives to the products we rely on daily.
In today’s blog Dr Dan Derr gives an insight into biosurfactants – which he hopes will spark a ‘renewable revolution’ in the fast-moving consumer goods industry.
Dr Daniel Derr
Project Leader, Internal Research & Development, Logos Technologies
Dan gained his PhD from Colorado State University, and went on to study bio-based jet fuels and photocatalysis at General Electric’s Global Research.
Following this, he led an integrated BioRefinery effort called the Corn to Cellulosic Migration (CCM), focusing on the migration of billions of dollars of capital deployed in today’s corn ethanol industry toward cost-effective production of greener ethanol from corn stover, switchgrass and woodchips.
Now working for Logos Technologies, Derr is currently focused on NatSurFact® – a rhamnolipid-based line of biosurfactants.
Risk will never be eliminated, but it can be greatly reduced.
Our flagship process safety conference Hazards continues to build momentum and we were pleased to welcome over 300 delegates to Hazards 27, at the International Convention Centre in Birmingham, UK, last week. Various speakers, workshops and exhibitors from across the world gave excellent insight, advice and tips into the ways to review process safety practices, and useful services and products that could help improve process safety performance.
For chemical engineers working as contractors in the design and construction of a plant, your contract is key to ensuring that your rights are protected. However, the lines are often blurred when it comes to which activities are covered by the Construction Act and which aren’t.
Now, if you are working on a new plant or structure, you should have a contract in place. Whether this is a construction contract as defined by the Construction Act (a contract for the carrying out of construction operations), depends upon the nature of works.
It’s in the definition of construction operations where confusion can arise as a number of activities within key industries are excluded.
What activities are excluded?
Drilling for, or the extraction of, oil and natural gas is explicitly excluded as a construction operation. Certain activities in relation to nuclear processing, power generation and the production of chemicals, pharmaceuticals, oil, gas or steel are also all excluded from the ambit of the Construction Act.
How have chemical engineers advanced wastewater management? #WorldWaterDay
It’s World Water Day and to celebrate Chris Short, Chair of our Water Special Interest Group has given his thoughts on this year’s theme – ‘Wastewater’. We have members working all over the world in this area, as well as researchers looking at new and innovative ways to treat wastewater to help benefit society.
Check out Chris’ thoughts below, and don’t forget to comment with your own views on the subject.
Name: Chris Short Job: Consultant and Chartered Chemical Engineer Company: Chris Short Water Quality (previously Yorkshire Water) Special Interest Group: Water, Chair
I’m not going to claim that chemical engineers were behind all the advances in wastewater management in the past century, greatly improving public health and the environment within industrialised countries.
However, chemical engineers have been increasingly involved in wastewater treatment over the last 100 years.
Whether applied to industrial processes, human, or animal wastes, their skills are ideally suited to add value in this area.
Celebrating the achievements of women, and various successes in gender parity, it provides us with the perfect opportunity to shine a light on the important issue of diversity in our profession.
The percentage of female undergraduates studying chemical engineering in UK is just above 25%. It’s higher than any other engineering discipline, but there’s still more to be done.
The theme for International Women’s Day 2017 is #BeBoldForChange. To celebrate, our member-led diversity network has shared ten inspiring quotes from their popular ‘Women in Engineering’ webinar series on changing attitudes, highlighting how the engineers featured #BeBoldForChange in their careers.
These women (and one man!) are all at different stages of their fulfilling careers. Their words should inspire you to be #BeBoldForChange too.
Not all chemical engineers end up on an oil rig. It’s a profession that can pull you in various directions, to various places and companies, tackling various problems. No chemical engineer is the same – that’s the beauty of it.
In a relatively short time Amrit Chandan has established himself as a serious entrepreneur. His company, Aceleron, uses fundamental chemical engineering principles to tackle very real challenges in our society. In today’s blog post Amrit tells us, in his own words, about his chemical engineering journey and why Aceleron, a business under 18 months old, has been turning heads.
Name: Dr. Amrit Chandan
PhD in Chemical Engineering (Hydrogen, Fuel Cells and their Applications)
BSc (Hons) Chemistry Class I
Co-Founder and Business Development, Aceleron
Amrit is an experienced engineer specialising in electrochemical technologies, specifically fuel cell technology. He co-founded battery reuse company, Aceleron in 2015. Aceleron seeks to provide low cost energy storage to developing regions.
Previously, he worked as a Technical Specialist in low carbon vehicles at Cenex, providing expertise and specialist knowledge for Cenex’ programmes and demonstrator trials.
Awarding Chartered Chemical Engineer status is just one of the ways we aim to be the organisation of choice for chemical engineers. We do it because we think hard-working, competent, professional chemical engineers should be recognised and provided with a mark of trust.
Okay so easy is the wrong word to describe it, because the hard-work you put in as a chemical engineer is what makes you eligible for Chartered status. It carries a lot of weight those letters after your name, they signify that you are an engineer who has the technical knowledge, practical experience, and training to be a trustworthy professional.
But trust us, the process to get there is actually pretty straight-forward. First, watch the below video, then read the 10 steps for a bit more detail – and let us know what you think in the comments.
So, how are those New Year’s Resolutions are going? Have you given into temptation yet? Skipped the gym for a takeaway? Accidentally finished the bottle of wine?
Hey, it’s ok – in many ways New Year’s Resolutions are almost made to be broken!
But what about if you could make yourself a promise that would make you a better chemical engineer? What if you could improve your job prospects? Earn more money? That would a pretty easy resolution to stick to, right?
In the lead-up to Christmas we asked members to make Getting Chartered their New Year’s Resolution. We’re committed to the continued professional development of our members, and one of the ways we do this is by awarding professional registrations.
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.
Ashok Kumar, a Fellow of IChemE and Labour Member of Parliament (MP) for Middlesbrough South and Cleveland East, UK, died suddenly in 2010. He was the only Chartered Chemical Engineer in the UK House of Commons at the time.
Name: Akshay Deshmukh Education: Chemical Engineering (MEng), University of Cambridge, UK Job Title: PhD Student, Yale University, US Research interests: Energy efficient ways of processing contaminated water into clean drinking water
Fellowship winner Akshay is a chemical engineering graduate. He is currently undertaking a PhD in Chemical and Environmental Engineering. For his Ashok Kumar Fellowship he worked on a POSTnote on Nuclear Security. Here are his experiences from undertaking the Fellowship:
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?
Since the end of ChemEng365 our ChemEngBlog has become a little quiet. To make sure you stay up-to-date with the latest achievements from the chemical engineering research community we will be providing you with monthly updates on some of the latest stories.
So here are five stories of amazing chemical engineering research and innovation:
Seven chemical separations to change the world
David Sholl and Ryan Lively, chemical and biomolecular engineers, from the Georgia Institute of Technology, US, highlighted seven chemical separation processes that, if improved, would reap great global benefits. The list they have drawn up is not exhaustive (we are sure there are more we could add!) but includes; hydrocarbons from crude oil, uranium from seawater, alkenes from alkanes, greenhouse gases from dilute emissions, rare-earth metals from ores, benzene derivatives from each other, and trace contaminants from water.
“You edit a magazine about chemical engineering?” repeated the man fixing my washing machine, “Blimey, that sounds really boring!”
It’s refreshing to meet someone so willing to wear their heart on their sleeve, and of course all the more pleasing to have spent the next half hour proving him completely wrong. The truth is that chemical engineering touches almost every aspect of our lives, it’s just that so few of us realise it.
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.