GUEST BLOG: The importance of solving plastics pollution – my experience pitching in Parliament

Recently, three IChemE members descended on Parliament to ask key political figures their burning questions on science and engineering policy issues as part of Voice of the Future 2019.

The annual event, organised by the Royal Society of Biology, is a ‘role reversal’ of a typical parliamentary select committee briefing, where student and early career representatives from various educational and professional institutions pitch questions to politicians.

Sameen Barabhuiya, a Production Engineer at the Dow Chemical Company, was one of the chemical engineers attending to represent IChemE and asked a question on single-use plastic pollution. In this blog, he tells us why it’s important for chemical engineers to have a voice on science policy issues, and how everyone must work together to resolve the challenges surrounding single-use plastic pollution.

Continue reading GUEST BLOG: The importance of solving plastics pollution – my experience pitching in Parliament

Motoring slowly towards the future (Day 221)

Car pollutionTowards the end of last year, car pollution came under the scrutiny of some UK politicians who recommended that new schools, care homes and hospitals should be built far away from major roads because of the dangers of air pollution.

In Europe, there was a similar anti-car theme, when, around the same time, the Mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, announced she wanted to ban diesel cars and the pollution they bring from the streets of the French capital.

The Mayor also wanted to limit traffic in pollution hotspots, by only allowing ultra-low emission vehicles within them. In addition, new speed limits were mooted of 18 mph (30 km/h).

These proposals would be a major challenge in France with around 80 per cent of the cars on the country’s roads being diesel-powered.

From next month, France will start applying stickers to vehicles emitting the most pollution; diesel cars more than 13 years old will get a red sticker.

It is clear there is a mini backlash against cars at present, but where does all this leave current transport policy and how can engineers influence it?

Continue reading Motoring slowly towards the future (Day 221)

The environmentally-friendly roof (Day 113)

Grass roofed buildingI’ve always been intrigued by buildings with ‘living’ or ‘green roofs’. It’s easy to forget they are not a modern invention. Places like Skara Brae Prehistoric Village in Scotland date back more than 5,000 years and have distinctive roofs using the benefits provided by nature.

Green roofs today are sold on the back of their environmental and economic benefits such as insulation and cooling properties, ability to significantly reduce rainwater run-off from roofs, and their value in promoting biodiversity and habitat in built-up areas. They look very impressive and distinctive too.

I think they are a useful reminder that buildings need to connect more with their environment for good reasons like reducing heating costs and greenhouse gas emissions. In the UK, around 13 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions come from the residential sector.

Continue reading The environmentally-friendly roof (Day 113)

Poems and posters (Day 15)

Catalytic PoemI’m not too sure how many scientists collaborate with poets, but that’s just what’s happened in Sheffield, UK.

Simon Armitage, Professor of Poetry at the University, and Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Science Professor Tony Ryan, have created a catalytic poem (I think we can safely say this is a world’s first… but you never know).

So what is a catalytic poem? Well, between the pair of them, they’ve produced a huge poster of the poem called ‘In Praise of Air’. The poster material contains a formula invented at the University of Sheffield which is capable of purifying its surroundings.

Continue reading Poems and posters (Day 15)