Household waste to low-carbon gas – IChemE Sustainability, Energy and Outstanding Award Winners 2018

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

This video was produced by CMA Video.

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

Leaching the value from waste (Day 236)

Hello everyone and welcome to today’s blog. Christmas is now over three weeks away, but before we leave the festivities behind for another year I just wanted to make an observation about waste during this indulgent celebration.

A few year’s ago I read a story in Engineering and Technology magazine which suggested the UK consumes around 10 million turkeys, 370 million mince pies, 25 million Christmas puddings, drink 250 million pints of beer and open 35 million bottles of wine.

However, according to WRAP (Waste and Resources Action Programme), the food and drink wasted in the UK increases by a massive 80 per cent over the Christmas period, with a staggering 230,000 tonnes of food, worth £275 million (US$400 million), is binned during the festive season.

The only good news about waste on this scale is that much of it can be used for the production of energy.

Biofuel plant
Biofuel plant

Chemical engineers have played a central role in the development of energy from waste processes including anaerobic digestion and biogas production.

Recent research shows that municipal solid waste (MSW) in China has increased and in 2010 exceeded 350 Mt (equivalent to 440 kg per person).

Continue reading Leaching the value from waste (Day 236)

Time to dig up our landfills? (Day 183)

Green recycling binI’m now officially half way through my presidency and I’d like to thank everyone for their support and encouragement over the past six months.

But let’s get back to business with today’s blog.

In recent years, significant efforts have been made to turn the world’s citizens into recyclers of waste.

In parts of the UK such as England, the household waste recycling rate reached 43.2% in 2012/13. Over the previous decade, the amount of waste going to landfill has fallen by over 60 per cent.

This data is encouraging, but 34 per cent of local authority managed waste in England still went to landfill in 2012/13 – over a hundred kilogrammes for each man, woman and child.

I suspect for large parts of the world this is a similar picture, but the trends are positive and the number of landfill sites is decreasing and new developments are being scaled back as we find ways to re-use our waste.

But one aspect of recycling that get’s less attention, is what to do with the waste already buried in tens of thousands of landfill sites across the world.

Continue reading Time to dig up our landfills? (Day 183)

What a waste (Day 124)

Green recycling binA few years ago the ‘waste’ business was estimated to be worth around GBP 272 billion (EUR 300 billion Euros or USD 410 billion).

The study also estimated that the world was producing at least four billion metric tons of waste a year – equivalent to world production of grain and steel combined.

These figures didn’t include construction, mining, agricultural and forestry wastes – suggesting that the real figure is much larger.

They are huge numbers and will grow as our population increases and we get better at recycling and managing our waste.

Continue reading What a waste (Day 124)

No ordinary oasis (Day 65)

Lake in desertWhat’s the furthest you’ve ever walked for clean water?

If you’re lucky, not very far.

If you’re unlucky, in some arid parts of the developing world, you could be spending hours walking several kilometres each day just to collect water to survive.

And forget about those romantic images of verdant oases. The water is often in polluted, dirty and in unsafe pools, especially for children.

However, putting the economics to one side for the moment, there are solutions. Cue the anaerobic digester and a new bit of technology attached to it called the McLanahan Nutrient Separation System.

Continue reading No ordinary oasis (Day 65)

Making cities sustainable (Day 61)

Bridge reflection across the River Clyde at nightWith the Commonwealth Games in full swing, and an estimated one million tickets sold for 250 medal events, Glasgow in the UK is the place to be this summer!

But with tens of thousands of expected visitors as well as the 4,500 athletes taking part, it is fair to assume that a lot of waste is going to be produced.

And then there’s the carbon emissions associated with spectator and participant travel to and from the games.

So, naturally, making these Commonwealth Games sustainable and environmentally friendly is an important part of the agenda.

Continue reading Making cities sustainable (Day 61)

No waste for music lovers (Day 31)

Rock musicSince 1970 music lovers have descended on a small village called Pilton near Glastonbury in the South West of England to enjoy one of the world’s best music festivals. This year’s festival is already underway with around 200,000 people attending the sell-out event.

For the organisers it’s an immense logistical undertaking, especially the volume of waste created over the five day festival. And one type of waste is particularly challenging – toilet waste.

The festival has around 5,000 toilets onsite, but I wonder how many people, sitting, listening to the music, realise that chemical engineering – albeit in very basic form – is helping to control odours and eventually recycle their human waste into compost?

Continue reading No waste for music lovers (Day 31)