23 September 2013

International working group to look at water, energy and food

Two of the world’s largest organisations of chemical engineers – IChemE and AIChE – are creating a joint working group to respond to the technology challenges presented where issues surrounding water, energy and food supplies overlap.

The collaboration will kick-off with a special workshop in November in San Francisco during the 2013 Annual Meeting of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE), which is co-sponsoring the effort with the Institution of Chemical Engineers (IChemE).

The two organisations believe that issues at the nexus of increasing demands for water, energy and food deserve special focus given the expected addition of three billion more consumers by 2030. While water, energy and food supplies have traditionally been dealt with as independent concerns, in the 21st Century, they have come to be seen as more complex and interconnected in ways that will change and challenge organisations, markets and nations.

Dale Keairns, a former president of AIChE and the chair of its Center for Energy Initiatives, in explaining the undertaking, said, “The integrated systems analysis needed to understand these overlapping issues is at the core of the approach chemical engineers learn and put into practice.” He believes the working group’s findings should “enable evidence-based policy discussions and decisions.”

Desmond King, a former president of IChemE, said: "The workshop will allow for a full exchange of views on which issues should receive priority and which approaches will be useful in engaging beyond the usual technology boundaries. Chemical engineering matters and this joint initiative will help to set research priorities and provide a framework for chemical engineers to make a major contribution to these global challenges.”

The workshop will be held on Tuesday, 5 November 2013, beginning at 08:30 PST in Room Continental Nine of the San Francisco Hilton.

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IChemE is a registered charity in England & Wales (214379), and a charity registered in Scotland (SC 039661).