Priority Topics

A focus for 2022 was delivering outputs for the Learned Society Committee’s three priority topics:

An updated priority topics document was launched in April which recognised the achievements made and reflected new trends in these areas. This update guided work within the priority topics during the year and into 2023.

Responsible Production

Ahead of the COP27 climate change conference held in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, in November, IChemE launched a campaign to share its progress made against commitments stated within the Institution’s position on climate change, first launched in 2020, with the #ChemEngatCOP27 campaign gaining more than 20,000 social media impressions.

Between January 2021 and the COP27 conference, IChemE published ten contributions to policy issues

COP27 climate change conference, Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt

The working group formed to monitor IChemE’s delivery against the commitments reported that good progress has already been made, noting particular successes in the areas referenced below.

Net zero and climate change have been key topics for IChemE policy work in recent years. Between January 2021 and the COP27 conference, IChemE published ten contributions to policy issues on its website. Of these, nine represented chemical engineering or general engineering input and advice relating to addressing climate issues and progressing towards net zero.

IChemE’s member communities were encouraged to host webinars that both build skills for zero carbon futures and help members to understand climate risks.

By the end June 2022, 37 out of 95 technical webinars held during the year were aligned with sustainability and responsible production. A compendium of freely available climate-related webinar recordings delivered by IChemE’s special interest and member groups has also been produced, with 30 new recordings added during the year.

Member communities developed 13 action plans on how chemical engineers can help mitigate climate change

To drive action on climate change throughout IChemE’s Learned Society, the Institution’s member communities have developed 13 action plans on how chemical engineers can help mitigate climate change. Of these, two new plans were added in 2022 from the Pharma Special Interest Group (SIG) and Clean Energy SIG. More information on progress against the commitments is available in the responsible production area of the website.

Following the launch of its climate change position statement in 2020, IChemE committed to review the statement every two years. During the 2022 review, the volunteer committee determined that the statement was still relevant with only one update being required. The update clarified the requirement for members’ continuing professional development (CPD) to include activities which provide the knowledge and skills to support members and their organisations in the transition to a net zero carbon economy and in climate change adaptation. This will require a change to the CPD Policy which will be reviewed in 2023.

IChemE committed to develop its own plans for achieving net zero carbon emissions from direct operations globally by 2025, and to publish greenhouse gas emissions data and progress each year. Annual reports showing a reduction in emissions in recent years have been published and an expert advisory group has developed guidance on good practice for minimising emissions from rented property and advised IChemE regarding carbon offsets.

Emissions data from 2019–2022 can be found in the reports area of the website with emissions levels calculated and reported annually. In 2022, IChemE’s emissions were 36.4 tCO2e*, which is 46% lower than in 2019. These savings are mainly attributable to reduced electricity consumption (44%) in the Rugby offices and decarbonisation of the UK’s national grid.

Emissions from IChemE’s direct operations:

  • Total scope one and scope two emissions**
  • 2022: 36.4 tCO2e (2019: 67.5 tCO2e)
  • Emissions intensity: Total annual emissions per full time equivalent (FTE) employee:
  • 2022: 422 kgCO2e/FTE (2019: 758 kgCO2e/FTE)
  • Emissions intensity: Total annual emissions per m2 of office space:
  • 2022: 15 kgCO2e/m2 (2019: 56 kgCO2e/m2)

Major Hazards Management

The Major Hazards Committee made good progress with two key projects during the year. The working group for the process safety competencies project determined what process safety competence looks like for chemical engineers in terms of skills and knowledge expected during the various stages of their career, with the final report of findings and recommendations due to be published in 2023. Subsequent phases of the project will look at process safety competencies for the Professional Process Safety Engineer, and for organisations.

The discovery phase of the lessons learned project was concluded with the working group establishing that there are plentiful tools and information available within IChemE and hence the requirement is to effectively disseminate lessons learned with members. The next stage of the project is to establish methods to engage members with the information and encourage their advocacy with lessons learned.

A new series profiling chemical engineering careers working in safety was published in The Chemical Engineer

A new series was published in The Chemical Engineer on Safety is My Job profiling chemical engineering careers working in safety, published in partnership with IChemE’s Safety and Loss Prevention Special Interest Group.

Other features published in the magazine from within the major hazards management priority topic looked at how safe is hydrogen in the home, as well as a call for the UK to create a separate process industry accidents investigation unit that rapidly shares safety lessons with the engineers who need them before more mistakes are repeated.


The digitalisation technical advisory group continued their dedicated series in The Chemical Engineer on digitalisation and chemical engineering, including articles on digital twins in the chemical process industries and digitalising process safety.

Other features covered in the magazine from within the digitalisation priority topic included an article explaining how 3D printing can help with process intensification, new reactor designs and better mixing, and an article on how researchers at the University of Nottingham and Torftech R&D have outlined the promise of a new high-temperature, hybrid microwave reactor for large-scale industrial use.

*Tonnes (t) of carbon dioxide (CO2) equivalent (e)

**Greenhouse gas emissions are divided into three categories. Scope one emissions are direct emissions from owned or controlled sources. Scope two emissions are indirect emissions from the generation of purchased/acquired electricity, heating and cooling. Scope three emissions are the indirect greenhouse gas emissions from sources not directly owned or controlled by an organisation.

The Chemical Engineer also covered the Learned Society’s priority topics including a feature on processing options to clean up persistent PFAS contaminants within the responsible production priority topic.

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