26 February 2015

Wood pulp waste project wins Macnab Lacey prize

Macnab Lacey prize winners - Monash University, Melbourne, Aust

Undergraduate students at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia have been awarded IChemE’s Macnab Lacey prize for their design project work on the development of sustainable process solutions for wood pulp waste.  

The Macnab Lacey prize is a student design award open to students studying on IChemE accredited courses across the globe.  Entries must demonstrate a sound understanding of fundamental chemical engineering principles, coupled with a strong focus on sustainability. 

This year’s winning team comprises: Richard Arthur, Jimmy Nguyen, Trang Truong, Kirilly Wagstaff, Daniel Wielechowski and Makarios Wong.  The competition is judged by experts from the Institution’s Sustainability Special Interest Group and IChemE deputy president Andrew Jamieson presented the prize.   A Monash team has now taken the prize two years running.

Monash’s director of Chemical Engineering, Gil Garnier, said that the sustainability challenge and a transformation of the industry landscape was shifting the focus of chemical engineering education at the University.

“By aligning our taught programmes with industry’s needs, our students will be more work-place ready on completion of their engineering studies.”

The winning entry was a conceptual design to determine the feasibility of using black liquor (a lignin rich co-product of wood pulping produced in paper production) as a renewable feedstock for producing ammonia. 

Daniel Wielechowski told Jamieson that even when the team thought it had reached a more sustainable solution, they had found themselves re-designing the process as new ideas for industrial symbiosis emerged.  He said, “Our ultimate goal was to implement a highly efficient process that would benefit the community and perform symbiotically with existing industries.”

He added, “The sustainability thinking developed during the design project is now being applied in my work as a process engineer for recovery and power generation at Melbourne based paper and board manufacturer, Visy Industries.”

Entries were received from Australia, Malaysia, Singapore and the UK, with the University of Manchester, UK and Imperial College London, UK being highly commended.

About the Macnab Lacey prize

The Macnab Lacey competition objectives are: To encourage students to think of sustainable development as a key element of their design; influence chemical engineering departments to position sustainable development at the heart of the curriculum; demonstrate that IChemE takes sustainability development seriously; and provide a showcase for student talent and reward achievement.

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