29 September 2016

Updated technical strategy from IChemE sets out future of chemical engineering


Chemical engineers can help address the most pressing issues for society and the environment. What these challenges are and how chemical engineers can help is set out in Chemical Engineering Matters, the technical strategy document of the Institution of Chemical Engineers (IChemE). The third edition was launched this week in Adelaide, Australia at Chemeca 2016.

Chemical Engineering Matters reviews the four key areas of water, energy, food, and wellbeing. Focusing on sustainability and how chemical engineers can make a positive impact, the report also explores external factors such as politics, public influence and the economy.

IChemE has collated input from its 19 Special Interest Groups (SIGs) and various regional groups to provide an informed and global perspective.

The water vista sets out how process engineering can maximise the value of waste, particularly 'sludge' or sewage, as a material to use as energy. Some water treatment plants are already doing this - but the report insists more can and should be done.

Efficiency is a top priority in the area of energy, and IChemE's Energy Centre is already working to grow the technical community and increase influence on policy-makers and help them make well-informed decisions. The report outlines the increasing impact on the environment from fossil fuels, and how technologies such as Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) will be essential in achieving climate change targets.

The latest edition also looks at resources and manufacturing, with an emphasis on the sharp increase in raw material demand and the need to design more efficient processes, using less energy, for extraction.

Speaking about the report, IChemE's Technical Vice President, Jon-Paul Sherlock commented: "Chemical engineering remains central to the delivery of sustainable water, energy, food and wellbeing and the breadth of the chemical engineering discipline puts the profession in a unique position. Chemical engineers can and will play an important role in the design and realisation of solutions for the grand challenges we face. Chemical Engineering Matters is not about a programme of activities, it defines a mindset, a willingness to share, collaborate, and engage in the discussion."

The document, launched at Chemeca 2016 in Adelaide, Australia, will steer the Institution's strategy as it approaches its centenary in 2022.

IChemE's Director of Policy and Publications, Claudia Flavell-While, said: "The launch is exciting because we are laying the foundations for lively, informative discussion within our community. Of course we want our members to read it, but more importantly we want them to share it and debate it, with their local MP, family, colleagues, peers, and inspire the younger generation. Chemical engineers don't need to be told that chemical engineering matters, but this report will help them to tell others."

Chemical Engineering Matters is free to download, those interested should visit www.icheme.org/cem.

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