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Sustainability in the Chemical Industry: Grand Challenges and Research Needs E Summary of Workshop Breakout Sessions SUSTAINABILITY SCIENCE AND LITERACY 1. What is the intellectual and conceptual content required to form a solid educational foundation on which green chemistry—and other (related) sustainable research and technology—might rest? General/philosophical/ethical Adopting an obligation to leave our descendants a habitable planet Making decisions on the right time scale in order to influence change. Knowledge and basic awareness of the environment we live in— Presenting an appreciation for nature to a generation that accesses information through electronic media Understanding ethics and how they create barriers Awareness is needed before literacy. Teaching complexity at multiple levels. Taking advantage of the introductory level of complexity found in children’s curiosity to begin teaching about sustainability. More effectively building on what adults already know Present sustainability message from corporate leaders to customers, shareholders, employees. Knowing who the relevant “public” is that needs to be reached and provide them with simple evaluation tools for making decisions. Teaching cycles (economic, life, etc.) assessments at many levels Understanding of interacting systems and the ability to look at
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Sustainability in the Chemical Industry: Grand Challenges and Research Needs things from a systems perspective—at all educational levels and for policy makers Understanding what function product ultimately serves and how will it be delivered Chemistry Effectively conveying the basic fundamentals of chemistry and chemical engineering to the general public. R&D facilities awareness of green chemistry at the corporate level Understanding that chemistry is not going away, but is disseminating into all other disciplines. Providing more chemistry for engineers—a better understanding of chemistry and product design is needed. Incorporating a sense of design and systems perspectives into the chemistry curriculum.. Introducing the life cycle component into chemistry and chemical engineering thinking. Business and Economics Presenting economics as an essential element of literacy—which drives industrial production. Understanding of perceived benefits and perceived risks Understanding how industry operates. Identifying Markets. Customer understanding of green chemistry and sustainability in order for there to be a “pull-through” effect—analogous to the construction effect. (People want “green” houses because they understand the benefits—both social and environmental—that come with living in them. This drives the construction of “green” houses.) 2. What do the informed engineer, chemist, and other related subfield specialists (not to mention business, law, and medicine practitioners) need to know that current educational institutions fail to communicate? Holistic Approach Systems Integration Life Cycle Assessment Sustainability Ethics Multidisciplinary Education/Course Content Relation to the Industry How to Cope with the Industry Demand
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Sustainability in the Chemical Industry: Grand Challenges and Research Needs Toxicity & Eco-Toxicity Concepts Problem-Based Approach 3. How might this foundation be continuously expanded as we move forward in order to stay current with rapid technology advances and new science applications for design, process, and products? Understanding of biological organisms as chemical producers Understanding the waste balance between human and environmental generators 4. What are, and what explains, the key areas of resistance to introduction of sustainability research and technology into materials and product design as well as educational curricula? Culture “culture eats strategy for breakfast every day of the week” Lack of support from accreditation agencies Inertia in an aging industry–“why change?” Perception that green chemistry is not “real” chemistry Stovepipes Lack of understanding of the importance of sustainability Multidisciplinary and cross-functional nature Question is currently not natural Need individual incentives to adopt sustainable practices; incentives will be different for individuals in different roles Lack of acceptance from students, who are worried they are not going to learn what they need to get into medical school or other programs Inherent problem with long-term thinking (intergenerational issues) and with definitions that tend to raise value issues that are difficult to handle The ethical question is a bigger question–more so than the science and technological capabilities. One cannot divorce ethics and S&T; we must consider trade-offs in making decisions. How do we begin to arrive at making these choices? Money Funding constraints at federal, state, etc. level Unwillingness to pay for green chemistry The need to design for economic competitiveness and profit must be considered when developing sustainability practices and form-
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Sustainability in the Chemical Industry: Grand Challenges and Research Needs ing regulatory rules. Otherwise, the willingness to be clean will be absent. Perceived lack of financial incentives Slowness in the turnaround time for economic payoff for green chemistry Metrics Inadequacy of societal impact evaluation Lack of metrics Structure/Nomenclature There is no clear definition of green chemistry to articulate to people outside of chemistry. We need a clear definition of green chemistry to allow us to talk to different audiences. Perhaps we should refer more often to “sustainable products and processes.” “Green chemistry” may be too narrow a term There is also disagreement about whether green chemistry should be a separate discipline or if it should be a framework for addressing chemistry Complexity itself Other Do environmental implications challenge creativity? What we perceive as green now may not be so in the future—how do we avoid the case of CFCs? 5. Where should efforts be targeted if sustainable research and technology are to be incorporated into the chemical industry? Should it be towards consumers, student chemists/chemical engineers, and other scientists in training, business executives, MBA students, etc? General We need to communicate the complexity of sustainability and the web of life. Perhaps engage the artistic community? In other words, we should try to reach an audience who is scientifically less-knowledgeable. The scale of the effort differs for different audiences (e.g., chemist vs. process engineer). Business/economics/corporate leaders The thinking around sustainable consumption needs to be coupled in a systems way.
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Sustainability in the Chemical Industry: Grand Challenges and Research Needs We need to demonstrate that the ability to make profits does not disappear with green chemistry. This message needs to reach consumers, business executives, and middle management. CEOs can set the tone. Real leadership provides resources to back up its words, and this would provide incentives if the market for such thinking exists (e.g., hybrid cars). We need to convince leaders of the business/leaders of production of the economic and environmental benefits of sustainability. Purchasing agents in chemistry should be targeted for education. Future practitioners/Research Community: We should take advantage of the tremendous opportunity to train at the undergraduate and graduate level. Currently, industry is doing all the training. There would be more incentive if sustainable skills are in demand at the Ph.D. and undergraduate levels. We should also think about educating K-12 students Types of thinking skills that should be taught: Critical decision-making tools Technical skills Systems-wide consideration in thinking skills Universities can also play a role in sustainability education at the high school and middle school level. Unfortunately, this topic is not on everyone’s front burner. Business Schools Current and future consumers There is a tremendous lack of understanding among consumers about sustainable products and processes. E.g., market for organic foods, genetically modified crops Who is responsible for educating the consumer? How is it done, and how should it be funded? Government The government needs to get involved in raising public awareness and enthusiasm for sustainability (e.g., the space program/Sputnik). We need to educate legislators and tailor the message to different audiences. The issue of complexity needs to be introduced within this message.
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Sustainability in the Chemical Industry: Grand Challenges and Research Needs Professional societies and Nonprofit/Nongovernment Organizations The topic of green chemistry is missing from ACS’s 2015 visioning exercise. Relations between nonprofit organizations and industry should be established or improve (e.g., GreenBlue Institute). 6. What, if any, policy can be implemented to encourage better degrees of sustainable chemistry and chemical engineering practices? “Carrots” Culture/leadership Create a culture that reinforces the message of sustainability (e.g., procurement, buildings, preferred purchasing, etc.). People respond to aspirations, goals, and positive rather than negative messages. Can we learn from nano- and biotech (HGI?) initiatives? Offer awards and monetary incentives for improving or practicing sustainability (e.g., targeted gifts for universities). Reward partnerships between government, industry, NGOs, and universities. Facilitate interdisciplinary research and interactions. Determine how to improve profitability in sustainable practices. Develop a sound intellectual property position. Determine how to reduce liability. Reduce the regulatory burden (industry). Compare U.S. efforts on sustainability with other international efforts. Education Develop an NSF-IGERT-like program for sustainability research and practices. Form sustainability centers (e.g., GUI partnerships, centers for product design, Shell center for sustainability at Rice University). These centers need to be centers of excellence, working on key problems. Include NGOs Increase recruiting capacity. General information: The EPA is performing a benchmarking of sustainability in all engineering departments.
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Sustainability in the Chemical Industry: Grand Challenges and Research Needs Green chemistry can be used to innovate and make new products and compounds that other methods can not. This will create markets and drive green practices. Meet downstream consumer’s demand. Provide green chemistry federal funding. Incorporate green chemistry into regulation—to create an opportunity for innovation. Create capacity and willingness to change through an effective regulatory environment. Improve the management of chemicals in commerce. Complexity is inherent in whole systems. To determine where decision points lie in chemical processes and reactions, one first needs to understand this complexity. Elevate green chemistry to the level of green engineering. This brings us to systems-level understanding that is more easily measured through metrics. It also allows us to begin acquiring the ability to make comparisons of whether one thing is more sustainable than another. Understand toxicity. For example: Look at the need for chemicals within different products (e.g. flame retardants within furniture). Examine the use of adhesives (formaldehyde vs. bio-based). ACC and EPA have an agreement to screen HPV chemicals. We should examine the EPA-IRIS system. We need to have information management, comparison metrics, and other consistent ways to convey information. We need to address the lack of information on chemicals. How do we obtain it? The lack of data is one of the drivers for REACH. Europe is phasing out chemicals, but without much thought for the ramifications. For example, what are the broader impacts, what will the replacements be, and what are the impacts of those replacements? Problems lie in regulation by people with only cursory knowledge of the issues. For example, the MTBE decision was made by legislators (and the population at large) for reasons that were not scientifically based. Why are some educational departments developing curriculum and others aren’t? How do we move green chemistry and sustainability into commerce? Green chemistry may be a tool to move society and trade towards sustainability.
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Sustainability in the Chemical Industry: Grand Challenges and Research Needs “Sticks” Mandated green chemistry courses in universities—degree requirements vs. integration of subject throughout the curriculum. Purchasing policies: Mandated government and university purchasing Leadership purchasing programs Green Tax Reform One potential idea: introduce tax credits to encourage sustainability Greater penalties for mistakes ENABLING TECHNOLOGIES THAT DRIVE THE APPLICATION OF GREEN CHEMISTRY AND ENGINEERING Introductory Discussion/Commentary: What are the enabling technologies that drive the application of green chemistry and engineering? There is a need for good metrics in green chemistry; we do not have the ability to address, or to assess, whether changes are made for the better. How does one measure progress? We first need to know what measurements are important. We should also try to have metrics from the chemical level to the systems level Whenever you have metrics, you must have a system in mind or one that is already defined. What’s the next frontier for life cycle? Tools are needed to determine prices of chemicals and related products. The chemical industry is not so concerned with toxicity or environmental impact because they have developed technologies to control these risks. There must be a way to use current knowledge to help make better decisions for today and the future. Today’s decisions should not be based on the past. There is a need to gather, list, and prioritize hazards, but current abilities to accomplish this are very inadequate. The ideal steps of metrics: Gather, list, and prioritize. Replace. Update continuously.
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Sustainability in the Chemical Industry: Grand Challenges and Research Needs Suggested table for identifying metrics: For whom? For what purpose At what physical scale At what timescale Government human safety, natural systems stability, to guide regulation Physical: Technology, institutional, regional (e.g., watershed), global Today vs. Tomorrow-person to-global Business (Supply chain, Company, Product) compliance, etc… ultimately to create innovative solutions to be successful economically Education Awareness, intelligence, integrity—well-trained General Audience—Public The desire to reduce information down to a single number is not useful; it creates value that may provide useful information. We should be able to deal with large amounts of information (e.g., nutrition labels, etc.) where we can weigh trade-offs. Heine’s table visualization (from her presentation) is useful. Perhaps perform a similar exercise in consideration of what makes a successful proposal at NSF, e.g., pattern recognition. Categories and taxonomy of impacts are needed: Include examples of bench-level activity that seems small scale but could have significant large-scale impact (e.g., photovoltaics). Is it valid to evaluate the intrinsic toxicity of a material’s molecular content? Context is also important; a benign chemical can be used in-appropriately. Example: Progress would be made if the photovoltaic industry incorporated green chemistry principles (use benign chemicals, etc.) Global Impacts: Europeans and Japan are very far ahead of us on thinking about green chemistry metrics and life cycle analysis
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Sustainability in the Chemical Industry: Grand Challenges and Research Needs (LCA), but how they utilize the information is not necessarily beneficial (going to single score). Global standards set by other countries will impact trade. The U.S. also has to create our own culture. Currently, California leads sustainability thinking and policy, and the rest of the country follows. The potential that current chemicals may be deauthorized under REACH is an extremely effective driver for industry. There has to be a real incentive to scale from the benchtop chemical processes considered to be business risks. In addition, any research investment by the U.S. government over the next 5-15 years must be conducted with a comprehensive understanding of what has happened and what is happing in Europe (REACH). Education and Public Perception There is no degree program in LCA; colleagues are going to South Africa and elsewhere to get degree. There is a lack of communication between subfields; the design aspect is usually assigned to engineers, while the molecular aspect is assigned to chemists. Look at models for collaborative research: Collaborative Research in Chemistry (NSF) brought many disciplines together to solve complex problems. Are there a sufficient number of scientists to do this? Motivation for Better Policy and Research Funding: Thinking green globally helps us to recognize where our shortcomings are and leads to needed research—to the enabling technologies. There is a growing consumer concern about chemicals in the environment, especially as it relates to health. The market fails to deal with the externalities (e.g., impact of ethanol). Products should be priced according to impact on society. 1. What tools are required to identify shortcomings in chemistry or chemical engineering in terms of reducing environmental/health risks? These tools should allow us to: prioritize areas or activities requiring better sustainability (strategical products, independent resources, …) identify these area/activities from different perspectives, including economical development (local, national) environmental security (fixing problems; improving situations)
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Sustainability in the Chemical Industry: Grand Challenges and Research Needs long-term quality of life (cultural, societal) for surroundings Research Tools: Molecular design tools What is the structural relationship to function? Address the disconnect between macro and micro scale. Transformation toolbox Separations Assessment (LCA, scenario tools, etc.) Lack of standardization in the compilation of data mean that different research results can’t be compared. Performance metrics and decision trees for making the right decisions Consideration of the environment in which the design is to exist Prediction tools (toxicity, bioactivity) Chemists need to access chemical toxicology information earlier during the product design process. The EPA ecotox database may be sufficient but is relatively unknown to chemists and chemical engineers. Research Grand Challenges: Switches in stability/the ability to turn on instability Physical advantage of heterogeneous/selectivity of homogenous catalysis Elimination of batteries Elimination of toxic chemicals in everyday products (lamps, computers, etc.) Incorporation of toxicity training into research Safer energy – photovoltaic technologies that are safe Diversify the feedstocks (e.g., CO2) Policy We need mechanisms or tools to provide incentives for industry to incorporate sustainability into chemical processes and products. Should industry or society by targeted initially? We should educate consumers so that they make better sustainability decisions. Sell sustainability to the public. positive messages to kids about sustainability. Agreement upon important values and standards for public policy research are needed. Scientific proof vs. peace of mind.
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Sustainability in the Chemical Industry: Grand Challenges and Research Needs Example: DOE program to promote development of building blocks from carbohydrates, lignin, and vegetable oil 3. Are there green chemistry options? Improve energy efficiency: devise efficient designs for Industrial processes Building construction Transportation materials Insulation materials Development of new catalyst systems in bio-refining Lower toxicity Understand the environmental fate and effects of producing/using new chemistry from a toxicity perspective. Perform life cycle analysis (LCA) to determine if an approach is intrinsically “green” and how to optimize it. Include the final downstream products produced from the platform chemicals. Improve recycling design and implementation Perform extractions and separations where solvents are recycled or supercritical fluids are used. Incorporate biomass from agricultural resources as a feedstock, which can safely be returned to the environment. Use energy cane, which also stabilizes soil erosion. Formulate a Top 10 DOE wish list Economic analyses Determine what the sensitivity of the current systems are to petroleum costs: Are there infrastructure costs that will rise as the petroleum costs rises? Is the system in question resistant to the inflationary consequences of rising petroleum costs? Evaluate the effect of a subsidy on gasoline; determine the impact of biomass-derived fuels and whether support can be directed away from petroleum. Reevaluate large processes (i.e., paper industry) in light of green chemistry principles.
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Sustainability in the Chemical Industry: Grand Challenges and Research Needs 4. Which areas of application require the most attention, or will provide the greatest opportunities (e.g., specialty intermediate and complex molecule synthesis)? Focus should be placed upon: More efficient/less energy-intensive conversion of lignin to aromatic molecules via better catalysts/enzymes Lignin applications: burned as fuel for pulp mills Process intensification; for example: Continuous fermentation Simultaneous saccrification and fermentation Separation processes (e.g., removal of alcohol as it is produced to avoid reaction inhibition) Biotechnology; examples include: Extremophiles (e.g., cold tolerance) Genetic engineering of plants Genetically modified goats that produce pharmaceutical drugs Biofuels (bio-ethanol, bio-diesel, etc.) Biofilms Conversion of biomass directly to heat and electricity as well as higher-value applications: If efficiently performed, this could significantly reduce petrochemical productions. However, although this is very efficient, it is also the lowest value output from the biomass. Replacement of the most hazardous materials and processes with greener alternatives. Breakthrough technologies Production of large volumes of clean, pure, and simple molecules from biomass Improvement of CO2 sequestration and possible utilization of it as a value added commodity: does a form exist where CO2 can be sequestered in a safer or greener manner than dumping/burying it? Low-energy separations in aqueous solutions (this research is vastly underfunded). Discussion/Commentary We should target the “low-hanging fruit,” which is dependent on the target goal (energy reduction, recyclables, utilization of biomass to replace fossil resources).
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Sustainability in the Chemical Industry: Grand Challenges and Research Needs Also, what are net sustainability impacts? For example, where do the petrochemicals go if they are not being used to manufacture chemical products or gasoline? Will there be a net gain? Feedstocks originating from biomass are different from existing feedstocks. They will enable new products and chemistries and produce molecular diversity. Basic chemistry research will be required. (Potential question: what can one do with these novel molecules?) Products and their use will be based on available plant materials. New plant-based materials may be engineered or bred. What should be done with residual biomass? We also need to consider how to replenish the soil for sustainable production of biomass. Perhaps consider applying biomass feedstocks to chemicals production. Inventory chemicals present in biomass to determine available opportunities (e.g., taxol) Is there enough dialogue between academia and industry? Academics should be allowed to work on fundamental research for the sake of knowledge. Applied research will result from discoveries. Industry should be brought in early in academic research. Relationships within the chemical industry must be strengthened. Investment in sustainable research and development: Are there R&D issues that suggest a new institutional base (e.g., Sematech model)? Should institutional opportunities for collective research be established? At what point is the imperative there to push investment? A social decision must be made to invest in promising “green” or sustainable sciences and technologies. Given the capital investment in the plant infrastructure and the expense, we cannot expect to have new approaches coming out of the industry. The industry has bought into globalization—fewer and fewer customers are willing to pay for R&D—more of a luxury—focused on solving current problems. The ability to do long term research has been reduced. Encourage multidisciplinary research: Intermarriage of biology and chemistry Several chemical engineering departments have integrated biology into their curricula.
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Sustainability in the Chemical Industry: Grand Challenges and Research Needs Emphasize opportunities for biologists and chemists to work together. Are there other areas of chemistry that should be encouraged for alternative feedstock research? Students do not recognize how to integrate biological processes into chemistry processes—this is an educational problem that should be addressed. Use case studies and real-life examples; AIChE encourages tying life cycle and bio-design issues into senior design project courses Should molecular platforms be investigated for sustainable production of chemicals? The notion of building blocks is tricky; should we use this type of plan to build up bio-based feedstock processes? We can identify the cheapest feedstocks using the idea of building blocks. The idea of using platforms and building off of them is also useful for identifying additional products and energy sources. Perhaps the search for sustainability should be focused on existing processes. Can more energy, products, etc. be produced out of current bio-based and alternative feedstock processes? Can additional products be derived from feedstocks that are already used? 5. What is the best way to address the regulatory approval challenges in implementing new chemistries and processes? Research Agenda: Research should be focused by making a list of priorities based on chemical hazards to target. Develop a framework for identifying platform chemicals. Biomass to platform chemicals and fuels Start with high value materials Match availability of resources with potential applications DOE Platform Chemicals Report (www.nrel.gov/docs/fyotosti/35523/pdf) provides a good starting point Integrate these platforms chemicals into a sustainable process. In particular: Address the energy required for separations processes and operations. Determine how to extract additional high-value products from reaction mixtures
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Sustainability in the Chemical Industry: Grand Challenges and Research Needs Capture complexity from plant feedstocks. Perform selective oxidation/reduction reactions to accomplish goals. Guidelines for processes: Performance Genetically modified organism (GMO) concerns, e.g., “release” into agriculture, cross-breeding Risk management and understanding Suggestion/example: Start with the simplest molecules from biomass and build the value chain of products from there. Examine post-process treatment of waste (ash, spent microbes): potential reuse value, disposal, and/or treatment as hazardous material Examine patent implications, which may restrict sharing of information. Address fundamental scientific challenges in a way that is economical, reliable, efficient, and cross-cutting. Challenges includes: Analytical processes Process chemistry and engineering, especially intensification Biomimicry to harness complexity Unusual chemistries across taxa: perform an examination or set up a database Atom energy Systematic benign design CO2 utilization, potentially as a fuel source Perform a risk analysis examining past, present, and future needs. Look for discontinuous changes as a opposed to incremental. Perceptions of Sustainability Institutional barriers exist due to the perception of liability (e.g., garbage as a good source of biomass) Perform social science research on facilitating acceptance of new technologies and new infrastructures (large compost piles). There is a negative opinion about sustainability; it connotes restrictive practices (a “list of don’ts”; sustainability = limits to growth). This attitude is pervasive in both Congress, educational departments, and industrial companies. This audience, especially legislative staffers, need to be enlightened to the fact that sustainability does mean growth. Also, sell the business case for sustainability. For example, define a message: “Sustainability = yes (and then some)”
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Sustainability in the Chemical Industry: Grand Challenges and Research Needs Profits Job creation Does the business management establishment understand the arguments for sustainability? There is a communication gap between scientists and financial experts over sustainability. Is the internal rate of return set by sustainability proponents understood? What is the risk of business as usual? The cost of energy is forcing companies to focus on the front end sustainability. Companies are also influenced by government programs and subsidies. Regulatory Modifications Current regulations are focused on a centralized production system; examine how this must change for a distributed production system. Plant site, permit, process, and zoning issues State and local issues. The existing regulatory apparatus demonstrates a disconnect between the current approaches to regulating manufactured chemicals and the new technology being developed. GMP rules from FDA create barriers to new processes in the pharmaceutical industry.. It currently pits process specifications vs. product specifications. Improved analytical techniques may make this approach obsolete. The role of government in promoting sustainability Major government initiatives that are sustained over a long period of time are required. Sustained funding effort is needed. Congress should pass a green chemistry bill The government should address the need for infrastructure modifications when implementing biodiesel and biofuel usage. Perhaps focus on incentives rather than regulations; for example: Small business incentives (e.g., ethanol model) to enable small regional chemical plants. Local incentives to reduce energy usage. Production tax credits, incentives, renewable portfolio standard Establishment of a gas tax to fund renewable fuel alternatives: Potential drawback: Current gas taxes pay for highway up-keep. What would happens if these funds were redirected towards development of alternative fuels?
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Sustainability in the Chemical Industry: Grand Challenges and Research Needs Use a small fraction, e.g., $0.02 tax on gasoline to invest in researching renewable fuels Establish standards, codes, and benchmarks. Dramatically higher fuel efficiency standards CO2 emissions standards Expedite the permit process for developing sustainable processes or materials. REDUCING THE ENERGY INTENSITY OF THE CHEMICAL PROCESS INDUSTRY 1. What is the business case for “reducing the energy intensity of the Chemical Process Industry (CPI)”? The reduction of capital costs will drive innovation in sustainable practices in the CPI: Unfortunately, the trade-off of reducing the energy intensity is higher capital costs. Higher capital costs may be justified if stockholders believe there is a benefit involved. Another issue: the developing world is not concerned with sustainability issues. 2. What approaches are needed to reducing the energy intensity of the chemical process industry? The efficiency and density of energy storage devices must be improved. Energy efficient separations (e.g., membranes) must be employed. Examples of important separation processes: Removal of water from microbial solutions Separation of active compounds from dilute solutions Cogeneration of energy with other processes could be devised (e.g., supercritical water oxidation). Highly selective chemistries coupled with improved separations are needed. Development of aqueous two-phase separation processes are also important. 3. Dr. Nedwin suggests the use of enzymes as one of the biotechnological answers to reducing the energy intensity of the CPI. What other biological or biomass-based opportunities deserve serious consideration? Production of simple aliphatics and aromatics from biomass is
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Sustainability in the Chemical Industry: Grand Challenges and Research Needs less energy intensive but requires suitable separation technologies. Examples include: Chemical conversion of biomass to polymers, including direct chemical conversion of biomass polymer into functional products Conversion of vegetable oils to chemicals, polymers, and functional products Conversion of lignin to aromatics is another possibility. This is a tough problem, especially if progression beyond phenol compounds is desired. Whole organism biochemical conversion may be useful. However, this again raises selectivity and separation issues. The application of RNA aptamers for selective binding and separations might address energy-intensive separation problems. Advantages: They may be optimized through selective evolution. They are more easy to scale than protein-based methods. Other enzyme-related technologies and topics should be considered, such as: Bioconversion in organic solvent-based systems Generation of human metabolites from the API using enzyme systems Separation applications based on selectivity of enzymes—e.g., lipases to separate enantiomers Creation of a repository of information on natural enzyme sources as scientists scour the earth for natural products Solids and other types of support for enzyme substrates Other general and miscellaneous topics: Process industry synergy should also be considered. This involves reaching out outside of CPI, ie. collocation (using energy from pulp and paper, glass, steel, pharma,…) Is biotechnology a replacement technology, or does it signal an entrance into a new field or market area in which traditional chemistry fails? How should disposal and waste treatment of personal care products and pharmaceuticals be handled? One solution may lie in programmed drug release. This would eliminate the need to separate drugs out of regular waste and reduce energy intensity of this type of separation.
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Sustainability in the Chemical Industry: Grand Challenges and Research Needs 4. Building on Dr. Koros’s discussion of the use of membranes “as low energy-intensive enablers for energy conservation in the chemical industry,” where do you see the breakthrough or game-changing opportunities for low energy-intensive separation processes for the CPI? Membrane Applications/Technology: Major reductions in the cost of in-module membranes with extremely improved separation factors (by at least three orders of magnitude) Improvements in membrane technology for O2 processes (to avoid poisoning, etc.) Development of mixed systems integrating membrane separation with adsorption Non-fouling or self-cleaning membranes (e.g., marry enzymes with membranes) Studying transdermal drug delivery of pharmaceuticals to better understand transport across membranes Use of biomimicry; for example, understanding: how cell membranes function in active transport to control flow across membranes how to mimic the production of bone material how different types of cellular membranes function, e.g. gills or lungs Membranes or enzymes for equipment cleaning (solvent recovery) Alternative Technologies/Separation Materials: Development of ultra-selective adsorbents that can be regenerated with high efficiency and low energy input Application of reactive distillation fundamentals to biological systems Development and optimization of distillation alternatives in order to eliminate the use of heat in separation processes; for example: Self-separating phases and/or products Affinity chromatography Simulated moving bed (SMB) and Multi-Column Chromatography (MCC) Application of evaporation–induced self-assembly for molecular separations (Sandia National Laboratories) Development of mineral-organic hollow fiber Development of solvent-free processes and solid-state synthesis
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Sustainability in the Chemical Industry: Grand Challenges and Research Needs 5. Dr. Lackner discussed several “novel chemistry, products, and processes for the management of CO2 emissions.” What other novel chemistry, products, and processes can provide effective management of CO2 emissions? What are the R&D challenges in achieving commercialization of these processes? Novel chemistry, products, and processes: Development of novel catalyst chemistries, e.g., Fischer Tropsch with CO2 Innovative electrolysis applications Direct photochemical hydrogen production Absorption of CO2 from the atmosphere and general adsorption technology; for example: Is there a CO2 absorbent that will reversibly remove CO2 from the atmosphere? Development and use of annually renewable resources for efficient and effective carbon management Algae for CO2 fixation Sequestration in buildings, e.g., in cement (eco-cement) R&D challenges for commercialization: Revisit older gas-to-liquid technology to circumvent proprietary issues; perhaps organize an industry roundtable to examine pre-competitive issues (SEMATECH model) Study and improve the kinetics of CO2 sequestration with minerals Find ways to catalyze the formation of carbonates (e.g., calcium carbonate) for CO2 sequestration Examine technical issues in the use of silicates for carbon sequestration (e.g., mining of silicate) Handle volume differences that result from sequestration (larger final volume vs. smaller initial volume) and its effect upon materials transportation and storage Study the energetics of absorption and desorption Study the economics of regeneration and recovery Identify alternative CO2 removal chemistries at reasonable rates. Encourage wide scale fixative utilization of CO2 (e.g., Climate Change Program) View CO2 as asset rather than waste; for example: Utilize CO2 as energy carrier (carbon cycle) General comments: The nation’s capital should be spent today to address CO2 management rather than spent over the next 50 years as the problem
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Sustainability in the Chemical Industry: Grand Challenges and Research Needs grows. We need to communicate a sense of urgency about the problem. We may be able to solve the chemical industry’s energy problems but not those of the entire world. Also, if the focus is placed solely on the U.S. chemical industry, is it merely a matter of improving energy efficiency? The self-interest of chemical industry should drive their involvement in the decision-making process for future energy generation (e.g., new power plants, cogeneration, etc.). A chemical industry transformation must occur to respond the energy and CO2 challenge We must consider Earth systems engineering (e.g., simultaneous management of multiple nutrient cycles). We should also encourage local solutions for this global problem. Implement noncarbon emitting processes and technologies: Solar technology (storage and transmission technology for solar capture) to enable distributed energy production A possible grand challenge: Do renewable sources have suitable properties for use in commodity chemicals? Perhaps renewable sources with desired properties must be developed. This will involve a large capital cost in terms of money and energy. Encourage the production of chemicals onsite. Are commodities moving overseas because the customer base is overseas? 6. Final Thoughts Dissemination: Make sure that the final report gets into the hands of CEOs, or the most appropriate executives, in the chemical industry. Involve policy experts, economists, and politicians in these matters. They may be able to help by installing incentives to bring about major changes. From a Congressional staffer: So far, a case has not been made for sustainability to congressional representatives. The House Science Committee understands the problem, but a broader appeal is needed. The final report should contain an exciting and appealing executive overview. For instance, a good business case may be made using case studies or examples.
Representative terms from entire chapter: