NEW YORK – The increasing importance of issues surrounding water supplies and their sustainability has led the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) to launch a new water initiative. Its initial focus will be on determining the optimal roles and approaches for chemical engineers addressing water access, purification and sanitation, and the “water-energy nexus,” the relationship between the energy footprint of water and the water footprint of energy.
David Klanecky of Dow Water & Process Solutions and Wendy Young of GE Water & Process Technologies are co-chairing the initiative’s advisory board. They convened a special water workshop during AIChE’s Annual Meeting in Salt Lake City in November that marked the official launch of the initiative. Discussion focused on a framework of workshops, webinars and leadership panels for 2011. The advisory board also considered potential partnerships with companies, other engineering societies, and academic institutions.
The group will be hosting an additional workshop during the 2nd International Congress on Sustainability Science and Engineering next week in Tucson at the University of Arizona.
June Wispelwey, AIChE’s executive director, said that the new effort is driven by concerns around future supplies of potable water, freshwater for crops, and encouraging efficiency in industry’s needs for water. “Beyond access,” she explained, “there is, of course, a special role for chemical engineers in dealing with purification and sanitation issues, especially combating bacterial diseases, pollution by heavy metals and agricultural run-off, and the growing awareness of the impact of pharmaceuticals in wastewater.”
Wispelwey explained that AIChE’s water initiative will serve both as a clearinghouse for information and a network hub for engineers and scientists in the water community. However, she emphasized that the initiative will also “build on AIChE’s historic record of success in pioneering efforts in process safety, like the Center for Chemical Process Safety, in industrially-important physical property data, and more recent initiatives in biological engineering, sustainability and energy.”
Additional activities are being planned around AIChE’s Spring Meeting in Chicago from March 13-17, 2011, and at its Annual Meeting in Minneapolis in mid-October. For more information, visit http://water.aiche.org