Chemical engineers have long been involved in the development, design and efficient use of energy and are arguably equipped by training and practice to provide important leaderships to develop solution to energy problems.
For much of the 20th Century, the need for reliable, economical, safe and environmentally responsible energy was central to society. With the growth of economies in the developing world, along with continued strong demand in the developed world, energy’s importance is projected to continue to grow in the 21st century. Energy supply and demand, alternative sources, usage and conservation involve both socio-economic and political criteria as well as the technology and application of sound principles of engineering.
Against the backdrop of growing global demand for energy and new energy legislation, AIChE and its members launched a series of initiatives that apply chemical engineering expertise to help develop solutions to energy problems. In 2005 alone, the Annual and Spring Meeting attendees witnessed a surge in the number and variety of papers devoted to energy. CEP published a series of articles on the critical issues surrounding energy. Operating councils heightened their plans to focus on chemical engineers roles in energy. It was clear that strategies are required to ensure that chemical engineers play a central, if not pre-eminent role in advancing energy research and development.
To help guide this endeavor, the AIChE Board of Directors organized its Commission on Energy Challenge as an assembly of industry and academic experts and consultants representing a broad portfolio of energy technologies as well as business and research interests.
The work of this commission is being carried forward by the Center for Energy Initiatives (CEI), led by an Energy Advisory Board, which includes:
- Dale Keairns, CEI Chair; Booz Allen Hamilton
- Bond Calloway, Savanah River National Laboratory
- Rosemarie Wesson, National Science Foundation
- Andrew Gellman, Carnegie Mellon University
- Haroon S. Kheshgi, ExxonMobil Research and Engineering Co.
- Darlene Schuster, CEI Executive Director
- June Wispelwey, AIChE Executive Director.
The Center for Energy Initiatives focuses on:
- AIChE’s Energy Strategy and Strategic
- Energy-related programming at AIChE national and annual meetings
- Programming energy-related niche conferences, workshops, webinars, etc.
- Communication (through the website and a newsletter)
- Outreach (e.g., partnering with others to inform the public and public policy).
Some topics CEI is involved in include:
- Carbon management and climate change (e.g. Founder Societies for Carbon Management; Research Coordination Network – Carbon Capture, Utilization, and Storage)
- Shale/tight oil and natural gas (e.g. Alternative Natural Gas Applications Workshop)
- Nuclear waste remediation (e.g. NuClean)
- Energy-water-food nexus (e.g. AIChE-IChemE Joint Session)
- Critical materials (e.g. Symposium on Ensuring the Sustainability of Critical Materials and Alternatives)