Future Energy and Chemicals: Reaction Engineering and Process Intensification Challenges
Joseph B. Powell
Chemical Engineering, Shell
Unprecedented growth in energy demand, together with increasing stakeholder concerns over climate and the environment as well as security of energy supply, will drive diversification of future energy systems and chemical production pathways. Reaction engineering as a discipline will experience greatly expanded growth in demand for meeting these divergent challenges. Drivers for change include increased substitution of natural gas for petroleum to take advantage of the frac-gas revolution, exploitation of heavy oil and unconventional hydrocarbon resources, substitution of bio-based feedstocks for production of energy and chemicals, distributed production, renewable energy storage, and expanded stakeholder expectations in environmental stewardship and sustainability, including both carbon mitigation and protection of air quality and water resources. Feed complexity, optimization of complex reaction and separation pathways and cost reduction will incentivize process intensification, which in turn will lead to consideration of novel multiphase reactor and separations systems. Advanced methods for reliable design and scale-up will be required, to meet the demands for rapid deployment of new technology.