A Chat with Shell's Joseph Powell about Process Development

5/6   in the series Industry Interviews

Shell is a global group of energy and petrochemical companies. Joseph Powell is Chief Scientist at Shell and also a member of the Technical Advisory Committee of this year's Process Development Symposium. I had a chance to catch up with Joe and to learn more about Shell's approach, strategy, and future of process development.

How have you seen the process development community mature and advance during your time at Shell?

As a progression over the past three decades, process development at Shell increasingly relies more on modeling and simulation than brute force scale-up via pilot plants and demonstration units. Where experiments are conducted, increased attention is paid to laboratory and process safety and training, as new hires in general tend to have more experience with simulation and modeling, and less with hands-on experimentation.

What is Shell’s approach to process development and how does it fit into the overall strategy of companies in the chemical processing industries?

Process development is a key skill at Shell, with roles spanning from early stage ideation and research, through scale-up and commercialization, including process design and deployment or startup.

What are some of the next generation of innovative technologies that will trigger significant changes in process development for chemical engineers?

Digitalization continues to expand at an increasing pace as it has for the past 30 years, now being applied to catalyst and materials discovery using traditional modeling approaches but also machine learning, often leading the way as a new route to discovery.

How do you think the Process Development Symposium can help to encourage and accelerate the future of process development?

The Process Development Symposium is an excellent opportunity for training and orientation of new scientists and engineers, reducing the need for in-house training programs, and providing networking opportunities and exposure to AIChE as a mechanism for life-long learning.

Joseph Powell

Joseph B. Powell (PhD) is a Fellow of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers and Shell’s Chief Scientist - Chemical Engineering since 2006. He joined the Process Development Department at Shell Technology Center Houston in 1988, where he has led R&D programs in new chemical processes, biofuels, and enhanced oil recovery... Read more

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Shell and reflects their views, opinions, and insights.