(602a) Alternative Process Design for Addressing the Engineering Grand Challenges

Authors: 
Thomas, R. C., Owens Corning
Smith, R. L., U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
The U.S. National Academies has examined engineering Grand Challenges [1-3], and a number of the challenges can be addressed through the perspective of alternative process design. Alternative process design connects chemicals with their production routes; the combination affects the sustainability of various human and Earth systems. Sustainability intends to satisfy the environmental, economic, and social needs of future generations without compromising current needs. Among the challenges are the need to develop alternative fuels and feedstocks for the chemical industry, to approach systematic problems with analyses such as life cycle assessment, and to enable sustainability through education [1]. Another report emphasized the need to harness biological understanding; microstructured products and their processing; sustainably extracting resources; and preventing, controlling and treating wastes [2]. A third report considered general engineering challenges, beyond chemicals [3]. It extols advances in solar energy, carbon sequestration, clean water, urban infrastructure, health information and medicines, the brain, nuclear aspects, cyberspace and virtual reality, personal learning, and tools for scientific discovery. This presentation will review these and point to accomplishments and continuing needs.

[1] National Research Council (2005). Sustainability in the Chemical Industry: Grand Challenges and Research Needs. National Academy Press, Washington, DC.

[2] National Research Council (1988). Frontiers in Chemical Engineering: Research Needs and Opportunities. National Academy Press, Washington, DC.

[3] National Academy of Engineering (2008). Grand Challenges for Engineering. National Academy Press, Washington, DC.

The views expressed in this presentation are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.