ICOSSE 2020 Session Descriptions | AIChE

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ICOSSE 2020 Session Descriptions

Below are descriptions for all session topics covered at ICOSSE 2020.


Fuels and energy are central to modern society, moving us from place to place, lighting the dark, and providing heat. The generation and use of fuels and energy are also responsible for the largest carbon emissions. This session focuses on technologies and practices focused on reducing the carbon footprint of the fuels and energy lifecycle, including generation, distribution, and use. Topics can include production of low carbon fuels, generation of low carbon electrical and thermal energy, use of energy storage to respond to changes in demand, and reducing use of high carbon energy.

Waste Valorization (plastics and more)

This session focuses on the potential to transform waste materials at end of life to products of value - upcycling. The current economy relies heavily on single-use plastics that have very limited potential for recovery and reuse due to challenges in the recycling industry as well as challenges due to economics. Additionally, product complexity also makes recovery of materials at end of life very difficult. Interventions are needed to be able to better recover materials at a level of quality that can make it more economical for secondary materials to be used in new products and to add value to the economy.

Waste to Energy (fuel or power)

This session focuses on waste valorization to make liquid transportation fuel and energy. Waste is a direct product of economic expansion. The growth of population will fuel the economic growth engine, which in turn will lead to more waste production. Without any intervention, waste management will eventually become an incommodious challenge. To slow down this ultimately insurmountable problem, the fate of waste must be altered.

Renewable/Alternative Energy

This session aims to discuss innovative solutions that increase the cost and technical competitiveness of renewable energy technologies, such as solar, wind, geothermal, and bioenergy. The use of renewable energy is one of the most effective strategies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but it still faces some technical and cost challenges. For instance, the dominant commercialized silicon (Si) PV technology has plateaued at 18-24 percent conversion efficiency, and the theoretical limit for any single-absorber solar cell under standard operating conditions is approximately 30.5 percent; however, other absorbers, such as perovskites, have attracted significant attention for offering high quality semiconductor, with lower purity and lower fabrication temperatures than silicon.

Modeling and Simulation

Adverse environmental conditions caused by human activities to reach higher standards and quality of life, including chemical releases, exposure, and impacts have increased the need for more sustainable, economically practical products, and processes. Therefore, process system engineering tools as computer modeling and simulation can be used to guide decision-makers, designers, and stakeholders in developing more sustainable chemical processes and products. This session looks for the latest novel advances regarding the development, implementation, and use of methods, tools, and procedures for modeling, monitoring, control, and optimization of products and processes for reducing energy/material consumption, environmental, and human health impacts, while increasing the profitability of chemical and energy systems.

Latest Sustainability Research Methods

Methods and tools for evaluating and quantifying sustainability of systems are constantly evolving and improving. This session aims to cover research methods acress the three pillars of sustainability: economic, environment, and social. Topics include advances in computational modeling approaches (e.g. machine learning in LCA), qualitative research approaches (e.g. methods to evaluate Sustainable Development Goals), or advances in techno-economic analysis.

Food, Energy, Water Nexus

To Be Announced

End-of-Use (Life) of goods (products): sustainable recycling, recovery, and disposal

For many products, end of life represents both a challenge (e.g. it is often difficult to model environmental impacts with a wide variety and variability in end of life options) and a unique opportunity to recover valuable resources. This session includes topics related to both analysis, technical solutions for product end-of-life, and how end of life management can contribute to the circular economy.

Biomass Conversion Technologies

Biological materials can be converted into several useful forms of energy, chemicals, materials such as plastics, and a variety of other bio-products. The range of thermochemical, biochemical, and physio-chemical conversion pathways of interest is constantly expanding. This session will focus on existing and emerging pathways that use biomass as feedstock to produce bio-products and energy carriers that promote the development of a sustainable bioeconomy that encourages the utilization of renewable bioproducts and bioenergy.

Nutrient Pollution, Prevention, and Control

Anthropogenic nutrient pollution, primarily consisting of nitrogen and phosphorus, is one of the most widespread soil-water quality problems facing the U.S., which originates from excess nutrient runoff from agricultural land, improperly managed farming operations, and point sources such as wastewater treatment plants. Some nutrient pollution impacts include harmful algal blooms (HABs), hypoxia, and eutrophication. This topic session focuses on providing information, methods, or approaches to determine nutrient-related impacts in water and soil; nutrient recovery technologies; spatiotemporal control of in-excess nutrient flows; aquatic ecosystem responses to nutrient pollution and the processes and time to recover from nutrient pollution impacts; and best practices for integrated nutrient management programs.

Innovation for Sustainable Businesses and Industries

To Be Announced

Sustainable Process Design and Manufacturing

Several current and novel key aspects and tools that process systems engineering and manufacturing need to take into account to design and manufacture more sustainable products and processes. This session will explore current process design and manufacturing tools, techniques, practices, industry examples, and areas of opportunities to set sustainability concepts during feedstock selection, process design, process and product retrofit development, and supply chain considerations.

Sustainable Science and Engineering Driven Policy Targets

To Be Announced

Sustainable Social-Ecological Systems

This session focuses on themes related to sustainable social-ecological system. Topics can include how human well being depends on the natural environment, the latest knowledge and understanding of ecosystem dynamics, and how to integrate social and natural sciences for more promising sustainable development.

Sustainable Supply Chains (logistics management)

Developing sustainable and cost-efficient supply chains is critical to the utilization of renewable feedstocks and waste biomass for bioenergy and bioproducts, and for solid wastes such as non-recycled plastics that are increasingly polluting our oceans, lakes and waterways. To achieve innovation in the development of sustainable supply of these feedstocks, a systematic understanding of feedstock production, quality management and distribution technologies and their impacts on the economics and sustainability of the overall supply chain are needed. This session will focus on technoeconomic and life cycle analysis of supply chains for renewable feedstocks and non-recycled wastes to support the development of a sustainable energy supply.

Design for Circularity

Design for Circularity has been around since the earliest days of the sustainability movement, and has enjoyed lots of publicity but little systemic success. Today, the Circular Economy has popularized Cradle to Cradle Design principles and refocused interest in Design for CIrcularity. One of the failures of Design for Circularity has been a focus on recycling as the preferred management solutions with little regard to human disposition behavior and a clear understanding of the collection, sorting and material reclamation systems to recover products. At the same time, the sustainable materials management movement has emerged that shows while recovering materials is most often an environmental benefit, far greater benefits lie upstream and are achieved by reducing and reusing materials. This session is intended to explore Designing for Circularity, what it is, it's benefits and weakness, and how fit in the overall policy of addressing environmental and resource challenges.

Advanced Recycling Technologies

As data has emerged that only 9% of all plastics produced are recycled and that more than 8 million tons enter the world's ocean's annually, interest has grown in identifying solutions that can recover lower value and hard to mechanically recycle plastics. It has become clear that more comprehensive solutions for all plastics are needed, especially in regions where solid waste systems are deficient. A range of new technolgoies is emerging, some even employing the principles of green chemistry and novel approaches using enzymes to recover monomers. A new generation of technologies commonly associated with chemical recycling like gasification and pyrolysis have innovated to compete in today's marketplace as well as, monomer recovery technologies like methanolysis and glycolysis. A new suite of technologies are emerging and commercializing that have different business models, novel mechanisms, and unique way of producing virgin-like resins, like purification. This session will cover a range of topics on Advanced Recycling Technologies and how they are changing the landscape of plastic recovery and covering technology issues, business models, and preferred feedstocks and products.

Bio-Restore: Biomass to Restore Natural Resources

Purpose-grown crops like perennial grasses (e.g., switchgrass, miscanthus, etc.) and short-rotation woody crops (e.g., hybrid poplar, willow) offer potential to provide non-food biomass with characteristics that improve the efficiency of conversion for multiple technology platforms. Additionally, these new crops can provide environmental benefits including improved water and air quality, reduced nutrient losses and a pathway to increase soil organic carbon. There is interest in establishing mechanisms to monetize these “ecosystem services,” however, assigning economic value to these anticipated benefits requires a greater systems understanding based on new, comprehensive data on biomass productivity on diverse sites and management practices. Achieving this necessarily requires innovations in sensors and data analytics, as well as approaches to link multi-scalar assessments.

Competition of Renewable Feedstocks

As the bioeconomy expands, it is likely there will be competition for renewable feedstocks including wastes, oilseeds, and lignocellulosic crops and residues. Competition may result in higher costs for feedstocks that are anticipated to be low cost, such as wastes and residues, with economic sustainability implications for some conversion technologies. This session will focus on the factors that may determine the outcomes of this competition as well as the implications for availability and price of feedstocks.