The ChE in Context: The food-Energy-Water Nexus: An Engineering and Public Policy Priority


AIChE’s Public Affairs and Information Committee (PAIC) sees the public and government issues around the food-energy-water nexus to be a priority topic for chemical engineers. Food, energy, and water are essential resources for sustaining humankind. These resources are interconnected and interdependent, and they represent complex and dynamic engineering, business, and social systems. The competition for food, energy, and water resources is driven by many stressors, including increasing population, urbanization, material consumption, and changes in the Earth’s climate.

The problems associated with the food-energy-water nexus are not well formulated; data are limited, and many stakeholders and decision-makers have different objectives.

The recent tragic experience in Puerto Rico highlights the need to address the challenges associated with the reliable and economical provision of these resources to sustain quality of life. On Sept. 20, 2017, Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico as a Category 4 storm. The island’s infrastructure was destroyed. An estimated 80% of agricultural land was decimated. Distribution and supply chains for a food system dependent on more than 85% exports were disrupted. The electricity transmission system was...

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