Editorial: Milestones and More to Learn | AIChE

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Editorial: Milestones and More to Learn



Last month marked a milestone for CEP’s Catalyzing Commercialization column. The April column was the 100th column in the series, which is a joint effort with the National Science Foundation (NSF). The NSF’s many programs for technology translation provide researchers, entrepreneurs, and small businesses with resources to overcome technological and adoption risks, ultimately preparing them for the marketplace. Originally launched in 2014, the monthly Catalyzing Commercialization column showcases the organizations and start-ups that are finding success in part due to these NSF programs and funding.

We have featured many different technologies and inventions in Catalyzing Commercialization over the years, from a novel system that freezes food more efficiently, to new catalysts for low-temperature automotive exhaust abatement, to quantum-dot windows that convert sunlight to electricity. The column is written by experts at the NSF who work closely with these innovators. One of the most interesting parts of my job is reading the columns as they are submitted and learning about these new start-ups and forward-looking entrepreneurs.

April was also a noteworthy month for AIChE as we held our first in-person Spring Meeting and Global Congress on Process Safety (GCPS) since 2019. One of the things that I enjoy most about this conference is the GCPS joint session: Case Histories and Lessons Learned. Among the talks this year, a few in particular stood out to me. Scott Davis (Gexcon US) presented a paper titled “Why Do Devastating Ammonium Nitrate Detonations Still Occur? Lessons Still Not Learned in Beirut, Tianjin, and West Texas.” Drew Sahli from the CSB spoke about the Evergreen Packaging Paper Mill fire investigation and highlighted the often-overlooked hazards of simultaneous operations during planned shutdown maintenance activities.

Another talk that resonated with me at the Spring Meeting and GCPS was the Wednesday Luncheon Keynote, given by Gavin Towler, Vice President and Chief Technology Officer of Honeywell Performance Materials and Technologies. His talk, titled “Navigating the Energy Transition,” emphasized how the current rates of decarbonization of the energy supply are not consistent with meeting the goals of the Paris Agreement on climate change. Towler discussed the complex scenario analysis undertaken at Honeywell UOP to model the pace at which the energy transition could occur, and how it would affect global climate. His talk encouraged an “everything, all-at-once” approach to tackling the energy transition, and stressed that sustainable technologies — such as electrification of industrial processes, blue hydrogen, and sustainable aviation fuels — must be widely deployed within the next two years to limit global warming to the 1.5°C set by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

If you are interested in learning more about the science behind global warming, I encourage you to flip to p. 35 to read “Introduction to an Atmospheric Radiation Model.” This tutorial-style article will acquaint you with an atmospheric radiation model that simulates the emission and absorption of infrared (IR) radiation in the atmosphere. Play around with the model for an hour, and you will begin to understand the incredibly complex nature of our atmosphere and climate.

Emily Petruzzelli, Editor-in-Chief



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