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This assessment task requires students to examine current articles and reports in the past 24 months relating to sustainable engineering/practises and to perform a critical analysis of the subject area covered in a specific article. Articles may cover areas such as new manufacturing processes, extraction of aterials/minerals, infrastructure challenges, renewable technologies, food production, etc. Students are required to demonstrate/speculate on how existing or new
engineering practises/solutions can address these challenges in the short and longer term. 

How you are examining the case study with regards to the context of sustainability. Highlight critical factors relating to sustainability, and speculate over how current practises will meet the future needs of wider society. 

The Impact of Globalization on Chemical Engineering

Over the past decade, globalization changes have impacted significantly the production process in industries especially in the awareness of chemical sustainability. Chemical engineering is one main changes that have been mainly emphasized in the recent years which generally approaches the improvement of the field of processes in industries. Through the improvement of the various chemical process, industry systems will greatly improve and minimize the challenges in the waste streams which have continued to cause numerous reactions due to the destruction of the environment (Parniakov, Barba, Grimi, Lebovka, & Vorobiev, 2016). The extension of benefits and sustainability in chemical engineering can be further achieved with increased emphasis in areas such as product design and continuous process development.

For the project to be fully optimized in sustainability development, it important to reflect on the product lifecycle and most importantly the difference between the lifecycle stages which generally consist production, consumption, means of disposal. With these end uses, there should significant consideration of features of the product design in order to attain ‘green’ standards in the industry (Marr & Marr, 2016). Another important factor to be considered in the utilization process is a complicating factor which may cause the willingness to pay more than the expected price in the approach of sustainable products. Thus, with the changes in environmental impacts by industries and the continuous increase in economic constraints, chemical engineering is one of the overwhelmed industry sectors with the heavy burden of integrating sustainability in products and process (Sheldon & Woodley, 2017).

Green chemistry has continued to be one of the most important parts of science and technology development in the world today. Majorly, the emphasis of the green chemistry is the elimination of harmful substances during the collection of raw materials. It has greatly emphasized its focus on enhancing technology and industry process with one aim of developing sustainable chemistry practices (Wang, Zhang, Kodama, & Hirose, 2016). With this, almost every industrialized country has picked up the effort of implementing green chemistry research with also some of the education curricula’s being enacted as a part of requirement changes. Despite this, most of the developed European Union countries have effectively embraced the green chemistry as one of the significant change requirement in developing modern and sustainable chemistry engineering (Kümmerer & Clark, 2016).

Through the ongoing changes industries, engineering applications and green chemistry are one of many issues that have emphasized in the sustainable development of industries today. With this, the focus of the report will be to investigate some of the directions for chemical engineering sustainability and the overview of outcome results with effective implementation of the research findings. The main reason for choosing this topic is due to the current climatic changes, environmental degradation, and most importantly the shift of economic focus to sustainable processes and designs. Unlike most sustainable approaches, chemical engineering is considered to have a significant play in the outcome of the results whereas per the current situations most carbon emission, soil, and water contamination can be directly linked to the use of ‘non-green chemical’ by most of the industries (Yao, Yang, & Duan, 2014).

Sustainability in Chemical Engineering: Challenges and Opportunities

The report is structured as follows; the development phase of a product, analysis of the sustainability of the product, and illustration of product including a general overview of some of the challenges and possible at the end. Majorly, some of the speculated challenges include price complicating factor which is a serious concern to most of the industries despite the willingness to accept sustainable product and process (Kümmerer & Clark, 2016). According to most of the economist analyst, consumers are only to pay a maximum of 10% extra on the product even with the consideration of sustainable practices and development.

The Development Phases

In the development stages, there two basic steps which are; diversifying stage as step one and secondly convergence stage. At the diversifying step, the main approach is to collect as many ideas as possible without the consideration of the failures and challenges. The second step i.e. convergence stage, the main task is to analyze the outcome of the products and how good or bad they will affect the normal operations of the industry. Generally, in this stage, the evaluation of the product will be reflected in the interaction of the product between processes, commercial value, and sustainability.

 

Fig: 1 Two basic steps in chemical product design (Janssen & Janssen, 2016)

According to the chart, the development path is designed to intercross the divergence and convergence stage in one way or another thus to effectively maximize on product development. Majorly, these stages have effectively implemented by the collection of different scholars and scientist papers and through the international conferences, the approach of the best product and application is decided (Koel, 2016). One of the main achievement has been the utilization of the electron as reducing agents. Through this, the approach has been effected to create a more highly dispersed metal catalyst under process engineering and hydro-thermal conditions in order to produce DMC from CO2, harvest “valuable chemicals” from renewable fatty acid feedstock’s, and use of a non-fluorinated proton exchange membrane in an electrochemical hydrogen pump to separate CO2/H2 (Yao et al., 2014).

According to research on the current chemical engineering, the education curriculum is considered to be very less subjective in terms of environmental sustainability and development. This has also intensively continued to affect different sectors in the economy which have been undermined by the stagnant development in chemical engineering (Lievonen, Valle-Delgado, Mattinen, Hult, Lintinen, Kostiainen, & Österberg, 2016). The connection of energy-environment can be observed through the relationship of chemical kinetics, thermodynamics, process design, and transport processes. Some of the basic requirements in implementing sustainable chemical engineering include minimizing emissions, recycling, decreasing the use of fossil fuels and scarce natural resources, and others. Example, the fuel cell is one of the many recent technological innovations that has contributed to the enhancement of power generation and most especially environment sustainability (Kümmerer & Clark, 2016). The fuel cell has also greatly improved the economic sustainability of energy production with the decrease in price and increase in efficiency.

Green Chemistry and Sustainable Chemical Engineering

The approach of sustainability can be well achieved through the minimization of product impact after its use. Through this, the main emphasis should be considered on the disposal and recycling of the product in the development stages. When strategizing the end user, the product alternatives are some of the important details that should be considered (Parniakov, Barba, Grimi, Lebovka, & Vorobiev, 2016). When designing a product two important aspects should be considered which includes avoiding undesired component which can harm the environment (e.g. certain heavy metals and Volatile Organic Solvents) and preferably the reduction of use of components which are scare (like for instance Lanthanum and Lithium). In general, product sustainability can be characterized by considering some of the basic approaches which include; avoiding the use of hazardous components, design the product for easy ‘back to feedstock’, avoid depleting feedstocks, make the product re-usable, re-use the product as filler, avoid hazardous smoke at incineration, re-use the recycle for lower quality products, avoid tailings in case of landfill, and facilitating clean pyrolysis (Janssen & Janssen, 2016).

In any chemical engineering production, hazardous components should be specifically identified and remedial measures taken to avoid them should be effectively implemented. Example, Volatile Organic Solvents (VOS) can be substituted by the use of more gentle solvents such as supercritical carbon dioxide and ionic liquids (Lozano, Lozano, Freire, Jiménez-Gonzalez, Sakao, Ortiz, & Viveros, 2018). This has been well illustrated in water-based paints where the solidification process can be reversed through a chemical reaction with the evaporation of the water. The use of modern organic pigments is another form that should be considered in avoiding the use of hazardous materials. With the use of organic pigments, heavy metals can be easily reduced in colored products (Marr & Marr, 2016).

Despite it may be considered easy to implement re-usable products, the materials used are considered very unrealistic for reuse especially due to the product contamination. Example, the plastic materials used for the storage of solvents such as organic solvents and gasoline are considered as almost non-reusable since the products can diffuse and in terms of human health the can cause severe health issues (Lancaster, 2016). This can also be applied to the re-use of products as fillers in the rubber and plastic industry. The “Co-injection molding” method is one of the majorly used techniques to create materials which consist of used polymer on the inside while the outer part is covered by virgin material where an example is the car tires (Srikar, Giri, Pal, Mishra, & Upadhyay, 2016).

Minimizing the Impact of Chemical Engineering Products after Use

Where the materials and/or components used are scarce, it is very important to avoid depleting feedstocks. Lanthanum and Lithium are a good example of elements which are considered to very scarce and on the other hand, they are very essential for the present electric car technology and they commonly used in electronic for batteries. The scarcity of these elements is considered to be very vital where an example China has threatened to stop delivering Lithium in Japan car industry which has also led to the research of other battery alternatives. Over the past decade, new bioplastic components have been produced by the use of other common materials such as starches and celluloses (Chen, Zhu, Baez, Kitin, & Elder, 2016).

Another alternative of the reuse of plastic materials is the use of ‘Back to Feed Stock’. Through this, one of the materials that should be avoided in the design process is any trace of thermoset materials. When the products are returned, using thermoplastics products can be de-volatized and re-granulated to eliminate any presence of impurities (Koel, 2016). Also, during the product design, it is important to only use one type of polymer due to bad miscibility and to have easy separation of the product reuse process. With the successful implementation of the process, the pure granules can be injection molded to form new products (Lievonen et al., 2016).

According to Sheldon (2017), the Pyrolysis of waste streams is one of the alternatives that should be considered if other approaches are not economically achievable. Today, most of the waste streams in the world are considered to contain components which can be harvested by the use of pyrolysis or cracking. On the same note, Syngas can be easily obtained in clean biomass. Through the pyrolysis technique, bio-char which is used to make fertilizers can be obtained from the organic waste product. The cracking of tires is another important aspect which has been reported to produce carbon black, combustible fluids, and methane gas. With this chemical process, there is a significant positive impact on the environment and production sustainability (Bandara, Field, & Emmert, 2016).

Majorly, Incineration process is controlled by use of large ovens. It is considered that controlled incineration process can be utilized to produce part of energy formation which is abundantly present in thermal recycling or waste stream (Sheldon & Woodley, 2017). On the other hand, if the waste stream is to be burnt in an uncontrolled environment, there should be enough assurance that there is no presence of harmful materials. The approach of the landfill should be considered as one of the last methods to be used for the disposal. If the use of landfill come as last resort, the products being dumped should not leach out easily thus in any way not affecting the water resource and soil (Lozano et al., 2018).

Conclusion

In summary, with the implementation of product and process development with sustainable application there are significant possibilities for improvement in chemical engineering. Although there has been considerable improvement in sustainable development in most of the industries, sustainable product development has been considered an issue which has continued to lack required improvements in the chemical engineering. Throughout the report analysis, the main aspect has been mainly emphasized on the improvement of product life cycles where the end of the product can be able to be effectively recycled or disposed of with minimal effect to the environment. The product design and process are another important issues in determining more sustainable products in chemical engineering applications (Lancaster, 2016).

Energy sustainability is also another important feature of chemical engineering sustainability and development. The aspect of energy-environment nexus has been greatly interlinked with chemical sustainability approaches where through a process such as ‘cracking’ have reported to produce energy with the use of waste products (Sheldon, 2016). In general, with effective sustainable approaches in chemical engineering practices, most of the present environmental challenges can be minimized and/or significantly reduced. Example, carbon gas emission is one of the main challenges that has continued to affect most of the developed and developing countries in the world today (Koel, 2016). This is one of the few issues that can be considered as easily rectifiable with the application of sustainable chemical engineering practices.

References

Bandara, H. D., Field, K. D., & Emmert, M. H. (2016). Rare earth recovery from end-of-life motors employing green chemistry design principles. Green Chemistry, 18(3), 753-759.

Chen, L., Zhu, J. Y., Baez, C., Kitin, P., & Elder, T. (2016). Highly thermal-stable and functional cellulose nanocrystals and nanofibrils produced using fully recyclable organic acids. Green Chemistry, 18(13), 3835-3843.

Yao, J., Yang, M., & Duan, Y. (2014). Chemistry, biology, and medicine of fluorescent nanomaterials and related systems: new insights into biosensing, bioimaging, genomics, diagnostics, and therapy. Chemical reviews, 114(12), 6130-6178.

Janssen, L. P. B. M., & Janssen, C. H. C. (2016, November). Product engineering and sustainability. In IOP Conference Series: Materials Science and Engineering, 18(6), 2162-2183. IOP Publishing.

Koel, M. (2016). Do we need a green analytical chemistry?. Green Chemistry, 18(4), 923-931.

Kümmerer, K., & Clark, J. (2016). Green and Sustainable Chemistry. In Sustainability Science (pp. 43-59). Springer, Dordrecht.

Lancaster, M. (2016). Green Chemistry 3rd Edition: An Introductory Text. Royal society of chemistry.

Lievonen, M., Valle-Delgado, J. J., Mattinen, M. L., Hult, E. L., Lintinen, K., Kostiainen, M. A., ... & Österberg, M. (2016). A simple process for lignin nanoparticle preparation. Green chemistry, 18(5), 1416-1422.

Lozano, F. J., Lozano, R., Freire, P., Jiménez-Gonzalez, C., Sakao, T., Ortiz, M. G., ... & Viveros, T. (2018). New perspectives for green and sustainable chemistry and engineering: Approaches from sustainable resource and energy use, management, and transformation. Journal of Cleaner Production, 172, 227-232.

Marr, P. C., & Marr, A. C. (2016). Ionic liquid gel materials: applications in green and sustainable chemistry. Green Chemistry, 18(1), 105-128.

Parniakov, O., Barba, F. J., Grimi, N., Lebovka, N., & Vorobiev, E. (2016). Extraction assisted by pulsed electric energy as a potential tool for green and sustainable recovery of nutritionally valuable compounds from mango peels. Food Chemistry, 192, 842-848.

Sheldon, R. A. (2016). Green chemistry and resource efficiency: towards a green economy. Green Chemistry, 18(11), 3180-3183.

Sheldon, R. A. (2017). The E factor 25 years on: the rise of green chemistry and sustainability. Green Chemistry, 19(1), 18-43.

Sheldon, R. A., & Woodley, J. M. (2017). Role of biocatalysis in sustainable chemistry. Chemical reviews, 118(2), 801-838.

Srikar, S. K., Giri, D. D., Pal, D. B., Mishra, P. K., & Upadhyay, S. N. (2016). Green synthesis of silver nanoparticles: a review. Green and Sustainable Chemistry, 6(01), 34.

Wang, L., Zhang, G., Kodama, K., & Hirose, T. (2016). An efficient metal-and solvent-free organocatalytic system for chemical fixation of CO 2 into cyclic carbonates under mild conditions. Green Chemistry, 18(5), 1229-1233.

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