Chemical engineers are professionals who can affect and positively impact every commercial and laboratory process in the world. By this way, chemical engineers possess the power to control conversion processes that affect climate change and its consequences. Because chemical engineers interest themselves in designing production processes and continue improving on various aspects of life, they also can affect how humans interact with environment. With great power comes great responsibility and chemical engineers have shouldered the responsibility of bringing positive change in the global battle against climate change in the following ways-
- Energy Efficiency
The combustion of non-renewable fuels and the resultant carbon emissions play a major role in the universal consequences of climate change. The need for energy efficient industrial and domestic processes like creating energy efficient fuels or designing equipment with energy efficient conversions is necessary for mitigating effects of climate change as well as conserving swiftly depleting energy resources.
- Renewable Energy harnessing
Conserving exhaustible energy sources requires mankind to investigate and invest in renewable sources of energy. Chemical engineers have the responsibility of developing processes for optimize use of alternate sources of energy like wind, solar and nuclear judiciously.
- Carbon capture and reuse
If we intend to continue using fossil fuels, we need to decarbonise electricity production; and carbon capture and storage (CCS) is a readily deployable technology solution to do this. Chemical engineers are also working on technologies to turn captured carbon into useful products, such as plastic bottles, face cream and wood glue. Chemical engineers have the ability to deploy CCS technology today, and in so doing, take a major step forwards to the least-cost mitigation of dangerous climate change.
- Sustainable food
Food is a major greenhouse gas emitter. The agriculture sector emits 24 per cent of global GHG emissions, the second biggest after only energy, and these emissions are increasing – driven by population growth and changes in dietary preferences. Chemical engineers are helping to cut emissions by making food production more efficient, for example by making fertilizer in a low-energy way or by reusing food waste.
- Energy storage and grid management
For judicious and clean use of energy, we need to not only harness energy from cleaner sources but design systems that can store energy for a longer time and have low power output. When we think of storage batteries are what commonly spring to mind, but other ideas include using embodied energy in chemicals as stored energy. Effective energy storage is a major part of the climate change solution, and chemical engineers can help.
There are many more ways that chemical engineers are working to combat climate change. Chemical engineers are constantly working towards creating feasible solutions for many modern problems apart from climate change.