Environmental Biotechnology Network

EBNet Working Group: Process Integration and Sustainability Assessment

Aim: To create awareness on Theme 3 of EBNet – Technology Interfaces.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Technology Interfaces cut across the other two themes of the EBNet: Pollutants and Media; and Biosciences for Engineering. The main driver for this theme is to translate the outcomes of environmental biotechnology into societal benefits. For this, systematic appraisal at a whole process flowsheet level as well as supply chain system level is necessary using a whole range of sustainability criteria.

Even though a process may look promising at a laboratory scale, its scale-up could be challenging, so could be process integration and sustainable development in reality. Many considerations such as technical, environmental, social and economic have to be taken into account and analysed using tools and methodologies, which are sometimes more standardized and at other times more fundamental. Process integration or process systems engineering tools stem from the idea of the highest efficiency flowsheet development with the maximum in-process recovery of energy and material resources. The integrated process flowsheet is then inherently more economically viable than otherwise, where the majority of the cost may be incurred from external heating, cooling, electricity and reagent supplies.

Following the process integration principles, fundamental reactions through separation to utility system designs and optimisation are conducted. There are fundamental tools to help scale up and process integration to create a design with the highest economic margin and resource efficiency. In addition, sustainability assessment is necessary through life cycle assessment (ISO14040-44) and social responsibility analysis (ISO26000) to ensure that across the scales (temporal: life cycle; spatial: supply chain) the process is sustainable.

The working group on this very relevant and unique theme will be necessary to create awareness on the tools and methodologies to optimise the unit process through to whole systems amongst the EBNet community. Applying these tools and methodologies will help researchers and practitioners convince industrial uptake of their technologies and help policy-makers through evidence-based systematic decision analysis.

Interested?

Jhuma Sadhukhan

Contact the Working Group co-ordinator:

Prof. Jhuma Sadhukhan, University of Surrey, CEng (Chartered Engineer), CSci (Chartered Scientist) and FIChemE (Fellow of the Institution of Chemical Engineers). I lead interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary biorefinery and bioeconomy research and education. Email: J.Sadhukhan@surrey.ac.uk with “EBNet Working Group” in the subject in the first instance.

WG Activities

This working group will identify problems in Pollutants & Media and Biosciences for Engineering – including global grand challenges and propose the ways to confront such challenges.