Sustainable systems and processes seek to improve the efficiency with which natural resources are used to meet human needs for chemical products and services. It includes the development of future process technology, the use of alternative resources or new reaction routes, and the design and operation of systems such that they use energy and resources more sustainably.
Sustainable process engineering is a multidisciplinary approach and is relevant to a wide range of industrial sectors. It impacts on each step in the production, manufacture and use of materials and chemical feedstocks and recovery & disposal of wastes. The sustainable processing of materials requires a wide understanding of chemical processes, and of the required energy and utilities supporting them.
A whole systems approach can support understanding of the environmental, safety, economic, social and sustainability aspects of new technologies and processes, and can include entire product life cycle management, material reuse and waste reduction. By applying a systems understanding, policies and interventions can be explored that would support embedding sustainable technologies in existing systems at different scales (single organisational, local and national).
Our research includes a broad range of activities such as the development of novel routes for production of chemicals; the use of catalysis and bio-catalysis; biomass conversion and bio-refining, process intensification, nanotechnology, and the development of renewable and low carbon energy. It also includes assessment of the sustainability of products and processes using Life Cycle Analysis.
Research groups involved in this theme include:
- Low carbon energy
- Industrial biotechnology
- Waste management and resource recovery
- Clean combustion
- Nuclear engineering
Sustainable systems and processes underpins our Centre for Doctoral Training in Bioenergy.