Sustainability and innovation at AIChE annual conference

The 2017 annual meeting of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers features dozens of parallel tracks for eight days. It began with student-focused events, including their first-ever beer brewing competition. In addition to presentations, attendees could attend sponsored workshops, and a new “Meet the Executives” session entitled “Innovating for a Sustainable Future”. Panelists from Chevron, BASF, Dow, Cargill and Owens-Corning presented and took questions submitted electronically via the SLI.Do app. Prior to the event, the panelists were interviewed - view the video.

Many presentations featured options for processing biomass for chemicals and fuels, with a common challenge of economically processing lignin, which can represent 15%–30% of biomass feed stocks, up to 40% of the energy value. Efforts showing promise are attracting DOE funding of consortia of researchers.

Universities teaching design are collaborating in remote laboratories using real-time plant data with Monte Carlo simulation. This effort is led by LSU, with involvement from UNLV and FSU. University of New Hampshire senior year design students compete annually in a global simulation competition with model cases provided by ChemStations GMBH.

Monday evening in Minneapolis had many universities hosting alumni networking evenings, with the second evening devoted to an inclusivity event and awards. Late afternoons featured poster presentations in the same hall as the sponsors, exhibitors and workshop organizers. AIChE has increased the number of ways to connect with this event under the umbrella #ChEnected “Join the Conversation”: an event app, a collaboration app, plus Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Snapchat and Flickr.

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