IChemE awards innovation at UK ceremony

HUNTSMAN PIGMENTS won the top prize at last night’s IChemE’s 2011 awards ceremony for revamping its Calais pigment plant in France.

IChemE gave Huntsman the Outstanding Achievement in Chemical and Process Engineering Award for turning a difficult and expensive TiO2 manufacturing site threatened with closure into a thriving new revenue stream.

Huntsman developed a long-term sustainability plan that led to the closure of the site’s energy-intensive roaster unit. This cut emissions, energy needs and maintenance costs but on the flipside, without the roaster, engineers could no longer process the waste filter salts amassing at the site at a rate of 60,000 t/y.

The team decided on a strategy to convert the waste into fertilisers and having used industry contacts to secure new markets for the product, Huntsman recently announced plans to build a £25m (US$40m) fertiliser production plant on the site.

Australian research organisation CSIRO clinched the Sustainable Technology Award for developing a new process for reducing magnesia, which uses 85% less energy than the current popular method. The Energy Award was won by e2v Technologies for using a microwave system rather than the more energy intensive furnaces conventionally used by industry to expand the mineral vermiculite for the production of insulation and fire-proofing material.

Hertel won the Food and drink processing Award for its cold wort evaporation technology and dealcoholisation of beer.

The UK’s universities had a good night, taking three of the prizes. University College London won the Education and Training Award for developing a modular bioprocessing training programme that helps course delegates turn life science discoveries into new medicines, therapies or sustainable bioprocesses.

The University of Manchester won the Bioprocessing Award for discovering a new process to turn glycerol, a waste product from biodiesel production, into succinic acid - a valuable feedstock for manufacturing food flavourings and plastics. The University of Surrey clinched the Water Management and Supply Award for its manipulated osmosis desalination process, having already received a special achievement award earlier in the evening in recognition of 100 years of chemical engineering.

Meanwhile, Sellafield and Costain Energy and Process both celebrated double success. Sellafield won the Health and Safety Award and the Core Chemical Engineering Award, the latter with Leeds University and BHR Group. Costain’s Robert Smyth and Steve Jackson lifted the Young Chemical Engineer of the Year Award and Innovator of the Year Award respectively.

“Once again, we’ve been able to recognise some of the world’s best innovations. An event like this really does demonstrate the breadth of work taking place in the chemical and process engineering community,” said IChemE CEO David Brown.

The ceremony, attended by more than 400 nominees, dignitaries and guests, was held in Birmingham, UK, and was hosted by British sitcom and sketch comedian Hugh Dennis

(Information from TCE Today)