Johnson Matthey wins top prize at Awards 2016

Article by Staff Writer

JOHNSON MATTHEY has won the Award for Outstanding Achievement in Chemical and Process Engineering, the overall judges’ favourite selected from all the night’s winners, at the 2016 IChemE Awards.

The UK speciality chemicals company also won the Chemical Engineering Industry Project of the Year Award, for its project to scale up a gas heated reformer to make it suitable for use in its world-scale 5,000 t/d methanol plant. Gas heated reformers were developed for small plants, but Johnson Matthey used its 20 years of experience to make the technology suitable for its methanol plant, giving much lower emissions, lower capital costs and lower natural gas use than a conventional steam methane reformer, and allowing the use of renewable energy.

The Awards ceremony this year was held at the recently refurbished Principal Hotel, formerly the Palace Hotel, in Manchester, UK. UK television broadcaster Adrian Chiles hosted the event, which saw 17 awards given out in total.

The first award of the night was for Best Business Start-up, and was presented by The Chemical Engineer’s editor Adam Duckett to ALUSID, a UK company which has developed an architectural material made from recycled ceramic, glass and mineral waste that would otherwise be landfilled.

Sustainability is an important theme for chemical engineering, and two other awards went to entries with recycling at their heart. Aqua Metals, from the US, won the Sustainability Award, for its environmentally-friendly lead recycling technology. AquaRefining is a water-based, room temperature process which creates no hazardous waste. The lead can then go back into lead-acid batteries. The Innovative Product of the Year Award was presented to MOL and the University of Pannonia, both from Hungary, for their project to make a bituminous binder from generally non-recyclable waste tyres which can be used in exactly the same way as conventional bitumen in road building and construction.

The Energy Award, which also had a sustainability theme, went to a group from the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique and Aix-Marseille Université from France and the UK’s University of York, which has developed novel active sites for enzymes to break down biomass for second generation biofuels.

Petrochemicals firms are increasingly seeking to improve relations with their neighbours, and one company in Brazil, Unipar Carbocloro, won the Training and Development Award for its unusual approach. In 1985, the company took the decision to open the doors of its factory, with three-hour tours conducted by employees available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Over the past 30 years, more than 105,000 people have toured the facility.

The 2016 Award for Outstanding Chemical Engineering Innovation for Resource-Poor People was awarded to JustMilk, which has developed a drug delivery system for breastfeeding babies. The device is a nipple shield into which dissolvable medicines can be added. The medicines dissolve into the milk as the baby feeds. It is estimated each year that 2.6m babies die within their first month of life, while a further 1.9m die within their first year. Easy-to-use, safe ways to administer medicines to such infants, like JustMilk’s could save their lives.

Another entrant in this category, from Folia Water won the Water Award. Around 1.1bn people worldwide do not have access to clean water, resulting in disease and even death. Folia Water has developed simple, silver-coated paper filters which can remove 99.9% of bacteria from water. The company says just one backpack of filters could treat the water supplies of a village of 500 people for a whole year.

A new award for 2016 was the Team of the Year, which went to a project team comprising members from Amec Foster Wheeler, Centrica Exploration and Production, Emerson and Seajack. The team designed, fabricated and installed a 70 t access walkway on the unmanned Centrica North Morecambe gas platform in the Irish Sea, which was delivered on time and within budget. Also new was the Biotechnology Award which went to Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies.

Two individual awards were given out this year. Alex Kelly, who works for BP, was named the Young Chemical Engineer in Industry. Kelly was recognised for his innovation, technical awareness and focus on safety. As the technology lead for one of BP’s petrochemical plants, he oversaw a first-of-its-kind upgrade and achieved a record production rate, with the lowest feedstock and utility usages for a decade. Timothy Gordon Walmsley, from the University of Waikato in New Zealand, was named the 2016 Young Chemical Engineer in Research. He has expertise in process modelling, integration and optimisation, is already a Chartered Member of IChemE and has contributed to more than 50 research papers.

Other award winners on the night included Evonik, FGV Applied Technologies and Green Lizard Technologies, which won the Food and Drink Award for their palm oil purification process and Sellafield Ltd and NNL, which won the Process Safety Award for work on the Magnox Swarf Storage Silo (MSSS) on the Sellafield site. The University of Birmingham won the award for Research Project of the Year for a new early diagnosis system for prostate cancer.

IChemE president Jonathan Seville opened the evening, as well as presenting a special prize, the IChemE Ambassador Prize, to Rachel Cooke, to recognise her work with the IChemE Food and Drink Special Interest Group.

“These Awards are important because they recognise future potential as well as past achievement. I’m confident that tonight’s winners will go on to achieve even bigger, better things and I wish them the very best,” Seville said.

A full list of winners is available on the IChemE website. The Awards programme is also available online. The Chemical Engineer interviewed the Awards winners on camera on the night. A series of short videos of each of the winners will become available on the IChemE YouTube channel in the coming months. A highlights video will also be posted on The Chemical Engineer’s video page, where you can also view last year’s highlights video.

The IChemE Global Awards ceremony is one of three held by the institution. The IChemE Singapore Awards were held on 21 October, with the IChemE Malaysia Awards following on 24 October.


Article by Staff Writer

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