STUDENTS from the UK’s University of Manchester have won the Macnab-Lacey prize, the third time that a team from the university has won the sustainability-focussed prize since its launch in 2011.
The award is given annually by IChemE, via its Sustainability Special Interest Group, in recognition of the final-year chemical engineering students who submit the best sustainable design project. The team from Manchester, consisting of Charmaine Chee, Luke Dryden, Luke Glynn, Hendrick Hendrick, Andrew Shannon and Hui Ling Tan, designed a plant that would produce 1,4 butanediol in a sustainable way.
Butanediol is used as a solvent in the production of a range of plastics such as spandex, and its global demand is expected to increase by 8% year-on-year.
Manchester’s project was chosen for the top spot following a unanimous vote from the judges.
Malcolm Wilkinson, chair of IChemE’s Sustainability Special Interest Group, said: “All the submissions we received [...] were presented well, with a good use of metrics to judge the sustainability of their designs.
'The winning entry stood out for being particularly strong in the quantitative analysis of alternative process schemes using sustainability criteria. This was continued through the choices made in the detailed design, using metrics to analyse and justify the overall sustainability of the operation. The team considered environmental, economic and social impacts in their report and I am delighted to present the team with their cheques and certificates.'
Colin Webb, former head of Manchester’s School for Chemical Engineering and Analytical Science who manages the logistics of the design project, said: “Our winning team has made the process for the production of butanediol adaptable to changing feedstocks, which is really excellent. They worked tirelessly on this project for three months and can be justly proud of their achievement.
“This is the third time in six years that a team from University of Manchester has won the award, and we are, of course, very pleased and proud.”
The highly-commended mention went to a team at Monash University, Australia, for its project “L-Glutamic Acid Production Facility”. The six-strong team – Nathan Brosnahan, Mitchell Fly, April Jinnette, Sean McKellar, Steven Prokopiwskyi, and Kim Sho – was presented with its certificate in Melbourne, Australia last December. Teams from Monash University have previously won the 2013 and 2014 Macnab-Lacey Prize.
A team from Imperial College London was also highly-commended. They will be presented with their certificate at the IChemE Sustainability Special Interest Group AGM in March.
The winners of the Macnab-Lacey prize receive £750, funded jointly by the Lacey Fund and the Sustainability Subject Group, which manages the award process. This year was the sixth year the competition has run. Invitations to enter and detailed entry criteria were sent to all IChemE-accredited universities worldwide in 2016.
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