Chemical Systems Engineering
Development of chemical system engineering discipline for smart utilization of unutilized resources thereby leveraging the rural-urban nexus to create sustainable society
The chemical industries have pursued profits by developing stable and efficient methods to produce from fossil resources products that are indispensable in our modern society, such as plastics, fuel, fertilizers, etc. However, the fossil fuels are depleting, and its availability sometimes become unacceptably low due to sociopolitical interventions. On the other hands, many countries, including Japan, have good access to their natural resources recursively available from forests, rivers and ocean if appropriately exploited.
Now, we need a shift of paradigm in all aspects of chemical industries. The rural-urban nexus must be better understood. The rural have better access to recursive natural resources, therefore appropriately sized circular economy must be established there to sustain their community instead of being marginalized and diminished. The cost reduction in chemical plants has been relying on concentrated production at a large scale. Under the new paradigm, we will need new cost reduction schemes. Chemical process design must be practiced not only targeting a single chemical plant, but also multiple plants that from industrial symbiosis, even integrating ideas from other stakeholders such as consumers, recyclers, and producers from primary industries (i.e., agriculture, forestry, fishery). In our research group led by Dr. Yasuhiro Fukushima and Dr. Hajime Ohno, we fully utilize multiple simulation tools in an interdisciplinary research environment to develop a new field of chemical systems engineering to define how chemical technologies can contribute to sustainability.