“When in doubt in this business, we always try to return to the principles of nature to see what we can learn,” said Nicholas Nelson of Guaranteed Pest Control & Fertilization. “Over the last decade in particular we’ve made a lot of advancements towards that end, and it is within that spirit that sustainable process design in chemical engineering continues to take shape.”
Chemical engineering itself is largely what it sounds like – a type of engineering that is concerned with both the design and the operation of industrial chemical plants. One of the prime examples of how those products tend to be used has to do with pest control.
But at the same time, chemical engineering is an inherently dangerous process – both in terms of the chemicals that are being created and their potential negative impact on the environment.
Sustainable Process Design
That is, in large part, the driving principle behind sustainable process design in this context. “Being environmentally friendly is a part of this,” said Nicholas Nelson. “But at the same time, that’s not the complete story. You do have to step back and take a look at the bigger picture.”
More precisely, sustainable process design is about taking advancements in technology and combining them with chemical engineering processes that themselves come with lower safety risks. It’s possible to do a lot these days in terms of the reduction of the raw materials being used to create certain products and services, for example. Just because a certain amount of raw materials were necessary for the past doesn’t mean they still are today.
The same is true of energy and water consumption. By thinking about things in a slightly different way, it’s possible to arrive at the same results while using far smaller amounts of energy and water to get there. This, too, optimizes the performance of a site while minimizing its impact on the surrounding area.
Pollution & Hazardous Waste
This is all especially true when it comes to one of the biggest goals of sustainable process design: the reduction or outright avoidance of both hazardous waste and pollution.
In addition to minimizing the impact that these types of chemical plants have on the environment, there are other secondary benefits as well. Chief among them is a major improvement in both the health and comfort of all who work in that environment. The less exposed to risk a workforce is, the happier and more engaged with their job they happen to be overall.
All told, sustainable process design in chemical engineering is setting out to accomplish a few key things, largely all at the same time. First, it aims to help people optimize the potential of a particular site through the techniques outlined above. This also has the added benefit of minimizing the use of non-renewable energy.
Part of how it gets there involves encouraging the use of environmentally friendly products whenever possible, while also protecting precious water resources as well.
The Advantages of Sustainable Design
This all leads to a major enhancement in both the indoor and outdoor areas of a particular environment. In the short term, this helps organizations reduce safety risks, increase efficiency, and cut costs in one fell swoop. Over the long term, it helps us all collectively do our part to protect the fragile environment while achieving the same results we always have, which in and of itself is the most important benefit of all.
One crucial thing to understand about all of this is that sustainability is not just a priority in chemical engineering. Various advantages can be achieved elsewhere, too. In the healthcare space, for example, sustainable processes and building construction practices inspired by nature are being used to create better outcomes for patients all the time. Even certain municipalities are using sustainability at the forefront of the design of entire communities, leading to spaces that are more energy efficient overall while being more pleasant to live in for citizens.
This just happens to be how professionals are going about accomplishing these goals in the chemical engineering space. Thankfully, not only is it being adopted in other areas, but it is also one trend that shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon.
About Nicholas C. Nelson
Born in Brooklyn, New York, Nicholas C. Nelson and his family moved to Palm Beach County, Florida, when he was three. After completing his education, he would take up the pest control trade and eventually go on to accomplish the lifelong dream of starting his own business.
For nearly two decades, Mr. Nelson – along with the rest of the team at Guaranteed Pest Control & Fertilization – has dutifully supported the local community through its business practices and the organization’s level of care and attention to detail. He was also nominated to become a member of the UF/IFAS Advisory Council in 2010, among other accomplishments.