Water and Rescources

Water

The world is facing increasing shortages of potable water. Globally by 2020 we will need 17% more water than is currently available. This is affecting the supply of some feedstocks (e.g. recent price rise in sugar) and is focussing attention on the embedded water content of products. The RSC, IChemE and SusChem have all recognised the need to manage water more actively and to ensure an adequate supply of drinking water to the developing world. This impacts on water purification and treatment both municipally and in an industrial context and will require innovative approaches and technologies, as well as the acceptance of water as a resource rather than a utility.

Increasingly it will be expected that companies understand their water usage and the ‘water footprint’ of the raw materials they buy. The Chemistry Innovation supported CCaLC project now includes a water footprinting tool. The Environment Agency offer support and best practice here.

Chemistry Innovation will continue to work with industry to identify opportunities and barriers to reducing water footprints and bring forward collaborative research projects to develop technology to reduce water usage and improve water quality.

Resources

The periodic table has an intellectual beauty, yet we seem to be quite happy to jeopardise our access to parts of it before we’ve fully understood all of its potential. As a global society coping with an increasing population demanding a higher standard of living, we have to manage all our elemental resources in a better way. We are now waking up to how badly we’ve affected the carbon cycle and are understanding that we’ve made similar large scale mistakes with nitrogen and phosphorous. The metallic elements don’t have the same natural cycles so we have to establish our own if we are to use them and continue to expect to be able to. In 2009 Chemistry Innovation produced the following Periodic Table of the Endangered Elements to highlight which elements we are managing poorly:

 

Endangered Elements Periodic Table (Jan 2011)

 

The background to the image is here and it has received exposure in Chemistry World, the Design Museum in London and even at the House of Commons Science Select Committee.

Chemistry Innovation continues to work with key partners to understand how business can mitigate the effects of resource constraints and take advantage of the innovation opportunities it presents.

This work is mainly driven through the Materials Security Special Interest Group.