Monday, April 11, 2011
12:00 PM – 1:00 PM
Civil and Environmental Engineering
All are invited to attend
Environmental Seminar Series
Environmental Sustainability – Key Roles of Engineers
Tapas Das, PhD, PE, DEE
The idea of sustainability and/or sustainable development emerged from the World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED), the so-called Brundtland commission, which defined sustainable development in “Our Common Future” as that which meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Environmental sustainability and/or sustainable development “occurs when we maintain or improve the material and social conditions for human health and the environment over time without exceeding the ecological capabilities that support them”. As such, sustainability has three underlying bases: (1) economic viability - the cost and business aspects of a project; (2) social concern - human health and social welfare; and (3) natural or ecological issues – depletion of natural capital and environment. Sustainable development has become a major driving initiative in engineering businesses throughout the world today. Our focus is on environmental sustainability, which is a key component of sustainable development.
It has been generally acknowledged that the increasing use of non-renewable resources to support an increasing population has created an unsustainable situation. Should this rate of use be maintained, two dire consequences will follow: first, the future generations will be unable to maintain a high standard of living, and second, developing countries will have less of an opportunity to bring their living standards to a level comparable to that of the affluent West. The practice of chemical engineering, perhaps more than any other technical discipline, involves the use of both non-renewable and renewable materials, and energy and exergy (available energy) resources for the production of chemicals, constructions of buildings, roads, bridges, wastewater treatment plants, transportation systems, power plants; value-added goods, services of commerce, and waste as pollution. Not all wastes from these activities may or may not be harmful or hazardous if released to the environment. However, pollution is any release to environment (i.e., any routine or accidental emission, effluent, spill, discharge, or disposal to the air, water and land) that contaminates or degrade the environment over time.
It is critically important that engineers, scientists incorporate the ideas of pollution prevention and environmental sustainability into process and product design, manufacturing, value chain management, and industrial hazardous and/or non-hazardous by-products synergy for the purpose of minimizing resource utilization, and adverse health and environmental impact. The concepts and applications of innovative methodology and technologies for pollution prevention hierarchy, and sustainability tools including Green Engineering, Industrial Ecology, and Life- Cycle Assessment (LCA) are becoming part of research and development practice to extend the knowledge of, and offer solution to, complex environmental sustainability issues – recognizing the need for balance between societal needs and social responsibilities.
This talk will primarily deal with the ideas of environmental sustainability and/or sustainable development, methodologies to redesign sustainable civil, environmental, chemical and allied processes, products, service development using the LCA approach and some case studies. Also, this talk will focus on what engineers, toxicologists, biologists, economists, policy makers, scientists, and researchers from multi-disciplines of engineering, science, medicine, literature, and arts can further contribute through interdisciplinary research, seminars, and educational activities, to fully visualize, establish and implement environmental sustainability and sustainable development.
Tapas K. Das obtained his B.Sc. from Jadavpur University in Kolkata and Ph.D. from Bradford University in England, both in Chemical Engineering. He was postdoctoral research associates at Imperial College of Science, Technology, and Medicine (Chemical Engineering Department) in England, and at Princeton University's Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department, New Jersey. Tapas is a registered Professional Chemical Engineer in Washington and Oregon States, and a Diplomate Environmental Engineer (DEE) of the American Academy of Environmental Engineers (AAEE). He currently serves as chair of the Air Pollution Control Committee and Development and Upgrading the Examination Committee, and as a trustee on the AAEE’s Board of Trustees. For the past 20 plus years, Tapas has held professional employment in colleges and universities, corporation, industries, government agencies, and consulting firms with a strong emphasis in chemical and environmental engineering. Presently, Dr. Das is working as an adjunct professor at the School of Engineering at Saint Martin’s University in Lacey, Washington and published a must read book entitled: “Toward Zero Discharge: Innovative Methodology and Technologies for Process Pollution Prevention,” John Wiley and Sons, Hoboken, NJ. Over the years, Tapas authored/co-authored over 70 papers and articles in archived journals, Kirk-Othmer Encyclopedia of Chemical Technology, and American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) topical conference and symposium series.
He is a past Chair of the AIChE Environmental Division (2006-2007), and is presently serving as the Chair of the Division’s Water Section. He is one of the founding members of the AIChE’s Institute for Sustainability and Sustainable Engineering Forum. He is a past Chair of the AIChE’s Puget Sound Chapter in Seattle and Olympia. Tapas is also a member of several other organizations including, the Indian Institute of Chemical Engineers, American Chemical Society, American Ecological Engineering Society, Air and Waste Management Association and the Pacific Northwest International Section; International Institutes for Liquid Atomization and Spray Systems. Tapas served on the technical advisory committee at the International Center of Ecological Engineering at the University of Kalyani, West Bengal and the Center for Multiphase Environmental Research at Washington State University.