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Executive Summary The chemical sciences have made enormous contributions to the well-being of our nation and to that of the world as an economic driver and through the manufactured substances that range from life-saving pharmaceuticals to materi- als that improve the safety of our automobiles. At the same time, the relationship between the chemical sciences and the environment is on less firm ground. Indeed, to a great extent the environmental movement in the 1970s began in response to harmful effects of certain industrial chemicals. It matters little that those harmful effects were unintentional, because the harm was real. Over the last several decades, chemists and chemical engineers indeed, the entire chemical enterprise have made remarkable progress on several fronts. Earlier practices of disposing of chemical waste directly into the air, water- ways, and soil largely have been replaced with approaches that have much lower environmental impact. Industrial and automotive smog have been greatly reduced, our rivers and streams are much cleaner than they were three decades ago, and we have almost completely eliminated the use of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and other halogenated compounds that cause ozone depletion in the stratosphere. Modern pesticides are safer for the environment and are used in much smaller quantities, and the chemical industry has adopted a program of Responsible Caret in which it practices stewardship of the chemicals it produces from cradle to grave. Perhaps most importantly, the research activities of chemists and chemical engineers have made huge strides toward understanding the chemistry of the envi- ronment at a fundamental level. http://www. americanchemistry. com/ 1
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2 THE ENVIRONMENT However, much remains to be done. The challenge is global in nature: not only do countries around the world face environmental problems, but pollutants generated in one location are transported across continents and oceans. Similarly, the different parts of the environment are interconnected, and attempting to man- age environmental sinks separately will only move the problem from one phase to another. The magnitude and scope of the problem is huge, and the inescapability of environmental problems demands major effort in science and engineering. In November 2002, as part of Challenges for the Chemical Sciences in the 21st Century, the Board on Chemical Sciences and Technology convened the Work- shop on the Environment in Irvine, California. The workshop organizing com- mittee assembled a group of top environmental scientists to deliver plenary lec- tures (Appendix C), and an outstanding group of chemical scientists and engineers from academia, government, national laboratories, and industrial laboratories was recruited to participate in the workshop (Appendix F). Through the use of extensive discussion periods and breakout sessions, input from the entire group of participants was obtained during the course of the workshop. The results of the breakout sessions are presented in Appendix G. and written versions of the speakers' presentations are provided in Appendix D. In combination with other references cited in this report, the data collected at the workshop provide the basis for this report. The structure of the Workshop on the Environment followed that of the par- ent project and each of the other workshops that were held as part of the study of Challenges for the Chemical Sciences in the 21st Century (Materials and Manu- facturing, Energy and Transportation, National Security and Homeland Defense, Information and Communications, and Health and Medicine). Under this struc- ture, the workshop addressed four specific themes: 1. Discovery: What major discoveries or advances related to the environ- ment have been made in the chemical sciences during the last several decades? 2. Interfaces: What are the major environment-related discoveries and chal- lenges at the interfaces between chemistry-chemical engineering and other disci- plines, including biology, information science, materials science, and physics? 3. Challenges: What are the environment-related grand challenges in the chemical sciences and engineering? 4. Infrastructure: What are the issues at the intersection of environmental studies and the chemical sciences for which there are structural challenges and opportunities in teaching, research, equipment, codes and software, facilities, and personnel? Workshop participants provided a broad range of experience and perspec- tive, and their discussions and presentations identified a wide variety of opportu- nities and challenges in chemistry and chemical engineering. These opportunities and challenges, which are documented throughout this report (including many of
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EXECUTIVE SUMMARY 3 the specifics described in Appendix D and Appendix G), led the committee to its overarching conclusions. Conclusion: Chemistry and chemical engineering have made major con- tributions to solving environmental problems. Specific areas of accomplishment include · major increases in analytical capabilities detection, monitoring, and measurement; · increased understanding of biogeochemical processes and cycles; meets); advances in industrial ecology new attitudes about pollution prevention; development of environmentally benign materials (e.g., CFC replace- · new methods for waste treatment and pollution prevention; · green chemistry and new chemical processes; · discovery of environmental problems and identification of their underly- ing causes and mechanisms; and · development of improved modeling and simulation techniques. Conclusion: Collaboration of chemists and chemical engineers with sci- entists and engineers in other disciplines has led to important discover- ~es. These contributions have enhanced both basic understanding and the solu- tion of environmental problems through work at the interfaces of the chemical sciences with biology, physics, engineering, materials science, mathematics, com- puter science, atmospheric science, meteorology, and geology. Conclusion: Manifold challenges and opportunities in chemistry and chemical engineering exist at the interface with the environmental sci- ences. By responding to these opportunities and challenges, the chemical sciences community will be able to make substantial contributions to · fundamental understanding of the environment, · remediation of environmental problems that currently exist, · prevention of environmental problems in the future, and · protection of the environment. The stakes for responding to these challenges are high because regulatory decisions might cost or preserve billions of dollars, impact millions of human lives, or even determine the fate of entire species. Much of the discussion at the workshop emphasized the interrelated nature of the many parts of the environment. Typically, it is not possible to take action in
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4 THE ENVIRONMENT one area without creating at least the possibility of impacting other areas as well. In order to avoid such undesired consequences, a systems approach will be needed for the discovery and management of problems of the atmosphere, water, and soil. This will be necessary not only for understanding the complexity of each medium but for avoiding regulatory-driven tendencies to simply shift impacts from one medium to another. A life-cycle systems approach, similar to what has been developed to evalu- ate energy impacts, will facilitate sound management of environmental impacts. This will provide a clear understanding of both where and when environmental impacts occur in the life of a product, process, or service. It also will make it possible to appreciate all impacts, and to see how interactions and alternatives at each point in a life cycle can influence other parts of the life cycle. For chemical processing and manufacturing, significant impact can occur at various stages, including extraction and preparation of raw materials, conversion of raw materi- als into products, separation and purification of materials, product distribution, end use of products, and final disposition after the useful life of products. Conclusion: A systems approach is essential for solution of environmen- tal problems. The systems approach will be needed in several areas, including · actions that affect any of the three principal environmental sinks (air, wa- ter, and soil) and the biological systems with which they interact, where attempts to manage each of them separately will surely transfer impacts from one medium to another; · spatial management of environmental-impact sources where the impacts are generated in a processing and manufacturing sequence; and · temporal management of environmental-impact sources when the im- pacts are generated in a processing and manufacturing sequence. The use of systems approaches will necessitate simulation and modeling of enormously large and complex systems. This will require significant computa- tional resources, intensive efforts in complex optimization, and formulation of mathematical models. Input and expertise from a broad array of scientific, engi- neering, and social disciplines will be an essential part of developing the neces- sary tools. Conclusion: Solving environmental problems will require intensive mathematical modeling, complex optimization, and computational re- sources. Systems approaches will necessitate extensive collaborations among a wide range of scientific, engineering, and social disciplines. Modeling of large envi-
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EXECUTIVE SUMMARY s ronmental systems (e.g., climate modeling that spans large temporal and spatial ranges) will generate massive datasets, fast and robust networks, and powerful computers for processing the data arrays. A broad array of research challenges face the chemical sciences, both in areas of fundamental understanding and for specific environmental problems. Conclusion: Important opportunities exist for chemists and chemical en- gineers to contribute to a better understanding of the environment. Many of these research opportunities will involve work at the interfaces with other disciplines or interdisciplinary collaborations with scientists and engineers from those disciplines. Just as these collaborations have led to significant progress in the past, they should be expected to play an important role in the future to fully understand and solve environmental problems. Examples include the need to un- derstand (or better understand) · structure-toxicity relations; · chemical processes at the molecular level; · biological and physicochemical interactions in response to environmental stresses; · fate and transport of anthropogenic chemicals; · biogeochemical cycles; · gas-to-particle conversion in the atmosphere; · functional genomics and the chemical processes that govern organism- environment relationships; and . chemical-gene interactions in the real environment. As we continue to better understand the underlying science of the environ- ment, further advances will require new tools and instruments. Conclusion: Chemists and chemical engineers will need to develop new analytical instruments and tools. These tools and instruments will have to function effectively in an increas- ingly complex research arena that involves measurements of vanishingly small quantities of substances in the presence of contamination from other chemicals, under circumstances that make sample acquisition difficult. They will have to address three principal areas of measurement: 1. laboratory analyses 2. field measurements 3. theoretical tools for modeling and comparison with experiment Conclusion: Improved methods for sampling and monitoring must be developed.
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6 THE ENVIRONMENT Chemists and chemical engineers will have to address the challenges of sampling and monitoring air, water, and soil more extensively and more frequently than can be done now. This will require improvements in instrumenta- tion, in sampling methodology, and in techniques for remote measurements. Conclusion: The new approaches of green chemistry and sustainable chemistry offer the potential for developing chemical and manufactur- ing processes that are environmentally beneficial. We are still in the early stages, but successful examples already have been reported. If the necessary investment is made in these new directions, chemists and chemical engineers will be able to make major strides in improving environ- mental quality. Conclusion: Strong and continued support of the chemical sciences will be an essential part of the federal research investment for understand- ing, improving, and protecting the environment. Chemists and chemical engineers will be able to respond effectively to the challenges described here only if they have the resources needed to carry out the necessary research. This impact of support will be enhanced if it facilitates inter- disciplinary research and encourages industrial partnerships. The scientific progress resulting from such support will inform and enable the policy-making and decision process that is essential to future environmental improvement.
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