Engineers in the 21st century will need to design for energy efficiency, mass efficiency, and low environmental emissions. Figure 1-14 shows the types of transitions that must occur to achieve these goals (NRC, 2005). Both near and long-term steps are needed reduce fossil resource consumption and approach zero waste generation from engineered processes and products.
Figure 1-14. Grand challenges for a sustainable chemical industry (Adapted from NRC, 2005)
Some of these engineering challenges (e.g., energy efficiency) have always been a goal of engineering design. For other challenges (e.g., reducing emissions), the goals are newer, and these new challenges will require new types of tools. The engineers of the 21st century will need to adapt to these new demands and the use of these new tools.