Process Intensification is where “Lean” & “Sustainability” come together. PI has been around for some time now. If I go back to my chemical engineering roots when we were always looking for ways of improving output in a smaller reactor or processing unit. The manufacturing sector has been doing the same with robotics, automation and factory layouts with smaller footprints. It all comes back to the same fundamental principles about productivity and getting more for less. Rolls Royce plan to roll out their small modular nuclear reactors in 2029. The ideas and innovation around this has been driven from both a lean and sustainability mindset with the aim of process intensification. These units will not just have a greater unit power output than other forms of power generation, but will have a small environmental footprint and form part of a utility ecosystem. It will also have the benefit of offsite modular construction, which will make construction easier, cheaper and have a better environmental footprint.
The beauty of a PI mindset is that it can apply everywhere and at any scale, from nuclear, chemical plants to factories the office and the home. If we take the office, we can use the example of going paperless, using low lighting and computer equipment. If we look at the home, there are the opportunities for recycling, packaging elimination energy efficient equipment and proactive management. As we know electrical products and components are getting smaller and more powerful. This is PI. The big challenge is waste, in-built obsolescence which must be challenged through education and appropriate recycling. The potential to recycle Li-Ion batteries is critical.
The reason I favour the use of the term Process Intensification in this context is because the words are precise and powerful. This aids the awareness and discussion, in turn increasing the drive for positive change. Any lean process needs to be truly sustainable and the overall footprint both physical and carbon must be aggregated down. Multiple small changes initiated by education and technology will have the biggest positive impact. This will also reduce the net consumption of individuals. This fits within the mantra of my coaching school founder, Dr.Bruce Schneider, “Raising the consciousness of the world one by one”