The University of the Witwatersrand conferred an honorary doctorate on one of the world’s intellectual leaders in chemical engineering, Prof. David Glasser, in the Wits Great Hall on 12 December 2012. Glasser was awarded a Doctor of Science in Engineering degree during the annual December Graduation Ceremony.

In his address to the graduates, Glasser outlined man’s journey from the first discovery of fire, to a situation where what we do locally with our energy resources now has global effects. “We have been profligate with our reserves of fossil fuels, and we are seeing signs that we are running out of them. Over and above this, by releasing the products of combustion, namely carbon dioxide, into the atmosphere, we are changing the climate of our one and only space ship, earth,” said Glasser. “This is where your responsibility comes in. We need to find ways of making our planet sustainable for all its inhabitants. We have no other choice! There is no place to hide.”

find ways of making our planet sustainable for all its inhabitants. We have no other choice! There is no place to hide.”

Glasser urged graduates to work together to find ways to make the release and conversion of chemical energy – sunlight that was captured by plants and stored in fossil fuels millions of years ago – more efficient, so that our power plants, motor cars and industries release less carbon dioxide. “We are now entering a new era of technical revolution where engineers will have to lead the way in developing technology that uses our fossil fuel reserves responsibly and effectively,” he said.

Read Glasser’s full address at: http://www.wits.ac.za/files/urvdo_970857001355305234.pdf

Glasser’s most recent work on Process Synthesis focuses on reducing carbon dioxide emissions from chemical plants. For this work, Glasser and his team were also finalists in the 10xE challenge of the American Institution of Chemical Engineers for the most innovative ways to make a significant impact on energy efficiency and carbon dioxide emission reduction.