The American Chemical Society has outlined its members' vision for the chemistry enterprise in 2015 at its national meeting in Washington DC.

Karen Harries-Rees/Washington DCUS     

The American Chemical Society (ACS) has outlined its members’ vision for the chemistry enterprise in 2015 at its national meeting in Washington DC.

The ACS is assessing the direction chemistry is heading and identifying any mid-course corrections. The vision covers economic issues; science and technology; education, workforce and careers; and government.

’We got a clear set of expectations from members,’ said Doug Raber of GreenPoint Science, who is working on the project.

Globalisation was a key feature of the findings, with members expecting developing countries to have expanded by 2015, especially those with low labour costs. They expect China to be a strong, international competitor.

By 2015, a significant amount of China’s electricity will come from nuclear power, while the US is likely to have built one new nuclear power plant. As a result, chemists need to develop new, safe processes for spent fuel reprocessing and waste disposal, said the ACS. People also need to be trained to replace the experts who are retiring.

Retirements will have an impact across chemistry. The ACS predicts that one third of chemists will retire over the next decade. This will boost job opportunities, although in real terms there will only be a three per cent growth in jobs in 2015.

Members see biotech enabling advances in highly specialised chemistry but they do not see a fundamental shift to a bio-based approach. They expect funding bodies to understand that challenges extend beyond the overlap with biology and say that new knowledge must be generated in core chemistry.

Catalysts, engineering and infrastructure for hydrogen fuel will be a continuing challenge in 2015. And sustainability and green chemistry will be important. 

The final Chemistry enterprise 2015  paper will be published at the end of the year.