Our research develops advanced techniques for chemical process systems design. These include strategies for design synthesis, modeling, and optimization, and the development of new software tools for computer-aided design.
Process Modeling and Optimization Systems: Process modeling and optimization calculations are a mainstay in process engineering and design. However, current software packages lack the convergence reliability, modeling flexibility, and computation capabilities that are desired. Our current research incorporates physical variational principles to provide a robust yet practical way to solve modeling and optimization problems involving the large systems of nonlinear equations characteristic of process system models. Methods are being developed that will automatically compute solutions to complex models without requiring initial guesses or user intervention. These will provide the core technology of next-generation modeling packages that generate robust numerical software automatically.
Process Synthesis and Optimization: The process configuration devised for a design often has the greatest impact on the performance of the result. However, present engineering practice must rely upon intuition, rules-of-thumb, and trial-and-error. The research objective here is to develop the scientific basis for the synthesis of
the process flowsheet configuration. Optimal designs are determined by powerful underlying principles which can be discovered and embodied in network synthesis models. Mathematical programming procedures can then be applied to determine the optimal configurations. Our main focus is on separation systems, deriving the best overall integrated heat and mass transfer flow networks based on fundamental thermodynamic criteria.
Other topics: Uncertainty tolerance analysis and design; geometric design; spent fuels processing; new mechanical pulping technology.