Process Synthesis

A fundamental problem in chemical engineering is process design. The selection of unit operations, their interconnections, and operational conditions to generate a flowsheet is a challenging problem. An integrated process flowsheet consists of subsystems which are typically designed independently; however, in a superstructure optimization framework, subsystems must be modeled and considered simultaneously. These subsystems are:

  1. Reactor Network: The goal is to optimize the selection and sequence of reactions, interconnections among reactors, and process conditions required to transform a set of raw materials into a set of products.
  2. Separation Network: Optimization of the sequence of separation tasks, selection of separation technology, and process conditions needed to produce products according to a set of constraints (yield, purity, cost, etc.)
  3. Heat Exchanger Network: We seek to optimize heat exchange between hot and cold streams to reduce utility consumption and improve process efficiency.

A superstructure incorporates all potentially useful units and relevant interconnections. Our work focuses on developing mathematical programming models for individual subsystems and the overall integrated superstructure problem. In addition, we develop solution methods aimed at reducing the computational requirements for the solution of large scale instances.