Superstructure Representation & Generation

For design problems, which are not solved online or repeatedly, most of the effort goes into the generation of the design alternatives and the formulation of the models rather than their solution. Thus, methods that can facilitate this process can potentially have significant impact. Towards this goal, we developed the UPCS framework based on three basic elements, Units (u), Ports (p), and Conditioning Streams (s). Each unit has a set of inlet and outlet ports, where the inlet ports are generally treated as mixers while the outlet ports are treated as splitters. Also, the use of conditioning streams allows us to treat the main reaction/separation tasks and the conditioning tasks separately. The UPCS representation allows straightforward superstructure generation as well as easy model generation and modification (Wu et al., 2016).

We use this framework to identify optimal separation networks for the recovery of chemicals from microbial-based conversions where the separation system contributes more than 70% of the total production cost. Specifically, we developed a framework for bio-separation network synthesis (Wu et al., 2017) and applied it to the synthesis of separation process for extracellular and intracellular chemicals (Wu et al., 2019; Yenkie et al., 2017).


Systematic framework to identify optimal separation network for the recovery of intracellular chemicals from microbial-based conversions using UPCS (Unit/Ports/Conditioning Streams) representation.

Reproduced from (Yenkie et al., 2017), licensed under CC BY 4.0


Wu W, Yenkie KM, Maravelias,CT. Synthesis and analysis of separation processes for extracellular chemicals generated from microbial conversions. BMC Chemical Engineering, 21, 2019.

Wu W, Yenkie KM, Maravelias CT. A superstructure-based framework for bio-separation network synthesis. Computers and Chemical Engineering, 94, 1-17, 2017.

Wu W, Henao CA, Maravelias CT. A Superstructure Representation, Generation, and Modeling Framework for Chemical Process Synthesis. AIChE J., 62 (9), 3199-3214, 2016.

Yenkie KM, Wu W, Maravelias CT. Synthesis and analysis of separation networks for the recovery of intracellular chemicals generated from microbial-based conversions. Biotechnology for Biofuels, 10:119, 2017.