Process Systems Engineering-Chemical Engineering - Carnegie Mellon University

Process Systems Engineering



Lorenz Biegler -  Chrysanthos Gounaris  -  Ignacio Grossmann -  Nikolaos Sahinidis – Jeffrey SiirolaErik Ydstie

Related Program: Center for Advanced Process Decision-making

Research in Process Systems Engineering (PSE) is currently directed by Professors Biegler, Gounaris, Grossmann, Sahinidis, Siirola and Ydstie, while Professor Westerberg is currently Emeritus Professor.  The Carnegie Mellon PSE group represents the largest one in the United States.  The research is carried out in the department's state-of-the-art computational facilities by about 50 graduate students and 15 post-doctoral researchers and visitors, and is supported by funding in excess of $3 million per year.  Our research goal is to provide intellectual leadership in complex decision-making issues faced by process industries.  Our underlying approach is based on developing and advancing systematic modeling and solution methods for multi-scale process systems engineering, covering the full spectrum from the molecular to the enterprise level.

The research work of the PSE group is focused in four major areas: Optimization, Design, Operations, and Control.  Research in Optimization includes theoretical and methodological advances in large-scale nonlinear programming, mixed-integer and disjunctive programming, global optimization, the optimization of differential-algebraic systems, stochastic programming, and the optimization of data-driven models and analytics.  Topics in Design involve applications in areas such as shale-gas facilities, biofuel plants, reaction/separation systems, energy and process water integration, process intensification, carbon-capture systems, fuel cells, solar cells and power systems, materials design (e.g., catalysts, solvents, performance fluids), metabolic networks, and bioinformatics.  Topics in Operations include enterprise-wide optimization, supply chain management and optimization under uncertainty, planning and scheduling of batch and continuous process systems, real-time optimization, and electric power grids (smart grid).  Finally, topics in Control include adaptive control and on-line parameter estimation, self-learning control, control of distributed systems, thermodynamics-based control, passivity theory, the design and verification of process operating systems, and real-time data analysis. 
Over the past two decades, the PSE group at Carnegie Mellon has graduated over 150 Ph.D. students.  The PSE faculty have authored the classic textbook “Systematic Methods of Chemical Process Design” (Pearson), developed state-of-the-art optimization software (e.g., BARON, DICOPT, IPOPT, LOGMIP, rSQP), and there has been widespread adoption of Carnegie Mellon-developed research strategies among a large number of academic departments.  The PSE faculty have also assumed leadership positions in AIChE and its CAST division, and routinely serve in chief editorial roles for a number of journals, including AIChE Journal, Computers & Chemical Engineering, Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research, International Journal of Adaptive Control and Signal Processing, Journal of Global Optimization, Optimization in Engineering, and SIAM Journal on Optimization.

In addition, the PSE group is involved in a number of research interactions with other Carnegie Mellon departments and centers, including the Tepper School of Business and its Operations Research and Operations Management & Manufacturing programs, the Institute for Complex Engineered Systems (ICES), and the departments of Biomedical Engineering, Computer Science, Electrical and Computer Engineering, Material Science and Engineering, and Mathematical Sciences.  Moreover, our research activities include numerous international interactions and research collaborations, which include among others Åbo Akademi University (Finland), École des Mines de Paris (France), Imperial College (UK), Instituto Tecnológico de Celaya (Mexico), INTEC (Argentina), Kyoto University (Japan), NTNU (Norway), PLAPIQUI (Argentina), Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile (Chile), Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), RWTH-Aachen (Germany), Technische Universität-Berlin (Germany), Technische Universität-Dortmund (Germany), Universidad de Alicante (Spain), Universidad de Cantabria (Spain), Universidad Iberoamericana (Mexico),  Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (Spain), and Université Catholique de Louvain (Belgium).

The Center for Advanced Process Decision-making (CAPD), founded in 1985, provides an umbrella organization for interactions with industry in the Process Systems Engineering area.  Based on fundamental research in modeling, optimization and control, the CAPD addresses a wide range of issues of practical industrial relevance.  As a result of the increasing scope of the consortium’s interests, the Center also organizes two special interest groups, namely Enterprise-Wide Optimization and Energy Systems Initiative.  Companies that are currently members of the CAPD include the following: ABB, Air Liquide, Air Products & Chemicals, Braksem, Dow Chemical, Eastman Chemical Company, ExxonMobil Corporation, GAMS Corporation, Neste Engineering Oy, NETL, Paragon Decision Technology, Petrobras, Praxair, Procter & Gamble, Rockwell Automation, Sasol, SK Innovation, Total.  These companies help to support our research through membership fees and, in a number of cases, through special industrial projects.

Our students enjoy the opportunity to present their work and meet with the industrial researchers during regular CAPD review meetings and workshops.  In addition, the CAPD facilitates opportunities for our graduate students to engage in summer industrial internships at the member companies.  The training of students in the PSE group makes them attractive candidates for placement after graduation.  Several of our students have taken academic positions at world-renowned institutions (e.g., Georgia Tech, Imperial College, McMaster, University, Northwestern University, Oxford University, Princeton University, Purdue University, University of Edinburgh, University of Wisconsin) or have been employed by companies such as Aspen Technology, AT Kearney, Bank of America, British Petroleum, Chevron, Dow Chemical, ExxonMobil, McKinsey & Co., Royal Dutch Shell, OSIsoft, United Technologies, and many of the CAPD member companies.