The Process Synthesis and Dynamics (PSD) group is headed by Achim Kienle, who is an external scientific member of the MPI. He also holds a professorial position at Otto von Guericke University. The MPI and university group collaborate closely. The PSD group develops methods and tools for the synthesis, analysis and control of complex process systems. It combines physical chemical insight with concepts from systems and control theory as well as applied mathematics. Process insight guides the way to suitable problem formulations and to feasible as well as efficient solution strategies. If possible with reasonable effort, theoretical concepts are validated experimentally. With its approach the PSD group helps to bridge the gap between theory and application.
The PSD group is involved in a number of highly visible larger joint research projects with external funding, including the joint research center Transregio SFB 63 on integrated chemical processes in liquid multiphase systems, which involves about 15 other partners mainly from TU Berlin and TU Dortmund, a national priority program SPP 1679 on dynamic flowsheet simulation of particulate processes, a national priority program SPP 2080 on catalysts and reactors under dynamic operating conditions for energy storage and transformation and the MaxSynBio initiative of the Max Planck Society on synthetic biology, and some joint research projects in the field of biosystems engineering funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) with partners from academia and industry.
Process control has emerged as a major field of research for the PSD group during recent years. Currently, focus is on control of particulate processes, advanced chromatographic processes and a challenging reaction system. Particulate processes are described by nonlinear partial differential equations and represent a highly challenging class of distributed parameter systems. Important topics addressed by the PSD group include mathematical modeling, nonlinear model reduction and new approaches to robust and nonlinear control of particulate processes. Novel crystallization, fluidized bed spray granulation and agglomeration processes are considered as interesting application examples. Chromatographic processes are switched systems with cyclic behavior. Particular focus of the PSD group is on adaptive cycle-to-cycle control of simulated moving bed chromatographic processes. New applications are concerned with ternary center cut separations arising in many bio separations, for example. Novel challenges for the control of methanol synthesis are posed by new applications in chemical energy storage as well as the development of new forced periodic modes of operation.
In the field of process design, the PSD group is developing computational methods for a systematic design of complex process systems. Approaches range from shortcut methods based on analytical insight up to rigorous simultaneous mixed integer nonlinear optimization (MINLP) of process configurations and operating conditions. During this period of report, special interest was on new methods for deterministic global MINLP optimization of multiphase reaction and separation systems being developed in cooperation with partners from mathematics and on novel analytical and numerical methods for chromatographic processes with complex adsorption isotherms.
Biosystems engineering has been identified as a research area of common interest at the Max Planck Institute and Otto von Guericke University. Important contributions of the PSD group to biosystems engineering lie in the fields of modeling, nonlinear dynamics and control of biotechnological processes, with special emphasis on cell-to-cell heterogeneity. Vaccine and biopolymer production processes were considered as interesting application examples. Further, activities have been started in the innovative field of conceptual modeling and analysis of synthetic biological systems.