Process control has emerged as a major field of research for the PSD group during the last decade. Currently, the focus is on the control of particulate processes, advanced chromatographic processes and methanol synthesis as an example of a chemical reaction system that has regained particular attention with the upcoming energy transformation. 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, identification, and new approaches to the robust and nonlinear control of particulate processes. Fluidized bed spray granulation and agglomeration processes have been investigated as interesting examples of applications. Chromatographic processes are switched systems with cyclic behavior. A particular focus of the PSD group has been on online parameters estimation, optimization and adaptive cycle-to-cycle control of simulated moving bed chromatographic processes, which play an important role in difficult separation problems in fine chemistry, including the pharmaceutical industry. Novel challenges for the control of methanol synthesis are posed by new applications for chemical energy storage and power-to-methanol processes under randomly fluctuating conditions. Furthermore, new modes of forced periodic operation are being developed in collaboration with the Seidel-Morgenstern group from the MPI and the Petkovska group from the University of Belgrade.
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 insights to rigorous simultaneous mixed integer nonlinear optimization (MINLP) of process configurations, operating conditions and auxiliary materials. During the period covered by this report, particular emphasis was placed on new methods for integrated molecular and process design for liquid multiphase reaction systems using hierarchical MINLP optimization approaches and on novel analytical and numerical methods for chromatographic processes with implicit adsorption isotherms.
Biosystems engineering has been identified as a research area of common interest at the Max Planck Institute and the Otto von Guericke University. The PSD group makes important contributions to biosystems engineering in the fields of modeling, nonlinear dynamics and control of biotechnological processes with special emphasis on cell-to-cell heterogeneity in multi-cellular systems. Vaccine and biopolymer production processes have been investigated as interesting application examples. Furthermore, the group has started a new activity in cooperation with the Ramkrishna group from Purdue University in the field of biomedical engineering. The project is concerned with chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy, an unwanted side-effect of cancer therapy.
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 multi-phase systems, which involves about 15 other partners, mainly from TU Berlin and TU Dortmund, the priority program SPP 1679 on dynamic flowsheet simulation of particulate processes, the priority program SPP 2080 on catalysts and reactors under dynamic operating conditions for energy storage and transformation, and a novel priority program SPP 2331 on machine learning in chemical engineering.