(22d) Success and Prospects in Process Systems | AIChE

(22d) Success and Prospects in Process Systems


Stephanopoulos, G. - Presenter, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Process Systems Engineering (PSE) has been at the core of chemical engineering's definition as a discipline since the earliest stages of its inception. Production cost reduction, reduction or elimination of pollutants, and delivery of products at desired specs and amounts, have stimulated an integrated view of processing operations since the latter part of the 19th century. As the notion of unit operations enhanced the intellectual underpinnings for better understanding of the physico-chemical phenomena in a production system, the ability of a system-wide treatment of manufacturing processes started to take off. The revolutionary step in the phenomenal growth of PSE came with the advent of computers. The computer-aided PSE of the second half of the 20th century may be, arguably, credited with the precipitous reduction in unit production cost of all commodity chemicals and materials. At the same time, the expansion of the scope of PSE to include diagnosis, control, and optimization of process operations led to a fast modernization of the chemical processing industries at large, including the pharmaceutical, specialty chemicals, biochemicals, and functional materials industries. Today, PSE has been shaped into a powerful core area of chemical engineering affecting all aspects of CPI including the following: integrated design of products and processes that manufacture them; design of devices for biomedical applications; definition and deployment of sustainable chemicals' production processes; and identification deployment of alternative energy opportunities. As PSE's core influence in CPI has been strengthened and expanded its educational underpinnings have molded generations of chemical engineers, who have taken their skills far beyond the original confines of manufacturing systems with significant impact in many areas of the world economy.