(562c) Sustainability Control: Theoretical Aspects and Engineering Methods

Song, H., Wayne State University
Yan, L., Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science, Wayne State University
Huang, Y., Wayne State University

Industrial practice on sustainability has been dominantly experience or case/scenario based, which has severely limited application success when tackling complex sustainability problems.  This should be imputed to the fact that sustainability science is far from exact, and there is a serious lack of science-driven, generic approaches for practicing engineering sustainability. 

It is known that engineering sustainability science has three main branches: sustainability measurement science, sustainability analytics, and sustainability decision-making science.  There have been a variety of studies on methodological development with case studies in each branch.  It seems a more urgent research need is to establish a theoretical framework that can integrate sustainability assessment, analysis and decision making as a system and perform these tasks synergistically.  As sustainability is all about development and pathways, this has determined that sustainability development (SD) is a class of non-conventional dynamic control problem, and SD problems should and can be stage-wisely solved in a controllable way.  This type of research should be critical in advancement of engineering sustainability study and be profound for science-driven methodological development in the whole spectrum of sustainability studies.

In this presentation, we introduce a concept called “sustainability control”.  We will discuss the issues of observability, predictability, and controllability of sustainability under uncertainty.  We will then propose a holistic methodology for realizing strategic-tactical control of industrial sustainability by resorting to sustainability fundamentals, system control science, uncertainty theory, and engineering science.  The development should help provide scientific answers to three questions: (i) why and what kind of industrial problems should be tackled as a sustainability control problem, (ii) what kind of sustainability control system should be synthesized and how to do so, and (iii) how to derive decisions for SD of industrial systems under uncertainty?  In specific, we will introduce a predictive input-output modeling method, an interval-parameter-based system and technology assessment method, a multistage, hierarchical decision-making method, and a method for designing a hierarchical sustainability control system.  The efficacy of the sustainability control methodology will be demonstrated by tackling a complex chemical manufacturing sustainability problem.