In the January 2000 issue of CEP, Andrzej Stankiewicz and Jacob Moulijn introduced readers to the concepts of process intensification (PI) and how PI could transform chemical engineering and process development. They covered topics ranging from novel reactor designs and separations equipment to new methods of integrating operations. And they presciently noted that education would play a key role in democratizing PI concepts, suggesting that chemical engineers would need to be “taught an integrated, task-oriented approach to plant design, [instead of] today’s sequential, operation-oriented one” and would need to “gain a much deeper knowledge and understanding of process chemistry.”
Twenty years later, many of their predictions ring true. While chemical engineers still rely heavily on traditional unit operations, many of the technologies that Stankiewicz and Moulijn identified are now more widely used. Intensified operations and multifunctional systems — such as membrane distillation, reactive distillation, and membrane reactors — are becoming more common in manufacturing settings. Investment in process research and development is increasing. New curricula are being...
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