Environmental Issues and Process Industries

Public interest in environmental issues has driven a broad range of process industries to take greater responsibility in the design and operations of their manufacturing systems. This increasing emphasis on sustainability has motivated a shift in system design and optimization from the traditional, economics-oriented methods toward methods that balance environmental protection with profitability. With this CAREER grant, Fengqi You, Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, is working to incorporate sustainability principles systematically and effectively into the design and optimization of process systems.

Previously, such efforts were limited to the process boundary—from the beginning of the process to the end. Now the boundary has expanded to include the life cycle, or the environment impacts. This broader perspective reduces the chance of unintended externalities but poses more challenges and complications. Some of these challenges include the large size and scope of the problem, the multiscale nature of models and data, the potential presence of non-cooperative decisionmakers, and the high degree of uncertainty across temporal scales.

You and his team are addressing these fundamental issues associated with multiscale sustainability optimization of process systems design and operations decisions. This work augments process systems engineering tools on supply-chain optimization, sustainable engineering, and the treatment of uncertainties. The research has the potential to improve the economic competitiveness and environmental sustainability of the process industries, offering insights to identify sustainable strategies for redesigning process systems and improving operational practices.

Cornell Researchers

Funding Received

$500 Thousand spanning 5 years