Below please find some general findings and conclusions from the International Process Integration Jubilee Conference in Gothenburg, March 18-20, 2013. Some actions taken after the conference and suggestions for further actions are described after the findings. The idea is to have a living document, for which I would love to welcome comments and suggestions to be included in the document. I will update it regularly and insert any comments and news about actions taken. Within IEA, IETS (International Energy Agency, Industrial Energy Related Technologies and Systems), which was one of the organizers of the conference, we have already discussed possible international activities in the process integration area. Some suggestions for further direct international cooperation will be discussed at our next ExCo meeting in Washington DC, November 7-8. A first compilation of such ideas is included below. I distribute this document to all participants at the conference, giving everybody an opportunity to comment and to announce a possible interest to participate in these further activities. Comments or statements of interest to participate are therefore most welcome, preferably in good time before November 7.
The contents of the two-and-a-half-day conference were, in brief:
- Day 1: Methodologies
- Day 2: Applications
- Day 3: System and environmental aspects
In the afternoon of Day 3, there was a workshop on teaching aspects of process integration.
You find all details about the presentations at the conference here.
Some major issues being discussed are summarized below:
Two important time perspectives for process integration
There are two important time perspectives for process integration. These two levels, of equal importance, are methodologies and application of these in today’s and tomorrow’s industry (for energy saving, debottlenecking, environmental performance, etc) and methodologies and application of process integration in a more future and strategic perspective.
Of the two levels, applications and methodologies in today’s and tomorrow’s industry is still the dominating level. One finding was that there is still a need for development of user friendly tools in some areas. On the other hand, it was argued that PI studies should be performed by expert and tools should therefore be adapted to this category of consultants/researchers. A general obstacle for performing good applied studies or commercial projects was found to be the limited resources and number of personnel in industry today, who can receive and implement the findings as well as providing good input data for the studies.
In spite of this, PI is used today in most types of industry worldwide. The PI community has not been extremely good at describing this and highlighting success stories. At the conference, several projects were described, which could very well serve as success stories. The opportunities with process integration methodologies and the breadth of application areas (several such areas were presented at the conference) should therefore be collected and presented even better than what is done so far.
The use of PI in more future and strategic projects is of course not new, but there is an increasing interest. The reason for this is the increasing interest for new, partly environmentally driven, concepts such as biorefineries, new types of industrial clusters and new process routes, which are not yet fully developed and for which the economy will depend partly on new policy instruments. For such projects, process integration can be crucial, which should be disseminated more. There is often a need for cooperation between industry, academy, equipment suppliers, consultants, etc and some examples were presented, which are good success stories for large multi-disciplinary projects. For such strategic projects, new optimization approaches should be developed or existing ones should be modified, so that “optimizable” parameters are identified, optimization is also taking, e g GHG, emissions into account and so that different future situations for system boundaries and input data are evaluated. In this way, results from such studies could more than now serve as an important base for strategic decisions in industry. In the near future the system boundary will probably be extended to include also other parts of society, e g buildings, shopping malls, etc.
Environmental aspects and GHG issues in particular are more and more included in larger projects and are also subject to separate large projects. The importance of the industrial sector for society to meet the future GHG emission targets was highlighted at the conference and new or combined methodologies were presented. Process integration is a key methodology to identify and quantify opportunities for GHG emission reduction in the industrial sector. This also includes the system aspects for industrial CCS.
The Academia-Industry Gap
There is a gap between academia and industry which needs to be both observed and overbridged in order to find out what implications of PI that are needed in the industry, and what research is performed at universities in the field. The need for this mutual interaction is supported by a concern among PI people that the role of industry in society is getting more prominent, and the outreach from academia to industry could therefore be improved. The marketing of methods and tools should to some extent be replaced by marketing of success stories and experiences from how industry can benefit from PI.
At the conference and, especially at the workshop in Day 3, there was a consensus about the concern for decreasing quality and importance in university curricula. Below I include quotations from both Robin Smith and Ignacio Grossmann:
The curriculum in most institutions has been revised to introduce material on biotechnology, sustainability, and in general more science and less engineering. This has caused curricula to become crowded, and traditional engineering (including process design) is squeezed out.
In several countries chemical engineering departments have had a major shift in their academic population with a major influx of chemists, biochemists and to a lesser extent physicists and mathematicians. This reinforces the teaching of science, rather than engineering. It also means that young staff with a degree in chemical engineering have in many cases been taught by teachers with a science background.
Another trend in many countries is that there is today much fewer staff having any industrial experience. New staff are recruited much more based on science than on engineering merits. Academic institutions more often recruit based on the ability of new staff to gain research income and generate papers in high impact journals, irrespective of whether it relates to core chemical engineering or not. Industrial experience has therefore become even a handicap sometimes.
There are also examples showing that large process industries have identified this situation as an important problem for future development, as was highlighted by Ignacio Grossmann in his presentation.
At the workshop strong interests was expressed from several participants of sharing experiences and develop common materials for education of PI.
Suggestions for Further International Activities
All aspects above have been discussed further after the conference, not the least within IEA, IETS. At our last ExCo meeting in Gothenburg, March 21-22, 2013, possible further international actions were discussed. Three possible areas were identified. These areas will be further discussed at our next ExCo meeting in Washington DC, November 7-8. These areas are:
- Collection and dissemination of success stories internationally, including the new methodologies and/or application areas presented at the conference.
- Situation for the education of process design, including PI, in different countries and collection of concerns for the future. This should include also experiences and concerns in some major industries. The target group would be policy makers. (Education is not a major area for IEA but if educational problems will result in a lack of good engineers in the future, opportunities for energy efficiency and environmental improvements will decrease). One part of this could also be to have international cooperation regarding experiences in education and development of new education material.
- A research oriented activity with the aim of creating an international cooperation within new methodology developments (specific areas to be defined, depending of interest from R&D groups in participating countries).
For comments and suggestion please contact Thore Berntsson, chair of the organising committee. Thore.firstname.lastname@example.org+46 703 08 80 09