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ESCAPE 33: Green and Sustainable Process Systems Engineering in the Digital Age

Join Alberto Alva on a journey through his experience at the ESCAPE-33 event in Greece.

The symposium took place in the beautiful ancient city of Athens, Greece and with over 200 oral presentations was an intense week of learning. Keynote presentations by leading academic researchers from around the world explored the use of process modelling, optimization techniques and machine learning to provide answers to some of the toughest problems that the process industries are facing with the common thread in sustainable operations. 

Keynotes included the application of optimization methods to improve bioprocessing via metabolic pathway engineering where Dr Greg Stephanopoulos from MIT demonstrated how these algorithms can be used to optimize existing systems but also to discover new processing pathways and processes. 

Professor Fengqi You from Cornell University presented an interesting timeline on the evolution of neural networks and how machine learning algorithms are being used to support molecular design for new materials and catalysts such as metal-organic frameworks with applications in CO2 capture.

Professor Lorenz Biegler from Carnegie Mellon University described novel optimization approaches that enable a new stage for computer-aided process engineering clarifying that the industry needs decision support systems and not only analytical tools with the associated challenge of interpretation of the solutions from these powerful optimization algorithms. 

Dr. Biegler presented novel ideas to reduce the “search” and identify optimal solutions faster.

Finally, Professor Venkat Venkatasubramanian from Columbia University delivered a fascinating lecture on the evolution of AI and how it can be integrated in process engineering, he also presented the main thesis of his latest book “How Much Inequality is Fair?” where he integrates concepts from economics, political philosophy, game theory, information theory, statistical mechanics, and systems engineering leading to the insight that maximizing fairness means maximizing entropy. Looking forward to reading the book!

Of special interest were the session commemorating the life and work of Professor Christodoulos Floudas who passed away 7 years ago as well as the In Memoriam session for Professor Jiri Klemes who will also be missed in the PSE community. 


Overall, a great learning experience and an opportunity to catch up with colleagues from academia that are working to apply process systems engineering to the sustainability challenge. At Process Ecology we strive to stay on top of these advances and ensure our clients can access the latest technologies to support decision-making for complex problems in a challenging environment.

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