Within process engineering, a number of different objectives and restrictions has to be taken into account. For example, operating and fix costs are to be minimized, while simultaneously the quality of the final products should be maximized. Additionally, health and environmental issues play an important role.
To find a good compromise between these different requirements, the process engineer not only has to compare the various tunings of a given layout, but also a number of several devices, this is a challenging task. So far, this layout process is done with the help of computer-based simulations, where good solutions are found empirically. Generally, however, due to the complexity of the problem, these solutions are not the best compromises achievable.
A New Approach for Planning Processes
In this project, a new approach to the design of chemical production plants is being developed. Only those solutions are considered and analyzed further which constitute best compromises between the different objectives, while respecting the restrictions. This set of best solutions is generated automatically for an interesting parameter range and then presented graphically to the engineer. Thus the engineer can make a rational decision based on the knowledge of the complete range of best solutions.
In the examples analyzed so far, this procedure revealed parameter ranges which have not been taken into account before within the empirical optimization. Solutions in these ranges are much better than those found empirically. Additionally, the planning time has been reduced significantly.