About

Research in our group is in the broad area of systems and process control; it brings together modeling, mathematical analysis, control theory and computation, in order to understand the structure and improve the operation of chemical and biological processes and systems.
 
Research in my group is in the broad area of systems and process control; it brings together modeling, mathematical analysis, control theory and computation, in order to understand the structure and improve the operation of chemical and biological processes and systems.

An increasing number of processes in the chemical and petrochemical industry, and especially in modern technologies such as specialty chemicals, biotechnology and advanced materials, operate in regions of highly nonlinear behavior in order to meet tight product quality specifications, environmental restrictions and energy demands. The development of robust nonlinear control methods has been a dominant theme in control during the last two decades. Our group has pioneered the development of nonlinear controller synthesis methods for broad classes of mathematical models describing the dynamics of typical chemical processes (differential algebraic equation models describing the dynamics of fast-rate processes, partial differential equation models describing transport-reaction processes, and population balance models describing cell population behavior). This effort is on-going, with current focus on estimation and output feedback control, as well as applications to complex reactors and separations.

Tight integration through material and energy recycle is another ubiquitous feature in modern plants. Process integration can lead to significant reduction in capital and operating costs, but also to intricate overall dynamic behavior due to the feedback interactions induced by recycle. Uncovering and analyzing the nonlinear core dynamics of interconnected systems (such as integrated process networks, but also biological networks), as well as accounting for them in controller design, has emerged as a central theme of our current research. The goal is the development of hierarchical plant-wide control methods, which rationally reconcile distributed and supervisory control, allowing thus for flexible and efficient operation of entire networks and plants.

Other efforts in my group revolve around the application of systems approaches to the analysis and simulation of complex biological networks that determine cell metabolism and gene regulation; the modeling, analysis and control of energy production systems; and the control of advanced materials processing operations.

Specific current research projects concern 


The dynamics and control of integrated process networks, such as mass- and heat- integrated reaction-separation networks, heat-integrated separation units and sequences, heat exchanger networks, and interconnections of these;
The development of model reduction methods for deterministic or stochastic models of metabolic and gene regulation networks, as well as general chemical reaction networks;
The development of novel actuation and control strategies for crystal growth systems in collaboration with Prof. J.J. Derby

The dynamics and control of integrated energy production systems, such as fuel cell processors coupled with chemical reactors for hydrogen production.