In response to world-wide changes in the chemical/biopharmaceutical industry, new market requirements for specific end-use product properties as well as to stricter energy, safety and environmental constraints a revolutionary approach is needed regarding equipment design, plant operation and new production paradigms that will result in better products and processes. Process intensification (PI) is the key technological pathway to drastically improve the sustainability of the chemical and biopharmaceutical processes by replacing the existing, inefficient plant equipment with new, intensified operations. PI comprises the development of novel equipment and production methods that can bring dramatic improvements in manufacturing and processing and lead to safer, cleaner, smaller and cheaper production routes. PI is expected to open up the way for the production of new products, unblock the potential for plant operation under less stable conditions and reform entire business models to foster just-in-time or distributed production. In a series of recent publications and roadmaps, PI has been identified as the ‘path for sustainable development’. The OPTICO project aims at overcoming the present limitations on implementing PI by establishing a new methodological design approach for sustainable, intensified chemical/biopharmaceutical plant design and operation through a flexible, integrated multi-scale modeling framework coupled with advanced process analytics tools and modern optimization/control techniques. It is envisaged that, within a 3 year time frame, the proposed work will enable the innovative process design and promote a substantial improvement in chemical/biopharmaceutical plant efficiency by reducing energy consumption, operating costs, handled volumes and generated wastes as well as by improving the process efficiency and safety.
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