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Industrial Relevance
Industrial Participation
Industrial Benefits

Industrial Relevance

The Industry/University co-operative character of the Chemical Process Modeling and Control Research Center, founded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) in 1985, gives a unique character among many other international research groups in the same technical area. The PMC Center naturally aims to advance academic research beyond the present state-of-the–art frontiers. At the same time, it aims to push such frontiers in a direction that is useful to industry. To achieve such a dual goal, we reach out and listen to the various medium- to long-term needs of consortium member companies. Since the inception of the Center in 1985, there have been continuous developments of basic process modeling, monitoring, and control technology. Several application projects have provided member companies with an advantageous position in their industrial sector. These applications have demonstrated that the technology developed in the Center can be applied effectively to a very broad range of manufacturing and production processes (see the list of companies that have participated in the Center's consortium).

Industrial Participation

The designation of the Center as an Industry/University Cooperative Research Center (I/UCRC) is an important distinction since the effort is definitely cooperative in both form and substance. All companies who are members of the Process Modeling and Control Consortium participate in the Industrial Advisory Committee (IAC). This group provides guidance in the strategic direction of the technology development that is done in the Center. This committee meets twice each year to listen to technical presentations by the Center researchers and to review the progress of active projects. The IAC also provides important guidance on how the consortium funds available to the Center will be allocated to the different research activities. Consequently, the long-term fundamental research effort is determined with a pragmatic balance of specific projects with near term goals. In this manner, the research is always establishing new technical, leading-edge technologies while providing the member companies with applications for current operating requirements.

Member companies have further flexibility in participation in the Center by defining a research and development activity that addresses the company’s specific needs. This Company-Specific Research Option enables a company to augment existing technical efforts by employing the capabilities of the Center to focus on a specific need. Arrangements are also available to protect the company’s proprietary interests and know-how. Furthermore, mutually beneficial arrangements can be reached concerning the exploitation of technological advances resulting from the research.

Industrial Benefits

Participation in the Center enables member companies to have access to leading technological developments in process modeling, monitoring, and control that take place in the Center. The Center also often invites leading academic and industrial colleagues in several subjects to give plenary talks during the Center meetings. At the same time, Center membership enables a participant to exchange ideas with other industrial representatives and to sense the technological prospective of the leading consortium members in the areas of interest. This is an effective and economical approach in maintaining a current understanding of the status of industrial and academic efforts in this field. Furthermore, member companies can have an early and in-depth evaluation of the graduate students who participate in the Center’s research efforts as candidates for future employment. In addition to these broad values from membership, there are specific areas that provide direct economic benefit:

The mathematical techniques that researchers in the
Center employ enhance the fundamental understanding of theprocess being studied. From this understanding, optimum conditionsfor yields, equipment throughputs, utility consumption, and so forthcan be balanced for the best overall performance including economicfactors. Gains of twenty to thirty percent in plant productivity are feasible through the systematic application of tools available at the
Product Quality
With the knowledge of the proper operating conditions and the constraints around those conditions, the production process can be fine tuned for enhanced product quality
and consistency as well as reduction in quality variation to meet the customers' specifications and expectations. Since the interrelationship between the process used and material processed are usually complex, the ability to develop a mathematical model that describes those relationships is the only reasonable way to achieve
an understanding that can be translated into a practical plant process control scheme.
Cost Reduction
There are a multitude of ways to reduce costs once the fundamentals of the process and the materials being processed are well understood. One area is the reduction of by-product formation by reducing plant process condition variability. Eliminating the cost of disposing these by-products can be a significant item.
Regulatory Compliance
With a well-defined understanding of the process, control schemes can be developed and implemented that
significantly reduce the excursions in process conditions that cause releases to the environment in violation of regulations. Early detection of process variability from desired conditions would enable the control system and operating staff to take necessary corrective action to preclude a release. Furthermore, the process can be
studied in the abstract to determine the potential for such variations and the modifications to the process, materials, or other conditions to substantially reduce or eliminate the risk of an upset condition.

Current Sponsors

Air Products & Chemicals Inc.
Aspen Technology
Mitsubishi Chemical Company

National Science Foundation
Pittsburgh Digital Greenhouse
Pennsylvania Infrastructure and Technology Alliance (PITA)
American Chemical Society's Petroleum Research Fund
Sandia National Laboratories
P.C. Rossin Endowment

Embassy of Kuwait
Royal Thailand Government
Royal Thailand Government

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