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Evolvable Process Design (EPD)


The process industries in 2020 will need to produce new products more rapidly and flexibly than ever before.


The Evolvable Process Design (EPD) concept is to develop a chemical reactor system that allows the evolutionary discovery of molecules, materials and processes. The concept consists of three parts: development of a chemical process system, development of an integrated genetic algorithm feedback control system and the use of chemical building blocks that can reversibly bind together to form a range of molecules .


EPD is a multidisciplinary, multicentre EPSRC-funded project, involving chemists, chemical engineers and physicists, from Newcastle, Glasgow, Brunel, Warwick and London City universities.


At Newcastle we will be developing the laboratory scale process, which will include feeds, reactor and downstream unit operations. It will be designed and built to be intrinsically scaleable and flexible in operation. The unit will be continuous and operate in plug flow (see Figure 1). The final EPD will be designed so that the sequence of unit operations can be reconfigured online. The EPD system aims to utilize feedback and select mechanisms based on spectroscopic properties of the system/molecules/materials being evolved (see Figure 2). 


Development of the EPD will lead to order of magnitude changes in time-to-market of new products.


Fig. 1 - A schematic of the Oscillatory Baffled Reactor (OBR)


Fig. 2 - A schematic of one possible EPD platform


Prof Adam Harvey
Dr Anh Phan



 Last modified: 04-Aug-2017