Projects / Programmes source: ARIS

Process systems engneering and sustainable development

Research activity

Code Science Field Subfield
2.02.00  Engineering sciences and technologies  Chemical engineering   
1.07.00  Natural sciences and mathematics  Computer intensive methods and applications   

Code Science Field
T350  Technological sciences  Chemical technology and engineering 

Code Science Field
2.04  Engineering and Technology  Chemical engineering  
1.01  Natural Sciences  Mathematics 
Process Systems Engineering, Sustainable Development, Circular Economy, Process Synthesis, Integration, Chemical Supply Chain, Renewable resource, Energy Reduction, Emission Reduction, Optimization, Catalysis, Environmental Analytics, Sustainability Metrics, Circularity Metrics, Water Usage, MINLP
Evaluation (rules)
source: COBISS
Data for the last 5 years (citations for the last 10 years) on July 23, 2024; A3 for period 2018-2022
Data for ARIS tenders ( 04.04.2019 – Programme tender , archive )
Database Linked records Citations Pure citations Average pure citations
WoS  630  15,759  13,864  22.01 
Scopus  755  19,754  17,446  23.11 
Researchers (17)
no. Code Name and surname Research area Role Period No. of publicationsNo. of publications
1.  54857  Dragana Bjelić  Chemistry  Junior researcher  2020 - 2024  12 
2.  26217  PhD Miloš Bogataj  Chemical engineering  Researcher  2020 - 2024  138 
3.  28477  PhD Matjaž Finšgar  Chemistry  Researcher  2020 - 2024  418 
4.  01347  PhD Peter Glavič  Chemical engineering  Retired researcher  2020 - 2024  1,122 
5.  06008  PhD Andreja Goršek  Chemical engineering  Researcher  2020 - 2024  541 
6.  52023  PhD Tina Kegl  Chemical engineering  Junior researcher  2020 - 2024  85 
7.  10878  PhD Anita Kovač-Kralj  Chemical engineering  Researcher  2020 - 2024  336 
8.  23475  PhD Damjan Krajnc  Chemical engineering  Researcher  2020 - 2024  166 
9.  03466  PhD Majda Krajnc  Chemical engineering  Researcher  2020 - 2024  231 
10.  06005  PhD Zdravko Kravanja  Chemical engineering  Head  2020 - 2024  905 
11.  36603  PhD Andreja Nemet  Chemical engineering  Researcher  2020 - 2024  154 
12.  11369  PhD Zorka Novak Pintarič  Chemical engineering  Researcher  2020 - 2024  477 
13.  19271  PhD Darja Pečar  Chemical engineering  Researcher  2020 - 2024  320 
14.  52327  PhD Sanja Potrč  Chemical engineering  Junior researcher  2020 - 2024  53 
15.  12659  PhD Marjana Simonič  Chemical engineering  Researcher  2020 - 2024  575 
16.  39209  PhD Klavdija Zirngast  Chemical engineering  Junior researcher  2020 - 2021  55 
17.  37498  PhD Žan Zore  Engineering sciences and technologies  Junior researcher  2020  29 
Organisations (1)
no. Code Research organisation City Registration number No. of publicationsNo. of publications
1.  0794  University of Maribor, Faculty of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering  Maribor  5089638012  13,201 
The main ongoing motivation for and objective of the research programme ‘Process Systems Engineering and Sustainable Development’ is to reverse current unsustainable trends, especially those representing progressive depletion of resources and massive emissions. The ultimate goal of this programme would be to develop and implement a Grand Design holistic approach to effect the transition of current linear production/utilization systems to new circular value chains by  utilizing waste and reducing emissions. The Circular Economy (CE) concept would be integrated across a chemical supply chain. A circular chemical supply network would thus be obtained. Existing methods and tools would be adapted and new ones developed. Proposed research topics would address the whole chemical supply network throughout its life cycle from renewable raw materials, molecular transformations and green processes, to distribution of advanced products at the local, regional and continental levels. Five research topics complying with EU Smart Specializations S3 and Slovenian S4 directives are proposed:  Primary and secondary renewable resources, clean and efficient energy and water usage; Molecular transformations: Synthesis of new reaction routes for bio- and pharmaceutical applications, advanced environmental analytics;  Development of concepts and measurements for CE-based sustainable synthesis of production and other systems;  Development of computer-aided methods and tools for CE-based sustainable system synthesis;  S3 applications, knowledge and technology transfer.  The first section would deal with capturing the raw-material-energy-water nexus from the perspective of CE to prevent unsustainable use of resources and abate emissions. At the molecular transformation level, the discovery of catalysts for new bio- and pharmaceutical reaction paths would be planned, as well as a new generation of more sensitive analytical methods for better tracing of contaminants. The third section would tackle multiobjective temporal and spatial integration of resources within company supply networks, based on the ongoing development of circularity and sustainability measurements. The fourth section would deal with the development of synthesis methodology for energy-efficient, high-performance renewable supply/demand networks. A computerized circular synthesis platform MIPSYN-Global would be developed. Finally, the resulting knowledge and tools would be tested and applied to several S3 applications. Generic CE business models are expected to be developed for optimizing industrial Total Sites, Smart Cities and Sustainable production of food, in order to contribute to Slovenia's and the EU’s socioeconomic development.  The programme is proposed as a six-year continuation of the current 1.47 FTE/y programme P2­0032, out of which the research team has published, from 2015 to 2019, around 170 scientific papers, while accomplishing several industrial applications.
Significance for science
The main contribution of the proposed programme is integrating the discovery and value growth of the chemical and process industries through the proposed Grand Design holistic approach. This is a very challenging approach, as it requires combining the established and newly developed Circular Process System Engineering methods and tools with principles of sustainability augmented by circular economy concepts. As such, it represents a worldwide novelty and a potential for scientific breakthroughs needed for the shift towards a sustainable and circular society. The process ­product design is tackled integrally across temporal and spatial levels of the (bio)chemical supply chain, i.e. from chemical transformation, processes and products, industrial Total Sites, to regional supply networks. The concept of resource (materials, energy, and water) efficient Total Sites is expanded to local and regional levels and applied to entities beyond the chemical engineering field (e.g. communities, municipalities and cities). Simultaneous mass and energy region-wide integration establishes a measure for circularity and leads to new knowledge involving advances in technology by shifting the technology paradigm from pollutant removal by destruction, to pollutant removal by recovery. For example, the proposed water treatment methodology is to recover compounds from effluent, such as metals or even nitrogen and phosphorus, which cause severe environmental problems when disposed untreated. With respect to (bio)molecular transformation, the emphasis is on generating scientific and technological know­how in the fields of synthesis of new reaction paths and environmental analytics. Design and development of advanced technologies and methods for heterogeneous catalysis, characterization of catalysts by surface analysis, fast and accurate enzyme activity determination, etc. aim at better understanding of reaction mechanisms and potential discovery of novel, highly efficient (bio)catalysts. Non-conventional fields of analytical chemistry, with an emphasis on electrochemistry, sensors, corrosion and surface analysis, are the subject of intensive research. The focus is on supporting the development of sustainable technologies, upgrading existing knowledge and developing more sensitive and yet cheaper and faster analytical methods. Development in this field of research could be considered a means of optimizing process efficiency and providing solutions to societal challenges. An integrated optimization methodology enhances the economic prosperity and competitiveness of industrial sectors. Stronger links between research and innovation, increased added value in products and production, and decreased environmental impact are expected. With respect to the development of new system methods and tools, new advanced optimization methods and computerized tools are expected to handle very complex synthesis problems using an enormous number of possible alternatives. The current methods of Sustainability Profit and Sustainability Net Present Value is extended to circular sustainability methods in order to favour obtaining sustainable solutions with closed material and energy loops. The proposed methods are applied and adapted for simultaneous multi­objective optimization and syntheses of large­scale problems, potentially under considerations of controllability, reliability, flexibility and safety. As computerized tools and methods become more encompassing and more accurate, the overall understanding of highly interconnected production systems and supply networks becomes more defined and reliable, and the solutions obtained quantitatively indicate the potential for improvement. The emergence of new or improved robust formulations, global optimization and parallelized multistart algorithms, synthesis and flexibility methods and strategies are expected, based on a multi­level, mixed-­integer programming approach implemented within the developed computer package MIPSYN
Significance for the country
Innovative and holistic approaches of Circular Process Systems Engineering are the central objectives of planned research. They have a great potential in encouraging companies towards sustainable development and circular economy. The results of such a holistic approach would be optimal process solutions that foster reuse, recycling and zero waste. They are applicable to sustainable increase of efficiency and competitiveness of companies while promoting technological solutions for more efficient circular use of raw materials, water and energy. Novel 'green' reaction paths and analytical methods for monitoring trace concentrations are attractive for the development of new functional materials, such as catalysts for organic syntheses in bio- and pharmaceutical industries, and sensors for environmental protection. Computer algorithms for syntheses of supply networks facilitate companies by developing circular business models and by stimulating new value chains. The latter integrates suppliers of wastes with their collectors and processors, as well as users of secondary raw materials with products derived from wastes. Incorporating safety, risk and uncertainty into the decision-making process enables safe and flexible process operation which is of paramount importance for companies. Newly developed sustainability and circularity indicators provide companies with a metrics which would enable the following of their progress from a linear economy to a circular one. Innovative and value growth solutions are expected that are superior in economic efficiency, environmental benignity and social righteousness. Promotion of multi-objective optimization thus encourages managers and holders of capital that, in addition to economic benefits, they consider also environmental and social impacts during decision-making. It is worth highlighting the interdisciplinarity of the programme group and its unique capability to execute research and development projects for industry in an integrated manner, i.e. from laboratory research supported by advanced analytics, through preliminary process design at industrial scale, to multi-objective optimization of supply networks while respecting economic, environmental and social impacts. Finally, the resulting knowledge is expected to be applied also to other two S3 and S4 applications: Smart Cities and Sustainable production of food, which could significantly contribute to Slovenia's and the EU’s socioeconomic development. Innovative approaches of Circular Process Systems Engineering would be applied also to those activities that affect people's quality of life. The developed procedures for reduction of water and air pollution have positive health effects. New analytical methods for measuring trace concentrations of pollutants (with detection limits lower by several orders than current limits) contribute to better water and air quality control while being cheaper and faster. The Slovenian Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food has already supported this research. The approaches of Circular Process Systems Engineering are applied to the optimization of agricultural supply networks including production of green products and energy from agricultural wastes. This could contribute to an increased food and energy self-sufficiency of society and, hence, to food supply security. Collaboration of the programme members in the development of human resources in circular economy is also important. Based on the developed knowledge, competencies of employees at all professional levels that are needed for a broader implementation of circular economy in the Slovenian society are created. In this way, the group contributes to the development of qualified human resources which are increasingly lacking in industry. The group members of the programme group contribute to the promotion of the Republic of Slovenia in its transition toward circular economy by publishing their achievements in top international journals, presentin
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