The chemical industry is a pillar of both the world and the Swiss economy and modern control techniques, such as model predictive control, have shaped this sector for decades.
Nevertheless, the complex and highly nonlinear nature of certain processes has so far eluded useful quantitative description and hence has also been difficult to control.
The field of separation processes contains many such problems, and in recent years, IfA has focused its efforts on these types of systems. Following several contributions in the field of distillation and chromatography, current research is focused on the process of crystallization, a widely used purification and formulation step in the fine chemical industry.
The CrystOCAM (Crystallization: Optimal Control and Advanced Monitoring) project is a collaboration between the laboratoire automatique at EPF Lausanne and the separation process laboratory at ETH Zurich, that aims at developing a new generation of tools to model, to measure and monitor online, to optimize and control the distribution of sizes and shapes of crystals of a suspension of particles and crystals during the crystallization from solution.