This time I would like to introduce my field of study, which called Process System Engineering. Process Systems Engineering (PSE) is a branch of Chemical Engineering which treats the way in which a complex system behaves as a whole. When we deal with a complex system, for instance chemicals manufacture, we consider not only chemical reaction efficiency in the reactor, but we have to optimize all unit operations combined and linked each other within the system. PSE provides domain knowledge and mathematical and experimental techniques to predict the behavior of that kind of complex systems, and how to control and optimize them.
Some typical topics in process system engineering
During the early era of development of chemical engineering science, PSE mostly discuss about
- Process design and analysis
- Process control
- Process operation
However, as we deal with complex systems, the topics is not limited to area of chemicals manufacture. There are many process system engineering researchers who broaden their topics to environmental problems, and microreactors. What a PSE researchers do probably can be briefly described in this picture.
PSE in Japanese Universities
In Japan, PSE is developed mostly in chemicals related companies and universities which have Chemical Engineering Department. Companies, especially the big ones usually have manufacturing technology research center, as a part of R&D. However the results they produced are kept unpublished. That is why there is a gap between what actually happens in the manufacturing floor and researches in universities.
There are many PSE related research groups (laboratory) in Japanese universities, and each of the have their own color and specialty. Some of them deals with process control (Kyoto Univ, Tokyo Inst. of Tech, TUAT), Life Cycle Assessment considered process design (Tokyo University), Biosystem related (Osaka Univ, but not chemical eng. dept), etc. Due to their specialty, at many occasions people from companies come and have a consultation to to them related to problems happens in the manufacturing scene. At this kind of occasions, cooperation between PSE researchers in Universities and in Universities built.