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Chemical Engineering Science 57 (2002) 4667 – 4690

www.elsevier.com/locate/ces

The triplet “molecular processes–product–process” engineering: the future of chemical engineering ?
Jean-Claude Charpentier ∗
Department of Chemical Engineering=CNRS, Ecole Supà rieure de Chimie Physique Electronique de Lyon, P.O. Box 2077, e 69616 Villeurbanne Cedex, France

Abstract Today chemicalengineering has to answer to the changing needs of the chemical and related process industries and to meet the market demands. Being a key to survival in globalization of trade and competition, the evolution of chemical engineering is thus necessary. Its ability to cope with the scientiÿc and technological problems encountered will be appraised in this paper. To satisfy both the markets requirements forspeciÿc end-use properties of products and the social and environmental constraints of the industrial-scale processes, it is shown that a necessary progress is coming via a multidisciplinary and a time and length multiscale approach. This will be obtained due to breakthroughs in molecular modelling, scientiÿc instrumentation and related signal processing and powerful computational tools. For thefuture of chemical engineering four main objectives are concerned: (a) to increase productivity and selectivity through intelligent operations via intensiÿcation and multiscale control of processes; (b) to design novel equipment based on scientiÿc principles and new methods of production: process intensiÿcation; (c) to extend chemical engineering methodology to product focussed engineering, i.e.manufacturing and synthesizing end-use properties required by the customer, which needs a triplet “molecular processes–product–process” engineering; (d) to implement multiscale application of computational chemical engineering modelling and simulation to real-life situations, from the molecular scale to the overall complex production scale. ? 2002 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.
Keywords:Future of chemical engineering; Multidisciplinary and multiscale approach; Triplet “molecular processes–product–process” engineering; End-use property; Soft solids; Complex uids; Molecular modelling; Process intensiÿcation

1. Introduction The world moves forward. Industry used to be king, now the customer is. One key to survival in globalization of trade and competition, including needs andchallenges, is the ability of chemical engineering to cope with the society and economic problems encountered in the chemical and related process industries. In this paper we would like to show successively some of the challenges to be taken up by chemists and consequently the waiting from chemical and process engineering. Then it will be presented the new multidisciplinary and time and lengthmultiscale approach of chemical engineering and the necessary tools for assuring the success of this integrated approach. And ÿnally we will propose four tracks for future researches in chemical engineering involving tailoring of materials with control structures, process intensiÿcation, product-engineering, and


multiscale simulation and modelization from the molecule scale to the overall complexproduct scale. 2. The world of chemical and related industries at the heart of a great number of scientiÿc and technological challenges to be taken up by chemical engineering The world of chemistry and related industries, including process industries such as petroleum, pharmaceutical and health, agro and food, environment, textile, iron and steel, building materials, glass, surfactants, cosmeticsand perfume, electronics, etc., is considerably evolving at the beginning of this new century due to unprecedent market demands and constraints stemming from public concern over environment and safety issues. The chemical knowledge is growing rapidly as the rate of discovery is increasing every day (Fig. 1). Over fourteen million di erent molecular compounds have been synthesized and about one...
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