The research performed at the CAPO is mainly concerned
with a class of integer and mixed integer programming problems pertaining
to process systems engineering, e.g., process synthesis and scheduling, which
is highly complex mathematically. One of the major contributions of the
Center has been the solution of unsolved theoretical problems of process
synthesis that has also been verified in practice.
Process synthesis is an inventive step; in fact, it is one of the earliest actions to be taken by the process designer to create the structure, network or flowsheet of a process, satisfying the given requirements in terms of constraints and specifications and attaining the prescribed objectives. Naturally, the process designer or synthesizer is always hopeful that any resultant process network or flowsheet is not only technically feasible but also optimal in the light of the objectives, goals or end-uses.
Frequently, the major objective in the processing industry is to manufacture the least-cost products or the products yielding the maximum profit. Moreover, this must be accomplished by satisfying all specifications and meeting all constraints, which can be technical, societal, environmental, and/or legal. In spite of the importance of process synthesis and the numerous methods proposed for it, many of the fundamental theoretical problems in each phase of process synthesis remain unsolved. Thus, the validity or quality of the solution of an industrial-scale synthesis problem obtained by any available method is highly questionable.