Introduction to Sustainable Industrial Process Concept Design

Presently most companies want to pursue sustainable development as part of their business strategy. Often the industrial process engineers have to transform this strategy into practice. An important part of this transformation is changing the design of the manufacturing processes. How to do this is the subject of this course. The course is based on 33 years industrial experience of the course lecturer Jan Harmsen in all stages of innovation from the ideation stage to implementation and on his professorship on sustainable chemical technology since 1997.


The course contains the main steps of process concept design for industrial applications. The 33 year industrial experience of the course lecturer in all stages of exploratory research, process development, process design, process start-up and revamping existing processes makes this course different from academic courses.

In each step theory and practical guidelines are provided related to sustainable development and followed by group exercises in small groups in which the theory and guidelines are applied. The results of the exercises are presented plenary and feedback by the course conductor is given.


Course content

The concept design steps are:


  • Problem definition: The goal, context, boundaries and the input and output structure is defined. Here sustainable guidelines such as creating only output streams with value and closing material cycles over the life cycle are provided. Particular emphasis is given on defining all inputs and outputs and simple rules for checking the completeness of the input and output streams are provided.

  • Synthesis of preliminary solutions – theory of function identification and function integration is provided, as well as hints enhancing the creativity of designers. Function integration, such as in reactive distillation is a major method to reduce energy requirements, emissions and also to reduce capital and operating cost.

  • Analysis and improvement of solutions – 1)Limited Life Cycle Analysis to assess the total environmental impact of the design, 2)short cut method for an economic analysis of preliminary design solutions, 3)short cut method for the social impact of the preliminary design solutions.

  • Evaluation including Scale-Up – guidelines to estimate the cost and timing of the Research and Development Effort are provided. In particular various scale-up methods will be presented, as well as insight when to select which method.


Course set-up

Each of these subjects will be treated in:

– An interactive lecture will provide essential guidelines and will be illustrated with real industrial cases.

– A workshop where an industrial setting case problem will be solved with the information provided by the lecture and the handout. The results will be presented and the course lecturer will provide feedback.


Course material: Engineering for Sustainability, A practical guide for sustainable design, Gerald Jonker and Jan Harmsen, Elsevier, May 2012.provided by Harmsen Consultancy.


For whom is this course intended?

Researchers, engineers and managers involved in process research, process development, or process design. Project engineers and managers engaged in acquiring new process technologies. The course is primarily intended for people from industry, technology providers, and contract research organisations, but academic researchers and teachers will also find the course very useful.

The participants should have a minimum education level BSc (HBO) or an equivalent level obtained by experience. Typically the attendees are process researchers, engineers, process designers, base case designers, process concept designers, or mechanical engineers. They are probably active in engineering firms, technology providers, contract research organizations, consultancies or in a process industry company (oil, chemicals, food, pharmaceutical).

If uncertain about your qualifications, please contact the course lecturer.