Challenges and opportunities for process intensification in Europe from a process systems engineering perspective

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Process Intensification (PI) is an effective way to enhance process efficiency and sustainability at affordable costs and efforts, attracting particular interest in the European area, as one of the most important chemical production areas in the world. PI primarily contributes by developing and testing new processing technologies that once integrated within a process improve the overall process performance substantially but as a result, it may alter the overall process (flowsheet) structure and its dynamic behavior. As such PI plays a key role in improving energy efficiency, optimizing resource allocation, and reducing environmental impact of industrial processes, and thereby leading to a cost-effective, eco-efficient, low-carbon and sustainable industry. However, along with opportunities, the PI new technologies have challenges related to failures in longer-term performance. In this respect, Process Systems Engineering (PSE) stance is more on integration aspects of new PI technologies into processes by making process (re)designs, doing operability studies, and performance optimizations within a supply chain setting. PSE contributes to overcoming the challenges by providing systematic approaches for the design and optimization of PI technologies. This perspective paper is a lightly referenced scholarly opinion piece about the status and directions of process intensification field from a PSE viewpoint. Primarily, it focuses on PSE perspectives towards sustainable lower energy usage process systems and provides a brief overview of the current situation in Europe. It also emphasizes the key challenges and opportunities for (new) PI technologies considering their integration in a process in terms of process synthesis and design, process flowsheet optimization, process and plantwide control, (green) electrification, sustainability improvements. Potential research directions on these aspects are given from an industrial and academic perspective of the authors.