Real-Time Optimisation of Chemical Processes using Transient Measurements

Applications are invited for an early stage postgraduate research position leading to a PhD degree in Chemical Engineering in the Institute for Material and Processes within the School of Engineering at the University of Edinburgh in the field of Real-Time Optimisation (RTO).

RTO is a family of process optimisation methods, which aims at simultaneously optimising the steady-state performances of real processes and enforcing the satisfaction of operating constraints despite modelling errors and process disturbances. For this purpose, process measurements are incorporated into the optimisation framework to reject the detrimental effect of uncertainty on the performances of the real system. In particular, RTO via modifier adaptation (RTO-MA) has received a growing attention over the past few years, due to its proven ability to reach the optimal operating conditions of the real process, provided the available model satisfies not-too-restrictive conditions, despite parametric and structural modelling errors and process disturbances. But RTO-MA is a steady-state to steady-state optimisation method and may thus require a prohibitive number of iterations to converge to the plant optimal inputs. To circumvent this problem, a framework for using RTO-MA with transient measurements has been recently proposed, which has the potential of converging to the true plant optimum in a single iteration to steady-state.

The goal of this project is to develop further – or to propose alternatives to - this framework and to analyse the properties (stability, convergence). Although this project is mostly methodological, applications are envisaged in, e.g., the field of carbon capture, of pressure swing adsorption processes or of Wave Energy Convertors.

Closing Date: 

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Principal Supervisor: 


To undertake this research, we are seeking an outstanding and motivated candidate with a comfortable first class degree (or equivalent for non-UK students) or a combination of qualification (2:1 undergraduate degree or more) and professional experience in Chemical Engineering, or good mathematical/control engineering skills or experience.

Knowledge and experience in these fields will be particularly beneficial:

  • Process Optimisation
  • Process Modeling
  • Process Control
  • Control Theory
  • Mathematics
  • Programming

Applications from outstanding and motivated candidates with a different background (e.g. in Control Engineering) and interest in Chemical Engineering are welcome.

Further information on English language requirements for EU/Overseas applicants.


Tuition fees and stipend are available for Home/EU students (International students can apply, but the funding only covers the Home/EU fee rate). Applications are welcomed from self-funded students, or students who are applying for scholarships from the University of Edinburgh or elsewhere.

Further information and other funding options.

Informal Enquiries: