Systems Engineering

A Survey of IFPRI Systems Engineering


The Systems Engineering area is a new addition to the IFPRI program structure, starting in 2015.  It brings focus to systematic objectives and is used to manage projects across multiple areas of particle science and technology.  Examples include a study that spans multiple unit operations in an integrated system, with a process flowsheet for control and optimization.  Systems Engineering can also address inherent complexity of particulate systems having distributed properties and complex interactions thereof. It applies to both process and product design.  

As IFPRI continues to grow, Systems Engineering has been helpful in refining the organization’s mission and goals for broader topics including Education, Sustainable Manufacturing, and Industrial Benchmarking.

While the need for and application of systems engineering may vary by product and/or industry, it is typically driven by a combination of objectives including product quality and manufacturing efficiency.  Specifications for particulate products may include ranges for multiple distributed characteristics, for example particle size, shape, composition, porosity or other structural attributes.  A systems approach can be used to achieve quality objectives for distributed characteristics based on integrated monitoring and control.  

Industrial systems typically include primary unit operations having control objectives (e.g., crystallization, granulation, milling) along with ancillary processes (separation, classification, recycling) that can be used to further refine output quality.  Typical system models use flow-sheets to integrate unit operations with flow streams having distributed characteristics.  This requires a practical combination of (1) unit-op models having distributed input and output streams in sufficient detail to predict product quality objectives; and (2) sufficient measurement data to compare against the models’ predicted stream distributions. On one hand, detailed models (e.g., multi-dimensional PBM’s) may be challenging to implement because they require more detailed data for comparison purposes; on the other hand, grossly simplified models may not be able to adequately predict distributed characteristics relevant to product quality specifications.

Current and New Projects

A Holistic Approach for the Model-based Control of Particle Size and Shape in Integrated Batch and Continuous Crystallization-Wet Milling Systems; Nagy (Purdue)

A Systems Engineering Approach to Dry-Milling with Grinding Aid Additives; Kwade (TU Braunschweig)