Creating algorithms for optimal process design in dynamic large-scale systems with surrogates

In this project, we will develop software and algorithms based on cutting edge optimisation theory and surrogate modelling techniques for automated design and optimisation of dynamic, carbon-neutral processes.

Start date

1 July 2022


Standard project duration is 4 years.

Application deadline

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Funding source

University of Surrey

Funding information

Full tuition fee waiver p.a. (UK and international students) and stipend at UKRI rates p.a. (currently at £15,609). 


As nations start acting on their commitments towards decarbonised economies, there is an increasing need for new energy-efficient, carbon neutral processes and products. With high renewable energy penetration, these processes will likely need to be dynamic, distributed, and able to respond to rapid changes in the market. Due to the complexity and novelty of these systems, new computational methods are required to screen and evaluate potential process networks systematically and efficiently and balance technoeconomic and environmental trade-offs.

In this project, we will develop novel algorithms and workflows for process design and optimisation, combining state-of-the-art mixed integer nonlinear programming optimisation approaches with surrogate modelling to identify key bottlenecks and barriers to developing profitable green processes. The algorithms developed could be used both during early and later technology readiness levels for the given process and will include multiple timescales and decision-making under uncertainty. There will be opportunities to collaborate with world-class researchers at other leading academic institutions, as well as with our industrial partners.

The successful candidate will be supervised by Dr Michael Short and Professor Tao Chen and will be based at the Department of Chemical and Process Engineering. The Department has a long history of excellence in computational and process systems research. We have a vibrant, interdisciplinary group of researchers working in a variety of areas to solve global problems in pharmaceuticals, energy, wastewater treatment, and catalysis. The Information and Process Systems Engineering research theme holds regular research seminars and social events to provide a supportive and friendly team atmosphere. You will receive comprehensive research training and opportunities to participate in conferences, workshops, and seminars to develop professional skills and research network.

Related links

Department of Chemical and Process Engineering

Eligibility criteria

Applicants are expected to hold a first or upper-second class degree in a relevant discipline (or equivalent overseas qualification), or a lower second plus a good Masters degree (distinction normally required).

We are seeking enthusiastic and motivated applicants with an interest in computational optimisation and process systems engineering. A degree in Chemical Engineering, Computer Science, Mathematics or other engineering/science disciplines with significant computational elements, and some coding experience in a programming language (e.g., Python, GAMS, MATLAB, or Julia) are essential for the role. Experience in mathematical optimisation modelling, open-source software, and/or process simulation is desirable.

English Language requirements 

International applicants may also require an IELTS (English-language test) score of 6.5 or above (or equivalent) with 6.0 in each individual category. Full details on country-specific entry requirements can be found on the programme page.

How to apply

To apply, please send your CV and cover letter to Dr Michael Short and start an application via the process outlined on the Chemical and Process Engineering programme page. Please clearly state the studentship title and supervisor on your application.

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Application deadline

Contact details

Michael Short
03 BC 02
Telephone: +44 (0)1483 689864


Research in the Department of Chemical and Process Engineering covers a wide range of interconnected areas and we collaborate closely with academic institutions and industries in the UK and worldwide.

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