Dynamic Conceptual Design

Dynamic Conceptual Design has been the natural evolution to Conceptual Design based on the seminal work of James Douglas in 1988.

The design of chemical plants is subject to a wise selection of process units that like Lego pieces are put together according to some optimizing rules. The economic subject is one of the most important drivers to identify the optimal layout of a plant. Economic potentials allow increasing step by step the detail of design up to the optimization of the heat exchanger network.

Conceptual Design allows defining with a systematic approach the CAPEX terms (i.e. CAPital EXpenditures). When it arrives to OPEX terms (i.e. OPerative EXpenditures) a more detailed approach is recommended to take into account the fluctuations and uncertainties of prices and costs of raw materials, final products, utilities and the like.

If a feasibility study of the chemical plant is required, this should consider the long-term fluctuations of prices and costs that affect both the payback-period and the return-on-investment. This is where Dynamic Conceptual Design comes into play with the role of quantifying the possible fluctuations of prices/costs through a systematic methodology.


The term Dynamic Conceptual Design, DCD, was coined inside our PSE-Lab and is one of our leading and original research topics since 2008.

These are the main research topics that are originally and specifically developed by our PSE-Lab in the field of CD and DCD:

Conceptual Design

  • Design of Chemical Processes
    • Process units for incineration plants
    • Reactor for Calcium hydroxide production with ultrasound activation
  • CAPEX: Capital Expenses
  • OPEX: Operating Expenses
    • Economic potentials according to Douglas’ approach
    • Heat Exchanger Networks
    • Superstructures to find the optimal layout of a chemical plant

Dynamic Conceptual Design

  • Feasibility study of chemical processes
    • Price fluctuations of OPEX terms
    • Economic fluctuations
    • Demand and offer uncertainty
    • Dynamic evolution of prices/costs of
      • Commodities
      • Utilities
      • Reference components (e.g., crude oil, LNG, …)
    • Economic assessment of chemical plants under financial/economic uncertainty
    • Models of price/cost of commodities, utilities, raw materials
  • Dynamic Economic Potentials
  • Revamping and retrofitting of chemical process
    • Dynamic superstructures to find the optimal layout
    • Economic sustainability of products and processes


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