Energy optimisation in process industry

Type: Master project in industry

Period: 2017 fall – 2018 spring

Project director: prof. François Maréchal

Assistants: Ivan Kantor, Elfie Méchaussie, Hélène Cervo, Alessio Santecchia, Hür Bütün


Energy integration study of a large manufacturing site in Europe: collection, verification and mapping of energy data, determination of energy profiles, key performance indicators and improvement options for process integration in relation to their economic impact and legal requirements. Develop the methodology and associated tools (IPESE Osmose tool) to carry out energy (steam) audits on industrial sites, based on mandatory or voluntary energy auditing and management systems, e.g. international standards such as ISO 50001, the European standard EN 16247 (if relevant) as well as national audit schemes and criteria.


  • Determine the energy profile of an industrial site: establish its energy consumption baseline and generate key performance indicators for contributing to the site energy plan and reaching the targets set in site audits;
  • identify and substantiate minimum investment / maximum yield solutions for site energy optimisation, primarily focusing on efficient use of steam.


In an effort to move towards a low carbon economy, a chemical site was selected for studying energy efficiency improvement as well as auditing and management systems. The development and implementation of these techniques should:

  1. lead to a decrease in energy consumption and therefore to carbon emission reductions,
  1. feed the auditing system in compliance with the international ISO 50001 standard and/or its national/regional implementation.

The study of onsite energy efficiency, optimisation and integration at the company’s manufacturing site is covered by PhD research projects in collaboration with EPFL-IPESE.

In parallel with rising legislative pressure, energy costs are the main drivers to continuously improve resource & energy efficiency which can be realised to improved integration in process industry. Therefore the described study should provide – relative to the data availability on the site:

site review at black/grey box level: energy bill analysis, site energy balances, areas of specific energy use, unit profiles and additional water, resource and material balances where possible and -when relevant- accounting for third parties at black box level;

indicative total site analysis: energy integration study generating site energy profile and substantiating non-binding recommendations on energy optimisation, integration opportunities, metering improvements and cost allocation per unit or plant where possible (together with PhD supervisors);

energy auditing, planning and management measures: based on previous studies, management systems in place and/or regional rules, a list of (resource &) energy saving actions, planning tools, corrective actions, management measures;

optional: input to cluster opportunities based on cross-border screening.

The study is performed at black/grey box level, indicating that -if possible and relevant- energy balances, profiles and recommendations are presented at unit or plant level without entering deeply into the process details. The aim is to track the energy flows, identify returns, losses, efficiencies, etc., and spot production units or clusters of prior review interest.

The study is performed based on site data that are available, collected, measured or estimated. Data will be structured and reconciled as necessary in order to carry out the work. At this stage of the work, the Pareto principle will be applied.

The project aims at delivering first optimisation recommendations that can be prioritised in close collaboration with the site experts and further elaborated or repeated in a follow-up study, if so decided.

The overall study of onsite resource and energy efficiency, optimisation and integration at the manufacturing site is covered by post-doc and PhD research at EPFL-IPESE and in the company, in the frame of joint industrial R&I projects.

Work plan

The Master thesis is carried out within both an industrial and academic context. The student will be first immersed at the site during a period of ca 4 months, collecting data and carrying out applied research. He/she will have access to available data and information by collaborating with onsite engineers and operators, and is embedded within the broader context of the PhDs mentioned before. The remaining time will be spent at EPFL, where the student will develop, test and refine the methodology and tools based on the site data, and suggest, discuss and evaluate energy saving options.

All projects make use of the IPESE-developed OSMOSE software, and the prospect of developing/using further methods and tools to reach the set targets is taken into consideration (Matlab, Vali, Aspen, etc.).

A research plan will be defined in the early stages of the work, to be validated by all concerned parties. The student will report regularly in view of progress updates, feedback and input. Local project leaders and onsite engineers are first lines of contact. Weekly meetings are recommended in the early stages of the project, weekly blogs are required throughout the project, and periodic telecons with the supervising team are welcomed.

Once or twice during the internship, the student will present intermediary results to the INEOS and EPFL project leadership team. At the end of the project, usually after 6 months the work and recommendations will be written and presented as the Master thesis and, after defending, reworked in a final industrial report tailor-made for the site. This report will be submitted/presented to the site team in order to discuss, validate and finalise the project with the industrial partner.