Faculty Advisor

Professor Jennifer L. Wilcox

Faculty Advisor

Professor Nikolas Kazantzis

Faculty Advisor

Professor Michael A. Demetriou

Faculty Advisor

Professor David DiBiasio





The chemical engineering literature is dominated by physical and (bio)-chemical processes that exhibit complex nonlinear behavior, and as a consequence, the associated requirements of their analysis, optimization, control and monitoring pose considerable challenges in the face of emerging competitive pressures on the chemical, petrochemical and pharmaceutical industries. The above operational requirements are now increasingly imposed on processes that exhibit inherently nonlinear behavior over a wide range of operating conditions, rendering the employment of linear process control and monitoring methods rather inadequate. At the same time, increased research efforts are now concentrated on the development of new process control and supervisory systems that could be digitally implemented with the aid of powerful computer software codes. In particular, it is widely recognized that the important objective of process performance reliability can be met through a comprehensive framework for process control and monitoring. From:

(i) a process safety point of view, the more reliable the process control and monitoring scheme employed and the earlier the detection of an operationally hazardous problem, the greater the intervening power of the process engineering team to correct it and restore operational order

(ii) a product quality point of view, the earlier detection of an operational problem might prevent the unnecessary production of o-spec products, and subsequently minimize cost.

The present work proposes a new methodological perspective and a novel set of systematic analytical tools aiming at the synthesis and tuning of well-performing digital controllers and the development of monitoring algorithms for nonlinear processes. In particular, the main thematic and research axis traced are:

(i) The systematic integrated synthesis and tuning of advanced model-based digital controllers using techniques conceptually inspired by Zubov’s advanced stability theory.

(ii) The rigorous quantitative characterization and monitoring of the asymptotic behavior of complex nonlinear processes using the notion of invariant manifolds and functional equations theory.

(iii) The systematic design of nonlinear state observer-based process monitoring systems to accurately reconstruct unmeasurable process variables in the presence of time-scale multiplicity.

(iv) The design of robust nonlinear digital observers for chemical reaction systems in the presence of model uncertainty. "


Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Degree Name



Chemical Engineering

Project Type


Date Accepted





parametric optimization, nonlinear dynamics, functional equations, chemical reaction system dynamics, time scale multiplicity, robust control, nonlinear observers, invariant manifold, process monitoring, Lyapunov stability, Nonlinear control systems, Chemical reactions