UCL Centre for Nature Inspired Engineering


Annual Reviews article on NICE by Marc-Olivier Coppens

1 July 2021

Annual Reviews Artical on NICE M-O Coppens

A comprehensive perspective article “Nature Inspired Chemical Engineering for Process Intensifications”, written by Professor Marc-Olivier Coppens (CNIE Director), has now appeared in the Annual Review of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, where you can freely download it through the following link: http://www.annualreviews.org/eprint/G22M9SEQ52Q9NJJQQFGG/full/10.1146/annurev-chembioeng-060718-030249 .

This article presents in a pedagogical way the systematic Nature-Inspired Solution (NIS) methodology, developed in the Centre for Nature Inspired Engineering (CNIE) at the UCL Department of Chemical Engineering, with specific focus on applications in chemical engineering (NICE) for process intensification.

The paper starts with motivations - especially related to sustainable development and the need for transformative changes in methodology (how we do things). This is followed by the foundations for NICE, and then examples of NICE applications in catalysis and reactor engineering, membranes, fuel cells, and dynamically structured fluidised beds.

 A final Section is called "NICE explorations”. Beyond a review, this section offers a perspective on the broader landscape (other interdisciplinary applications and complementary tools to tackle them), and ways to expand the fundamentals, especially as there are gaps in mathematical and thermodynamic frameworks that are currently insufficiently developed to tackle complex systems and "mesoscience". The paper indicates personal views on possible directions.

This article is the product of 20 years of research on NICE (nature-inspired chemical engineering), from Professor Coppens’ early work at TU Delft (the Netherlands) and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (USA) to the the NIS (nature-inspired solution) methodology developed at the CNIE over the past 8 years. He is especially grateful to his NICE Group of very talented researchers over the past 20+ years, and the UKRI-EPSRC for funding the CNIE via "Frontier Engineering" (2013) and "Frontier Engineering: Progression" (2019) awards.

The author warmly thanks the Editors, Professors Mike Doherty (UCSB), John Prausnitz (UC Berkeley), and Rachel Segelman (UCSB), for the invitation to write this article, with the support of Dame Lynn Gladden (Cambridge University) on the Editorial Committee. Twice postponed, it has been a few years in the making!

How to cite this paper:

M.-O. Coppens, 2021, Nature-inspired chemical engineering for process intensification. Ann. Rev. Chem. Biomolec. Eng. 12, 187-215. DOI: 10.1146/annurev-chembioeng-060718-030249