LAPSE Curator Calvin Tsay wins AIChE’s Smith Award is proud to congratulate Dr. Calvin Tsay, who is one of two recipient of AIChE’s W. David Smith, Jr. Graduation Publication Award, presented by the Computing and Systems Technology Division.

The award is given to the best journal publication(s) written by a graduate student. According to the award citation, Dr. Tsay received the award “For significant advances in the mathematical modeling and flowsheet optimization of periodic processes“, based on his research presented in the paper “A pseudo-transient optimization framework for periodic processes: Pressure swing adsorption and simulated moving bed chromatography”, AIChE Journal, 64, 2982-2096 (2018). The work was coauthored with Richard C. Pattison and his then-PhD supervisor Michael Baldea. 

The research paper discusses how to tackle the challenging problem of finding optimal designs for chemical processes which are cyclic, such as pressure-swing adsorption, temperature-swing adsorption, simulated moving bed chromatography, or semicontinuous distillation. One of the challenges is that cyclic-steady states–the particular way in which the system’s flows, concentrations, pressures, temperatures change over time in a stable but cyclic fashion–are hard to discover using computer simulations and classic numerical methods. Even harder than this is designing systems that have optimal cyclic steady states, which are the ways of running the system with lowest costs, highest performance, or with the most efficiency. Dr. Tsay’s primary contribution is a clever mathematical optimization algorithm which can help find these optimal trajectories more easily, helping to create designs that save money, conserve energy, and reduce pollution.

Although the award is for graduate research, award recipients are usually recognized several years after the publication so that the impact on the community can be judged. In this case, Dr. Tsay’s work has been cited in 28 publications in 14 different scientific journals so far.

Dr. Tsay has long been the curator of the LAPSE repository, and is currently a postdoctoral research fellow at Imperial College London. 



Thomas A. Adams II

Professor of Chemical Engineering at McMaster University