MechE Colloquium: Engineering the energy transition

Transforming the energy system to realise constraints and targets of the Paris agreement is not only a political challenge, it implies radical changes of the energy system design. The main objective is to replace fossil fuel tanks and technologies as well as the nuclear plants by integrating the use and the conversion of renewable energy resources to supply the system's energy services. In my talk, I will demonstrate the role of system engineering to identify options for the energy transition. System design means to choose and size the technologies and define the way they will be operated. A holistic and multidisciplinary approach is needed, considering in a systemic way the efficiency, the use of advanced technologies and their integration following a multi-energy perspective. Optimisation based decision support methods apply thermodynamic principles, process models and process integration techniques as well as superstructure models with optimal management techniques to systematically generate integrated energy system designs using appropriate life cycle based sustainability metrics. The method is illustrated by its application at different scales: from the development of technologies to their integration in complex large scale systems.

Prof. François Maréchal is professor in École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Valais. He is conducting research in the field of computer  aided decision support for process and energy systems engineering. His activities are focussing on integrating rational use of energy, renewable energy resources and circular economy concepts in industrial processes and energy systems design. François Marechal is the founding member and the co-chair of the energy section of the European Federation of Chemical Engineering and is representative of Switzerland in the Working Party on the Use of Computers in Chemical Engineering of the European Federation of Chemical Engineering.