We are living in an uncertain world that is undergoing periods of transition. Undoubtedly, among them, ecological and energy transitions are vital issues for our society, which must involve less natural resource-intensive consumption models. In 1972, the book The Limits to Growth [MEA 72]1, commissioned by the Club of Rome, warned of the limitations of the world’s resources and paved the way for the concept of sustainability. This concern is increasingly relevant due to the world’s population growth, the pressure this puts on the environment and the desire of people for a better standard of living and well-being. In this pursuit, there is a strong need for new eco-designed products, new alternative technologies for product recycling and reuse, as well as for new techniques for water and energy management.
The process industries that encompass the chemical, pharmaceutical, oil, cosmetic, metallurgical industries and all those transforming raw materials by chemical, biological and physical routes are at the core of numerous value chains for providing customers with products and services that satisfy their needs.
“Smart”, “safer”, “cleaner” “eco-efficient”, “more autonomous using renewable energies”, “more flexible” and “more integrated plants” are some of the catchwords that are often used to depict the future of manufacturing plants.
To achieve this goal, production facilities cannot be ...