Chemical engineering and computer science fuse to advance the future of smart plants

Published: Oct 7, 2015 8:00:00 AM

In a cross-disciplinary collaboration merging chemical engineering with computer science, Auburn University professors have partnered to explore cyber manufacturing and big data analytics to advance the future of smart plants.

Jin Wang, Walt and Virginia Woltosz associate professor of chemical engineering, and Anthony Skjellum, director of Auburn University’s Cyber Research Center and the COLSA professor of cybersecurity and information assurance, will be building an innovative testbed of chemical reactors, as well as Internet of Things sensors to monitor and examine big data analytics and create improved control of complex systems in the next generation of smart plants.

The duo is developing a process data analytics framework to provide smart diagnostics and prognostics for cyber manufacturing, as well as an IoT-enabled manufacturing technology testbed to understand the properties, capacities and performances of IoT devices better. Information obtained from the study of IoT sensors will allow researchers to identify opportunities and challenges of future IoT-enabled cyber manufacturing.

The project can have a significant impact on future smart plants by detecting and correcting possible faults and failures earlier and reducing plant downtimes by upwards of 50 percent in five years and 90 percent in 10 years. In addition, Wang and Skjellum foresee that this research will increase plant efficiency and cost savings.