Evolvable Process Design (EPD)

Lead Research Organisation: City, University of London
Department Name: Sch of Engineering and Mathematical Sci


The aim of this research lies in the design and manufacture of an Evolvable Process Design (EPD) reactor platform such that 'evolved' chemical reactions can be investigated for the first time. This will be achieved by developing a novel engineering approach to the design and construction of a chemical reactor system that combines three crucial elements: (1) a chemical process system, (2) a feedback / GA-managed control system, and (3) chemical building blocks that can reversibly bind together. The development of this system will allow the selection of a chemical system that has the correct properties to allow evolution (i.e. ability to mate, produce off- spring, and live or die depending on the fitness landscape applied to the system). By combining these key three elements the EPD-system aims to utilise feedback and selection mechanisms based on spectroscopic properties of the system / molecules / materials being evolved. These reactors will be designed to examine chemical evolution, the proof of principle that this approach is viable and then the eventual extension to three key example areas including drug design, catalysis discovery and new materials discovery. This approach is of great relevance to the process industries since, by adopting an evolvable approach to the new molecules/material once the system identifies the route to climb the fitness landscape, the optimal process will be discovered at the same time. In other words, once you have your product you have your process . This will result in an order of magnitude change in the time-to-market of new products. The system will be designed to be intrinsically scaleable and continuous, meaning that scale of production will not be an issue. In addition to the process industries, reactor-based chemical evolution, has the potential to initiate a career study to simulate, or re-create, the fundamental chemical processes that are related to the emergence of life and complexity in chemistry.
Description Development of a set of optical fibre chemical sensors to be incorporated into the chemical reactor platform, allowing for real-time monitoring of the chemical process
Exploitation Route Through wide dissemination routes, e.g. publications, workshops and conferences
Sectors Chemicals,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology

Description The design of the set of chemical sensors has been published widely to the academic community and promoted to industry through conferences and workshops
Description Centre of Excellence
Amount $38,000,000 (AUD)
Organisation Australian Research Council 
Sector Public
Country Australia
Start 10/2014 
End 10/2021
Description EU FP7 programme
Amount € 477,058 (EUR)
Organisation European Commission 
Sector Public
Country European Union (EU)
Start 12/2013 
End 12/2016
Description National science foundation
Amount ¥1,000,000 (CNY)
Organisation National Natural Science Foundation of China 
Sector Public
Country China
Start 05/2014 
End 05/2018
Description international partnership 
Organisation Australian Research Council
Department Centre of Excellence for Nanoscale BioPhotonics
Country Australia 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution International partnership with Australian Centre of Excellence via staff/student exchanges and joint funding applications
Collaborator Contribution Partnership with overseas Centres of Excellence to promote staff/student exchanges, joint funding applications and knowledge transfer.
Impact Two PhD students working on joint research programmes It is disciplinary: involving life sciences, biology, chemistry and engineering
Start Year 2014
Description smart contact lenses 
Organisation Tongji University Hospital
Country China 
Sector Hospitals 
PI Contribution Development of smart contact lenses by integration of optical fibre sensors into contact lenses for monitoring eye pressure for early detection of glaucoma. The principal aim of this project is to develop a novel technological solution to address an important challenge recognized by the World Health Organization as the second leading cause of blindness globally: glaucoma.
Collaborator Contribution The hospital has provided unique clinical environment for extensive testing of contact lenses through in vitro and in vivo analysis of IOP in animal eyes, when fitted with smart contact lenses and subjected to controlled changes in IOP
Impact Funding support from National Natural Science Foundation in China and Royal Academy of Engineering in the UK It is multi-disciplinary: involving visual sciences, engineering, physics and chemistry
Start Year 2015
Description An optical sensor (1) for pH monitoring in highly alkaline mediums, the sensor (1) comprising: a sensor body (3) that fluoresces when illuminated by light, the sensor body (3) being configured to exhibit a change in fluorescence in response to changing pH in highly alkaline mediums, the sensor further comprising means (5) for coupling the sensor body to a source of illumination. A system (11) is also disclosed, along with methods of synthesising pH sensitive polymerisable fluorescent coumarin dyes, and pH sensitive polymerisable fluorescent coumarin dyes. 
IP Reference WO2012098242 
Protection Patent application published
Year Protection Granted 2012
Licensed No
Impact This will make an impact on the construction industry by identifying corrosion problems at an early stage to save costing for maintenance and repair.