Department of Chemical and Metallurgical Engineering

Plant design

Group led by Prof. Pekka Oinas combines fundamental chemical engineering principles with systems engineering approaches to develop methods and computer-aided tools that are applicable in all areas of chemical process industry.
Ioncell-materiaalia sinisessä kudotunomaisessa materiaalissa tai kankaassa
Ioncell™ fabric

Our research areas:

  1. Techno-economic assessments of plant scale processes
  2. Process and plant design for bio-based, sustainable products


The research in Plant Design focuses on process feasibility study, synthesis, design, operation, integration, simulation and optimization, as well as  inherent safety, occupational health, pollution prevention and industrial risk. The key theme is the development of systematic methodologies to identify optimum, sustainable and creative strategies that lead to process intensification, yield improvement, debottlenecking, costing, safety, pollution prevention and energy conservation. Fundamental chemical engineering principles are coupled with systems engineering approaches to develop methods and computer-aided tools that are applicable in all areas of chemical process industry.

Current research projects:

1. LignoSphere -spherical lignin particle as a platform material for sustainable adhesives and beyond:

Within the forest industry there is high interest in converting lignin into high value added products. We aim to convert industrial lignin side-stream into value-added products.

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2. iCom–sustainable fibers with ionic liquid:

Before the world runs out of natural resources, researchers from Aalto University and the University of Helsinki have come up with a more sustainable way to produce textilescalled Ioncell.

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3. NovelBaltic:

NovelBaltic is a collaboration project for profitable products from non-timber wood products. In this project, collaboration between institutions and industries in Finland, Norway, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and China will be carried out.

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4. SO4 Control:

Mining waters contain often sulfates in excessive amounts. The target is to convert sulfates to sulfides by bioreaction and separate the gases produced (CO2, H2S).

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5. Modeling and scale-up of centrifugal filtration:

The project is planned to aid the industry, especially pharmaceuticals field, to make better investments and have better abilities to represent their scenarios computationally without the need to experiment in large scale production.

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6. CEforestry:

The objective of CEforestry is to develop new and innovative practices, including circular economy concepts, in forestry. Main goal is to utilize forestry side streams (bark, needles, cones etc.) in Baltic Sea Region.

7. BIO4P - Bioproducts From Nature

Our focus is on developing sustainable processes to produce various extractives, such as essential oils and waxes, from the novel bio-based raw materials. Additionally, the project will assess the feasibility of these processes on an industrial scale and develop business models to exploit their commercial potential.


The education in Plant Design is directed at process design and development methods in B.Sc, M.Sc and Ph.D levels. This includes preliminary process design, process synthesis, cost engineering, process simulation and environmental and safety aspects of design. This knowledge can be used for the development of new processes, engineering of new plants and improvement of existing ones in the chemical, petrochemical, biofuel, pulp and paper, minerals, food and biotech and pharmaceutical industries. The teaching is based on problem-based learning, in which process design and development problems are solved using modern design tools such as simulation programs and other design methods. The teaching also includes advanced practical design projects performed as group work and guided by industrial engineers from appropriate companies.

Plant design_design project

Design Project in Chemical Engineering:

Students participate in their Master's studies in a practical design project, which is based on group work and problem based learning with innovations.

Read more about the design project

People working in a laboratory

Plant design research combines fundamental chemical engineering principles with systems engineering approaches to develop methods and computer-aided tools that are applicable in all areas of chemical process industry. Therefore, the students graduated have a solid basis for various positions in industry and academy.

Related news:

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A team of two Master’s students collaborated with Valio in a 6-month Aalto Thesis project.

Two lab-coated women in a laboratory looking at pipes.

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IonCell-F has won seed fund award at Innovation Day pitching organized by Climate-KIC Nordic.


Latest publications:

Transparent lignin nanoparticles for superhydrophilic antifogging coatings and photonic films

Karl Alexander Henn, Sahar Babaeipour, Susanna Forssell, Paula Nousiainen, Kristoffer Meinander, Pekka Oinas, Monika Österberg 2023 Chemical Engineering Journal

Energy-efficient and cost-effective separation model for solvent recovery from colloidal lignin particles dispersion

Elham Khalati, Rahul Bangalore Ashok, Pekka Oinas 2023 Canadian Journal of Chemical Engineering

Techno-economic and safety assessment of supercritical CO2 extraction of essential oils and extracts

Elham Khalati, Pekka Oinas, Leena Favén 2023 Journal of CO2 Utilization

Interfacial catalysis and lignin nanoparticles for strong fire- and water-resistant composite adhesives

K. Alexander Henn, Susanna Forssell, Antti Pietiläinen, Nina Forsman, Ira Smal, Paula Nousiainen, Rahul Prasad Bangalore Ashok, Pekka Oinas, Monika Österberg 2022 Green Chemistry

Batch cooling crystallization process for the food-grade phytosterols

Paula Rantamäki, Jari Kavakka, Pekka Oinas, Marjatta Louhi-Kultanen 2022 BIWIC 2022 : 27th International workshop on industrial crystallization

Furfural production from xylose and birch hydrolysate liquor in a biphasic system and techno-economic analysis

Gerardo Gómez Millán, Rahul Prasad Bangalore Ashok, Pekka Oinas, Jordi Llorca, Herbert Sixta 2021 Biomass Conversion and Biorefinery

Plastics value chain – abatement of greenhouse gas emissions

R. Kajaste, P. Oinas 2021 AIMS Environmental Science

Abatement of industrial greenhouse gas emissions

Raili Kajaste-Rudnitskaja 2021

Self-assembly of colloidal lignin particles in a continuous flow tubular reactor

Rahul Bangalore Ashok, Yao Xiao, Kalle Lintinen, Pekka Oinas, Mauri Kostiainen, Monika Österberg 2020 Colloids and Surfaces A: Physicochemical and Engineering Aspects
More information on our research in the Aalto research portal.
Research portal
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