In this work, we present a novel framework for the design of chemical processes. This framework includes four design stages and aims at a multiobjective decision-making at each stage using suitable EHS assessment methods in conjunction with technical and economic performance indicators. The different stages that have been defined comprise decisions on the synthesis route, the general process structure, the type of unit operations and the corresponding operating conditions. We reviewed a set of existing EHS assessment methods and selected suitable ones for each design stage, to cover EHS aspects comprehensively in combination with technical and economic issues.
The proposed framework is demonstrated on the design of methyl methacrylate (MMA) processes. By mimicking the framework, several reaction routes for this chemical are eliminated in a step-by-step procedure to obtain the most promising routes together with their optimal process structures and operating conditions.