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Information für die Wissenschaft Nr. 42 | 14. Juli 2020
Priority Programme “Machine Learning in Chemical Engineering. Knowledge Meets Data: Interpretability, Extrapolation, Reliability, Trust” (SPP 2331)

In 2020 the Senate of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) established the Priority Programme “Machine Learning in Chemical Engineering. Knowledge Meets Data: Interpretability, Extrapolation, Reliability, Trust” (SPP 2331). The programme brings together the chemical engineering (CE) and machine learning (ML) communities. By teaming chemical engineers with mathematicians and/or computer scientists, progress in all disciplines is expected. The programme is designed to run for six years.

The present call invites tandem proposals for the first three-year funding period. Each proposal must operate at the interface of CE and ML and have at least two applicants with corresponding expertise. The projects shall consider at least one of six areas: 1. optimal decision making, 2. introducing/enforcing physical laws in ML models, 3. heterogeneity of data, 4. information and knowledge representation, 5. safety and trust in ML applications, and 6. creativity. The projects will be organised in a matrix between the areas of CE and the ML tasks. Data, models, and methods will be shared among all participants of the programme in an internal platform. The organisation matrix and further information can be found on the homepage of the Priority Programme (see below).

The projects are expected to open up new methods for CE, formulate new types of problems for ML, and jointly generate advances for methods in both ML and CE. Since ML has been used within CE since several years (e.g., surrogate models for complex unit operations), projects shall go well beyond this state-of-the-art. Under the umbrella of the six areas, the collaborative projects shall have promise for progress in process synthesis (especially regarding feedstock transformation), process flexibility, material selection, generation of alternatives, and uncovering hidden information. Projects should address at least one CE area and one ML area, i.e., one of the nine collaboration fields in the matrix, and clearly state why it does, and how it will achieve progress in at least one of the areas 1. to 6. Projects investigating and comparing different methods from ML for the same field of the collaboration matrix are particularly encouraged. Similarly, projects are encouraged where outcomes are transferable from the matrix field considered to other fields in the same row.

The focus of the programme shall be on the field of fluid processes with or without chemical reactions. Examples or products from other fields could be included, in case the fluid process remains the focus. Reflecting the scientific challenges and needs of fluid processes, relatively broad CE methods are allowed, ranging from molecular modelling, thermodynamic calculations, reactor development, and the prediction of fluid properties up to methods dedicated to operation, synthesis, and design of whole processes (including control and optimisation, uncertainty quantification and optimal experimental design). Projects may be purely computational and/or have ML methods directly applied on experimental CE. Topics reaching beyond this scope may be included, in case they contain sufficient work on the methods above.

Proposals must be written in English and submitted to the DFG by 19 January 2021. Please note that proposals can only be submitted via elan, the DFG’s electronic proposal processing system. To enter a new project within the existing Priority Programme, go to Proposal Submission – New Project/Draft Proposal – Priority Programmes and select “SPP 2331” from the current list of calls.

In preparing your proposal, please review the programme guidelines (form 50.05, section B) and follow the proposal preparation instructions (form 54.01). These forms can either be downloaded from our website or accessed through the elan portal. In addition to submitting your proposal through elan, please send an electronic copy to the programme coordinator.

Applicants must be registered in elan prior to submitting a proposal to the DFG. If you have not yet registered, please note that you must do so by 5 January 2021 to submit a proposal under this call; registration requests received after this time cannot be considered. You will normally receive confirmation of your registration by the next working day. Note that you will be asked to select the appropriate Priority Programme call during both the registration and the proposal process.

Further Information

More information on the Priority Programme is available under:

The elan system can be accessed at:

DFG forms 50.05 and 54.01 can be downloaded at:

For scientific enquiries please contact the Priority Programme coordinator:

  • Prof. Alexander Mitsos, Ph.D.
    Rheinisch-Westfälische Technische Hochschule Aachen
    Fakultät für Maschinenwesen
    Aachener Verfahrenstechnik – Systemverfahrenstechnik (SVT)
    Forckenbeckstr. 51
    52074 Aachen
    phone +49 241 8094704
    Link auf E-Mailalexander.mitsos@avt.rwth-aachen.de

Questions on the DFG proposal process can be directed to:

Programme contact:

Administrative contact:


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