Evolvable Process Design (EPD)

Lead Research Organisation: University of Glasgow
Department Name: School of Chemistry

Abstract

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.

Publications


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Title Brainwaves 
Description Prof Cronin has appeared on the BBC Radio Scotland "Brainwaves" program, in which he discusses his work, the origin of life, and his development as a scientist. (link below for a limited time only) 
Type Of Art Film/Video/Animation 
Year Produced 2016 
Impact Scottish audience (but also available on-line) 
URL http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b070d3yb
 
Title Disruptive Interview 
Description In an interview for the 3D printing magazine "Disruptive", Lee Cronin discusses his approach of using 3D printing technology for drug discovery and pharmaceuticals, and the digitalisation of the chemical world. 
Type Of Art Film/Video/Animation 
Year Produced 2015 
Impact target audience 
URL http://www.disruptivemagazine.com/opinion/disruptive-interview-lee-cronin-regius-chair-chemistry-uni...
 
Title People Behind the Science 
Description Prof Cronin has appeared on the "People Behind the Science" podcast, where he shared his views on the Origin of Life, and on how chemistry gets complicated, as well as discussing his life as a scientist. 
Type Of Art Film/Video/Animation 
Year Produced 2015 
Impact inspiration 
URL http://www.peoplebehindthescience.com/dr-lee-cronin/
 
Title TED Talk 
Description The idea is to make a device that could download plans for molecules and create them, in exactly the way that 3D printers can download plans and create objects. He would have a universal set of software, hardware and inks, and he believes all of them, including the ink, could be fantastically cheap. The software would be the product; the materials would be commodities. 
Type Of Art Film/Video/Animation 
Year Produced 2012 
Impact What would this mean? It would mean that you could print your own medicine. First, his team going to look at drug discovery and manufacturing. If drugs could be manufactured easily, they could be distributed anywhere - even printed at the point of need. If a new super-bug emerges, you could print a treatment right where it breaks out. Ultimately, Cronin says, "For me the cool bit, going into the future, is the idea of taking your own stem cells with your own genes and environment and printing your own medicine." Quickly delivered, cheap, personalized medicine. Does that sound like enough? If not, in the long long run, "You could make a matter fabricator. Beam me up, Scotty!" 
URL http://blog.ted.com/lee-cronin-at-tedglobal2012/
 
Title Through the Wormhole 
Description Lee Cronin and Cronin group research were featured on the latest episode of Through the Wormhole. Lee explained his theory of chemical evolution that pre-dates biological evolution without genes. The episode was broadcast on the Science Channel, and the Cronin Group research can be seen in the first section of the 1-hour episode. (with Morgan Freeman) 
Type Of Art Film/Video/Animation 
Year Produced 2015 
Impact Large audience. 
URL http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x2qd2qu
 
Description These reactors have been 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.
Exploitation Route 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.
Sectors Chemicals,Electronics,Energy,Healthcare,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology,Pharmaceuticals and Medical Biotechnology
 
Description These findings have been used for the evolution of more complex organic and inorganic materials