• process design;
  • mathematical modeling;
  • optimization

An approach for the optimal design of chemical processes in the presence of uncertainty was presented. The key idea in this work is to approximate the process constraint functions and model outputs using Power Series Expansions (PSE)-based functions. The PSE functions are used to efficiently identify the variability in the process constraint functions and model outputs due to multiple realizations in the uncertain parameters using Monte Carlo (MC) sampling methods. A ranking-based approach is adopted here where the user can assign priorities or probabilities of satisfaction for the different process constraints and model outputs considered in the analysis. The methodology was tested on a reactor–heat exchanger system and the Tennessee Eastman process. The results show that the present method is computationally attractive since the optimal process design is accomplished in shorter computational times when compared to the use of the MC method applied to the full plant model. © 2014 American Institute of Chemical Engineers AIChE J, 60: 3243–3257, 2014