The Institute of Process Engineering (IPE), Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), formerly known as the Institute of Chemical Metallurgy, was founded on October 1, 1958. In the early years after its founding, under the leadership of Prof. Chu-phay Yap, IPE improved the metallurgical process based on chemical principles and technologies, and established the theory on high top pressure, high blast temperature and high blast humidity, abbreviated as the “three highs theory”, which doubled the iron output. IPE developed the oxygen converter steel making technology, and as the project undertaker, it jointly built the first industrialized converter steel making plant that realized continuous production in New China with Shijingshan Iron & Steel Company and other entities, which increased the steel making efficiency by more than 20 times. To meet China’s urgent need to exploit Panzhihua V-Ti Magnetite Mine, Baotou Rare-Earth Iron Mine and Jinchuan Nickel Sulfide Mine, IPE explored new methods for separation and extraction of vanadium, titanium, rare earth, cobalt, nickel and other elements, making great contributions to the development of China’s iron and steel industry and non-ferrous metal industry. In the 1970s, under the leadership of Prof. Mooson Kwauk and Prof. CHEN Jiayong, IPE expanded the application of chemical engineering principles into the fields of resources and environment, energy and material preparation. In the 1980s, IPE promoted the intersection of chemical engineering and biotechnology, and in the 1990s, it strengthened the research of engineering chemistry. After entering the 21st century, IPE has pioneered the field of process engineering in China, and arranged systematic researches at four levels centering on space-time multi-scale structure, laying the foundation for the disciplinary development of process engineering. Approved by the Central Institutional Organization Commission, the Institute of Chemical Metallurgy was formally renamed the Institute of Process Engineering in 2001. In the past decade, facing the need of developing more green, intelligent, and high-end process industries, IPE is committed to building a new model for integrated development of science, education and industry from basic researches to applications. In 2019, IPE and relevant competitive scientific research forces inside and outside CAS jointly set up the Innovation Academy for Green Manufacturing, Chinese Academy of Sciences, which shoulder the historical mission of leading and supporting the green transformation of the manufacturing industry in the new era.
Over the past six decades, IPE has seen a constant growth in size, and has established the Zhongguancun New Park, Langfang Branch, Huairou Center, and achievement transformation bases, forming a new model of “primitive innovation-pilot demonstration-industrialization”. IPE established the School of Chemical Engineering at the University of CAS and has developed “new chemical engineering” – a new interdisciplinary research field. It has also developed a research model that promotes interaction among research institutes, institutes of higher learning, and industries. The institute currently has 4 national R&D platforms: the State Key Laboratory of Biochemical Engineering, the State Key Laboratory of Multiphase Complex Systems, the National Engineering Laboratory for Hydrometallurgical Cleaner Production Technology, and the National Engineering Research Center for Biotechnology (Beijing); 2 key labs of CAS, 1 key lab of National Energy Administration, 2 provincial/ministerial-level key labs. The institute focuses on promoting major outputs, undertaking major tasks, and cultivating talent teams, and has set up 12 research departments to greatly enhance scientific research and innovation capabilities.
Since its founding, IPE has won 359 achievement awards at international, national, and provincial/ministerial levels, including 7 international awards and 38 top national awards. The academic journals run by IPE include The Chinese Journal of Process Engineering, Particuology, Green Energy & Environment, and Green Chemical Engineering, and the Chinese Society of Particuology, a first-grade society in China, is affiliated to IPE. In the past ten years, the research team of IPE has published more than 8,000 papers, and the institute ranks 18th in number of SCI papers among similar institutions in China, and currently has more than 1,900 patents. It ranks first in the same field in China in the ranking of invention patents granted by the State Intellectual Property Office.
IPE has a high-level research team of more than 2000 faculty and staff members, including 4 CAS and CAE members, 16 winners of the National Science Fund for Distinguished Young Scholars, and over 400 senior professionals such as professors and associate researchers. Young researchers under the age of 35 account for 33% of the entire team.
IPE is one of the earliest institutes in China to grant the PhD and master’s degrees, and has one of the earliest postdoctoral flow stations. It has 3 first-level disciplines authorized to offer PhD degrees (chemical engineering and technology, environmental science and technology, and materials science and technology) and 7 second-level disciplines (chemical engineering, chemical process, biochemical engineering, applied chemistry, environmental engineering, environmental science, and materials science). More than 1900 students have gained doctoral and master’s degrees in IPE, accounting for a large number of high-end talents for the related fields from both home and abroad.
Its current director is Prof.Zhang Suojiang, CAS academician. The previous directors of the institute include Prof. Chu-phay Yap, CAS academician; Prof. Mooson Kwauk, CAS academician; Prof.Xu Zhihong; Prof. Xie Yusheng; Prof. Li Jinghai, CAS academician, and Prof. Liu Huizhou.