Quantum computer

Quantum computing: A new paradigm in chemical and biological manufacturing

Friday 12 Nov 21
|
by Lonnie Moldt Jørgensen

Contact

Seyed Soheil Mansouri
Associate Professor
DTU Chemical Engineering
+45 45 25 29 07

Contact

Martin Andersson
Associate Professor
DTU Chemical Engineering
+45 45 25 29 57

First workshop on quantum computing

In April 2022, the first of its kind workshop will take place in Copenhagen, gathering scientists and engineers in academia, industry, and startups to showcase advances in an emerging and rapidly growing field. The workshop is co-hosted by DTU, American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) and Knowledge Hub Zealand and supported by the Novo Nordisk Foundation.

Read more about the Quantum Computing Applications in Chemical and Biochemical Engineering Workshop.
DTU researchers are exploring potential applications in chemical and biomolecular design to develop better products and chemical processes to the industry with application within formulations, catalysis, drug discovery and process operation.

For years, computer-aided methods and tools to develop new processes has been used in chemical process design with great success. Now, new types of computing such as quantum computing is getting more and more attention due to its potential superiority when it comes to problem solving within different areas.

In a recent research paper on new quantum computing application areas, researchers at DTU Chemical Engineering are exploring the link between quantum computing and chemical and biomolecular product and process design. The hope is to develop products and chemical processes that are far more efficient, economic, and sustainable than when using traditional computers.

“Quantum computing can potentially find application in tackling some of the most complex problems within chemical and biological engineering. However, work needs to be done to map and explore the potential application areas and how we can leverage the foreseeable abilities of such computations,“ says Seyed Mansouri, Associate Professor at DTU Chemical Engineering and lead author of the paper.

Martin Andersson, Associate Professor at DTU Chemical Engineering and first author of the paper also sees great potential in quantum computing.

“While current quantum computers still lack the capacity for solving industrially relevant problems within quantum chemistry, the technology develops very fast. We are identifying key areas where we see applications being viable in the near future, to be able to take advantage of upcoming quantum computing power in an optimal way.”

The quantum nature

Quantum computing is not a new field as it has been an active research area since the 1980’s. Quantum computing is based on quantum physics and can solve problems that normal or traditional computers cannot due to the quantum nature.

A traditional computer is based on a binary system where information is stored in bits represented by a “0” or “1”. While traditional computers can deliver fast calculations, they are still limited when it comes to larger calculations as the speed is reduced significantly as the problem size increases. However, quantum computers are based on qubits. While data in traditional computers are either off or on, the qubits can be off and on simultaneously – also known as a superposition. This makes quantum computing capable of addressing many challenging problems within design of catalysts, protein folding, solvent design and process monitoring and control; thus opens up to a world of possibilities.

“Although we have not yet reached the advent of general-purpose quantum computing hardware, there are already some impactful applications in process manufacturing and energy systems that could be addressed through the hybrid quantum-classic computing framework. Quantum computing won't entirely replace classical computing in the foreseeable future, but the technologies have great potential of offering speed-ups and advantages in industrially-relevant applications on computer-aided design, operational optimization, real-time monitoring, and control,” says Fengqi You, Professor at Cornell University in USA and co-author of the paper.

Gathering the world's leading thinkers

Linking chemical and biomolecular design with quantum computing and finding new applications is still in the early stage, but interest in the area is increasing. On April 1-3, 2022, the 'Quantum Computing Applications in Chemical and Biochemical Engineering Workshop’ will take place, gathering scientists and engineers in academia, industry, and startups to showcase advances in an emerging and rapidly growing field. The workshop is co-hosted by DTU, American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) and Knowledge Hub Zealand and supported by the Novo Nordisk Foundation.

As Dr. Christian Beenfeldt, Director of Knowledge Hub Zealand in Kalundborg observes.

“The quantum computing field is expanding rapidly and will soon be a billion-dollar business with exciting applications in a number of diverse fields - from banking and finance to logistics, energy, pharmaceuticals, aerospace, and of course chemical and biochemical engineering. We are therefore very happy to be co-organizing the workshop, where these topics will be explored by some of the world's leading thinkers in the QC field.”

 

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