The water-energy-food nexus and process systems engineering: A new focus

Daniel J. Garcia, Fengqi You*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

211 Scopus citations


As the global population grows, consumption of water, energy, and food will also increase, placing stresses on these three sectors, raising the importance of the Water-Energy-Food Nexus (WEFN). This article highlights research challenges and identifies process systems engineering research opportunities to appropriately model and optimize the WEFN. A brief overview of relevant, foundational WEFN research is first presented. We then identify challenges in the multiple scales of the WEFN, ranging from the household scale to the global scale. There are further challenges with appropriate system boundary definitions, and challenges in modeling the decision-making and conflicting objectives of multiple stakeholders in the WEFN. Uncertainties of all kinds appear at all scales of the WEFN and must also be considered. We use two motivating WEFN examples to frame these challenges and propose future avenues and opportunities for research. Possible approaches to the abovementioned challenges are proposed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)49-67
Number of pages19
JournalComputers and Chemical Engineering
StatePublished - Sep 29 2016


  • Life cycle optimization
  • Modeling and optimization of multiple spatial and temporal scales
  • Modeling of multiple stakeholders
  • Multi-scale modeling
  • Water-energy-food nexus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemical Engineering(all)
  • Computer Science Applications


Dive into the research topics of 'The water-energy-food nexus and process systems engineering: A new focus'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this