General Workflow#

While IDAES offers significant freedom in how users write their models, they are encouraged to follow this general workflow in order to make it easier for others to follow their code.

This workflow is used throughout the tutorials and examples on the examples website.


It is important to note that IDAES models are constructed upon execution of each line of code, and that most user defined options are only processed on model construction. This means that if the user wishes to make changes to any model construction option, it is necessary to rebuild the model from the beginning. Users should not be put off by this however, as model construction is generally very quick.

The general workflow for working with a model in IDAES is shown below:

1. Importing Modules#

IDAES is built upon a modular, object-oriented platform using Python, which requires users to import the components from the appropriate model libraries. The necessary components and libraries will vary from application to application, and were discussed earlier in this User Guide, however some common components users will need include:

  • Pyomo environment components (e.g. ConcreteModel, SolverFactory, TransformationFactory, Var, Constraint, objective) imported from pyomo.environ

  • Pyomo network components (e.g. Arc, expand_arcs) from

  • IDAES FlowsheetBlock, from idaes.core

  • Property packages for materials of interest

  • Unit models for process equipment, drawn from either the IDAES model libraries and/or user-defined models

  • Data visualization and analysis tools. Common tools include degrees of freedom and scaling, a full list is provided here.

  • External packages of interest to the user. Being built upon Python, users have access to the full range of Python libraries for working with and analyzing their models.

2. Building a Model#

The next step in the workflow is to create a model object which represents the problem to be solved. The steps involved in this may vary depending on the problem being solved, but the general procedure is as follows:

2.1 Create a Model Object#

The foundation of any model in IDAES is a Pyomo ConcreteModel object, which is created as follows:

m = ConcreteModel()


IDAES does not support the use of Pyomo AbstractModels

2.2 Add a Flowsheet to the Model#

The foundation of a process model within IDAES is the FlowsheetBlock, which forms the canvas upon which the process will be constructed. A key aspect of the FlowsheetBlock is to define whether the model will be steady-state or dynamic, and to define the time domain as appropriate.

m.fs = FlowsheetBlock(dynamic=False)


IDAES supports nested flowsheets to allow complex processes to be broken down into smaller sub-processes.

2.3 Add Property Packages to Flowsheet#

All process models depend on calculations of thermophysical and chemical reaction properties, which are represented in IDAES using property packages. Users need to add the property packages they intend to use to the flowsheet.

m.fs.properties_1 = MyPropertyPackage.PhysicalParameterBlock()


Users can add as many property packages as they need to a flowsheet, and can determine which property package will be used for each unit operation as it is created.

2.4 Add Unit Models to Flowsheet#

Next, the user can add Unit Models to their flowsheet to represent each unit operation in the process.

m.fs.unit01 = UnitModel(property_package=m.fs.properties_1)

2.5 Define Unit Model Connectivity#

In order to describe the flow of material between unit operations, users must declare Arcs (or streams) which connect the outlet of each unit operation to the inlet of the next.

m.fs.arc_1 = Arc(source=m.fs.unit01.outlet, destination=m.fs.unit02.inlet)

2.6 Expand Arcs#

It is important to note that Arcs only define the connectivity between unit operations, but do not create the actual model constraints needed to describe this. Once all Arcs in a flowsheet have been defined, it is necessary to expand these Arcs using the Pyomo TransformationFactory.



Pyomo provides a number of other Transformations and tools that may be useful to the user depending on the application. Examples include the gdp and dae transformations.

2.7 Add Variables, Constraints and Objectives#

Finally, users can add any additional variables, constraints and objectives to their model. These could include the objective function for which they wish to optimize, additional constraints that provide limits on process performance, or simply additional quantities that the user wishes to use in analyzing or visualizing the results.

3. Scaling the Model#


The IDAES scaling tools are currently under development.

Ensuring that a model is well scaled is important for increasing the efficiency and reliability of solvers, and users should consider model scaling as an integral part of the modeling process. IDAES provides a number of tool for assisting users with scaling their models, and details on these can be found here.

4. Specifying the Model#


IDAES is in the process of developing a set of tools to assist users with working with units of measurement when fixing and displaying values.

The next step is to specify the model by fixing variables. which can be done using the form variable_name.fix(value). The variables that need to be fixed are application dependent, but commonly include the feed state variables.

In order to prepare the model for initialization, it is necessary to fully specify the model, such that there are no degrees of freedom. IDAES provides a tools for counting and reporting the degrees of freedom in any model (or sub-model/block):

from idaes.core.util.model_statistics import degrees_of_freedom



Whilst it is not always necessary to fully define a model before initialization, it is much safer to do so as it ensures the model is well-defined. Most IDAES initialization tools check that the model is well-defined before proceeding, and will raise an Exception if it is not.


Depending on the solver to be used during initialization, it can be better to avoid putting bounds on variables and adding inequality constraints at this stage. For solving square problems (i.e. zero degrees of freedom), some solvers (e.g. IPOPT) perform better without bounds on the problem. These bounds and constraints can be added later when it comes time to optimize the problem.

5. Initializing the Model#

The next step is to initialize the model. All IDAES models have established initialization methods that can be called using model.initialize() which can be expected to take a model from its initial state to a feasible solution for a set of initial guesses (within the models expected operating range).

IDEAS workflows generally use a sequential-modular approach to initialize flowsheets, where unit models are initialized sequentially, passing the outlet state from one unit as the initial state for the next. An automated sequential-modular tool is available through Pyomo and demonstrated in the tutorials.

6. Solving the Model#


The sequential-modular approach initializes each unit model individually, thus it is important to do a final solve of the overall flowsheet/model in order to complete the initialization process. In most cases, this final solve should only take a few iterations, as the state of each unit model should be at or near the final solution already.

In order to solve the model, it is necessary to create a solve object and set any desired solver options (such as tolerances, iteration limits etc.).

solver = SolverFactory('solver_name')
solver.options = {'tol': 1d-6}

results = solver.solve(m)

Users should check the output from the solver to ensure a feasible solution was found using the following:


Different problems will require different solvers, and users will need to experiment to find those that work best for their problems. The default solver for most IDAES applications is IPOPT, which can be downloaded using the idaes get-extensions command line.

7. Optimizing the Model#

Once an initial solution has been found, users can proceed to solving the optimization problem of interest. This procedure will vary by application but generally involves the following steps:

7.1) Unfix some degrees of freedom to provide the problem with decision variables, variable_name.unfix().

7.2) Add bounds to variables and inequality constraints to constrain solution space, variable_name.setlb(value) and var_name.setub(value)

7.3) Call a solver and check the termination conditions, see step 6 Solving the Model.


Users may wish/need to use different solvers for initialization and optimization. IDAES and Pyomo support the use of multiple solvers as part of the same workflow for solving different types of problems.

8. Analyzing and Visualizing the Results#

One of the benefits of the IDAES Integrated Platform is that it operates in a fully featured programming language, which provides users a high degree of flexibility in analyzing their models. For example, users can automate the simulation of the model across multiple objectives or a range of parameters, store and save results from one or multiple solutions. Users also have access to a wide range of tools for manipulating, plotting and visualizing the results.