Imperial College London

Professor Nina F. Thornhill

Faculty of EngineeringDepartment of Chemical Engineering

Professor of Process Automation



+44 (0)20 7594 6622n.thornhill Website




ACEX 517ACE ExtensionSouth Kensington Campus






2014-now Director of MSc in Process Automation, Instrumentation and Control
2013-2016 Executive Team member and Director of Undergraduate Studies, Department of Chemical Engineering.
2012, 2013 Secondments with ABB Corporate Research in Poland.
2007-now ABB/Royal Academy of Engineering Chair of Process Automation, Department of Chemical Engineering.
1984-2007 University College London, Department of Electronic and Electrical Engineering: Lecturer (1984), Senior Lecturer (1991), Professor (2003) and Deputy Head of Department (2006).
2005 Secondment with ABB Corporate Research in Norway.
2001-2005 PhD (part-time), University College London. Thesis title: "Detection and  diagnosis of distributed disturbances in chemical processes".
2001 Sabbatical leave at Department of Chemical Engineering, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada.
1995 Passed the Design Examination of the Institution of Chemical Engineers.
1992-1995 Royal Society Industry Fellowship with BP Oil and BP Chemicals.
1984-2007 University College London, Department of Electronic and Electrical Engineering.
1983-1984 British Aerospace, Space and Communication Division. Control Systems Engineer.
1982-1983 MSc Control Systems, Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, Imperial College London.
1976-1982 ICI Plastics Division, Research Physicist engaged in product analysis and development.
1973-1976 BA in Physics, University of Oxford.


  • Process automation
  • Advanced dynamic signal analysis of industrial process measurements for detection and diagnosis of plant-wide disturbances
  • Analysis and optimization taking account of process units, utilities, rotating equipment and electrical systems
  • Analysis of the interactions between large industrial electricity consumers and the electricity transmission grid
  • Examining the impact of wireless technology in process automation
  • Capturing and analyzing process connectivity and topology from P&IDs
  • Applications in oil and gas, chemicals, and electricity supply
  • Coordination of FP7 and Horizon 2020 projects Real-Smart,  Energy-Smartops and PRONTO

Contact details

  • Centre for Process Systems Engineering
    Department of Chemical Engineering
    Imperial College London
    South Kensington Campus, London SW7 2AZ
    Tel: +44 (0)20 7594 6622, e-mail:


Selected Publications

Journal Articles

Cecilio IM, Ottewill JR, Fretheim H, et al., 2016, Removal of transient disturbances from oscillating measurements using nearest neighbors imputation, Journal of Process Control, Vol:44, ISSN:0959-1524, Pages:68-78

Budinis S, Thornhill N, 2016, Supercritical fluid recycle for surge control of CO2 centrifugal compressors, Computers & Chemical Engineering, Vol:91, ISSN:0098-1354, Pages:329-342

Chioua M, Bauer M, Chen S-L, et al., 2016, Plant-wide root cause identification using plant key performance indicators (KPIs) with application to a paper machine, Control Engineering Practice, Vol:49, ISSN:0967-0661, Pages:149-158

Cecilio IM, Ottewill JR, Thornhill NF, 2016, Determining the propagation path of a disturbance in multi-rate process and electromechanical systems, Control Engineering Practice, Vol:49, ISSN:0967-0661, Pages:187-193

Ersdal AM, Imsland L, Uhlen K, et al., 2015, Model predictive load–frequency control taking into account imbalance uncertainty, Control Engineering Practice, Vol:53, ISSN:0967-0661, Pages:139-150

Bauer M, Horch A, Xie L, et al., 2016, The current state of control loop performance monitoring - A survey of application in industry, Journal of Process Control, Vol:38, ISSN:0959-1524, Pages:1-10

Cicciotti M, Xenos DP, Bouaswaig AEF, et al., 2015, Physical modelling of industrial multistage centrifugal compressors for monitoring and simulation, Proceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers Part C - Journal of Mechanical Engineering Science, Vol:229, ISSN:0954-4062, Pages:3433-3448

Xenos DP, Lunde E, Thornhill NF, 2016, Optimal Operation and Maintenance of Gas Compressor Stations: An Integrated Framework Applied to a Large-Scale Industrial Case, Journal of Engineering for Gas Turbines and Power - Transactions of the ASME, Vol:138, ISSN:0742-4795

Xenos DP, Kopanos GM, Cicciotti M, et al., 2016, Operational optimization of networks of compressors considering condition-based maintenance, Computers & Chemical Engineering, Vol:84, ISSN:0098-1354, Pages:117-131

Barocio E, Pal BC, Thornhill NF, et al., 2015, A Dynamic Mode Decomposition Framework for Global Power System Oscillation Analysis, IEEE Transactions on Power Systems, Vol:30, ISSN:0885-8950, Pages:2902-2912

Kopanos GM, Xenos DP, Cicciotti M, et al., 2015, Optimization of a network of compressors in parallel: Operational and maintenance planning - The air separation plant case, Applied Energy, Vol:146, ISSN:0306-2619, Pages:453-470

Xenos DP, Cicciotti M, Kopanos GM, et al., 2015, Optimization of a network of compressors in parallel: Real Time Optimization (RTO) of compressors in chemical plants - An industrial case study, Applied Energy, Vol:144, ISSN:0306-2619, Pages:51-63

Cecilio IM, Ottewill JR, Fretheim H, et al., 2015, Multivariate Detection of Transient Disturbances for Uni- and Multirate Systems, IEEE Transactions on Control Systems Technology, Vol:23, ISSN:1063-6536, Pages:1477-1493

Cecilio IM, Ottewill JR, Pretlove J, et al., 2014, Nearest neighbors method for detecting transient disturbances in process and electromechanical systems, Journal of Process Control, Vol:24, ISSN:0959-1524, Pages:1382-1393

Ikram W, Petersen S, Orten P, et al., 2014, Adaptive Multi-Channel Transmission Power Control for Industrial Wireless Instrumentation, IEEE Transactions on Industrial Informatics, Vol:10, ISSN:1551-3203, Pages:978-990

Yang Y, Farid SS, Thornhill NF, 2014, Data mining for rapid prediction of facility fit and debottlenecking of biomanufacturing facilities, Journal of Biotechnology, Vol:179, ISSN:0168-1656, Pages:17-25

Schleburg M, Christiansen L, Thornhill NF, et al., 2013, A combined analysis of plant connectivity and alarm logs to reduce the number of alerts in an automation system, Journal of Process Control, Vol:23, ISSN:0959-1524, Pages:839-851

Sharifzadeh M, Thornhill NF, 2013, Integrated design and control using a dynamic inversely controlled process model, Computers & Chemical Engineering, Vol:48, ISSN:0098-1354, Pages:121-134

Stonier A, Pain D, Westlake A, et al., 2013, Integration of Stochastic Simulation with Multivariate Analysis: Short-Term Facility Fit Prediction, Biotechnology Progress, Vol:29, ISSN:8756-7938, Pages:368-377

Meland E, Thornhill NF, Lunde E, et al., 2012, Quantification of valve leakage rates, AICHE Journal, Vol:58, ISSN:0001-1541, Pages:1181-1193

Sharifzadeh M, Thornhill NF, 2012, Optimal selection of control structure using a steady-state inversely controlled process model, Computers & Chemical Engineering, Vol:38, ISSN:0098-1354, Pages:126-138

Sharifzadeh M, Rashtchian D, Pishvaie MR, et al., 2011, Energy Induced Separation Network Synthesis of an Olefin Compression Section: A Case Study, Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research, Vol:50, ISSN:0888-5885, Pages:1610-1623

Thambirajah J, Thornhill NF, Pal BC, 2011, A Multivariate Approach Towards Interarea Oscillation Damping Estimation Under Ambient Conditions Via Independent Component Analysis and Random Decrement, IEEE Transactions on Power Systems, Vol:26, ISSN:0885-8950, Pages:315-322

Turunen J, Thambirajah J, Larsson M, et al., 2011, Comparison of Three Electromechanical Oscillation Damping Estimation Methods, IEEE Transactions on Power Systems, Vol:26, ISSN:0885-8950, Pages:2398-2407

Thambirajah J, Barocio E, Thornhill NF, 2010, Comparative review of methods for stability monitoring in electrical power systems and vibrating structures, IET Generation Transmission & Distribution, Vol:4, ISSN:1751-8687, Pages:1086-1103

Apelt TA, Thornhill NF, 2009, Inferential measurement of sag mill parameters IV: Inferential model validation, Minerals Engineering, Vol:22, ISSN:0892-6875, Pages:1032-1044

Apelt TA, Thornhill NF, 2009, Inferential measurement of SAG mill parameters V: MPC simulation, Minerals Engineering, Vol:22, ISSN:0892-6875, Pages:1045-1052

Thambirajah J, Benabbas L, Bauer M, et al., 2009, Cause-and-effect analysis in chemical processes utilizing XML, plant connectivity and quantitative process history, Computers & Chemical Engineering, Vol:33, ISSN:0098-1354, Pages:503-512

Bauer M, Thornhill NF, 2008, A practical method for identifying the propagation path of plant-wide disturbances, Journal of Process Control, Vol:18, ISSN:0959-1524, Pages:707-719

Thornhill NF, Patwardhan SC, Shah SL, 2008, A continuous stirred tank heater simulation model with applications, Journal of Process Control, Vol:18, ISSN:0959-1524, Pages:347-360

Thornhill NF, Horch A, 2007, Advances and new directions in plant-wide disturbance detection and diagnosis, Control Engineering Practice, Vol:15, ISSN:0967-0661, Pages:1196-1206

Bauer M, Cox JW, Caveness MH, et al., 2007, Nearest neighbors methods for root cause analysis of plantwide disturbances, Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research, Vol:46, ISSN:0888-5885, Pages:5977-5984

Bauer M, Cox JW, Caveness MH, et al., 2007, Finding the direction of disturbance propagation in a chemical process using transfer entropy, IEEE Transactions on Control Systems Technology, Vol:15, ISSN:1063-6536, Pages:12-21

Choudhury MAAS, Shah SL, Thornhill NF, et al., 2006, Automatic detection and quantification of stiction in control valves, Control Engineering Practice, Vol:14, ISSN:0967-0661, Pages:1395-1412

Yim SY, Ananthakumar HG, Benabbas L, et al., 2006, Using process topology in plant-wide control loop performance assessment, Computers & Chemical Engineering, Vol:31, ISSN:0098-1354, Pages:86-99

Thornhill NF, Melbo H, Wiik J, 2006, Multidimensional visualization and clustering of historical process data, Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research, Vol:45, ISSN:0888-5885, Pages:5971-5985

Thornhill NF, Naim MM, 2006, An exploratory study to identify rogue seasonality in a steel company's supply network using spectral principal component analysis, European Journal of Operational Research, Vol:172, ISSN:0377-2217, Pages:146-162

Huang B, Ding SX, Thornhill N, 2006, Alternative solutions to multi-variate control performance assessment problems, Journal of Process Control, Vol:16, ISSN:0959-1524, Pages:457-471

Xia CM, Howell J, Thornhill NF, 2005, Detecting and isolating multiple plant-wide oscillations via spectral independent component analysis, Automatica, Vol:41, ISSN:0005-1098, Pages:2067-2075

Tangirala AK, Shah SL, Thornhill NF, 2005, PSCMAP: A new tool for plant-wide oscillation detection, Journal of Process Control, Vol:15, ISSN:0959-1524, Pages:931-941

Wang M, Thornhill NF, Huang B, 2005, Closed-loop identification with a quantizer, Journal of Process Control, Vol:15, ISSN:0959-1524, Pages:729-740

Huang B, Ding SX, Thornhill N, 2005, Practical solutions to multivariate feedback control performance assessment problem: reduced a priori knowledge of interactor matrices, Journal of Process Control, Vol:15, ISSN:0959-1524, Pages:573-583

Thornhill NF, 2005, Finding the source of nonlinearity in a process with plant-wide oscillation, IEEE Transactions on Control Systems Technology, Vol:13, ISSN:1063-6536, Pages:434-443

Choudhury MAAS, Thornhill NF, Shah SL, 2005, Modelling valve stiction, Control Engineering Practice, Vol:13, ISSN:0967-0661, Pages:641-658

Anaparthi KK, Chaudhuri B, Thornhill NF, et al., 2005, Coherency identification in power systems through principal component analysis, IEEE Transactions on Power Systems, Vol:20, ISSN:0885-8950, Pages:1658-1660

Choudhury MAAS, Shah SL, Thornhill NF, 2004, Diagnosis of poor control-loop performance using higher-order statistics, Automatica, Vol:40, ISSN:0005-1098, Pages:1719-1728

Thornhill NF, Choudhury MAAS, Shah SL, 2004, The impact of compression on data-driven process analyses, Journal of Process Control, Vol:14, ISSN:0959-1524, Pages:389-398

Thornhill NF, Cox JW, Paulonis MA, 2003, Diagnosis of plant-wide oscillation through data-driven analysis and process understanding, Control Engineering Practice, Vol:11, ISSN:0967-0661, Pages:1481-1490

Thornhill NF, Huang B, Shah SL, 2003, Controller performance assessment in set point tracking and regulatory control, International Journal of Adaptive Control and Signal Processing, Vol:17, ISSN:0890-6327, Pages:709-727

Thornhill NF, Huang B, Zhang H, 2003, Detection of multiple oscillations in control loops, Journal of Process Control, Vol:13, ISSN:0959-1524, Pages:91-100

Thornhill NF, Shah SL, Huang B, et al., 2002, Spectral principal component analysis of dynamic process data, Control Engineering Practice, Vol:10, ISSN:0967-0661, Pages:833-846

Tan CC, Thornhill NF, Belchamber RM, 2002, Principal component analysis of spectra with application to acoustic emissions from mechanical equipment, Transactions of the Institute of Measurement and Control, Vol:24, ISSN:0142-3312, Pages:333-353

Yeung KSY, Hoare M, Thornhill NF, et al., 1999, Near-infrared spectroscopy for bioprocess monitoring and control, Biotechnology and Bioengineering, Vol:63, ISSN:0006-3592, Pages:684-693

Thornhill NF, Oettinger M, Fedenczuk P, 1999, Refinery-wide control loop performance assessment, Journal of Process Control, Vol:9, ISSN:0959-1524, Pages:109-124

Thornhill NF, Hagglund T, 1997, Detection and diagnosis of oscillation in control loops, Control Engineering Practice, Vol:5, ISSN:0967-0661, Pages:1343-1354

Thornhill NF, Hutchinson RJ, Haughie BT, 1996, A probability chart for statistical process analysis, with applications, Journal of Process Control, Vol:6, ISSN:0959-1524, Pages:161-167


Arroyo E, Schulze D, Christiansen L, et al., 2014, Derivation of diagnostic models based on formalized process knowledge, Pages:3456-3464, ISSN:1474-6670

Ersdal AM, Fabozzi D, Imsland L, et al., 2014, Model predictive control for power system frequency control taking into account imbalance uncertainty, Pages:981-986, ISSN:1474-6670

Bauer M, Thornhill NF, Meaburn A, 2004, Specifying the directionality of fault propagation paths using transfer entropy, 7th International Symposium on Dynamics and Control of Process Systems (DYCOPS 7)

Ersdal AM, Imsland L, Cecilio IM, et al., 2013, Applying model predictive control to power system frequency control, 4th IEEE/PES Innovative Smart Grid Technologies Europe (ISGT EUROPE)

Cecilio IM, Ersdal AM, Fabozzi D, et al., 2013, An Open-Source Educational Toolbox for Power System Frequency Control Tuning and Optimization, 4th IEEE/PES Innovative Smart Grid Technologies Europe (ISGT EUROPE), IEEE, ISSN:2165-4816

Fabozzi D, Thornhill NF, Pal BC, 2013, Frequency restoration reserve control scheme with participation of industrial loads

Kunjumuhammed LP, Pal BC, Thornhill NF, 2013, A test system model for stability studies of UK power grid

Thornhill NF, Fabozzi D, Pal BC, 2013, Monitoring and management of power transmission dynamics in an industrial smart grid, IEEE PES PowerTech Grenoble 2013

Ikram W, Thornhill NF, 2013, Towards the development of a wireless network node lifetime calculation tool, IEEE International Conference on Emerging Technologies and Factory Automation, ETFA 2013, ISSN:1946-0740

Cecílio IM, Rapp K, Thornhill NF, 2012, Process performance analysis in large-scale systems integrating different sources of information, Pages:45-50, ISSN:1474-6670

Cecílio IM, Chen SL, Thornhill NF, 2011, Importance of auxiliary systems for process fault detection and diagnosis, Pages:952-957

Di Geronimo Gil GJ, Alabi DB, Iyun OE, et al., 2011, Merging process models and plant topology, International Symposium on Advanced Control of Industrial Processes, ADCONIP 2011, Pages:15-21

Sharifzadeh M, Thornhill NF, 2011, Optimal controlled variable selection using a nonlinear simulation-optimization framework, 21st European Symposium on Computer Aided Process Engineering (ESCAPE-21), ELSEVIER SCIENCE BV, Pages:597-601, ISSN:1570-7946

Ikram W, Stoianov I, Thornhill NF, 2010, Towards a Radio-Controlled Time Synchronized Wireless Sensor Network: A Work in-Progress Paper, 15th IEEE International Conference on Emerging Technologies and Factory Automation (ETFA), IEEE, ISSN:1946-0740

Ikram W, Thornhill NF, 2010, Wireless communication in process automation: A survey of opportunities, requirements, concerns and challenges, Pages:471-476

Beez S, Fay A, Thornhill N, 2008, Automatic generation of Bond Graph models of process plants, IEEE International Conference on Emerging Technologies and Factory Automation, ETFA 2008, IEEE, Pages:1294-1301

Thornhill N, Bauer M, Meaburn A, 2005, Cause and effect analysis of chemical processes, Pages:23-30, ISSN:0537-9989

Thornhill NF, Oettinger M, Fedenczuk P, 1998, Performance assessment and diagnosis of refinery control loops, 3rd International Conference on Foundations of Computer-Aided Process Operations, AMER INST CHEMICAL ENGINEERS, Pages:373-379, ISSN:0065-8812

Thornhill NF, Sadowski R, Davis JR, et al., 1996, Practical experiences in refinery control loop performance assessment, UKACC International Conference on Control '96, 2-5 September 1996, Pages:175-180, ISSN:0537-9989

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