Micro Process Technology has given strong push to continuous chemical manufacture via faci¬litating heat and mass transfer; named transport intensification = majorly developed during 1995-2005 and on-going. The next big step was to develop a tailored process chemistry in flow under highly intensified conditions – which is one essence among the developing field of Flow Chemistry = majorly developed during 2005-2014 and on-going. This has been coined Novel Process Windows [1-3] and has two research pillars, – the exploration of unusual and typically harsh process conditions (chemical intensification) and, in a more holistic picture, a completely new and often simpler process design (process-design intensification).
New process designs in pharma/fine chem = plug-in strategy
Starting from such new reaction designs, there is exactly now the big chance to develop new process designs in flow = this is considered to be an utmost task in the next 10 years. In the past flow and other intensified plants were mainly made by retrofit
For example, the exchange of a batch reactor versus the new intensified flow reactor was the major step. Engineering was used “just” to enable the Green and Flow Chemistry benefits. Thus, PI process design for pharma and fine chemistry applications is still mostly done in a plug-in (retrofit) manner and has been demonstrated many times by industries in the last years.
New process designs in bulk-chem/energy = plug-in strategy:
Yet, there is also an own intensification momentum in Green Engineering apart from provi¬ding the mentioned service. PI process design for specialty and bulk chemistry is supposed to change virtually all components (‘holistic process design’). Such end-to-end concepts have the advantage to exert major impact on CAPEX/OPEX costs, sustainability, and energy con¬sumption. This is demonstrated at process designs of superficial (400 t/a) direct adipic acid process standing for the fine- and bulk-chemical market. It will be outlined as well for the on-going process design developments for a plasma-based nitrogen fixation plant as opposed to the classical Haber-Bosch process. Beyond the single plasma plant itself, it comes out that an end-to-end vision on a ChemPark-Verbund scale and even more end-to-end on a (national) energy grid scale is mandatory as well which naturally is difficult to be implemented in early laboratory measurements (yet finally needed) This holistically guided work is done in the frame of the EU Project MAPSYN, which has the mission to explore alternative energies (plasma, MW, US) for chemical process industries. The development partner is Evonik who run commercial plasma processes. Features on res¬pective plasma catalysis , knowledge gaps in processing , and energy considerations  have already been given in literature by us. First own results with a newly designed plasma setup will be presented, characterizing plasma formation in catalyst-loaded and –free DBD and GlidArc minireactors
Modular, compact, intensified plants at movale container-scale = Factories of Tomorrow:
On top of that, the embedment of flow and other intensified (plasma) processing into compact, mobile and modular chemical production platforms (‘Future Factories’; container) such as Evonik’s Evotrainer is discussed. A recent cash-flow analysis gives evidence on net-present value and financial risk-assessment for the pharma, fine-chemical and bulk-chemical markets. Distributed production / future factories are topics of relevance as well for energy/biofuel gener¬ation. The EU-Large-Scale project BIOGO (www.biogo.eu) resear¬ches and develops advanced nanocatalysts, which are allied with advanced reactor concepts to realise a modular, highly efficient, integrated process for the production of fuels from renewable bio-oils and biogas.
We kindly acknowledge support by the ERC Advanced Grant on "Novel Process Windows” (grant no. 267443) and the EU FP7-NMP MAPSYN project (grant no. CP-IP 309376).
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