The SusChem inspired F3 Factory project took a major step forward recently with the opening of the INVITE research centre at the Bayer Technology Services (BTS) Chempark in Leverkusen, Germany.
The INVITE (INnovations, VIsions and Technologies) research facility (pictured left) is a joint venture between Bayer Technology Services and TU Dortmund University and was formally opened on September 21. The facility is dedicated to the development and testing of flexible and efficient production concepts for the “Factory of the Future”.
The SusChem F3 Factory project will be one of the first projects to take advantage of the INVITE infrastructure. F3 stands for Fast, Flexible, Future and this project marks the first time that 25 partners, including seven of the leading European chemical companies, have put aside their own competing interests to combine the advantages of larger, better optimized plants with those of smaller, more flexible plants with the aim of conserving resources.
“INVITE will provide a major part of the infrastructure required to achieve the F3 Factory projects ambitious goals,” said Dr. Klaus Sommer of Bayer Technology Services, a SusChem board member and a leading figure in the F3 project. “The F3 Factory project was originally launched as a “Visionary Project” inspired by the strategic work within SusChem and is an example of how industry and academic partners can collaborate to push technology along in a very relevant area.”
The principle idea is to build chemical factories according to a modular principle. Modular standard apparatus are consolidated into containers, which can then be connected in series to form a complete plant. Both stakeholders in INVITE GmbH (BTS and TU Dortmund) are participants in F3 Factory, a €30 million research project coordinated by Bayer Technology Services.
INVITE’s Managing Director Dr. Thomas Bieringer is pictured above holding a modular micro-reactor component that can be used to construct highly optimized process configurations in the facility.
Construction of the INVITE facility began in October 2010 and was partially funded by the German federal government and the state of North Rhine-Westphalia with contributions also from Bayer and TU Dortmund University. The centre will eventually employ more than 20 people in the 800m2 facility that comprises a technical centre, laboratories and office space.