Tuesday, 16 July 2013

F3 Factory Project: The Case Studies

The SusChem-inspired F3 Factory was a FP7 funded collaborative research project on fast, flexible, modular process technology for the future chemical industry. At the heart of the project were seven industrial case studies that covered a range of processes challenges. Details of these case studies have now been published.

Launched in 2009 the €30 million F3 Factory project was a major public-private sector initiative under FP7 that sought to define and demonstrate a new paradigm in modular sustainable chemical production technology.

At the project’s final presentations to the SusChem Stakeholder event on 14 May SusChem Chairman Dr Klaus Sommer said: "It was a privilege and an honour to be involved with this project that has not only produced excellent new scientific knowledge, but also shown how to bridge the innovation gap and with a consortium including many major companies working very effectively together."

The fruits of this ground-breaking project will feed into future major SusChem programmes such as the SPIRE and BRIDGE 2020 public-private initiatives during Horizon 2020.

Case studies
Seven major European Chemical Companies (Arkema, Astra Zeneca, BASF, Bayer, Evonik, Procter and Gamble and Rhodia-Solvay) worked collaboratively in the project demonstrating that large scale, pre-competitive collaborative research is both manageable and potentially highly fruitful.

The case studies spanned a broad range of process industry sectors including pharmaceuticals, chemical intermediates, specialty polymers and consumer products and aimed to:

·                     demonstrate the F3 Factory modular concept at industrial scale for commercial applications 
·                     realise an open access backbone plant for modular continuous production 
·                     validate new intensified and simplified continuous processes 
·                     design and validate new/enhanced reactor technologies 
·                     establish of design guidelines and standards for modular, container-based production units.

The establishment of standardised modular equipment was a significant achievement for the project. The smallest interchangeable unit is the process equipment assembly (PEA) a number of which would be integrated within the standard process equipment container (PEC): a standard EU 20-foot ISO norm container (see example below).

The seven case studies are:
Click on the links to find out more about each case study.

Overall results
For business the F3 Factory project demonstrated increased investment flexibility, potential capital expenditure reduction up to 40%, potential operating expenditure reduction up to 20% and the potential to deliver a much faster 'time to market' for new products - a major competitive advantage.

The potential impact of the project could be very significant. Just looking at capital expenditure, it is estimated that such expenditure in the chemical industry ‘in western Europe’ (EU-15 plus Norway and Switzerland) was ~€ 39 billion in 2011.

If the F3 Factory could save up to 40% on capital expenditure for projects that equates to a maximum annual saving of €15.6 billion. Even at a conservative 10% take-up of the project concepts this still represents a potential annual saving of more than € 1.5 billion in Europe in the chemical industry alone.

From an environmental and resource efficiency point of view the project has demonstrated reduced energy consumption up to 30%, solvent reduction up to 100%, footprint reduction up to 50% and the potential to reduce or eliminate transportation by enabling local or point of use production.

In addition the project has successfully validated new intensified and simplified continuous processes that have demonstrated process intensification up to a factor of 500, increased space-time-yield up to a factor greater than 100, increased capacity greater than 20%, increased production yield greater than 20%, reduced equipment need of more than 60%, reduction of reaction/processing time by a factor of 10 and through these simplified processes achieved reduced reaction and processing steps of up to 30%.

And finally, the project has realised an innovative open access backbone plant (INVITE) facility for modular continuous production – a resource for European process development that will have continuing value for many years to come.

1 comment:

  1. Under the F3 Factory project, the efficiency and scalability of continuous plants are to be combined with the versatility of batch-wise operating plants. A supporting demonstration and development center will also be constructed at the CHEMPARK site in Leverkusen, Germany with work scheduled to be completed in late 2011.


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