Thursday, 18 February 2016

Alternative Energy use highlighted in Horizon 2020 Projects

The results from three Horizon 2020 projects on the use of alternative energy sources for industrial processes will be highlighted at a workshop in Brussels on 2 March 2016. The three projects address process intensification technologies utilising alternative forms of energy, such as microwave, laser or ultrasound, and are very relevant to resource and energy efficiency challenges in chemical processing.

This final industrial workshop is being organised by the InnoREX project and will see also the participation of projects MAPSYN and ALTEREGO.

InnoREX looked at the continuous reactive extrusion of lactide to polyactide (PLA) and online process monitoring of reactive extrusion processes. The project contributes to the fast growing demand for biobased polymers. Current catalysts needed to improve the polymerisation rate of lactones contain metals that pose a hazard to health and the environment.

InnoREX has developed a novel reactor concept using alternative energies for the continuous, highly precise, metal-free polymerisation of PLA in a continuous extrusion line. It has further replaced the metal-containing catalysts by newly developed organic catalysts, and investigated their activity enhancement by use of alternative energy sources laser, ultrasound and microwave. A pilot line including the energy sources and ensuring the polymerization and purification of the polymer from the residual monomer has been built. In addition simulation tools have been developed enabling fast upscaling of the process to industrial scale.

MAPSYN examined chemical reactions like selective hydrogenations and nitrogen fixation, upscaling of microreactors and flow reactors. The project aims to manufacture and scale microreactors and continuous flow reactors in which reactions are carried out assisted by ultrasound, microwaves or plasma energy. MAPSYN focusses on reducing costs and energy consumption of the production, preserving and enhancing high quality, reproducibility and sustainability.

Two different reactions were investigated:

  • A novel hydrogenation process incorporating microwave heated microreactors and innovative catalysts has been evaluated
  • Use of plasma reactors for nitrogen fixation processes including simulations of this process have been carried out

These reaction systems are important to the pharmaceutical and fertiliser industries. By the end of the project, MAPSYN will build two demonstrators: a plasma reactor for nitrogen fixation and a continuous flow microwave hydrogenation system.

ALTEREGO investigated pharmaceutical, green fuels and bulk chemicals synthesis and development of a generic methodology for upscaling these processes. The project aims for implementation of alternative energy technologies for intensified chemical manufacturing. A new hierarchical methodology to enable highly efficient chemical syntheses with alternative energy forms through reliable process data collection with advanced analytical tools, robust multiscale modelling and design and development of scalable equipment has been established.

The methodology is generic and was demonstrated for three alternative energy technologies: ultrasound, microwave, and non-thermal plasma. These were applied to different industrially relevant case studies in the application areas of advanced pharmaceutical synthesis and green fuels and bulk chemicals synthesis during the project.

More information
The workshop will take place at the Fraunhofer EU office in Brussels. Places at the workshop are limited, but if you are interested in attending, please contact the event organiser Anke Hartmann.

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