The 8th European Process Intensification Conference (EPIC 2023) was held in Warsaw, Poland 31 May – 2 June 2023. Here are my highlights on industrial PI applications.
Manfred Nagel of Evonik presented the role of technology in his specialty chemical company. He first showed all Sustainable Development Goals of the UN to which his company contributes and the ambition to have reduced the carbon dioxide footprint of his company by 11% in 2030. He then pictured the use of modular designed plants, the use of heat pumps, and a catalytic membrane reactor for the production of pentanol with 70% energy savings and considerable investment and operational expense savings. His gut feeling is that process intensification is between 20 and 30% of all process innovations in his company.
Croda presented their innovation to transform a batch process for the production of a functional consumer care ingredient, in operation since 1950, into a continuous process. The selected technology is the Nitech oscillatory baffled pipe reactor with heat exchange via the wall. In the research stage kinetics were determined. The development involved a pilot plant reactor in continuous operation in campaigns. In this development stage the reactor cleaning procedure was also established. For the Engineering Procurement and Construction stage an EPC company, experienced in this field, was selected as well as Nitech as the reactor technology provider. In the start-up stage steady state continuous production was achieved with a year round production of several tons per year. The whole innovation trajectory from idea to steady state commercial operation took 5 years. The Nitech reactor is 500 times smaller than the batch reactor. The reduction in energy requirements and wastewater production is enormous.
With this achievement Croda received the EPIC Process Intensification Industrial Award at the EPIC conference. The jury stated: “Croda developed a new process starting from laboratory and via pilot plant completing the cycle by ending in a full production plant. The project delivered significant benefits in both processing time, CAPEX and OPEX and reduced environmental impacts, fulfilling PI principles being faster, cheaper, and better.”
Dr Alisa Doroshenko of Sairem presented commercial scale applications of microwave technologies for industrial applications. Major applications are in the food processing industry for cooking or tempering deep frozen products, pasteurizing, disinsectization, drying, and boost heating certain ingredients.