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Sonication and Microwave Processing of Material Feedstock (SIMPLIFY) responds to the EU Horizon 2020 call SPIRE-02-2018 and is an innovation action in which leading European industries and university groups in process intensification, ultrasound, microwave, multiphase processes, polymerization and crystallization team up to address the domain of electrification of chemical industry. In four years, a consortium of 11 European organizations, led by KU Leuven, will focus on intensified processes, where alternative energy sources enable flexible continuous technologies to achieve localized ultrasound and microwave actuation of multiphase, flow reactors powered by electricity from renewable sources for the purpose of high-value product synthesis.
Start Date: 1st November 2018
Duration: 54 months
Budget: 8.5 million €
Coordinator: Prof. Tom Van Gerven, KU Leuven, Belgium
At the core of the SIMPLIFY project are the three case-studies, serving as representatives for process classes of high importance in the chemical industry: one in the domain of reactive extrusion (class of processes involving viscous streams), the other two in the domain of reactive crystallization (class of processes involving suspensions). Each of these case-studies is of interest to one industrial end-user in the project. These end-users are in charge of the industrial validation and demonstration on-site. The three case-studies are supported by both generic and applied research on the enabling technologies: US, MW and process control. In addition to the process technology-oriented activities, the sustainability and techno-economic improvement are investigated that can be reached by transitioning from a batch process to an US/MW-assisted continuous process. This activity supports in making technical decisions of where the processes can benefit most from US and MW activation.
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SIMPLIFY aims at enabling the electrification of the chemical process industry – and in particular the specialty chemicals industries – by moving from batch to continuous production with flexibility being ensured by the application of alternative energy forms.
SIMPLIFY advances the technology readiness level (TRL) of flow technology for multiphase streams involving suspensions or viscous products from TRL4 (technology validation in lab) to TRL6 (industrial demonstration), thus pushing the transition from chemical reactions with poor resource – both material and energy – efficiency and variable product quality to processes with high resource efficiency and excellent, uniform product properties.
The SIMPLIFY team involves leading industries and university groups in process chemistry, chemical technology, scale up and integrated assessment from 5 European countries.
KU Leuven, Belgium, is a leading university with strengths in process engineering for sustainable systems. The SIMPLIFY project is coordinated by the Process Engineering for Sustainable Systems (ProcESS) research group in the Chemical Engineering Department, headed by Prof. Tom Van Gerven. The group works in the domain of Process Intensification and focuses on the use of alternative energy forms (ultrasound, microwaves, plasma and light) in chemical (synthesis) processes and environmental technology. Special interest is given to multiphase systems (heterogeneous catalysis, extraction, leaching). Both experimental and modelling approaches are applied. KU Leuven will be involved in the research work on ultrasound (led by Prof. Tom Van Gerven) in flow.
TU Dortmund University, Germany, is a leading German Technical University with particular strengths in chemical engineering and in the operation of chemical processes. The activities of the Process Dynamics and Operations Group span from process control to operations scheduling and optimization-based process design.
The Research Support Services Team at TU Dortmund is responsible for the project management. The office supports scientists in planning and executing European research project as well as in dissemination, exploitation and innovation management.
NTUA (National Technical University of Athens), Greece, is among the oldest higher education institutions of Greece and the most prestigious among engineering schools. Applied Chemistry has deep historical roots in the teaching and research activities starting with the foundation of NTUA in 1836. The main research activities of the Laboratory of Chemical Process Engineering at NTUA (CPEL) focus on processes for production of high quality fuels, bulk and fine chemicals as well as on environmental protection processes using process intensification principles and technologies. The researchers at the CPEL will focus on parametric studies on the effects of microwaves for the case-studies of extrusion and microparticle crystallisation (led by Prof. Georgios Stefanidis).
UNIMORE, Italy, has a longstanding tradition and is considered one of the best universities in Italy for teaching and research. It is ranked 1st among the engineering programs in 2015, according to Italy’s leading financial daily. It is in the heart of one of Europe’s wealthiest and most dynamic regions, which is world-renowned for its production of mechanical parts, engines, sports cars (e.g., Ferrari and Maserati) as well as for its agro-food sector, ceramic tiles and manufacturing industries.
Fraunhofer Institute for Chemical Technology (ICT), Germany, carries out contract research for industry and works together with commercial companies on research projects. The department of Polymer Engineering works in the whole process chain of thermoplastic and thermoset processing, developing new processes and products. A special focus is set on the processes being available in pilot scale for industrial applications. The R&D expertise of the Fraunhofer ICT is primarily addressed towards products and processes in the fields of polymer technology. The facilities and expertise focus on the conception, computation and development of products and components, and on process technology, research into materials and constituent substances, characterization, testing and quality assurance. In the field of polymer development the ICT has substantial experience in innovative compounding processes, reactive extrusion and process intensification by minimizing process steps. Furthermore intensive research activities in the field of polymer chemistry, modification, assembling and degradation of polymer systems and interaction of different components in compounding processes have been undertaken by the ICT.
ARKEMA, France, is an affiliate of the Arkema Group which is a major chemical company with 13 Research centers in the world, 7 of them in France. Arkema has activities in several industrial sectors. Arkema operates 2 sites producing zeolites (in France and in Poland) through its fully owned Business Unit named CECA.
Coatex, France, is one of the world’s leading producers of rheological additives for aqueous formulations. The chemistry of these additives is based on low to medium molecular weight polymers. Dispersing agents, used to lower the viscosity and stabilize formulations or slurries, are usually produced by free radical or controlled radical polymerization of acrylic monomers. Thickening agents, used to control the rheological profile of waterborne products, can be obtained either by emulsion polymerization or by polyaddition/ polycondensation. These high performance additives are used in a wide variety of applications, including mineral processing, paper industry, coating industry, home and personal care industries.
Colorobbia Consulting S.r.l., Italy, is the services company of Gruppo Colorobbia that is one of the biggest producers of chemicals for ceramics in the world. Cericol, the advanced research department of Colorobbia has been established in 1999 with two main research lines, nanomaterial synthesis and nano-based product development and special nanostructured glass and glass-ceramics. The principal skill is the development of products and application techniques for smart nanocoatings. The main research areas of Cericol-Colorobbia Consulting include: nanomaterial synthesis and scale-up, production of nano based products for smart surfaces, glass ceramic and special glass production, nanobiomaterials and ceramic for drug delivery and prosthesis and development of innovative application techniques.
Weber Ultrasonics AG, Germany, was founded in 1998 and manufactures a broad range of ultrasonic products for industrial applications in: ultrasonic generators for industrial cleaning from 25 kHz to 1 MHz with an output power up to 3 kW; ultrasonic generators for plastic welding and cutting from 20 to 40 kHz and output powers up to 5 kW; ultrasonic transducers for cleaning and welding including submersible and rod transducers; ultrasonic flow reactors for waste water treatment and ultrasonic processing in biogas plants. Also customer-specific machines and devices for ultrasonic welding and cutting are developed and manufactured.
MUEGGE, Germany, has become one of the leading international manufacturers and suppliers of microwave power systems for advanced industrial heating and microwave enhanced plasma applications today. The company, located 60 km south of Frankfurt/Main (Germany), is well situated to access all areas globally and within Europe. The ISO 9001:2008 certified organization encompasses corporate and manufacturing facilities on an area of 5500 m2 devoted to development, design, production, service and support. Field offices and partner companies are located in the USA, in Japan, in Taiwan and in China, providing international field service and technical support. Since end of 2008, MUEGGE is part of Roth & Rau AG, which itself was acquired by Meyer Burger Group in 2011.
Quantis, Switzerland, is a leading sustainability and life cycle assessment (LCA) consultancy, specialized in supporting organisations to measure, understand, manage and communicate on the sustainability performance of their products, services and operations. With LCA as its backbone, Quantis´ purpose is to guide organisations to define, shape and implement intelligent solutions from an environmental sustainability perspective, by delivering robust metrics, resilient strategies, useful tools and credible communications.
Dynergie, France, supports high-potential start-ups, SMEs, mid-caps and large companies in their innovation projects, from identifying opportunities to market roll-out. In SIMPLIFY Dynergie supports the exploitation of the developed technologies, facilitates the tech transfer to the chemical sector and supports the feasibility studies. With the support of Dynergie SIMPLIFY will turn scientific research results into economic value.
Prof. Tom Van Gerven
Department of Chemical Engineering
Process Engineering for Sustainable Systems (ProESS)
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