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Adaptable Reactors for Resource- and Energy-Efficient Methane Valorisation (ADREM) responds to the EU Horizon 2020 call SPIRE-05-2015 and is a research and innovation project. ADREM's main goal is the development of a highly innovative, economically attactive and rescource- and energy-efficient valorisation process of variable methane feedstocks to higher hydrocarbons and liquid fuels.
About the project
ADREM is dedicated to innovation in resource and energy efficiency in process industries. In four years, a consortium of 10 European organizations, led by TU Delft, will focus on the development of new and intensified adaptable catalytic reactor systems for flexible and decentralized production at high process performance. The reactors should be able to operate with changing feedstock compositions and deliver on-demand the required product distribution by switching selected operational parameters and/or changing modular catalyst cartridges. In the long term, the reactors are expected to operate energy- and emission-lean using green electricity as the direct, primary energy source.
The societal importance of methane as the source of energy and chemicals in the coming decennia cannot be overestimated. The enormous reserves, its potential contribution to improved environmental sustainability, and lower overall costs point to natural gas as the dominating primary source for energy and chemicals in the near future. Small natural gas reservoirs, shale gas, coalbed methane, agricultural biogas and deep-sea methane hydrates contribute to the great diversity of methane sources. This diversity creates a need to develop modular, flexible catalytic reactor systems capable of valorizing methane to longer hydrocarbons and of operating with changing methane feedstocks in various environments.
ADREM will provide highly innovative, economically attractive and environmentally friendly processes and equipment for efficient transformation of methane into valuable chemicals and liquid fuels to be run in the long term on green electricity. Monetary savings of more than 10% compared to conventional centralized processes are targeted. Technologies based on recent research in process intensification will be developed applying flexible modular one-step process with high selectivity for valorisation of methane from various sources. Modular (containerized and mobile) reactors will be provided permitting flexible adaptation of the plant size to demand and also utilizing smaller or temporary sources of methane or other feeds. Innovative reactor types investigated within the project include microwave/radiofrequency, non-thermal plasma, gas−solid vortex reactor, and high-temperature gradient micro-plasma reactors with structured catalyst packed bed.
Figure 1: The overall approach of ADREM
ADREM addresses current and future important societal challenges. Novel reactor systems developed in the project will provide indeed novel means for the conversion of methane in cases when it presently has to be flared or released because of lacking or non-economic connections to gas pipelines. This presents a strong positive environmental impact, which will be increased even further when using renewable electricity as a source for operation of the new reactors.
1. Reactor development of microwave heated catalytic systems for enhanced methane nonoxidative coupling processes
The main goal of this work package is to develop novel microwave heated reactors capable of enhancing conversion (at a given gas phase temperature) and selectivity of methane into added value chemicals (C2 light hydrocarbons, oligomers, aromatics) via a non-oxidative coupling reaction mechanism.
2. Development of plasma-activated (catalytic) systems for enhanced methane coupling processes
The aim of this WP is to develop novel plasma-activated reactors capable of enabling methane coupling into added value chemicals (C2 hydrocarbons, oligomers, aromatics) at milder process conditions and with better yields compared to conventional thermal processing.
3. Reactor development concept: Gas–Solid Vortex Reactor in a Static Geometry
The objective is to show that the selectivity for the oxidative coupling of methane (OCM) towards C2products can be improved in a gas–solid vortex reactor in a static geometry (GSVR–SG) as compared to a traditional fixed-bed type reactor.
4. Reactor development concept: high-temperature gradient (HTG) reactor
The main feature of the proposed reactor concept will be the internal (radial) temperature gradient (HTG). The reactor will be devised in a tubular fashion, the external surface being either exposed to ambient air or cooled additionally; nonetheless, it will in any case serve for the vertical product condensate removal by the force of gravity alone or, perchance, by adequately refining the condensing interface structure rendering it lamellar to decrease the liquid/solid surface tension. Whereas HTG will provide a continuous liquid product removal on the outer reactor jacket, the central reactor axis is to be devoted to plasma source.
5. Catalyst development
The aim of this catalyst development work package (WP5) is provide each reactor work package (WP1-4) with an appropriate catalyst for each stage of the reactor comparison and down-selection.
6. Concept evaluation and selection
The aim of this WP is to evaluate the different new reactor concepts consistently and systematically by comparing these to the state of the art conventional reactor concepts and the current best available technology to convert methane into chemicals. The experimental results and literature data that are obtained in the reactor concept development work packages (WP1-4) serve as the basis for the analysis of the reactor performance The development of models suited to assess the performance of these reactors in a larger process scheme and extract the key performance indicators allows the evaluation of the new concept reactors and the corresponding chemistries in view of meeting the main objectives (selectivity, productivity etc…). Further, the integration of the novel reactors with upstream and downstream equipment, the adaptability to changing feedstock and product specifications as well as the modularization of the complete conversion chain will be analysed. On this basis, the 2 most promising concepts will be chosen for demonstration at TRL5. Finally the full techno economics of the modularized methane valorisation process train will support the generation of the business model and the roadmap for following development and demonstration activity.
7. TRL5 validation of selected concept
The aim of this WP is testing and validation of the selected reactor concepts developed and selected in WP1-6 at TRL 5.
The ADREM team involves leading industries, university groups and research institutes in process intensification, catalytic reactor engineering and process control from 8 European countries.
Delft University of Technology, Netherlands - a leading and internationally top ranked research university in engineering science & technology with a strong chemical and process engineering community. TU Delft is represented by two groups.
The Chair of Intensified Reaction and Separations Systems (IRS, Prof. Dr. Andrzej Stankiewicz, ADREM Coordinator) is internationally recognized in the field of Process Intensification, and it develops fundamentally new methods and related equipment to influence and control molecular interactions (orientation, forces and energies) in relevant systems, such as reactions, distillation or crystallization. Intensification of chemical reactions and separations by means of alternative energy forms (such as microwaves, electric fields, plasma, light or acoustic fields) presents a significant part of the IRS research.
The Catalysis Engineering (CE) team (Prof. Dr. Freek Kapteijn; Prof. Dr. Jorge Gascon) focuses on the application of catalysis through smart engineering with a strong emphasis on the utilization of structured materials in multiphase and multifunctional operation. CE is currently one of the leading groups in the application of regular structures (monoliths) and advanced nanostructured materials (MOFs, zeolites) in catalysis, adsorptive processes and separations.
TU Delft is the project coordinator and the leader of reactor development of microwave heated catalytic systems for enhanced methane nonoxidative coupling processes. It is also involved in the development of plasma-activated catalytic systems for enhanced methane coupling processes and the catalyst development.
Johnson Matthey PLC, United Kingdom - a speciality chemicals company focused on its core skills in catalysis, precious metals, fine chemicals and process technology. Johnson Matthey's principal activities are the manufacture of autocatalysts, heavy duty diesel catalysts and pollution control systems, catalysts and components for fuel cells, catalysts and technologies for chemical processes, fine chemicals, chemical catalysts and active pharmaceutical ingredients and the marketing, refining, and fabrication of precious metals. Johnson Matthey’s participation in this project is through the Technology Centre (JMTC) based at Sonning Common in the UK. This central facility acts as a focal point for the development of new technologies into emerging market applications. Dr Peter Hinde, a Senior Scientist with experience in catalysts for vehicular exhaust emission control, reforming, photocatalysis and plasma hybrid catalysis, and Dr Stephen Poulston, a Senior Principal Scientist with experience in heterogeneous catalysis and sorbents, are participating in ADREM.
Johnson Matthey is the leader of the catalyst development and the TRL5 validation of the selected concepts.
Technip Benelux, Netherlands - a world leader in project management, engineering and construction for the energy industry. In the Netherlands, Technip Benelux is active in the design engineering and construction and worldwide implementation of process plants and units in the oil & gas, refining, petrochemical and offshore industry. Technip Benelux has proprietary technologies and know-how in the field of ethylene and hydrogen/synthesis production plants. It also offers operational support services and proprietary operational software to operators of ethylene and hydrogen plants. Dr. Stéphane Walspurger, an expert in product development of hydrogen and syngas technologies, Dr. Marco van Goethem, a modelling and testing expert, and Koos Overwater, an expert in engineering and technologies related to hydrogen, syngas and ethylene production, are participating in ADREM.
Technip Benelux is the leader of the concept evaluation and selection.
Sairem SAS, France – is among the international leaders specialized in microwave and RF laboratory and industrial equipment for food processing, science and medicine. The key differentiator of Sairem’s knowledge is the ability to develop applications that cover the entire spectrum of electromagnetic energy and to scale up standard or custom made processes from laboratory up to industrial at power levels starting from a few watts up to several hundred watts. At present, Sairem is the only microwave specialist able to design custom-made components or engineering complete solutions, provide support for all aspects of customers’ go-to-market strategy, from prototype to production, select cost-effective components, test prototypes and assemblies, and manufacture the highest quality solutions. Sairem is represented in ADREM by Dr Marilena Radoiu, R&D Director with expertise in microwave-assisted plasma for pollution control, microwave assisted chemical synthesis and microwave assisted processing.
Sairem is involved in the reactor development and in the concept evaluation and selection.
Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium - a leading university with strengths in process engineering for sustainable systems. The Process Engineering for Sustainable Systems (ProcESS) research group (Prof. Georgios Stefanidis) in the Chemical Engineering Department works in the domain of Process Intensification. The focus here is on the use alternative energy forms (microwaves, plasma, ultrasound and light) in chemical synthesis processes and environmental technology. Special interest is given to multiphase systems, such as heterogeneous catalysis, extraction, leaching. Both experimental and modelling approaches are applied.
KU Leven is the leader of the development of plasma-activated catalytic systems for enhanced methane coupling processes.
Ghent University, Belgium – a fast growing and internationally top ranked university with strengths in chemical reaction engineering. The Laboratory for Chemical Technology (LCT, Prof. Guy B. Martin, Prof. Mark Saeys) is a unit within the Department of Chemical Engineering (IR12), Faculty of Engineering, Ghent University. A common theme of the research projects is the development of multi-scale models of the relevant reactions and reactors with emphasis on the interaction between complex chemical kinetics and complex transport phenomena. A first principles approach is combined with experimental validation whenever possible.
Ghent University is the leader of the reactor development concept: gas–solid vortex reactor in a static geometry.
University of Zaragoza, Spain - a main centre of technological innovation in the Ebro Valley with special focus on nanosciences and chemical engineering. The Institute of Nanoscience of Aragon (INA) was founded in 2003 by the University of Zaragoza with the aim to group together the growing multidisciplinary research activity in Nanoscience and Nanotechnology. The group Nanostructured Films and Particles (NFP, Prof. Dr. Jesús Santamaría, Dr. Jose Luis Hueso) is now among the leading European groups in advanced Reactor Engineering and has made significant contributions in the fields of membrane reactors, zeolite membranes, microreactors and reactor safety, including several seminal works in the development of catalytic porous membrane reactors for the optimization of the Oxidative Methane Coupling (OCM) reaction.
University of Zaragoza is involved in the reactor development of microwave heated catalytic systems for enhanced methane nonoxidative coupling processes.
TU Dortmund University, Germany – a leading German technically oriented research university with particular strengths in chemical engineering and in the operation of chemical processes. 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. The activities of the Process Dynamics and Operations Group (DYN, Prof. Dr. Sebastian Engell, Dr. Weihua Gao) span from process control to operations scheduling and optimization-based process design. A distinguishing feature of the group in the context of these projects is that it defines the purpose of advanced control solutions as to improve the operation of the plant from an economic and ecologic point of view, not the control of some variables in the process. The group masters a broad set of tools to develop solutions to real control problems, including e.g. combined state and parameter estimation, online economic optimizing control, iterative data and model-based control, and robust control using a multistage stochastic approach. The DYN is involved in the concept evaluation and selection, and TRL5 validation of the selected concepts.
National Institute of Chemistry, Slovenia - a leading Slovenian institute in the basic and applied research in the fields of biotechnology, environmental protection, structural, theoretical and analytical chemistry, materials research, and especially chemical engineering. Laboratory of Catalysis and Chemical Reaction Engineering (LCCRE, Prof. Janez Levec, Assistant Prof. Blaž Likozar) is analogously to the Institute pursuing basic and applied chemical engineering research, the main fields of expertise being in biofuel and platform chemical production (batch/continuous/intensified configurations, homogeneous/heterogeneous/enzyme-catalysed transformations, and direct lignocellulosic/direct lipid/syngas routes), pyrolysis, combustion and gasification (coal, biomass, polymer waste, etc.), hydrogen production and use (sorption-enhanced steam reforming, fuel cells, hydrogenation processes, etc.), micro-process engineering (lab-on-a-chip, adaptable micro-factories, catalyst screening, etc.), separation unit operations (distillations, extractions, absorptions, etc.), process and product modelling, sensitivity analysis, optimization, intensification and economic valorisation, as well as in reaction kinetics, transport phenomena and fluid mechanics.
National Institute of Chemistry Slovenia is the leader of a reactor development concept and also tied to dissemination and exploitation activities.
Danish Technological Institute, Denmark - the largest technological service provider in Denmark; the Institute's core business lies in providing technological services to industry, especially SMEs. The Centre for Nano and Microtechnology has within the last five years invested heavily in the development and production of novel nanomaterials through supercritical flow synthesis using custom build supercritical fluid reactors. These can produce large volumes of nanocatalyst materials using green solvents such as water or ethanol. Zachary J. Davis, Senior Consultant, will be mainly involved in the commercial exploitation of the developed nanocatalysts through the supercritical fluid flow process. Christian Kallesøe, Product Manager, and this team will work on the development and optimization of large volume production of the nanocatalysts.
DTI is involved active in the development and pilot production of tailor made nanocatalyst materials towards the chosen methane valisorations chemistries and is involved into the validation of selected concepts.
14 April 2016:
ADREM Project Presentation
The project coordinator:
Prof. Andrzej Stankiewicz
Technische Universiteit Delft
Faculty of Mechanical, Maritime and Material Engineering (3mE)
2628 CB Delft
Project Management Support:
Dr. Evamaria Gruchattka
Technische Universität Dortmund
Research Support Services
Baroper Str. 283
44227 Dortmund, Germany