The goal of the “Intense4Chem” project led by Certech in collaboration with the Belgian Ceramic Research Centre, the Université catholique de Louvain and the Université de Liège is to develop intensified continuous chemical processes. It addresses the chemical industry’s need to introduce more efficient, low-energy consuming and safer processes, and to reduce its environmental impact.
The six-year project started early in 2016 and covers three main topics: the synthesis and processing of biobased chemicals, the handling of liquids containing small solid particles, and the design of functionalised microreactors.
The first results were achieved after 18 months, with the development of a flow process to produce glycerol carbonate continuously from glycerol and dimethyl carbonate. A new type of reactor was also designed to handle slurries in a continuous way and was made by a 3D printer (see pictures). Finally, work to develop a catalytic flow reactor in which a specific catalyst is grafted onto a metallic or ceramic foam is progressing well. This innovation will improve heat transfer efficiency by a factor of 15 and increase safety by reducing the quantity of explosive chemicals in the system.
*Projects funded by the European Regional Development Fund 2014-2020.