Torben Frey, M.Sc.

Ei├čendorfer Str. 38, Building O, Room 3.018

Telephone +49 40 42878-4124

E-Mail: Torben Frey, M.Sc.


Research

Continuous Polymerization in Modular, Intelligent Reactors Resistant to the Formation of Deposits (KoPPonA 2.0)

The chemical industry is one of the most energy-intensive production sectors in Germany, and its production processes still offer considerable potential for energy savings. While the production of petrochemical raw materials and basic chemicals is already carried out in highly energy-efficient continuous processes, the production of pharmaceuticals, fine and specialty chemicals still generally uses batch processes with low energy efficiency in multi-product plants. As part of the ENPRO Initiative I and II, modular and flexible plant concepts have been and are being developed in order to be able to use the advantages of a continuous production mode for the fabrication of smaller and special chemical products. A major obstacle to the rapid implementation of these new concepts is the occurrence of fouling and deposits, which can severely disrupt continuous operation. 

In the joint project KoPPonA 2.0, the implementation of continuous process concepts for various polymer specialties which are particularly susceptible to the formation of deposits is to be promoted. Therefore, plant operators, apparatus manufacturers, sensor manufacturers, material scientists and process engineers work closely together to elucidate the causes of coating formation and to ensure the operation of continuous plants through innovative approaches in apparatus design, surface modification and reaction control.

Figure 1: The ENPRO initiative funded by the German Ministry of Economy and Climate Action and partners in the KoPPonA 2.0 project

The Institute of Multiphase Flows uses computational fluid dynamics (CFD) to investigate the processes leading to fouling. Due to the high Schmidt number of the problem, a high resolution is required to eliminate numerical diffusion. Different computational methods, i.e., finite element method (FEM), finite volume method (FVM), and Lattice Boltzmann method (LBM) are compared within the project to benchmark computational performance at high grid resolutions. Furthermore, a Euler-Lagrangian method is used in FVM to predict homogeneous and heterogeneous polymer fouling in structured reactors. Together with the Ruhr-University Bochum, the results are used to derive a compartment model of the fluid dynamics to significantly reduce computational effort.

 

Preventing Fouling with Pre-Mixing

Many continuous processes rely on a pre-mixing stage to achieve ideal mixing before the reagents enter the reactor stage. The pre-mixer is usually by orders of magnitude smaller than the continuous reactor, i.e., a milli- or micro-mixer. The mixing on molecular scale depends on the complex interplay between fluid dynamics, mass transfer and chemistry. Conventional milli- and micro mixers are investigated by means of

  • Direct Numerical Simulations (Figure 2 A),

  • the novel Imaging UV/Vis Spectroscopy to capture transient and reactive multi-component systems in 2D (Figure 2 B) and

  • Confocal Laser Scanning Microscopy using Laser-Induced Fluorescence (CLSM-LIF) to record stationary 3D concentration fields (Figure 2 C).