The concept of process intensification (PI) focusses on the generation of safe and compact energy and cost-effective technologies and processes for a more sustainable (bio-)chemical industry. It has led to the development of many innovative technologies and process concepts, which can achieve drastic improvements, and has gained increasing interest in academia and industry. PI concepts can be high-level process design concepts, such as hybrid and reactive separation processes, but also modifications on a much lower level, targeting chemistry and heat and mass transfer on the molecular and phase level, which oftentimes has even larger impact on the overall process performance. This multiscale character is exemplarily illustrated for the different levels and their interconnection in the subsequent figure.
While PI provides tremendous opportunities, it also presents a significant challenge for process engineers, as they have to handle a steadily increasing portfolio of options during process synthesis, as well as the design of highly integrated process configurations. As conveniently summarized by Gourdon “Not only the process has to be intensified but also the process design methodology”. Consequently, PI requires a systematic extension of current process synthesis and modelling methods to exploit this broadened range of driving forces and the new structural building blocks for process design and integration. Yet, it is not only an extension of the scope that is required, but also an increase in efficiency, which allows for an evaluation of classical and intensified options without an extensive increase in time and resources. Consequently, computationally efficient and reliable tools have to be developed to support process engineers in generating and evaluating competing process concepts under consideration of PI options on the process and equipment level. Furthermore, such tools are required to effectively enable an early-stage evaluation of improvement potential of innovative developments on the molecular and phase & transport level, considering their impact on the overall process performance. As for separation processes, the choice of mass separating agents (MSA), heat and mass integration and process configurations should be considered in an overall process synthesis and design approach.
The research activities in the SOP group focus on the development of computer-aided methods for improving both the development process of intensified equipment and process concepts, as well as the design and evaluation in respect to established technology and competing alternatives. Therefore, a highly interdisciplinary and collaborative approach is followed which aims at optimal integration of physical understanding, the generation and exploitation of data and model-based optimization. This approach can be implemented for a wide range of applications, reflected by current and finished research projects. In order to foster the industrial implementation for real applications, the group seeks collaborations with academic and industrial partners.
See: Skiborowski, M. (2018). Process synthesis and design methods for process intensification. Current Opinion in Chemical Engineering. 22 216--225. [doi][www][BibTex]