The aim of Area C is to develop prototype SMART reactors that can operate autonomously by using integrated components from Area A. This will be enabled by in situ detection, self-adjustment and the new models and operation strategies from Area B. For instance, responsive surfaces in the bioreactors will change their configurations as sensors and actuators and thus control the access of educts to biocatalysts depending on the pH and temperature. They will thus adjust the velocity of individual reaction steps depending on the progress of the overall process. Responsive bulk polymers would change their 3D structure and, thus, the permeability/transport within the reactor's internal components depending on temperature, pH or product concentration. This will automatically adjust the flow profile and thus control the reaction at local hot spots and concentration gradients, appearing due to the change in feed, malfunctions etc. One important question to answer is the compatibility of the various responsive materials and sensors and how they interact with each other at real reaction conditions.
Projects of Area C
Below you will find an overview of all individual projects and a brief description, which are assigned to Area C.
Project C01: Integration of components into adaptive geometries
Within this project, self-adaptive structures that control reactions based on the reactor conditions are investigated. In the beginning, suitable unit cells and materials for selected reactions are investigated, so that structures for high heat- and mass transport can be designed. With this, self-adapting, additive manufactured (AM) structures with temperature-controlled actuators, as well as self-adapting AM structures with pH-controlled actuators will be investigated. Furthermore, the integration of components for in situ detection & self-adjustment into AM structures is part of the research activities. The final step is the validation by means of experiments and CFD.
The overall objective of this project is to establish a fundamental understanding of continuous bioelectrochemical reactions and their implementation in SMART reactor systems that aid in autonomous operation and optimisation of the processes. The biotransformation of glycerol to 1,3-propanediol will be taken as a model reaction. This model reaction will be realised in a bioelectrochemical system in which the biocatalysts reside on the cathode and use cathodic electrons or in situ generated hydrogen as the electron donor. We will realize the envisioned biotransformation in parallel with whole cell biocatalysts as well as purified enzymes.
Project C03: SMART multiphase reactor for the catalytic hydrogenolysis of glycerol
The kinetics and process parameters of the hydrogenolysis of glycerol to 1,2-propanediol are investigated in a slurry reactor at the beginning of the funding period. The SMART reactor is simultaneously calculated, designed and subjected to a HAZOP, considering the data obtained in the slurry. The final design is worked out in detail and manufactured subsequently. After assembly, the EIT, electrowetting and further measuring and control devices are installed in the reactor. The hydrogenolysis is finally realized in the SMART reactor and the various new components are tested.
Project C04: SMART continuously operated fluidised bed for spray granulation with self-regulating residence time distribution
In project C04 a concept for a continuously operated fluidised bed spray granulation process will be developed based on recurrence CFD (rCFD) simulations and reactor adaptation. The rCFD simulation framework is obtained by calibration experiments and detailed CFD-DEM simulations of the particle formulation step. Once the database is created, the simulations will be fed by live process data from inline sensors such as Lagrangian sensor particles. As they are running faster than real-time, the timely intervention is enabled. Together with the adaptable residence time distribution by novel flexible vertical weirs, this project delivers important features for SMART reactors.