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Process Intensification

Process Intensification Methods: from Lab to Industry

| Editor: Dominik Stephan

Pilot scale demonstration — perhaps the most important step in process intensification at the MEPI (Picture: By courtesy of INPT and Mepi)
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Pilot scale demonstration — perhaps the most important step in process intensification at the MEPI (Picture: By courtesy of INPT and Mepi)

Process Intensification is a relatively new approach to boost a plant’s efficiency: It combines the optimisation of capital, energy, environmental and safety benefits with a radical reduction in plant-size. But the application of such revolutionary techniques has to overcome obstacles. Elaborate design and specialised equipment are needed to deal with unconventional constrains.

In the context of fine or pharmaceutical chemistry, Process Intensification presents a set of radically innovative principles in process and equipment design (micro process engineering, flow chemistry, micro reactor technology, …), which can bring significant benefits in terms of efficiency, capital and operating expenses, quality, wastes, safety, and so on.

Barrier for Process Intensification

Introducing this new method technologies requires significant investment in an environment where payback times need to be short. Large investments in current technology and limited experience hinder the introduction of Process Intensification. Managing the technical and financial risks requires new scale-up approaches and piloting facilities.

Many barriers to implementation of Process Intensification start with the lack of a suitable pilot & demonstration plant. Furthermore, high technical and financial risks exist in the development of an industrial prototype and the first implementation (retrofitting) into existing production lines.

Process Intensification Tools

To overcome this barrier, the need for facilities where Process Intensification methods can be developed, piloted and demonstrated on a semi-industrial scale is eminent.

To develop such an approach, the National Polytechnic Institute INPT of the Toulouse University has started the creation of MEPI (Maison Européenne des Procédés Innovants, French for “European House of Process Innovations”), a demonstration facility for Process Intensification technologies. In this context, the association between INPT and MEPI aims at matching strategic and applied research, piloting and industrialization and consulting and knowledge dissemination.

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